In one of Foxhole‘s many muddy fields, I’m waiting for a man that’s going to teach me how to make a gun. Soldiers scurry around me cradling rifles of their own, but nobody is there for long: beyond this base, a war is being fought that is unlike any other the game has seen.
As I wait, I think about what’s brought me to Foxhole – an MMO where wars are fought over the span of weeks, rather than hours. Last month, I’d been contacted by someone who represents L.O.G.I. (Logistics Organisation for General Improvement), a collective of players who would typically handle the logistics of wars this size. In a more normal time, this would involve creating essential supplies like weapons, ammunition and clothing, then delivering essential supplies to whichever frontlines needed them most.
These aren’t normal times however, and L.O.G.I. players are on strike to protest issues with Foxhole‘s logistics system. As it stands, Foxhole‘s current war between the Colonials and Wardens will end up being one of the longest in the game’s history – and that’s partly because of the strike.
As if on cue, one of these players arrives to pick me up. Squashy – the one who first introduced me to Foxhole‘s logistics strike – is here to show me what his fellow logistics players face day-to-day, and there’s no better way to do that than by having me make a supply run of my own.
There’s a lot of moving parts to our operation, and a storm is brewing, meaning we’ll need to get a move on.
After some brief greetings, Squashy whisks me away to the real start of our journey: a bustling port, where towering cranes move huge metal shipping containers from loading bays to various trucks and cargo barges awaiting their next shipment. Squashy briefly disappears to fetch us our own transport, and returns with an open-back truck identical to the ones that clogging the roads around me.
I climb into the passenger seat, and we start our quiet drive to a local scrapyard. As we leave the port, we’re joined by several other L.O.G.I. members who will join us on our journey. We’re in fairly safe territory at the moment, so conversation is light – between jokes about EVE Online and the need for spreadsheets in Foxhole, some of my companions start to explain what brought them all together.
“We talked a lot about the issues we faced,” recounts Frolic, a fellow Warden soldier. “We were like, you know – what if the Colonials were facing these same issues? We can’t be the only ones. A number of us decided to reach out to the Colonial side, and there was some preliminary talks.”
Many of these problems stemmed from Foxhole‘s Entrenched update, which massively increased the scale of the battlefield. This subsequently put much more strain on an already-fragile logistics network, as logistics players found themselves needing to traverse vast distances to move supplies across the map. That’s on top of other issues with production buildings, long waiting times, and clunky interfacing – issues that L.O.G.I. goes into more detail on with a recent ten-point letter to Foxhole’s developer, Siege Camp. The scope of these problems only became apparent when L.O.G.I. discussions started inviting more players to participate, and “every new person we brought in had a new problem to bring to the table.”
When both sides realised they were facing the same logistics issues from opposite sides of the war, they decided to get together and drop their “surface level differences” to discuss the “core problems of logistics.”
That was a turning point for L.O.G.I., says Frolic. “We essentially decided at that point…we need to go larger. We need to go public.”
That led to the ongoing strike, which – even then “wasn’t supposed to go as public as it did,” chips in Knight – a player from the rival Colonial side, who’s joined us over voice chat to share his experience.
We’re interrupted by our arrival at the scrapyard. Sprinkled with mounds of rusted metal, it doesn’t look like much – but the resources within fuel nearly every conflict in Foxhole. I’m quickly set to work with a sledgehammer, smashing down larger chunks of scrap into carriable pieces that can be chucked into our shipping container.
It’s slow going, and Squashy notes that it would be even slower if I hadn’t been provided with a sledgehammer: a soldier’s default hammer, the only tool available at the start of a war, is about half as fast. It’s my first time doing this, and the camaraderie is entertaining, but I can quickly see that it could become a gruelling affair by the hundredth time.
Regardless, I eventually gather enough scrap to get out of there. Our creaking shipping container is loaded back onto our truck, and everyone returns to their vehicles. There’s a greasy cough of engines starting back up, and we return to the road with our salvaged goods in tow.
Our next stop is at a refinery, where our scrap will be turned into useable metal. Under Squashy’s tutelage, I get to work making that happen. First, a crane removes a shipping container from our truck and onto one of the limited loading bays. Once it’s all been refined and packaged, we load it back into a truck and take it to a factory.
Along the way, we pass stands where other members of the community prepare trucks and refueling stations to help delivery drivers. “That’s another subsection of players that are affectionately called the oil barons,” Squashy laughs, though the station seems quiet – even they have been affected by the strike.
A companion, General chips in: “One of the main oil barons for the Wardens went on strike with L.O.G.I. this war. You would be shocked at how much of the fuel distribution was done by one person! That caused a lot of headaches.”
By now it’s getting dark, and we arrive at the factory. This is where our packaged metal is taken in to create several crates of Loughcaster rifles – a bolt action gun that, if everything goes right, we’ll soon put into the hands of players that know how to use them.
The whole process is fairly tedious, and it takes some time for things to process. General, jokes that “both factions are equally fond of gas grenades and war crimes,” so demand for factory floor space is always high on both sides of the war. Combined with the fact that there are some confusing extra steps with the interface – and we’re located so far from the frontline – I can see how this could be a problem.
When all’s said and done, I’m left with a truck that’s carrying several crates of weapons, ammunition, and other supplies. There’s word of the earlier storm turning into a blizzard over on the frontlines, so we’ve also bundled in several sets of warm clothes to distribute when we arrive. That’s still a significant distance away from where we’re at now however, and to cross this we’ll need to trade in our trucks for a cargo ship.
We drive back to the nearby port, and everyone jumps to work transitioning cargo from trucks to a ship that’s waiting. Everyone is keen to set sail as soon as possible: the weather is slowly but steadily getting worse. I pitch in by operating a dockside crane, lifting our well-stocked shipping containers into the ship’s cargo hold. Leaving the crane at the wrong time sets us back a few steps – I had to get back in and re-access the building’s interface to shift our cargo -, but Squashy tells me not to worry because there’s no real tutorial to teach players any of these systems. “This is what I mean about some of the weird quality of life things with logistics,” he says. “It’s a bunch of strange things that you need to do to get things like ports to work.”
“It’s definitely got its quirks to it,” adds Knight. “The more you do logistics, the more you notice them.”
Setbacks aside, we close the heavy hatch doors and step onto our ship. Squashy invites me to take the wheel and join up with several other ships that have formed a naval convoy, and the longest part of our journey begins.
At this point, the jovial atmosphere is dialled down a bit. A thick fog means that I can barely see the ship I’m trying to follow, and the low visibility puts me on edge when an ominous warning trickles in: “Pirates spotted on Oarbreaker…so potentially on route,” warns someone via radio. The convoy grinds to a halt.
“Any pirates you guys run into, that’s not us,” warns Knight. “We don’t have anything planned here. It’s not part of the show: they are here to kill you.”
I’m incredibly tense – there’s a real chance that partisan fighters will destroy all of the supplies we’ve made – and even when the signal to continue our voyage is given, I’m on edge. As we get back to moving, Knight explains just how dangerous these pirates can be.
“If you’re hauling a bunch of tanks or something like that, usually you’ll have an escort of gunboats or barges with infantry on them – just in case pirates show up. Because if you get hit by pirates while you’re in a freighter, there’s nothing you can really do except try to run.”
These pirates – part of a group of players called partisans – make crossing Foxhole‘s vast channels of water incredibly dangerous. Partisans are players who deploy behind enemy lines to target vulnerable areas of their foe’s infrastructure: when small columns of troops go missing, or a truck full of valuable supplies goes up in flames, it’s likely a partisan ambush that’s to blame. Logistics players – whose duties typically mean they don’t always carry weapons on-hand – are juicy targets for partisans, who can effectively cut the throat of one faction’s frontline by prowling quiet stretches of vital supply routes. These methods are extra effective at sea, where logistics players have even less ways to fight back. As cold waves lap against the boat, L.O.G.I. members tell me stories of losing hours-worth of cargo to seconds of violence. “I have a heart attack every time because you’re just going along, minding your own wee world, then you just hear the crack of gunfire and you’re like…fuck,” Squashy chuckles.
As the first snowfall drifts start to blow over our ship, Squashy gleefully recalls killing three partisans with a revolver during his first ever ambush, a tale that I get the feeling is quite thereaputic for logistics players who have suffered at their hands for too long.
As the voyage continues, I’m told that we’ll need to cut our time at sea short. We’re heading further into an area currently being wracked by a blizzard, and the weather has frozen the rivers we’d planned to take. This means that we’ll have to arrive at a nearby dock to continue the delivery by truck. Several players mention that part of what makes logistics so difficult at the moment is due to there not being many effective sea channels to cut across the map, so land travel like this – while dangerous – is often necessary.
We approach our destination and our ship passes a barge that’s frozen in place, its occupants either dead or long gone. It strikes me just how much logistics players have to face. Not only do they have to contend with questionable development decisions, but they routinely risk their lives when other players – and sometimes even the weather itself – seems to wants them dead.
After a long time spent sailing, a jutting port finally comes into view and we join a queue of boats that’s waiting to dock. There’s no built-in system for managing limited spaces like these, so logistics players have a rudimentary system of etiquette for asserting some order – the time old British tradition of queueing.
Loading our boat up was done at a rush, but unloading our cargo is carried out at a truly breakneck speed. At this point, snow is falling down in heavy sheets, and the freezing temperatures are a legitimate danger. My head is filled with stories of partisan ambushes and frozen soldiers, so I’m keen to offer my help wherever needs it. The next fifteen minutes went by in a blur of hauling crates around and operating cranes. By the time we’re prepared to leave, there are several trucks and a a few armoured vehicles waiting for us. To ensure the last bit of our trip goes smoothly, L.O.G.I. has pulled some strings to organise an armed convoy. My time at sea was spent worrying about phantom partisans and gunboats, but now there’s no illusion: we’re legitimately at the most dangerous part of our journey. I kick my truck into action and take my place within the central column of the convoy, silently grateful to the armoured protection that’s circling our group.
The soldiers here to protect us are nothing like the logistics players I’ve met so far. With their heavily armed vehicles careening from one end of the column to the other, these fighters loudly catcall to each other over the sound of their engines, and can barely go a moment without cracking a joke at someone’s expense. I get the sense that, far from logistics’ hopes for a quiet journey, these soldiers itch for a good fight. For all their light chatter, I still place a lot of faith in their abilities: mounted turrets constantly swivel to survey our surroundings, and every so often I hear scraps of legitimate intel passed down the line.
At this point in time, professional logistics players are like walking gold for their respective factions, so it’s probably not a surprise that we’re being given the V.I.P. treatment. Knight tells me that due to the ongoing strike there are “clans where all of their logi players have either been on strike, or the ones that have been playing it, have gone so hard to keep things going and flowing that they’ve burned out. So now, people who never play logistics are having to step up and fill those roles, which is 100 per cent one of the things we wanted to achieve with the strike.”
“It’s gotten the point now where we’ve seen big major clans – people who never do scrapping or logistics – have switched and started doing dedicated logi nights because they just don’t have the logistical player base they used to. It’s gotten really bad.”
Continuing, Knight says it’s a far cry from when the strike started, and players were “very much like, oh yeah – logi is fine! There’s no logi strike. Everything is normal, completely normal! Disregarding the fact that anywhere that wasn’t an immediate frontline where clans were fighting, [soldiers] were only fighting with pistols – there was many reports of only pistols being available.”
As the war has dragged on, which Knight says is partly down to the L.O.G.I. strike and issues with faraway production buildings, the effects of the strike have become more apparent: “You’re seeing multiple hexes where nothing is being built and supplied, they’re constantly being flipped back and forth overnight, and we’re even seeing the wider servers and on Reddit especially, people acknowledging just how bad the logistics situation has gotten and saying maybe the logistics strike is a thing after all.”
“It’s definitely started to come around from long periods of not acknowledging it and making fun of it,” Knight adds.
“We have more or less gone through the five stages of grief,” jokes another of our companions.
Eventually, our truck reaches a guarded checkpoint at a fork in the road, and the convoy slows to a crawl. As we await entry, our protectors are needed elsewhere and start to peel away. Wishing us luck on the last leg of our journey, the comforting sight of steel fades into the distance.
As soon as we’re through the gated checkpoint, it feels like a switch is flipped. For the first time on our trek, there are moments of complete silence. Squashy confirms that we’ve reached one of Foxhole‘s ongoing frontlines, and – without our armoured protectors – our supply run is at its most vulnerable point yet. He adds that he’s had this road swept for mines in advance, but to drive carefully nonetheless. The thought of having all of my progress torn away with something as impersonal as a mine is gut-wrenching, and at this stage I’m very much feeling the anxiety that most logistics players are likely used to. Devil, a L.O.G.I. member who often takes up arms as a partisan fighter, chips in to explain that border crossings are some of the “most common” areas for partisans to target.
Not long after we enter the combat zone, I hear my first sounds of war. From out of the snow, booming explosions herald artillery shells carving out holes in the ground. Every so often, a shell falls closely enough to elicit a sound like a thunderclap, drawing nervous chuckles from our taut group. Every so often we pass bands of armed soldiers trooping along the roadside, which is where I learn that one of Foxhole‘s golden rules is to never walk on the roads: the importance of logistics is so great that there’s a good chance you’ll be outright ran over by a resupply truck if there’s even half a chance you’ll slow them down.
Every small bump in the road raises my heart rate, and then I notice we’re slowly leaving the countryside. More and more buildings are dotting the area, and within no time we’re driving through what was once a city. Unlike the carefully maintained logistics buildings I’ve passed so far, there’s not a single structurally sound building in sight. “What you’re driving through right now is 20 days of intense Warden action to finally crack the town and take it,” explains Knight.
In what looks like a bombed-out town hall, our convoy rolls up and Squashy jumps out to talk with someone stood stoically in the snow. Squashy explains what we’re carrying and asks where we’re needed most, and the soldier points us in the direction of the explosions we’ve been hearing.
Squashy climbs back into the truck, and our convoy starts to drive toward the edge of the city. Though the heavy blizzard means visibility is low, it’s pretty clear what’s coming: artillery shells are detonating every few seconds, and we’re close enough to the fighting to hear staccato crackles of gunfire. Eventually, we arrive at the fortified remains of an old castle where the Warden’s frontline war efforts are being coordinated. The base is bustling with activity – most of the action is centered around a cluster of tents in the centre, however there’s a steady stream of troops marching into war. For the last time, we kill our trucks’ engines and begin unloading our supplies.
As we put our supplies into the hands of soldiers, it’s like a weight lifts from the group. The guns, clothing and ammunition we crafted so long ago have made through blizzard and bombshell to arrive safely. To get here, I saw first-hand the truth in many of the issues that L.O.G.I. addresses in its open letter to Siege Camp, but that’s not all: during the long trip, I came to know the people who play it. What I found was an expansive group of friends that, at the end of the day, love Foxhole so much that they’re willing to boycott the very system that’s brought them all together. For as much as these strikes come from a place of frustration, they also come from a place of sincere love and a desire for the game to improve.
For some members, just having these issues acknowledged would go some way to relieving the strike. Devil criticises “an utter lack of basic communication” between Siege Camp and the community, and Knight says L.O.G.I. has “had zero outreach from the devs” since forming their organisation. Frolic says that just a “simple acknowledgement that we exist” would be enough for him to get back into logistics.
My ridealong with L.O.G.I. complete, there’s only one thing left for us to do. Skimming from the equipment we’ve spent hours creating, we load up and start following a stream of soldiers toward a nearby conflict – apparently there’s a particularly bloody bridge battle within view of the castle walls. It’s unclear what lies ahead, but despite that – surrounded by players I’ve come to know as friends during my time – it’s hard not to feel the smallest glimmer of hope.
Six days later, the war ended with a Warden victory – just 24 hours short of becoming Foxhole’s longest war in history. Ahead of the next war, L.O.G.I. is currently determining whether it will continue its strike.
Many thanks to members of the L.O.G.I. Discord who were kind enough to take me on a supply run.