Saturday, October 31, 2015

Not Quite Laser Tag...But Close

Last night before tag my friend Sandy and I did a zombie apocalypse paintball walk. 

Ok, so not quite laser tag...but close. As "creatures" jumped out at us (or more accurately moaned and alerted us to where they were) we targeted them with balls of paint and one by one they all tumbled down. 

We put on masks, which smelled awful, but gave the experience more of a Photon-like quality (except I could see better out of the paintball helmet).

My brother was working the equipment table and when we got back he said "you guys should have used a lot more paint." I argued that I shot and hit every creature that came at me, thank you very much. 

Laser tag lesson learned: When you've got good aim you waste a lot less paint!

It was a muddy 15 minutes out in the dark woods. A good time, but not the adrenaline rush I get from a good game of tag. So after taking a photo with our group I decided some laser tag was exactly what I needed to occupy the rest of the night.

By the time I arrived the night was half over and a game was already in progress. Kevin let me jump right in, so I took both the other teams (and my own) by surprise by showing up mid-game. I played hard with hopes of pulling top rank in a round where I didn't play for the entire length of game. And like the butler...Did it.  :)

The guys I was playing against came out and told me "you're a really good shot" said with complete shock and surprise. Smile and thank you. Next game the group of eleven of us split. The guys all went five and five (or as I look back on it, I guess it was four and six) on red and green teams so to mix it up I went rogue and played solo as a team of one on the blue. Could I pull it off playing entirely by myself and while being target number one for everyone else in that arena? it done.

That was fun. Actually the whole night was enjoyable and these guys were good competition even though there were not as many people to play against. Those who were there brought a good game and I had a good time playing with them for the remainder of the night.

Comments or questions?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Teammates in Toronto

I am just back from a weekend excursion to Toronto and I had a really fun opportunity to reunite with one of my Armageddon teammates, Giorgio, for some Laser Quest at his home site. 

I brought along a group of my friends from the area and we had a great time enjoying a new setting (we went to the Toronto East location, which I had never played at before...we've gone to the Mississauga Quest in the past) and explored a cool arena playing one of the systems I don't get to experience often. Now, Giorgio plays as Onyx and was not going to be taken down this night (he's neck and neck right now with another player, duking it out for overall top placement in this arena...very impressive), but I held my own this time, pulling a rank in the top three.

And he gave me a very useful tip for Quest. In one on one dogfighting he told me to aim for the shoulder sensor (I'm more of a sniper accustomed to going for the chest sensor) and that made a huge difference once I started doing so. 

My friends all had a good time as well (...ok, Ilana isn't really wild about kids, noise, crowds or yelling, so laser tag may just not be her thing), but otherwise we all had a blast. The guys all did well and Garth even won a couple of prize drawings.

Having shown up straight from supporting opening weekend on a movie we all had been involved with promoting at our event in August, we were wearing our movie t-shirts and someone stopped me during the game to ask if we directed the film. But I'll use this forum to say please give the director a break and go watch the film before you judge it.

Getting a chance to play Quest again was great. Playing with friends is even better. Had a great time in Toronto and I can't wait to go back!

Comments or questions?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Little Spare Time

For the last two weeks I've wanted to visit a laser tag arena in Clifton Park that I stumbled upon while researching tournaments online. It's a place called Spare Time and the facility had just added laser tag a year ago, but somehow was not on my radar until recently. I figured I'd show up early and check the place out. When I arrived I found they were using Rift packs (not Nexus like I expected) feels like home already. The staff let me take a tour of the arena while waiting for an appropriate group to arrive and I got to tour a very artistically designed 2500 square foot space with an ancient tomb theme.

There were laser lighting effects that were very cool throughout the two base, single level maze.

Four guys in their 30s showed up and we went in as a small group together (preferable to being lumped in with the birthday party of kids waiting on deck). We watched a Sims-like instructional video before being let into the vesting room. Since there were only five of us we decided to play free for all. That's always fun. :)

This game played SMOOTH. The beams on these phasers were vivid, fully visible and cut through the arena like butter with every shot. this how the equipment is supposed to work? Just kidding...sort of. But it was a treat to play with a pack that worked so well and connected with its target so cleanly. This was a nice gaming experience!

This was a good first round for trying out the space. I have to wonder if this is a newer version of the system because the bases were similar, yet ever so slightly different when it came to deactivating. And the beams were as bright as Quest...only green. So it was both very familiar and yet a fresh experience at the same time.

How'd I fare? First place as Predator...I felt a little predator-like in the process.

The second game was a different climate. Some kids went into this game, so I decided to team up with the kids to assist them in playing against the other adults, which included random players, but also their moms. I spent some time in the beginning giving the youngest ones a tutorial in shooting the base...during which time I was an open target. Astoundingly, it was the moms who were the ones opting to exploit that vulnerability as I was teaching their kids what to do! Well, after the kids were well on their way to base goals I went to make up for lost time and get back some points. The other players who jumped in were quite good. I'd love to play this arena on a busier night. But it was relatively quiet, likely because of the earlier hour of the evening, so after two games I went on my way.

While this is a small space and not a particularly competition-oriented arena (which is fine, it's not proclaiming to be) it was a really enjoyable experience and would be well worth a detour or a combined trip next time I play in the Albany area. 

Next I went over to Zero Gravity. Now, here's the irony. I really love to play in this arena. I showed up, there were 20 college aged, hyped and aggressive players ready to go (and yes, I did my Tivia thing...was Leonardo the first game, even though I'm not wild about that pack).

But the Infusion equipment here, hate to say it, feels so rickety compared to what I just played with. The smaller, less competitive arena has way better packs. If only I could merge the best facets of my favorite arenas. I'd love to use those packs from Spare Time in the arena at Zero Gravity with the base structure and competitive atmosphere of Fun Junction. Honestly, my hand hurt coming off of the first game at Zero Gravity. And after that game I was immediately pegged as the one to beat as one player told his team "everybody go after this girl" while pointing at me before the next game. It's cool, I'm ready. This was actually the start of an undefeated streak for me this night.

A few games in I had my best round of the evening. Not only because it was my high score for the night (I won this round as Dark Angel), but more because I enjoyed taking first in a game where each of the game masters played on a team too. Sweet. The guys jumped into the game and I always enjoy a higher level of competition, so garnering the top score in this round meant a little bit more.

I played one more round before calling it a night. This was an enjoyable evening from start to finish and, because there is only a short drive between these two centers, when I am in the Albany area I will try to plan my nights so that I can enjoy time at both laser tag facilities. They are totally different experiences, but both offer a great time!

Comments or questions?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Do We Have a Problem Here?

Well...last night was weird.

There's a lot of laser tag activity happening this weekend and the regular group I play with went in different directions, most opting to play Monday instead, but I went to our Zone site last night and was the only one from our group there. Although there was still plenty of decent competition, I was pretty optimistic that I could pull off a perfect night. So that was my goal for the evening going in, however something prevented that. Something...weird.

I did take first place in the majority of the games, however things got strange very early on. I say this objectively...I lost the second game of the night ONLY because someone decided that they really had it in for me and I'm not sure why. Some blonde older teenager spent this round following me within less than a foot distance for the entire game. I don't think I know this person, but it certainly felt personal and hostile. Really, take a moment to picture this...a relentless follow with one foot distance with a phaser right on me for every single step I took. He was stuck like glue and it was in no way sporting (unless we were doing LOR, but that requires both players to be WILLING participants). That's not playing laser tag. That is getting in someone's space in an inappropriate way and I think someone needs a reminder...

I asked him if we had a personal problem here or if I was just a trophy. He said I was just a trophy...yeah, I get that sometimes. Even in spite of his unruly little barrage I kept my score up within one shot value (so, yes, by cheating he was ahead of me, but only by 150 points...that's negligible, so I am proud of holding my own anyway). At least I assume that the higher score was his, but since he was following me rather than actually playing he gave up lots of points in the process too, so it's possible that wasn't his score at all...I didn't ask him. Since none of my group was there I just resigned myself to defending myself. It's fine...I'm Tivia. I don't back down. And from here on in I shall call this kid PITA-boy. But I did figure out a defensive strategy for the next round...I was pretty sure I could outsmart the kid. If not, then that college degree was money right down the drain. :)

Mulling the situation, I felt a little bit like Roger Murtaugh...

By the next game PITA-boy had left. Kimmy said "I think you scared him off". Somehow I doubt that this was the case. I think he just realized that it was a stupid and pointless way to play and it was probably as boring a waste of a game for him as it was for me. Even though Kimmy had observed some of this, she just assumed he was one of my group and we were challenging each other in good spirit...intention really is the difference here. Apparently this guy plays there fairly often on the same nights, but again, I don't know who he is, so I have no idea what his angle was. But...moving on and back to playing for real...I took first this next round, but for the record I was prepared with my strategy. However, I won't write about it now, just in case I need to implement it another time.

A couple of games later PITA-boy returns. In the briefing room I have already taken a spot on the blue team by myself when he comes over and says "this time I'm on your team". Although after the last encounter I was very tempted to say "don't do me any favors", this is the point in the evening where my maturity kicked in...I'm twice his age, I am not getting into a grudge match with this kid. Besides, two game masters joined the team as well, so on the whole it was better to just enjoy a good game with quality players. By the end all was cool...or at least not simmering on this end.

I left on a high note, taking first in the last game before going home. I decided to forgo the overnight event going on at the other laser tag center simply because it had been a long day. Hope it was a success. And I hope next week we can move past the nonsense and just play some real laser tag because...

Comments or questions?

Monday, October 5, 2015

SM5 Just Beat Me Up! beat me to a pulp!

Let's preface this by saying it has been about three months since I've even touched a Laserforce pack. The last time I played SM5 was in the Armageddon. And of course I had extremely limited experience with it before then anyhow. But coming off of a few months of playing nothing but Zone this was a hard crash back to reality. But it is necessary for me to get good at this, so I am willing to pay my dues and put in some time and effort to learn it. That said...damn!

Let's just say this is as good as it got last night. My very first game of the night actually landed me in negative numbers! An embarrassing re-entry. I vowed to get my act together better than that, but the truth is for a moment I really think I forgot how to play Laserforce at all! Then I got over that and just realized my experience level needs to catch up with those around me. This isn't Saturday night. :)

The results above were from the second game. Certainly a far stretch from the greatest, but it wasn't my worst either. I got my bases and stayed in the game the whole time without being tagged out early. Both these games I played as scout. Up until this night that's the only position I had played (well, maybe ammo or medic once or twice). But then things got interesting. The randomizer for the first time apparently deemed me "ready" (stupid machine) to try other positions. So I took a turn playing heavy, ammo and medic in succession. It was interesting and more stressful play for me. And it's safe to think next time I'll get my first shot playing commander. Honestly, I miss scout already.

I know I'm still very green at this and making errors, but so far everybody has been decent to me during my learning curve. However, things get tense in that arena. I can't say this is a game I would choose just for fun when I'm in a tag mood (not that I could unless 11 other people hit that same mood just right), but at the same time it is good to start to broadening my skill set and this is something that I know will serve me well if I can get a handle on it. So this will be the next project I dedicate myself to. I will become decent at SM5...eventually. :)

Comments or questions?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Team Catharsis

This week has been...hard. And by Saturday night I had been on a crazy up and down roller coaster emotionally and was just ready to return to something normal, familiar and positive...and running around an arena letting off steam seemed spot on. Thank goodness for laser tag. And also for the wonderful people I get to play it with. My best friend since junior high came out to try a few games. She is not a laser tag player, but it doesn't matter. She is a supportive friend who wanted to be with me every step of the way this week. So she was a good sport and put on the vest and ran around the arena taking part in something she knows I enjoy and making sure that if I needed a shoulder this week that she was right there. Thanks for everything ya! And my laser tag guys...Joe, Will and Tommy played as a team with me all night. Now, often times we may split apart onto different teams just to make for better competition and challenge. However, this night there was something incredibly cathartic about playing as a team and letting everyone else in the arena be the targets. Without getting sappy, playing with a team is a reminder that "you're not alone". I think I needed that right about now and I am also glad to have a healthy release. And even though I don't know them, thanks to the random group of guys who came out this night to be decent competition for brought a good game and that makes a big difference too.

I am still waiting for the tidalwave of emotion I am pretty sure has yet to slam into me full force (most of this week I have just been rather numb), but I take comfort in knowing that a reasonable release is not too far away. Laser tag last night was a way to both escape from real life and return to some degree of normalcy all at once. I may be overusing the word, but the best description I can come up with for last night is...cathartic.

Comments or questions?