Monday, December 24, 2018

Santa Plays Laser Tag

Merry Christmas and a Zappy New Year!

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Tivia Traveled To Tamworth To Tag for a TV

Tivia traveled to Tamworth to tag for a TV...say that three times fast! This past weekend was the conclusion of the ongoing fall tournament that was organized by White Lake Speedway over the last couple of months to promote fall/winter participation at their CyberBlast laser tag arena. As I always say, you have to be in it to win it, so seven weeks earlier I threw my hat into the ring and qualified with scores meeting the designated accuracy levels in five formats including standard with trackers, standard without trackers, Domination, Rabbit and Zombies. At the end of it all my qualifying scores are what won me this 43" Vizio smart TV.

I want to say thank you to Bob and the staff of White Lake Speedway for making this opportunity available. Besides being able to try out some new game formats and add another arena to my list of sites I've played, the scenery was absolutely beautiful in the White Mountain Valley region this time of year and it was a great excuse to enjoy a weekend trip to New Hampshire! This is also the biggest goodie I've ever gotten to take home as a result of laser tag. I'm very appreciative and will enjoy it greatly!
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Double Ironman Champion

I've been an Ironman winner on several occasions at several different Laser Quests, however my recent visit to LQ Danvers was the first time I've ever played two back to back Ironman games and taken first place in both!

I got to Danvers in time for the 9:00 Ironman and it was a very full game. Fortunately I called ahead to reserve a spot. When I got there I was interested by their latest offerings for the holidays. There was a display of holiday themed gift cards and simply for the sake of taking home a card as a souvenir I bought one and then used it to pay for my first game.



Once in the briefing room the crowd of players was incredibly energetic...and loud. As the game marshall explained the Ironman and got to the point of telling the group there was a prize at the end one guy in an orange shirt (who looked familiar like he might be a regular that I might have played against before) announced that he would be the winner. Hmmm, I silently thought to myself...challenge accepted!


We went into the arena and I was playing fiercely. I always go in wanting to win, but in particular I wanted to beat the guy who thought he had it in the bag. That extra bit of motivation had me playing hard in spite of it already having been a long day of work and travel. A half hour of game time seemed to go by relatively quickly. I pace myself when I play Ironman games because those who hit the ground running don't always have the stamina to keep that level up all the way to the end.


When the game was over the guy in orange got to the scoreboard before I did. I saw him get excited when he saw his name in the first position...until he realized that the board was simply rotating through the pages (as is the case when there are over 20 players in a game because the names won't all fit at once). What he thought was his first place finish was actually 11th. And as for first?


I got it. :) I was pleased with the game and knew I had played hard.


After announcing the scores the staff members handed me a sign and the ceremonial red phaser and asked me to pose for a picture.


The crowd of players dispersed and before too long they were replaced by a new group of people arriving for the 10:00 Ironman. I decided since I was there (and had been awarded a free game pass as my prize for winning the first one) I would stick around and do a second Ironman. I figured this one would be a little tougher for me because I'd already played an intense half hour and now I was going to go in for a second round, essentially meaning a solid hour of game play. But I don't get to play Laser Quest all that often, so I signed myself up for the game and went right on back into the arena.


There were less players this game, but just like before the game marshall announced there would be a prize for the winner and someone else stepped up and announced that he would be the winner. I kept quiet, but knew that I was incredibly motivated to take this round simply because I'd never done two Ironman games in a row and thought it would be really cool to actually win them both if I could. So again I played hard and again...


I became a double Ironman Champion this night. The other players gave me props saying "she was a beast!" and I appreciated the accolades as much as I enjoyed seeing my name leading the day's top scores for first and second.


So by the end of the night I had achieved my goal...and I was tired. Time to give it a rest and head to my hotel for the night to rest up for New Hampshire the next morning.



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Detouring to Fall River

Every time I've passed through Massachusetts in recent years I've wanted to detour over to Fall River to play at Laser Gate...apparently home of the Lazer Gator.

Up until now the detour would have taken me too far off my path each time. However, on my most recent trip Massachusetts was just a stopover on the way to New Hampshire, so this time schedule was not so much of an issue. I drove to the southernmost part of the state and found myself in a parking lot that...well, let's just say did not inspire confidence. That's not a slight on the business itself, just on the fact that the locale did not appear to be in the greatest area and I wish that the parking lot had been a little better lit. Safety first. I quickly made my way into the building and stepped onto an elevator bound for the fourth floor.

When I got up to Lazer Gate I stepped off the elevator and had the option to turn left for a few of the attractions or turn right to get to the laser tag arena. I walked to the front desk to purchase my game pass as well as a membership card (although we never quite managed to get the membership set up...the wifi connection wasn't very strong).

It was a moot point as the game was being called in and it was not that big a deal, so I just entered the briefing room with the other players. There was a big group there! The briefing room was a plain atmosphere with a few risers and worn gray carpet. Honestly, it didn't align with what I expected. I was anticipating something a little brighter and newer looking to go with what I hoped I'd find in the arena. The game master did a really quick rundown and then let us into the vesting area to suit up with the Helios Pro packs.

The group was divided into teams of several colors, I'm not certain how many, and we entered the arena. This is where I was struck by a few things. For a place that looked rather rundown in some areas (talking about the exterior, lobby and briefing areas) this arena was really nice in a lot of ways. This double level arena had some AMAZING lighting and prop accents on the lower level. There was almost a Photon like quality to it.

In the center there was a display with floating cubes and orbs...

 ...and...a display of an alien autopsy?!

These interesting elements did not seem to connect with any kind of theme, but they were actually much cooler than what you can see in the pics. Throughout the arena there were some game elements that surprised me. This place had pick-up pads in the arena and yet no typical base like what I expected to see. I found what I assumed to be alternative bases, but even though they seemed to register shots I don't believe I actually deactivated them. It was unusual. I wondered how I could be confused in a Zone game.
I explored the various corners of the arena which actually seemed a little unfinished comparatively. It was an interesting juxtaposition between stark simplicity and ultra cool effects. The upper level was more functional, but less aesthetically interesting.

And I'm not really sure where the gator comes into the theme, but I bought a t-shirt to take home anyway.

I only stayed for one game because it felt sufficient and I knew if I left then I could make it to LQ in Danvers in time for the Ironman. I also wanted to get back to my car as quickly and early in the night as possible. So I said my goodbyes (the staff there was great) and continued on my way north towards Boston to play a little more tag and get to my hotel before proceeding on to New Hampshire the next morning.
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Putting It All Together at Laser Storm Pittsburgh

I had planned to end the evening at Laser Storm Pittsburgh and this was a really great conclusion to my trip.


Not only did I really start to get a much clearer picture in my head about the game, but I also felt very welcomed by the Mator family. Matt and Debbie were both there when we arrived (unfortunately John was away the weekend I was in town). Matt showed us around and this is where the importance of the divided arena really started to gel in my mind. I walked through the arena first, which gave me an opportunity to appreciate how the layout works and how to try to access the bases.


The divided arena makes such a difference and now I can really appreciate how true it is that we're playing an altered form of the game when the system is imported into other arenas intended for different systems. Not being able to cross the barriers means that you have very different dynamics with how the players interact.


Once I realized where I had to go to try to tag the base I had a much clearer objective.


I have to give props to Logan for defending while I shot the base multiple times (which I didn't realize he had been doing until afterwards). You can pretty much tag the base as many times as possible so long as you aren't tagged out in the process. If you are tagged out then it's a long trek back through the maze to get to a recharge station.


I thought things went pretty well the first game.


I looked at my accuracy and said I probably wouldn't post this because 10.24% accuracy was WAY below my norm (says the woman who always claims not to care about accuracy). However, Matt told me that in Laser Storm anything over 10 percent is actually very good. Well...ok, if he says so. I'm sure he would know based on all the tournament hardware this site has accumulated.


Something interesting about Laser Storm is that their national tournament is one of the longest continuously running laser tag tournaments in the United States. And there are regional Storm tournaments that continue to take place as well.


Matt gave me some helpful tips as well, suggesting that I point my index finger down the side of the phaser to help control my aim. This seemed to work well. The next game my accuracy was fairly close to the first round, but rather than make a run for the base I found a spot in the red corner where I was arm's length from the energizer and had a good position for tagging players en route to the base. The other team basically came to me, so this seemed like a sweet spot that served me pretty well.


Before calling it a night I had one more very important thing to accomplish! I loved that they had so much tag swag for sale so I could take home some awesome Laser Storm souvenirs.


I had such a great time playing at Laser Storm Pittsburgh. I appreciate Logan and Matt helping me to learn and navigate this system. I think I'll have a much better go around with it the next time I get to play, which will either be at a site I've just learned about in Franklinville or at the next Armageddon, but either way, I'm very excited to play Laser Storm again.



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Mixing It Up at Wildwood Highlands

When we walked into Wildwood Highlands it was obvious that this is a very popular local amusement attraction with a lot more to offer besides the laser tag that we had gone there to experience. With arcade, bumper cars, kids zone and more there is plenty of family fun here and a lot of different activities coming together. Ironically, there were also a lot of different laser tag messages coming together too! The system they were running was Zone Rift, but I really got a kick out of playing it in a Tron arena.

I really love the mixed imagery here. :) They had previously used the Lasertron system at this site so it made sense that they had kept the arena design.

However, Logan and I both recognized something that seemed out of place. How did a site that, according to Logan, never ran Lazer Runner end up with this Stargate?

It was interesting to find a little touch of three unrelated systems coming together at this site.

We entered a small game with a couple of younger players assisted by game master Jacob. Jacob was surprised by the way Logan and I played. When the game was over he was overly impressed and asked us how we got to be so good. Always a nice compliment. Logan answered "playing in tournaments" while I always say it's the result of "spending WAY too much time playing tag" (as if there's any such thing). When Jacob went back into the vortex to help retrieve a bracelet I had dropped Logan and I had to smile at the fact that he was so impressed with what we both considered to be marginal scores by our own standards at the end of a long day. What would he think if we were playing at our best? Lol...I guess it just goes to show that scores and perception of performance are all completely relative. But it was a fun time and I'm really glad I got to experience this site. And I got to take home some tag swag as well, so it was a very worthwhile stop.

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