Greetings! What follows is a bit of text describing a group that I am very proud of - Shack Tactical. It's important to note that this is the very first time we've created such a topic about our group in the BIS forums, and I figure I'll take a moment to briefly explain why I decided to take this step. ShackTac has been around for over five years now - our founding date was January 4th of 2006 - and in that time we have gone through a tremendous evolution, taking us from a humble start to where we find ourselves now. Over that time, members have found their way to us through a variety of means - word of mouth, my tactical guides, our videos, etc - but we have never had anything resembling a "recruitment" post, aside from my own Shack Tactical site. So, what the hell, right? Time to lay it out and make our accessibility a bit more obvious! We're not nearly as intimidating as some believe.
What is ShackTac all about?
Our mentality is best summed up with two words: Serious Fun. The "serious" reflects our emphasis on game-adapted, rooted-in-realism tactics, techniques, and procedures, as well as our maturity and collective attitude, while the "fun" stands toe-to-toe with it to ensure that everything we do is oriented towards making the most enjoyable experience possible for our memberbase.
To go into a bit more detail, allow me to quote from my interview with CharlieFoxtrot about our playstyle.
Since the time of writing that, we have transitioned fully to ArmA2 and the ACE2 mod, and have begun building an impressive catalog of in-house missions for ourselves. Old favorites have returned, along with a wide variety of new ideas. The mission designers of our group continue to evolve and grow, aided in large part by the F2 Mission Framework that we help to cultivate.Generally speaking, our missions revolve around infantry combat, without many supporting assets or fancy weapons. We stick to a platoon structure that has every player using a weapon with a reflex or ironsight optic – magnified optics are very, very rare to see. Our anti-tank assets typically are AT4s and SMAWs, with Javelins being incredibly rare. In short, we like a tough fight, and we equip ourselves accordingly. When we have air support, it’s often in the form of something basic like an AH-6 or a Blackhawk with an M240 on it. We generally avoid stronger air assets, and when they are employed, they’re done so in careful moderation to ensure that the infantry gets a tough fight without the air “stealing all the fun”.
ShackTac members aren’t looking for easy, pat-yourself-on-the-back scenarios that use endless respawns to ensure that defeat can never happen. We’re always looking for hard fights, and we want our triumphs to be earned through skill, determination, and the proper coordinated application of infantry tactics at the platoon level. If we don’t play at the top of our games, we expect to be defeated. Any defeats we suffer are their own special type of fun, and apart from entertaining us as we spectate the remainder of our platoon getting chopped to bits in a brutal mission, they also inspire to do better next time, refine our tactics, and learn from our mistakes to ensure that we’re a better team because of it.
We play no-respawn scenarios as a rule, though we have experimented with limited respawns in creative ways that attempt to resolve the issues that we feel exist with respawn as a general concept. So far they’ve been quite successful, though we expect no-respawn to remain as our primary play method for the foreseeable future.
As far as mission variety goes – we play all sorts of different types of scenarios. Our typical playercount is from 50-70 players, so we have a lot of flexibility in what type of scenarios we craft, whether intended for coop or adv. All of our scenario development is done in-house, and at last count we had over 650 ShackTac-developed ArmA1 missions on our server.
Our coops can come in a wide variety of flavors – from heliborne ops to convoys, platoon attacks, raids, defenses, etc, along with all sorts of other types. Adversarial scenarios show even more variety, as we’re able to take advantage of the human-vs-human dynamics to get extremely creative with objectives, scenario concepts, etc. We take full advantage of ArmA’s VON system and have developed a myriad number of scenarios that integrate it into the mission dynamics.
A good example of the kind of creative and unique experiences our playerbase gets in our gaming can be found in the “Paradrop!” AAR I wrote up in early 2008.
Principles of ShackTac
Our group principles are the defining facets of what makes our group as solid as it is. Some highlights of these principles follow.
- Community is the key. There are many places you can go to to play ArmA and have fun. However, if you're looking for something higher to tie it all together, that's where our emphasis on our community development and interaction comes into play.
- Teamwork, Maturity, and Integrity combined with a Quality-over-Quantity mindset. We hold our members to high standards of conduct, and the group experience benefits immensely in turn.
- Active community participation & interaction - the more you put into it, the more you get back. We aren't in this to accumulate a roster of players who never actually play - if you join us, expect to see an active community that is regularly culled to remove any deadweight that might accumulate.
- Esprit-de-corps brought on by a rich history of camaraderie, evolution, and achievement. We are proud of where we came from and what we have accomplished, and this esprit-de-corps adds a great depth of character to the group itself.
- Well-defined tactics, techniques, and procedures, with a group-level comprehension and proficiency of them. Our goal is to maintain a high level of tactical gameplay without having to resort to "drill sessions" or other tedious trainings. You'll have our tactical guide as reference, which you are encouraged to learn as you play, and over time you'll see it all be put into good use in our sessions, with your own tactical proficiency and understanding increasing naturally, through enjoyable and intense gameplay.
- Motivated leaders leading dedicated troops. We strive for a high degree of competency in our playerbase insofar as leadership goes, as well as pride ourselves on how well our non-leading players will follow orders and conduct themselves in any given mission. Opportunities for leadership are plentiful, both at the start of the mission in the form of platoon commanders, squad leaders, fireteam leaders, and special group leaders, as well as in-mission resulting from casualties (and believe me, we are not invincible - you will definitely get to step up to a leadership billet at some point from casualties). You will find that a ShackTac team will follow you without hesitation into even the most absurdly "virtually dangerous" situations, as we're all in it for a good time, and a glorious virtual death can be a hell of a lot of fun!
- "No Bullshit" mentality. Bring a foul attitude into the group or otherwise behave in an undesirable way and you can expect to see yourself shown the door. The group trumps the individual, and toxic attitudes are simply not tolerated.
Hopefully that gives you a good idea of where we're coming from. That's only part of the picture, of course - when it comes to applicants, who you are is of great importance as well!
What makes a good ShackTac member?
The technical aspects are simple - anyone can download a few programs (Skype, IRC, Teamspeak) and install them, after all. If it were that easy to be a member, however, the group would never have amounted to anything. The real meat of it comes in our expectations from our playerbase. In keeping with our views of "Quality over quantity", we are happy to sort through a dozen or more applicants to find a single quality player. We are pretty selective in who we bring onboard, and the quality of our playerbase and gameplay is a testament to this.
When it comes to reviewing applications, as well as observing the conduct of our probationary "pre-FNG" (aka 'pFNG') members, there are many things that we key in on. Some of the most important of those values are as follow:
- Friendly, respectful, and mature.
- Good sense of humor.
- Eager to learn and grow as a player.
- Teamwork-oriented mindset.
- Honest and accountable for their actions.
- Motivated and dedicated to making the group and our experiences the best they can be.
- In it for the "long haul" - flavor-of-the-week players need not apply.
You'll note that "skill" does not appear on that list - skill can be taught, after all! Who you are as a person is of far more importance to us - we look for good people with good attitudes who can add real value to our community. Attitude and personality are traits that we have little chance of molding online, and we simply do not have time to deal with people who exhibit bad behavior or sportsmanship from the outset.
Also note that we are centered around the CST/CDT timezone (GMT -6/-5), and expect our members to participate in our primary Saturday sessions which occur each Saturday starting at 5pm local.
A partial group photo at the start of a Saturday session
ShackTac & The Rest of the Community
My views on the community-at-large were summed up thusly in the above-mentioned CharlieFoxtrot interview - I'm quoting it here, as I believe it succinctly conveys the idea.
We are generally receptive to joint gaming arrangements, though we do approach them carefully and are not prone to rushing into something simply for the sake of doing it. If you would like to see about setting something up between us and your group, feel free to get in touch via e-mail (dslyecxi, gmail) or forum PM. We can field from 50-70 players depending on the date, time of year, and so forth, or less if technical reasons demand it....we enjoy seeing how other groups approach the game. We have our own thoughts on “how it’s meant to be played”, but recognize that everyone is entitled to interpret the game however they want, and we’re not arrogant enough to think that our way is “the only right way”. We’re certainly proud of what we’ve accomplished, and are happy to share thoughts on what has worked for us, what hasn’t, etc, in order to help others avoid mistakes that we’ve learned from in the past.
The great thing about the ArmA community is that it offers something for pretty much everyone – from hardcore milsim groups to totally casual experiences, as well as everything in between. We occupy what we would call the “serious fun” side of that scale – we’re not stuffy or rigid in how we play, we know that it’s all a game at the end of the day, and we’re all in it to have a good time. Our sessions – typically lasting eight hours or so of non-stop gaming – reflect this mentality as well, with us playing a wide variety of serious and not-so-serious missions throughout.
Want to know more?
If you'd like to know more or are interested in joining us, check out the ShackTac site. It contains information about joining us as well as videos and screens of us in action.
Finally, for those wondering what it's like from the eyes of a new player, here's a quote from one of our members who joined in 2009, giving his views on his time in the group up to that point:
To all of those viewing this - best of luck to you in your ArmA endeavors, whether we cross paths or not!I originally came to ShackTac (in June of this year) so I could play Arma and Arma 2 in a large-scale, well-organized, team-based, environment. I felt playing in a community like Shack Tactical would be the best way to get the most out of the Arma games/simulators. I haven’t been let down in my experiences thus far. In fact, my in-game experiences with ShackTac have exceeded my lofty expectations.
I stay committed to ShackTac because I truly enjoy the interaction with the members. My personal experiences with the people of ShackTac have been nothing but positive. Coming into the group as a pFNG, I expected at least some level of clique-ishness to be present … I figured that would be inevitable with such a large group. I expected a somewhat lengthy ‘break-in” period in which I would be treated as what I was --- a “new guy”. In reality, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The members were very welcoming and helpful. Several members went out of their way to assist me with some early technical difficulties. I credit the leaders of ShackTac for fostering a welcoming environment for new joins.