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When you see that everyone around you starts to fine-tune their night vision devices, or that they go crazy looking to buy IR lasers, or that they start uploading photos of their rifles with flashlights... Then you know that one of these two things is happening: either they have been booked for the second part of "13 Hours" or they are preparing for a new edition of Operation Moonlight.

Since the first Operation Moonlight took place in Taiwan, it has been a series of events that has been characterized by something very specific: night combat.

Something that not only greatly influences the style and configuration of the entire team that takes you to the event but also forces you to prepare the internal arrangements of the squads and internal communication within the team. By the time all the participants arrive, the afternoon of the first day, everything has been building up for so long that there is not much more to talk about. 

There are not many restrictions in this event regarding the equipment that each player can carry. As you can imagine this offers a great deal of freedom, but it also forces us to establish protocols to differentiate us from the units of the other side.

And if that were not enough, there is a third neutral NPC (non-player character) who balance the strength of each side at each moment and not always to make it fair! The sides can, or rather, have to interact with them through role-playing in order to take advantage of the advantages they offer us at each moment. This is another feature of the personality of the event that, in our opinion, makes it unique.

This year the took place in the same location, and we met in the south of Taiwan, in the Lihu camping area. An impressive playground: the Kaohsiung Moon World. A park with a volcanic landscape, eroded by the waterways of the area such as the River Erren, and which create a unique and spectacular "lunar" appearance. Luckily it was not the first time we went there or we could have run the risk of just being spellbound contemplating so much natural beauty. So that you can get a picture of the size of the place, we will tell you that there is a lake and that last year they used quads to transport players and supplies during the event. But this year they had a surprise for us, they had something even more impressive. The organization managed to bring a Polaris ATV, a buggy like the one used by special forces units when they need a light, fast and off-road vehicle with which they can operate in areas that are not easily accessible. As you can imagine it was the star of the event.

It is a vehicle that we had already seen in other exhibitions taking place in Taiwan, and that the airsofters from CAMP66 in Taoyuan have been able to enjoy often. Although I think it is the first time that was used in an event of this size.

This year, in addition to Taiwanese local players, other players from Hong Kong, mainland China and other places also attended the event. There were such high standards that I managed to count over 80 night vision devices on Saturday morning while people registered before starting the game. When the game started and each side went to their HQ we were all excited, looking forward to the 20 hours ahead of us. They were going to be epic.

The NPC side played the role of "electric company personnel" in the script of the event, and each of the sides had to gain control of the seven plants with solar panels. For this, each side had assigned a light colour that indicated that the station was under its control. 

The location of the seven plants was published on the Operation Moonlight fan page, and they had to upload the photos on the same page, showing that they had control (although the other two sides also would know so). So the attack was as important as the subsequent defence of the facilities. 

Meanwhile the NPC team (yes, those of the electric company) began to patrol the area, although they did not take long to make contact with enemy forces so they deployed their shields to the front to try to gain an advantage in the advance and take down their opponents. Although, since we achieved the goal we decided to fall back to our HQ.

In the afternoon we had several contacts in which it was difficult to see if what we had before us were friendly or enemy troops, and that they ended up becoming large-scale combat. We did not know who they were, but our strong response made it clear to them who we were. However, we did not take long to activate the digital protocol to differentiate us from the opposite side. All this confusion is yet another feature that makes Operation Moonlight interesting.

When night fell, the moment that we were all waiting for broke out. Each of the sides received their orders, they were given a series of missions. Meanwhile the NPCs were preparing with machine guns, rifles, shields and everything they had on hand to set up a base from which to hold or even launch the attack if the time came. 

Our primary objectives were locating and destroying the outposts of the opposing side, while other teams were thrown directly against the heart of their HQ. They did not make it easy for us, they had stationed sentinels and perimeter lights on the forward positions. It was a night fight in which the vision devices clearly made a difference. In addition, some of their teams managed to cross the front line and move to attack our defences in the rear. A fierce fight with over 100 attackers trying to break through while trying not to leave their rearguard open... 

At midnight, the NPC allied with our enemy to prevent us from taking the outposts ahead. They combined their strength to the great work that the players were doing with night vision devices in the defence of the positions. And, in the end, we could not prevent losing one of the positions that took us so much effort to conquer.

As an anecdote, at one point in the game one of the referees of the game was eliminated and he told us that it was because someone saw the lighted torch with which he illuminated the road and he must have shot him by mistake. What he never knew is that there were more IR lasers on him than in the 13 Hours movie, although we did not find out who was the one that eliminate him.

Originally, on paper at least, Sunday morning was destined to a fierce fight for power plants. However, both sides agreed to teach the NPC a lesson "that it will never forget" because of its continuous digressions with both sides. So we lured them to a certain previously established point and at our signal the opposing side jumped at them. The ambush was brutal, everything turned out as planned, but, due to an accident with a smoke grenade, we had to finish the event sooner than we would have liked.

This edition of the event has been a real milestone for many airsofters, in fact, many are already reserving their spots for the 2020 edition. We will come again, the question is, are you coming to Taiwan? You're invited!