Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thank you Laser Quest!

I want to thank Laser Quest for selecting my photo as their selfie contest winner for this week!

I'm appreciative of winning the four free passes because I have more Laser Quest centers that I am planning to visit in the very near future, so what a great surprise!
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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Weekend Getaway

I imagine most people who plan a trip out of state to play laser tag don't necessarily feel the need to warm up with a couple of games at a local arena first...then again, I'm that crazy person who leaves a tournament during the break to just go play more tag at another site before the tourney resumes! So since there was a two hour delay before setting out for Connecticut I decided to play a couple of rounds in Albany before heading for Newington, CT to play at their Laser Quest site. This was a great time!

Upon arrival I wanted to snap pic...

...and so did manager Mike who photobombed! Lol. :)

Next I needed an inside photo for the Laser Quest selfie contest, so we took a moment before going in.

Then by the time we were done with that a group of 17 players had shown up ready for the Ironman. Excellent...bring it on!

This game felt great from start to finish. I had a fantastic time playing here. I miss having a Quest arena nearby. This night was a lot of fun and I captured first place with what I believe is probably my highest LQ score yet.

That score won me a free frozen yogurt next door at Menchie's.

When did I become one of those people who take pictures of my food? Yum! This was a great night of travel and tag.

The next day was a chance to play at Spare Time in Bristol.

I must say, every Spare Time I have been to has had very well maintained equipment. They use Rift packs here and compared to the beat up equipment I'm accustomed to at my home site it is such a treat to play with packs in top functioning condition. Actually, this was a little different from other experiences I have had with Rift as I have never before played this system with stuns. Those different settings made this game even more interesting.

Visiting Connecticut again was a nice weekend getaway and on the way back I had contemplated trying to stop at one more site, but decided the detour to a nearby Lazer Runner site was too far out of the way. However, there was a different Runner site in my path a couple of days later.

After getting back to NY I had occasion to be in Cooperstown. So I took the opportunity to visit the Cooperstown Fun Park.

This was my last opportunity to check this place out before they close for the season later this week. The arena is constructed with tarp-style barriers and is small, but I could certainly see it being fun for the kids teams that populate the town during the summer season. For me it was a chance for a chance to get in a light game at a site I've never visited before.

It feels good to have three sites already getting me off and running towards playing at my next hundred arenas. ;)

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Friday, August 18, 2017

100th Arena!

When the events in Utah we're over I called ahead to Outer Limits Fun Zone in Pocatello, Idaho. This would become my 100th arena!

I spoke to the manager Stacy to make sure that I would be able to play some Lasertron if I made the three hour drive north into Idaho. Timing this out would be tight as I had to return to the airport in Salt City in time to catch a midnight flight home. Stacy asked where else I had played Tron and when I told her about my goal to play my 100th arena at her center she was wonderfully accommodating. So, off to Idaho I went! :)

I arrived at the site and was informed that the ideal group for me to join would not be playing until 8:00. However, I needed to play sooner to make the pieces all fit into the schedule (and allow drive time back). So they were great to recruit a game with employees and some public players who were already there and I enjoyed talking about the other arena experiences that led me here.

While waiting to go into the game I bought a souvenir to take back home.

And then we went into briefing, got our vests and went in for some Tron.

To be honest I was exhausted from two days of travel and no sleep and I played a very marginal game. But I was also felt exhilarated when it was over as I drove back contemplating the fact that I have achieved this milestone number and have now played in 100 arenas...and still counting!

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Spontaneous Tournament Utah and Beyond!

When I left to go to work on Friday morning I did not think I would be headed for Utah by the afternoon...but life can surprise you! Having learned only the night before about a tournament with Nexus being planned at Seven Peaks in Lehi, UT as part of their "End of Summer Event" I wanted to play, but really didn't think crossing the country on a lark was feasible. However, I already had my tag clothes in the back of my car since I intended to play locally tag that night anyhow. I called the center and was told that this is the largest laser tag arena in Utah and that they would reserve my spot by phone. That claim to fame pretty much sold me on the idea that I needed to be part of this. So with nothing more than what I had with me for the day (figuring I could buy whatever else I needed once I got there) I hopped on a plane Friday afternoon, due to re-routing/connecting flights I actually slept in the airport that night and made it to Salt Lake City in time to rent a car at 10:30 in the morning and get to Lehi by noon to play. Well, this wouldn't be the first time I competed with literally no sleep! Laser tag runs on Dunkin'. :)

Ultimately this event was the most unusual tournament experience I've ever had, but plenty of fun and our team took home some cool prizes for coming in first (more on that later).

I got to the site and met the manager, Scott, who I had messaged with the day before. He showed me around the arena, which is huge, but only half of it would be in use today as they are doing some significant remodeling. Once renovations are completed the arena will have a space theme and look more like this...

But for now there is a different aesthetic. :)

The arena is not what you'd call "balanced", but there were lots of hides, alcoves and ramps, the most useful ones leading you to the highest ground above the in-arena scoreboard. Also lots of side rooms which make the space unique.

I warmed up by playing in a few public games (with quite a few players in those mid-day rounds) and spent that time exploring the map. Then at 1:00 the tournament teams gathered.

One of the things that made this event unusual was that in spite of early anticipation of a higher turnout and plenty of people playing the public games just beforehand, this event did not draw a ton of players so the teams were figured out on the fly and the intended format was changed accordingly (which was fine and worked out for the best). It was a first time event at this site and I imagine more of a learning experience for the organizers (but I give them lots of credit because, hey, I have to leave my state to do this more often than not). Kudos to those who participated. So to call what transpired a real "tournament" is a little broad and using the word quite loosely, but it was fun regardless.

My team included Ryan (aka Target) who is actually a competitive video gamer with some impressive skills (this guy has even had sponsors in the competitive video gaming!) and a couple of more novice players, Cassidy and Mae. There were also players who came in from another local center where Nexus is run too. They had a couple of young guys who played quite fiercely...reminds me of home. :)

Teams went in for three consecutive rounds, high score team to be named the winner. No bases were active and this was scored a bit differently from most other Nexus games I've played. Single points were earned for each tag registered. So high scores were calculated in double digits, not in the thousands like I normally expect.

At the halfway mark I enjoyed a moment to sit in the cafe and chill with some Dippin' Dots and get to know my teammates a bit. This is when Ryan told me about his experience being sponsored in the competitive video game world. I am impressed and it's a shame the competitive laser tag scene doesn't have companies taking similar interest.

When all was said and done we had the high score and my team was invited to select prizes from the arcade. I took home a virtual reality 3D headset (which was perfect since a lava lamp would never be allowed on the plane going home!) and we said our goodbyes.

Things ended early enough that I had just enough time to do something crazy... I drove three hours north into Idaho to check off my 26th state and visit what would become my 100th arena (as my stop in Utah was #99). So thanks to everyone who was part of my visit to Utah and this completely spontaneous tournament adventure!

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Light Still Shines

Phocon is taking place this weekend at XP Lasersport in Laurel, Maryland. However, this is the first year that I have missed Phocon since it began. It's ok that they're down one Tivia this time because rumor has it they have two Bhodis there. :) Although I am sorry to not be there playing this weekend, I am still there in spirit and decided that while the Photon warriors are out playing hard tonight on the vintage system I would get back to my roots and play at FJ where my laser tag journey began...and then began again thanks to Phocon.

For those who don't know my tag story I was too young to be an old school Photon warrior back in the day, but finding Photon on the internet got me started with laser tag back around 2007. I adopted my codename of Tivia (the ninja princess of Photon) and cut my teeth at this very center playing Infusion. I was a casual player, but found that I was pretty good at it and played often. However, I eventually drifted away from tag. Phocon is what brought me back. When I stumbled onto the indiegogo campaign planning for the 30th anniversary of the original laser tag I knew I had to be there. I also realized that anyone making a trip to this event would likely have way more tag experience than me, so I got myself back to my local arena and started playing again. I began playing every weekend. Then I started getting into competitive tag and exploring the wide variety of laser tag systems. At some point I decided to try to play tag in all 50 states and I'll be more than halfway there within a couple of months. I also decided to aim to play at 100 arenas in the process...I will actually exceed that number within just a few weeks. I have met some great people, I've played with and against some amazing competition (I've been on teams with people who are literally world champions of laser tag) and I've had a wonderful time each step of the way as I've chronicled all my random laser tag adventures. I started this blog at the end of 2014, began putting together my personal tag website and built the website that launched on International Laser Tag Day in 2015. I have since been called "the world's authority on the Photon television series" by the vice president of Zone Laser Tag U.S./curator of the Laser Tag Museum (quite a complement indeed). I've been lucky enough to get a personal guided tour of the Laser Tag Museum and hold history in my own hands and I have interviewed some remarkable people ranging from George Carter III (inventor of Photon and founder of the laser tag industry) to getting the coveted first and only interview with Christopher Lockwood aka THE Bhodi Li. :)

Perhaps none of this would have happened without the magic and nostalgia that surrounds Phocon. I am appreciative of Marc Mueller and XP Lasersport for continuing to host this event even after the initial Photon anniversary celebration. I feel very lucky to have been impacted by Photon despite the years and distance between me and any original Photon centers. I have the greatest respect for the fact that the entire laser tag industry owes its roots to Photon and that there are still Photon warriors keeping it alive against all odds. The light still shines!

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

It's On!

I first heard about this tournament at Arena 51 on literally the same day that we found out that another tournament was being cancelled, so I thought this could be an ideal substitution. The tournament site is located halfway between Syracuse and my Ft. Wayne tag family so it seemed like an excellent midpoint for a visit and some competition. However, the Ascendance teammates I hoped would be playing the event with me couldn't work it out to travel during the week so I headed to this event solo, assured in advance that I would connect with a team when I got there.

Upon my arrival I met my new team (Team Genesis) and joined up with John, Darion and Casey. I want to thank them for being solid players and great company during this event.

The first game was a bit of an upset as the team I perceived to be the front runners took second (we were not playing until the next match at this point). That was the point where I felt this could turn into an interesting night. :)

This was a four man/three team format and we successfully strategized taking the bases in pairs to start.

Once everyone had their bases it was on!

We played hard and I was really blown away by the level of abilities the members at this site demonstrated. And although Cyber Blast is not a system I play very much I felt really energized while I was in the arena. The games flew by quickly and everyone was playing full out. Lots of heart in the performance we saw playing out.

During the course of the two days I was there just about everyone said to me "oh, you're the girl from New York". A game master told me that when he heard someone was driving in from New York he was concerned that the members there would pound on me and instead he was pleasantly surprised that I could hold my own in the arena (I'm paraphrasing). So I've got to thank my home state GMs for the great prep I got over the last few weeks to get up to speed with this system.

We ended up pulling third place just behind two teams with a few players that have some pretty impressive rankings in the world of Cyber Blast membership. Special shout out to other John, Tom, Anton and Brit who were exceptional competitors. And congrats to Team Dragon Army for their victory.

Ok, we didn't take home the trophy this time, but they gave us some tag swag for the placement and it was a really good time overall.

And I picked up a couple other souvenirs too.

Kudos to Jim, Rob, Rhianna, Ray (and any of the managers/organizers I may have missed) for a smooth and enjoyable event. I would definitely love to return to this site.

Thanks and congratulations to all the teams and competitors who made this a worthwhile and fun tournament experience!

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97...and Not 97

It's easy to have a sense of deja vu when visiting laser tag sites. I've been to so many and played the same systems over and over (and seriously, every Quest arena looks EXACTLY like the others), but this time I walked into Arena 51 Laser Tag in Middleburg Heights, OH and was immediately struck by the sense that I had been there before. Then this feeling was confirmed when I walked up to the counter and the girl at the register says to me "You've been here before, you're the girl who travels all over for laser tag, right?" Lol...yes. Well, I didn't immediately realize it because their name, system and ownership have all changed, but this was previously the Zone site called Laser Xtreme and I played it on my way back from last year's Battle For The Fort.

I was ready to check this off as my 97th arena, but knowing that I've actually been here before, does it count? It's like 97 and not 97 at the same time. Because it's an entirely different name and system I think I'm going to count it...but I may amend this if it impacts which arena in California ends up becoming my 100th in a few weeks. The 100th arena I play will be someplace really cool...and I will NOT let it end up being a Runner site because of this technicality! :)

I was there a day early to get some tournament practice. A few of the members who were also signed up were there as well. The first few games I spent just getting a handle on the map. This place has a somewhat convoluted flow with one upper level home to the blue and red bases with the green base in another upper level. Since I don't usually get a home arena advantage I have to learn the space fast when I travel.

There were a few members practicing as well so I quickly got an idea of what kind of competition I'd be facing and to be honest it was more impressive and intense than I expected. However, most of the night was spent playing specialty games (am I the only one who hates playing Vampires? ...but playing VIP was cool). And although I firmly believe tournaments should be played on even footing I did purchase a membership card to start earning the advantages some of the other members had.

A few things relevant to the team games with the settings they were using here...shoulder and phaser hits count as stuns, which take a player out for five seconds while a front or back hit is worth more and deactivates a player for eight seconds. Laser Burst here gives you three rapid fire shots per trigger pull rather than the continuous stream of rapid fire that I had been practicing at my center. And for future I must remember that there are numerous targets on the bottom level while most players play on the top level, so it could benefit someone to stay hidden below. And the elements that shoot back at you are set for 500 points even before hitting any player, so the bonus elements are worth paying attention to.

I spent all of Sunday playing at Arena 51 (they had an exceptional value AYCP going on from opening to close), but the next day I wanted to check out the Quest site in Akron.

I enjoyed the opportunity to play. I haven't been able to get in a game of Quest since the Ironman I played in Massachusetts. So this was a nice side trip.

Hoping Scene 75 will have their new site open by the next time I pass through this way. But I've gotten a fair amount of tag in already, so this will just be one more reason to return to Ohio. :)


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