Are Blackline Events a Good Fit for You?

[Note - This blog post was migrated from our previous website. Originally posted September 15, 2016]


It's been a challenge to articulate exactly what Blackline is. More importantly, it's been a challenge to articulate it to the kind of people required to make it a success. Blackline's first evolution over the September 11th weekend demonstrated that people are at the core of this event, and the right kind of people are essential to ensure that Blackline develops to serve them well.


Participants were asked to describe what makes a good Blackline candidate, so that you can make an honest assessment about whether it's a good fit for your playing style. Here are the themes of what they said.


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"It almost felt like a movie for something."


You Want to Try Something Different Blackline events are not 24-hour firefights, nor are they a casual activity. They are a series of tactical and strategic problems that require units to plan and execute one-off solutions. Mission planning and preparation are critical, with real consequences for mistakes. Teams bring their collective resources together and work to create a mission that accomplishes the objectives, while considering primary, alternate, contingency and emergency plans, transport and resupply logistics, as well as casualty and EPW management. Plans are presented back to control and reworked if all issues haven’t been addressed. Each mission is run only once, and ends with an extraction and debrief. It’s a mental and physical challenge that will require you to approach things from a new perspective. You need to be adaptable, malleable, humble, and willing to learn.


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"I can say one of my favourite things about this OP was the fact that WE planned it."


You Can Understand “Safety, Respect, and Spirit of the Game” The rules for the event revolve around three key principles. The fact that safety comes first, always. It overrides the event at any time and can stop any activity. Second is respect for people and property. If someone tells you not to do something to them, out of respect, you must comply. Third, you can’t use safety or respect to gain an advantage. You can ask to not be bound by zipties, but then you can't use your hands to escape. A certain level of maturity and experience is required to interpret these rules and execute them on the fly. The word ‘NO’ is binding, and the three principles are everyone’s responsibility.


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"I really enjoyed the follow through. The remaining guys had to complete actions on, deal with casualties, enemy EPW."


You Can Role Play Suspend your disbelief, and own your role. From the ATL responsible for ensuring the team is equipped and supplied for the mission, to the sentry posted on the corner. Everyone has a role to play, and your dedication to it makes the event. Treat simulated injuries and enemy fire like they have consequences, because they do. With safety and respect always in mind, you can decide how far you want to take your role. Prisoners are not always cooperative. The dead do not get upset by rain or mud. Play the role.


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"I also appreciated the things that weren't simulated. Like prisoners that didn't assist you when captured. I liked that I had to carry people. I liked that we got dropped off and picked up. I liked that I couldn't really fake a frisking."


You are Mission Focused Missions are the only reason the event exists. They are pass/fail affairs and you only get one shot to get it right. To do that, missions require planning. Lots of it. Planning sessions could easily last an hour, and may be followed up with a walk through or drills. This format means you won’t be jumping off for missions every 20 minutes, so you need to practice patience. More importantly, you must be able to contribute to the plans. You must exhibit a high attention to detail, and a high degree of creativity. You need to be able to take criticism, and provide constructive feedback. You must be an excellent collaborator. Finally, missions aren’t over until they are completed. This means they could last a dozen hours in the rain, cold, mud, and heat. You have to be committed to the mission, and dedicated to success.


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"Mission planning and prep is just as critical, if not more critical, than mission execution. Come prepared for admin."


You Put the Needs of Others Above Your Own The event isn’t designed for you. It’s designed for everyone. Participants must be willing to shed team allegiances, grudges, and preconceptions to become a key piece of the puzzle. The event, and your unit must be more important than yourself. Each participant contributes to the experience, from their recommendations during planning, to their mission tasks, the way they operate within their unit, to the way they lay motionless with critical injuries. When you compromise any of these contributions, you take away from the experience for everyone, and that’s not ok. Participants need to know they can count on you, and in turn you need to know you can count on them. If you tap out, or choose yourself over the unit and objectives, that trust is broken. So if you do it, you'll be off the deployment list and your event is over. The needs of others and the event come before your own. Push yourself. Don’t quit.


In summary, the best candidates for a Blackline event are those that are:

  • Adaptable, malleable, humble, and willing to learn

  • Mature and experienced

  • Ready to play the role

  • Patient

  • Intensely detail oriented, and incredibly creative

  • Able to take criticism, and able to provide constructive feedback, contribute

  • Committed and dedicated

  • Putting the needs of others first

  • Ready to push themselves

  • Unwilling to quit

So that’s it. It’s a lot of criteria, but it reflects the first participants for the event. It's their behaviours and attitudes that made Blackline a success. It will champion those traits as it moves forward, and in return, Blackline will deliver unforgettable experiences to those few participants with the right stuff.

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