Sunday, July 16, 2017

Playing Steradian

Today I had a unique tactical laser tag experience playing outdoors using a Steradian Eclipse model tactical phaser that appears to be a 310. This is different from the current Eclipse 400 (more on that later).

I don't typically play tactical laser tag. In fact I can count on one hand the number of times the opportunity has even presented itself (Armageddon '15 if you count the single game before they dropped the system, Baltigeddon '16 and '17 and a couple rounds of iCombat are all the tactical games I can actually recall playing). So this was different and it was off to Milford, NY to play at Barnyard Swing, home of Wild West Laser Tag using Steradian equipment.

We played a 1v1 in an "arena" built under a barn. The game master handed me the headband attached to the phaser and instructed that it should be worn around the neck like a collar (it had been modified with breakaway snaps for safety). Well...ok. I followed his directions.

For this game we had a twenty minute session. One person went in to hide in position while the other waited for the cue to go in and pursue. Sensors on both the phaser and the headband would register shots and the first person to land six shots would deactivate the opponent and win the round, then we'd return to the starting point. Rinse and repeat with the other player going in to hide. Most wins in twenty minutes would be the winner.


It didn't actually take us 20 minutes. I won every round (I think we went in 7 or 8 times) pretty quickly and so as not to "prolong the suffering" we decided that was enough.

Afterwards the owner was kind enough to show me the differences between the Eclipse phaser that we had used vs the current model Eclipse 400.

They have a few 400s on hand as backups, but mostly use the phasers they've had for about 12 years. All the equipment is stored in an outdoor shed.

The Eclipse I used was made using an apparent paintball gun casing with markings on the back to indicate the company who provided the housing part.

As compared with the lighter 400 series that felt a little less substantial and also had different sound cues when you pulled the trigger.

And he showed me how because of the "close quarters" of their playing field that the lenses were modified with a rubber piece to narrow the beam so it would play more appropriately within the space they use.

Compared to other tactical tag equipment this felt the closest to traditional that I have experienced. I always love getting to try out different laser tag equipment and it was really cool to play with a phaser that I was told by the site owner that they no longer make. This was fun!

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That Went Well...

This was my second weekend of heading to Lake George for Cyber Blast practice. I returned to Adventure Racing for their AYCP deal and was ready to make the most of it, playing a round and then heading immediately back into the briefing room (which is really more of a waiting room) and sometimes just keeping my vest on as the games ran pretty continuously. Beyond being a good value for getting a ton of games in during a short window of time it was also great to play steadily throughout the night with competitive groups.

I'm feeling pretty optimistic about playing this system in a tournament setting (and let's be real, this is a small scale local tournament I'm headed to, not a geddon or anything) so I'm soaking in everything I can. And because my frame of reference is somewhat limited with this system I am basing my impressions largely around the skill level of the others I'm playing against. That's why I'm so glad I've had two worthwhile nights of practice so far. Last week when gamemaster Jacob gave me props on my score of 25,000 I accepted that and figured that was the score range to aim for. This week I had an undefeated night and I averaged all my games between 20,000-24,000...except one. Remember how he told me his all time high score was 32,000? Well...

36,825. Smile. Not sure how this will compare with the player base from the Ohio center I'm heading to, but it certainly makes me feel ready to go in and face the challenge.

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cyber Blast Practice

So I'm going to be playing in a Cyber Blast tournament in a couple of weeks. Since this system is not one I get to play often I realize I need to find a way to get in some practice. And although not the closest or most convenient site locations to where I live I do know that there are two places in Lake George that run Cyber Blast. So instead of chancing another quiet night in Syracuse I hopped in my car and started driving to my 95th arena (I'm definitely hitting 100 by the end of the year) and paid a visit to Lake George Lanes and Games.

Ok, actually I arrived too early, so I detoured to Sushi Yoshi for some delicious sushi before gearing up for a few games. Then I played a light round just to get re-acclimated before asking more specific questions about the system. Max was the game master and gave me an excellent rundown on the features. 

I remembered that the button on the front activated the special modes, so I got a refresher on how best to use Photon for a wide shot or to splay the beam to hit several targets at once, Laser Burst for rapid fire and Shields identified when the vest lights go solid.

We went over base points (and most importantly the 3x cap on base deactivations. When I karaoke VTR the line will now be changed to "this base was up a tree..." Lol :)

And then the land mines that shoot back...

And the targets for extra points...

I also learned that the theme of this arena is clever and regional as it was designed to look like an Adirondack Fort. Take note of the various elements like the cannons, the wooden structure in the middle and the pine trees painted on the walls and you can see some real thought went into this arena's aesthetic.

Thanks Max for the thorough tour and refreshing me on this system that I so rarely get to play!

Later in the night I headed down the road to Adventure Racing Family Fun Center. I played here once about a year ago. There was a good crowd and I got to play with several quality groups throughout the night. 

Jacob was the game master here and he was also really great about giving me a walkthrough with his tips about playing the game. I'm going to bear in mind his suggestion to use shields and burst together. He told me he has worked there for about six years. After only one game I pulled a score of over 25,000 which he said is the second closest he's ever seen anyone get to his all time high of 32,000 just behind some guy who got 27,000, but plays there all the time.

I took that as a real compliment and confidence boost that I could hold my own for the tournament. And I tried replicating that score in the next round, which played closer to the 3 team/4 man format that I understand will be used for this tourney. 

So all in all this was an incredibly worthwhile night of Cyber Blast practice, which was definitely worth the two hour drive to Lake George. I think I'm going to have to do this again. :)

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The Short Version

I have been a slacker with my blogging lately, so I am just going to give you a really short synopsis of what I've been up to that I didn't write about before.

The weekend that all the big state pageants were streaming I was out tagging. First I visited a friend in Rochester and reminded myself why I dislike Tron so much. It's a little bit like eating your vegetables...not as good as the chocolate cake that is Zone, but it's good for me and something I know I need to practice.

Then I made my first appearance in quite a while over at the Force center. I spent a good chunk of the night watching the streaming videos on my phone and only playing sporadically, but by the last game of the night when there were only a few players remaining an opportunity presented. One of those guys asked to play something different. They wanted to play a game that they had never played before. If you know me at all you can anticipate that I suggested "How about Photon?" While the game master groaned the guys were on board. Now this emulation game was about as much like real Photon as pita bread is like a chocolate chip cookie, but hey, I'll take the game however I can because normally nobody ever plays Force Photon with me! :)

I would have played over the Fourth of July weekend except our area got hit with flash floods that washed out many of the roads between my house and Syracuse. Instead I  got a bit of a unique experience at a paintball shoot on Monday. Lesson learned: lasers shoot straight...paintballs do NOT! :) And yet somehow I still managed to hit the target and ring the bell a few times.

I had to wait until later in the week to go play some Helios Pro out in Albany. I went in to grab a vest and tapped my membership card against the sensor. It started flashing the way it should, but memberships have not exactly been fully implemented there so Ben came over and asked what was going on with my vest. When I said I was signed in he was surprised saying "You have a membership card? WE don't even have memberships ourselves yet." So thanks Donnie for the advance hook-up with that card that is for now still a rare item to put Tivia's name up on the board.

And that night just as I was arriving home I got the news that the TagDaPlanet tournament scheduled for August is not going to happen after all. Sigh...a momentary disappointment, but like I wrote about in a previous post, you can't accept reasons not to tag...even I have to JUST PLAY! So I found a suitable tournament option to pursue instead. The only catch is it's going to play using CyberBlast. So, I guess now it's time to find a place to practice some Blast. :)

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