Monday, February 29, 2016

Amazing Weekend

It's exactly one month (well, last night it was exactly one month) until International Laser Tag Day! Are we all going to get out and celebrate the beginning of the laser tag industry with the anniversary of the opening of the first Photon arena? Laser tag day is happening again on March 28th.

Here's a link to the event as promoted through the Laser Tag Museum, so please check it out and get out there tagging!

But why wait...let's talk about this weekend.

It really was quite a weekend made even better with some laser tag added to the mix for good measure. I didn't get out to tag on Friday because I was occupied "working" at a concert event...I got to dance on stage with Salt N Pepa and Tone Loc and got kissed by Coolio, so all in all I can barely call this work. Sometimes my job really has extraordinary perks! :)

So instead I went out on Saturday. It was an opportunity to play some quality tag both with and against my teammates including the latest addition to our league team, Facundo, who is stepping in for Tyler. Joe was pretty much riding a winning streak and I was ok with pulling second for most of the games, but that was done several times by playing against the guys and that makes it a lot more interesting. It makes us all work harder. :) And I did get a couple of wins myself, but I think our group just collectively enjoyed the affirmation game after game that we were the top players in the arena each round. It was also good to learn our new player's strengths by going head to head with him.

Morning came extra early as I was traveling to Buffalo today. I had a really cool opportunity to get backstage to meet a woman who has been an inspiration to me since the beginning of my competition days...Leanza Cornett, Miss America 1993.

And since I was going to pass right by, I couldn't resist making a stop over to Lasertron. I know if I stuck around Buffalo I probably could have gotten into their special ops night, but I went to Rochester instead since it was on my way home.

One session was all I had time for, so I had to make this one count.

And four times that session my pack alerted me that I was the high score player every time. Now, it was in the tactical arena (I know I should be practicing in sport, but it's my weekend and I played what I prefer). And I was happy that I had the time to fit some Lasertron into my weekend.

A couple of my scores were among the top scores of the day...

And I walked away with a souvenir to boot.

So it was a pretty great weekend all the way around.  :)

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

How to Kill A Weekend Right

Friday night I was ready for a stress release and there's nothing like tag for that. And it's even better when I'm joined by the guys from my team who give me some really good competition and comaraderie in the arena. It was a wicked night as it's the tail end of winter break and lots of teenagers showed up...but not the type who give good overly solid competition. These were more of the rowdy, PITA variety. Well, actually some of them weren't so much rowdy as they were...Ferris Bueller? Seriously, one was wearing sunglasses (in the dark arena) and just led a party train through the maze. No idea why. But then there was the skinny blonde kid who decided to harass me by getting in my personal space and sticking like unwanted glue while yelling "get good"  at me over and over. WTH? I was appreciative of Joe getting in the mix to fend the guy off, but seriously, what makes someone act so obnoxious in a game I'll never know. However, our scores put to bed any question of whether or not either of us needs to "get good". Already there, my friend, already there. And that's with a total lack of team support to boot...imagine if we hadn't had a train rolling through!

(yeah, I took back the Legend pack once the guys left for dinner)

On Saturday I decided to return to the Laserforce arena, in part because I needed to pick up a new membership card (the reason why should be self-evident in a couple of weeks).

On the heels of my recent success in Canada let me just say this is barely even the same game. I came in somewhat casually about halfway through the night, but won the couple of games that I played...except one when I stopped mid-game to find the game master for an injured young player who ran straight into another player's pack. Safety, please...this isn't Armageddon. ;)

However, I also left early because I was running sound for a fundraiser event in the morning that would put me reasonably close to the Albany area, so...

Sunday I got back to play some Infusion in Albany. I love this arena and there was a reasonable crowd tonight. Been awhile since I've been able to play full out in this space. Actually, "full out" really only describes the first round, but it was an enjoyable night and worth gambling in making the drive to Albany again. I tried to put myself on the less experienced team to help boost them and pit myself against the more competitive team.

I played all my games there on my favorite pack, Dark Angel. Funny, I only play pack favorites at my Zone sites...probably because I can't swipe a card and make them all say "Tivia". Something feels different when I'm wearing "my pack". However, I noticed someone had broken the fastener on "my pack" here...grrr. But apparently they're going to have a Zone rep do some work on the system (bases were down tonight and the packs weren't giving the usual "Zone god" feedback). Erik, if you're the one who goes in to tune things up, could you maybe fix "my pack" while you're at it? ;)  Smile and just kidding.

So three days of tag are to me the best way to make the most of a weekend. Wouldn't it be great if they were all like this?

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Victory for Team Victory LAP

Another Canadian laser tag adventure! I'm very proud of my Canadian/American team, Team Victory LAP (a cute acronym for Laurie, Ankur and Paul...since Jonathan dropped at the last minute we modified our team name). Side note...this may be the first and only time Ankur has called me Laurie since we met! :) We won first place in the DP Lazer Maze "Ultimate Battle" tournament out of nine teams and I ended up with the top individual score of the event.

We had signed up to be part of a Family Day tournament at DP Lazer Maze in Vaughan, Ontario and met up with friends for a visit the night before. But the tournament was scheduled to start at 3:00 on Monday, so our team began the day with a trip to Zet's (our favorite diner in Mississauga) and then Paul, Ankur, TJ (who didn't want to play, but came along for support) and I went to another location to play a round and warm up for the event. We headed over to Planet Play - Area 51 Laser Tag, also located in Vaughan.

However, I was surprised to learn that they had a private party booked on this holiday and we wouldn't be able to play unless we came back later (which we obviously couldn't do because of the tournament at the other facility). So I approached the guy behind the counter in hopes of working something out since we had come all this way. Now, I've only ever been to this place once and only played one game that time, which was about a year ago. So you can imagine my surprise when I walked up and he remembered me and greeted me by name as "Tivia". Wow...I'm international! :) 

Unfortunately, any cred my player name may have had was not enough to get us into a game, so we just went over to Lazer Maze a little early.

Now, in describing the "tournament" I need to provide both some context and some appreciation. This was their first time putting together an event like this, so there were some kinks and learning curves for management. Was it a 'geddon kind of event? No. However, despite any little bumps, they worked hard and put together an enjoyable contest that would probably be better described as a "competitive gathering"...which was held at the same time they were trying to host a last minute private party group, so props to them for pulling it all together. And a special nod goes to Antonella, an employee I chatted with and saw really doing everything right to keep the players happy while rolling with a very busy event.

We had pre-registered, but signed in at the front counter before getting our hands stamped and receiving our tournament card, then we waited to go in. Our first round we were matched against a team of four players. The organizers were trying (at first) to match similar size teams against each other and break up groups to be proportionate. Later I'll explain the flaw they encountered and how it was modified midway through once I clarified the math/point problem to the organizers. But first game out we won solidly. I told my guys to go for the bases first and then (since there was no friendly fire) just keep continuously shooting at everything in sight. You see, although this was a Laserforce center, this was in no way a Laserforce (read "SM5") tournament. This was like being unleashed in a standard public game as a level one. Exactly like I am not a member here they sent me, along with everyone else, into the arena as a level one. Here was the first game outcome and our first team score up for contention.

I played this round as Ironfist.

Now, the short version of the rules for this event was that you brought your team, you could purchase however many games you wanted at the special rate and then team scores would be tracked and highest team score wins. Sounds good, until (for timing, I think) four teams were sent in at once to play against each other. Again, I accept that there was a learning curve, but with four teams playing at once they all had three times as many opponents in there to target and rack up their score. It took a few attempts to convey the issue, but ultimately we were given an even opportunity to play against a proportionate amount of players in the subsequent games so that our scores had mathematical equality. We were told the scores from our team would be calculated independent of the other players and that, to compensate for imbalances in team numbers the team average would determine the results. Unorthodox, but I was ok with that. 

I played this round as Shadow.

We had adopted a couch as our "home base" during the event. Many thanks for the coffee and time to chill in between rounds.

Before our final game I tried to rally my team...but to no avail, they all had their heads buried in their cell phones. But I had faith as we were called into the arena for our last round that the Laserforce would be with us...and it was. Best game of the night for us and I personally topped over 28,000 points, throwing it down. 

Because this was not a bracket structure kind of event it was not necessary for us to stay until the end...which was good, because weather was turning and it's a six hour drive back home. So we let that final score stand for itself (as the tournament continued on) and we left on a high note and waited for notification of the final results.

And the results are was a victory for Team Victory LAP.  :)

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Interesting Commentary

I was running a little late for tag last night...priorities. I was getting my nails done. Now they sparkle and match my phaser.  :)

Once I arrived I played a series of games (another undefeated streak) with some interesting commentary popping up throughout the night...

First game - This game was smaller and there were some older teens plus a couple of little ones in it, as it was still early in the night. I always try to leave the little ones alone. If they are tiny enough to still be cute they should not be targeted and instead should be offered encouragement during the game.

Note, this is my feeling so long as the following also applies...
1. They are less than 10 years old or four feet tall.
2. They are not mimicking Call of Duty and shooting in my face telling me to "die!"

At the end of the game one little boy had an adorable comment. He exited the vesting room and he told his mother "I defended the base the whole time!" I smiled...first, for his happy feeling of accomplishment. Second, for his particular defense strategy...the way he defended was by saying to everyone who came near it "please don't shoot my base." Hmm...I wonder how that tactic would work in tournament competition? Too cute!  :)

After that point we saw a shift in player demographic (thank goodness) with a way better turnout, both in total number of players as well as there being lots more age appropriate older players. Many of them were young twenty-something guys and girls on is Valentine's weekend. A couple of those guys said to me afterwards "every time, you killed it. Are you an ex-marine?" I'm flattered that this comparison has come up on more than one occasion.

Then here was one of the most irritating (but sort of funny) comments of the night. Did one of the young guys in the arena actually  just suggest that I need an AARP card? :) LOL...not bad for smack talk, but boys, let your playing do your talking. Age and experience just whipped your rear in this game. I wear that badge with honor.

Playing on the success of his earlier joke that same teenager suggested that I need LASIK. I told him I could see his pack just fine as I deactivated him. Later on another one just offered his respect by coming up to me afterwards and saying "Excuse me. You're too good at laser tag" with a nod like a salute.

Next game...Ha! The kid with the smartass AARP/LASIK comments decided it was better to join my team than oppose me! In his words "at least we'll win with her on our team."

And for the rest of the night those younger guys saw the truth in action of that last comment. :)

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Membership Has Its Benefits

Although I'm not entirely certain how the member points are even calculated, I am pleased to say that as of around 4:30 yesterday afternoon I was the number one ranking member at Laser Quest of Rochester.  

OK, now to backup and recap what got me to that point. The night before I was running the sound equipment for an event in Corning and stayed over, so I was already closer to Rochester than usual and thought I'd detour by that way before heading home. I stopped in to Lasertron, but on account of this being "Big Game Day" there was only one session booked with a group which I could join, so after a few successful rounds (my team won every game that round) I headed over to Laser Quest instead. Now, you'd probably think that getting a membership would be one of the first things I would have done when I first started playing here. However, this arena is about three hours away and back in November I didn't realize I would have occasion to be in Rochester five times by now. So I decided that since I'm clearly getting out that way more often than expected I should become a member. They set me up with my key tag (to track my results) and lanyard...

...and registered me as Tivia. Then I went into my first game with about 25 players and did well, scoring 937.

Although I was first in that game, I was particularly eager to see where that would place me in the overall rankings among the members. I figured that average score was the determining factor, but in fact it appears more complex with member points playing a more significant role. But as I looked at the screen I saw that after only one game with my membership I was already ranked as #4 (and yes, I realize that an average calculated from one score is not a real reflection). Still, not bad at all! I was pretty happy with that, although I did not understand the difference between my score and my points. As it happens, the manager on duty was a little fuzzy on that as well, so I can't really say what happened in the next few games to get me to the point where I ended up, but at the end of my last game where I pulled a score of 869, but more importantly (it seems) ended up with 612 member points that pushed me into the number one rank among members at this arena.

Now, I welcome anyone who can explain this better to me to please drop me an email. I turned to the best Quest player I know for a clarification and he told me this... "The member points are a really wonky system, they differentiate based on a numerous factors... number of members in a game, number of players in a game, if it's an ironman game or regular solo mission. Also, if you're playing in games with a member who has a higher ranking and you beat them you can potentially gain more points... and vice versa." Thank you for that, Hot Dice. So, still a little unclear how I managed this in the course of one evening, but in the end when the manager confirmed my ranking I just decided to leave happy that I had accomplished something rather unexpected on my way back from a nice weekend excursion where I was also able to give back to a program that gave so much to me and support my sisters of the sparkly hat.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Accuracy, Not Obliteration

Lately I've been finding that wristband nights at one of my favorite arenas have been...well, quiet.  Call it a mid-winter lull (or maybe a lack-of-winter lull). I don't know why, but the last few times I've shown up I've been crossing my fingers just simply for someone to play against. So, when a couple of players did show up tonight I genuinely didn't want to scare them away, so I tried to go solely for accuracy. The goal tonight needs to be accuracy, not obliteration. At this I both succeeded and failed. Even though at 50 percent my hit ratio for a normal situation wasn't bad...but I clearly didn't reign it in enough. The gap between my score and theirs was about 7000 points (which I really wasn't trying to do) and I thought at that point I might have lost them. The players I was up against were green and if they went in for a second game I could tell I was going to have to severely pull back or else there wouldn't be anyone to play against at all at this rate. So I sat there thinking of how NOT to play it full out...and that's harder than you might think. Next game I vowed to myself to fight every impulse to play hard and only shoot when it's unmissable. I will give up some hits against myself to tighten the gap between scores. The goal will be 100 percent accuracy and scores will not be a consideration for me this time. 

Here's how that game plan went...

88.9 percent. But a closer margin for scores with the guy feeling better than I left him the last game. Playing for accuracy makes me wonder about something though. By my count there were eight shots in that game that I took and legitimately just missed on the first trigger pull. All the rest were either spot on hits or I pulled the trigger at the same time as being deactivated. Do those trigger pulls impact my accuracy if they happened once I was down? Or do only the shots missed while I'm up make a difference? I'm not sure. I suspect the former, but I rarely think about it if I'm not striving for a perfect game. If there was a shot count on the screen it would be self-evident, but unfortunately not.

Once the place had cleared one of the employees, Adam, indulged me a one on one. Best game of the night! Although he tried to play it off like he thought he wasn't very good, he honestly gave me a really solid run. I started out just playing for accuracy again in hopes of not turning this guy off from playing me again (and pulled 59 percent, which at FJ would at least be worth a mention), but by midway through there was no question it was a legit game so I shifted my focus to just playing for real as he gave me a good challenge. I like when that happens. And I'm glad I got some quality game time in this arena. I wish I had more opportunities to play here because it's always a blast!

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