This morning I woke up in Michigan. Tonight I am falling asleep in Ohio and tomorrow I will be headed to Indiana all as part of this five day, seven system (almost...we'll get to that) Armageddon adventure upon which I have embarked.
My day began at 4:00 A.M. with no time to spare before heading to play some Laserforce. As the most regular Force player on the team despite being new to SM5 I was still regarded as a good bet for the important role of Medic as we got our games started. However, for the first few games nobody was getting the bases, which is crucial to this game, so instead I swapped to scout stationed on the lower level. This was way more within my comfort zone to contribute because I knew I could get the bases and at least pick up some points by catching opposing players off guard. Scout is the role I have practiced most at this point. Now, I am not suggesting these were great games, but things did improve and I felt like I had more to contribute to the team after switching roles. It certainly reflected in my score, which was not exceptional and didn't win us games, but was at least a respectable first step for me on a personal level into the phase of competition I had been preparing for. So, indulge me and don't look at the green team score. Just celebrate a personal success as I started to feel better about playing again.
The last Force game we played was a significant one in that we were up against the one team we had taken some wins over and also because this win would either push us a bit further ahead (no delusions of grandeur, we're still at the bottom, but second to last at this point) or tie us with them for last place. So take the significance of this game with the proper perspective. However, it was the hardest we fought, my best showing (in terms of scores, base capturing and overall performance) and the closest game we had played. Unfortunately, we ended up a hair behind and lost that game by less than a single base value. If one more person had gotten a base that would have been a third victory, but instead we found ourselves in the tie for 6th.
I realize with the caliber of players here that I am an incredibly green newbie, but I believe you rise to the level of the water around you and by playing with these exceptional players it gives me motivation to keep growing my skills in hopes of joining their ranks in time. This is an interesting social adventure too in that there are only four female players in the entire competition...Katt, Exit (Vanessa), Emily and me. I believe Emily is a team captain and Katt and Exit are both such impressive players that I knew about them by reputation even before arriving here. When I had a moment to chat with Katt between games she told me I nearly took her out when she was launching her nuke (meaning she was playing Commander) and that gave her a good scare that her team would kill her if that had happened. That's just a tiny example of a piece of the picture that makes me feel like playing with these players is getting me little by little to a better level, regardless of what the final scoreboard says. It's cool to be around top talent when it comes to the disproportionate number of female players and also to be treated as an equal part of a game dominated by men (52 guys are in the tournament with the four women). Although I am accustomed to often being one of, if not the only, female player in an arena, I didn't know if that would make me feel separate in this group or not. As it happens, it's a total non-issue in the midst of this big, happy, dysfunctional family riding around on a bus and taking time out every now and again to shoot laser beams at each other.
When we were done playing in the Force arena, which incidentally was a very cool, large, two-level space...
...we hopped on a bus for four hours headed to play tactical in Ohio. We drove along in the rain for a large part of the trip. The organizers were being kept apprised of the field conditions four hours away and we were told the field was dry...ha-ha, gotcha! It was NOT!
The captains were called together to look at the original field once we arrived. Apparently it was like a giant pond back there, but they decided to try playing in the open stretch of space in the front of what is apparently a paintball field. Good thing we have all this manpower, as they helped to set up an elaborate outdoor course with tents and barrels and such.
However, the ground was sopping wet. Two steps onto the field and my sneakers were soaked! Sigh. Now, since I have gone through two months of physical therapy on my injured ankle I was a bit concerned about running around on wet grass. And a bit skeptical about wet sneakers and rain disrupting the equipment. But I tried to be a good sport...
We were given a tutorial on using the tactical equipment...
However, there were a number of challenges. The weather was not great, a mist or rain gradually soaked the equipment, the wind kept blowing over the tents and the phasers did not work consistently. In fact, the bright red dot that was supposed to allow us to target from across the field disappeared from my phaser entirely before we had even started. Our team was up first, so we did our best to proceed forward with the goal of getting someone into the tent with an iPad (I think this is called a NOD and that those letters stand for something, but I don't know what...someone drop me a note if you know) in order to press a button, start some time and in doing so the length of time it stayed on would determine a winner. At least that is how I think I understood it. I never made it past the first tent. I swear I tried, but I was also very careful moving on that wet grass because of my weak ankle. Additionally, not having that red dot to help me target meant I was really just firing blind and eating up shots, so I was constantly replenishing shots and being an inadvertently easy target so I was running back to the re-spawn tent more often than it felt like I was moving forward! Even if we continued, I know I would have had very little to contribute to my team with this format. But that is entirely beside the point to what happened next.
During the second game the question was floated by our captain to gauge how our team felt about continuing on under these conditions. He was not suggesting we quit, but rather preparing for an anticipated vote among all the team captains to determine whether the conditions warranted dropping the system (and the remainder of the games) from the tournament. At this point one team had already forfeited and six captains remained. One of our teammates was incredibly passionate about playing this format (everyone has an affinity for their home system) and took it quite hard before the vote was even cast. I give Bill (our captain) tremendous credit for standing up for his teammate's feelings about it and voting to keep the system despite being the lone vote in this direction. Ultimately it was decided to drop tactical due to the weather and equipment difficulties. Although this was not a favorite system for me, I really felt for our friend who came out to this event largely to play this tactical game with some of the best players around (clearly not me, but still).
Well, dropping the tactical system allowed us to get back to the hotel early so I had time to try and dry out my soaking wet sneakers with a hair dryer.
And with day two behind us I was glad for a chance to sleep and recharge in preparation for day three. This is intense and tiring!
Comments or questions?