Sunday, June 30, 2019

One, Two, Three Doors Down The Road

The weather has been beautiful lately and that was part of why I decided to make a trip to Lake George area to laser tag. In this touristy area I figured it would give a boost to the three laser tag arenas in town, which are all happen to be located on the same road (route 9) pretty much just one, two and three doors down from each other. I decided it would be interesting to mix things up a bit.

So I decided that I'd play at all three arenas, beginning with my favorite, Adventure Family Fun. I was glad to start the night with an intense round against my sparring partner Tyler. This arena is big enough to be interesting and small enough that you can have good quality small games. And I needed some intense tag in a different venue.

Tyler incidentally doesn't use a codename, but he does use a hip-hop name, Young Trae Boogy (which, let's face it, would be a good tag codename too). If you want to check out his latest here's a link to his song "Love The Muse"...

Something there is resonating right now.

So the night was off and running. I know I've taken pictures of this arena before and typically focused on the most impressive elements, of the upper level, but I realized that there was something notable on the lower level too...

How have I not mentioned those walls?!

Even though I've played all three of these arenas before, I decided this would be a good night to focus on things I haven't showcased as much, so when I went to play Lake George Lanes and Games as my second arena of the night I thought I'd take more pics of the artistry inside the maze.

And then my third arena was a stop over to the Fun Spot. However, there are only so many ways to show you a Tron arena that I've already shared.

The group I played with here gave me a good game, but also reminded me that a little Tron goes a long way. I needed to get in a little more CyberBlast. By the time I returned to Adventure Family Fun later in the night I was just in time for a small, final game that had a twist. When I walked in a father and his young son were just entering the vesting room. I asked how they wanted to divide up and the dad jokingly tolls me that once they were in the arena they were strangers. So I suggested to the boy that I would team up with him and he enthusiastically agreed. This game was played VERY differently. I found myself enjoying being a tag tutor since it was just us at the end of the night. I showed the young boy where the bases were and how to destroy a base so he got plenty of points. Then we went off to find our opponent. When we found him I'd stand back and let the boy take the shot. Occasionally I'd step behind a wall and if he needed help I'd get the shot for him (letting him take the satisfaction and the credit) and when the game was over he was able to claim victory over his dad. :) It was a sweet way to end the night tagging at all three Lake George arenas.

Comments or Questions?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Most Ridiculous Thing Ever

Let me tell you a story that is so absurd that I genuinely don’t know whether to laugh at how ridiculous this is or be absolutely furious…I guess I’m choosing to laugh because there’s no other decent way to respond. In one of the social media groups I follow I noticed a guy (with whom I have a few mutual acquaintances) had posted that he had some laser tag packs for sale. I told him I was interested, gave him my email and asked what he had and what price he was asking. He’s got a couple of Q-Zar packs and a couple of modified Zone packs (I know what he means by modified because based on the description I have played at the site where they came from). He emails me, not answering my question about price, but instead asking me if I’ve ever purchased laser tag equipment before and do I know how to tech packs. That’s weird, is this guy vetting me?

I told him I have four packs from other systems, but never tried to tech them because I only have one of each and they were only ever intended for my collection, however I have friends with Q-Zar packs and access to help with the Zone packs, but would like to know if they are functional and what price point he’s asking. His reply is that “if you can’t maintain them I can’t in good conscience sell them to you. Once this stuff is gone, it’s gone forever. Sorry.” 

Excuse me?!!! This guy has apparently just deemed me UNFIT to purchase his USED LASER TAG equipment! I am dumbfounded by that. Reminds me of an episode of Friends where Chandler sarcastically quips "apparently not everyone is qualified to own wood and nails."

You know, I don’t have to prove that I can maintain the equipment because if I buy something it’s really nobody’s business what I do with it. However, the fact of the matter is that I do have friends with more than ample ability to keep any equipment going and just minutes after reading that email I got on my phone and repeated the whole story to one such friend, the current owner of Laser Storm (not a local arena…the actual company), and we had a real SMH moment about it. If you think I don’t have the connections to keep some laser tag equipment functioning all I can say is never assume. And please don’t think I have to justify this to you either. But as long as I’m down this road already, maybe one of these guys could vouch for me…

Good luck finding a buyer because if you don’t think I’m a good candidate then you must be fishing in a REALLY shallow pool.

Comments or Questions?

Laser Quest Nashville

You might wonder how a trip to Spokane can suddenly morph into a trip to Nashville. Well, ultimately I am working on my goal to play in all the Laser Quest sites currently active in the US, and I actually just made the decision that I’m going to get to all the sites I have yet to play in Canada too. Working from the list on their website there were only seven US locations I still had to play. One was LQ Spokane (which is why I was headed there in the first place) and another was LQ Nashville. When flexible flying necessitates you roll with the punches and I saw that I couldn’t easily get to Washington, but I could get to and from Tennessee I just decided Spokane could wait for my next trip. That’s how it is that I came to play at LQ Nashville this weekend.

This is a really interesting location. First, let me thank Nashville LQ player Mark aka Froznshade for giving me some very useful info, particularly about the parking situation at this site. This LQ is in a VERY busy part of the Nashville entertainment district and parking on the street on a Saturday night was all but impossible. After driving around (and past the parking garage) several times I figured it was easier to just bite the bullet and pay for parking in a nearby lot. So I arrived just a little after 8:00.

I walked up the stairs (yep, this one is upstairs). Here’s the view from the top of the staircase…

Mark met me at the entrance and introduced me to manager Tom who made sure to get me into a couple of games right away since I was not going to be able to stay all night. I had hoped to play in an Ironman while there, however this LQ stays open later than most so their Ironman games wouldn’t start until 10:00 and 11:00. I had to be up by 3:00 to catch my flight home, so it was regular games for me. However, my first game in put me through my paces for sure!

There were just over thirty players in that first game. I found myself trying to figure out the flow of this 10,500 square foot space. It is different from most other LQ arenas in that there are four towers instead of three. As it was my first time in the arena I identified the areas by color (red, green, blue and white), but learned that the local players think of them by number instead. Until this was pointed out to me I never thought about it, but I always reference location in an arena by color…maybe that’s just me.

My score from that game was in the top ten, but definitely did not reflect what I am used to delivering when I play. However, in fairness, Froznshade is headed off to LQ Worlds soon and I don’t even have a Quest to practice at in my entire state, so I felt l at least held my own in that round against quality competition. We immediately went in for a second game. After a full day of tag prior to getting here these two back to back games felt just like an Ironman. Whew! Glad I got a chance to play early enough in the night. I’m also appreciative to be able to add this to my collection…

Even though I didn’t expect to be spending the weekend in Nashville this turned into a really wonderful tag adventure! Now I’m down to just six US LQ sites to complete that part of my goal. And after that…I’m headed for Saskatchewan!

Comments or Questions?

Feels Like Home

Earlier in the evening I had made my way down to Phazer Kraze in Murfreesboro and this was a really great arena for a few particularly distinctive reasons. This was the eighth arena I’d played this trip and my sixth today, but out of all those other places this was the first stand-alone laser tag arena that wasn’t tied in with an FEC or bowling alley. Not that there’s anything wrong with those other locations, but to me there is something really special about sites where laser tag is still the first and foremost focus of the business and that’s exactly what I found here. I mean, it’s right there in the name!

I met the owner, Martin, prior to seeing the arena. He told me about some great ideas he has for adding a new feature to the space to add more playable angles. However, as it was, this site felt very much like playing at my home arenas and it was a very nice experience. There was a comfortable seating area in a low-key lobby with arcade games so it felt more relaxing to wait for the next game here. Another thing that made it feel like home was this…

As soon as I walked into the vesting room I noticed that they had the identical CW wall decor as my home arena in Syracuse and also…

Those walls!!! It really was like playing at home. I put on a Rift pack (always my sentimental favorite because it was my first) and went in to play a round with their Saturday night public players. This was a tremendously enjoyable game in and of itself. There was a nice mix of players of varying ages and even the younger ones really stepped up to the game right alongside the older players.  Then at the end it got a little nostalgic for me. I looked up on the scoreboard at the name that had just won, realized I hadn’t actually looked to see what the name was on my pack and when I did I smiled. Not just because it was my name, but because it was…MY name. I had picked up the pack called “Legend” without even realizing it! Way back when I first started playing in Dewitt (before the site closed) I would always beeline for the Legend pack. I didn’t mind when Razz eventually started using it, but I still always felt like that was my first, my favorite and “my pack”. So when I realized that I had just played in an arena that looked like ‘cuse with the pack called Legend I was reminded of all the good times I’ve had playing in arenas just like this one. And as stand-alone arenas are becoming harder to find in the sea of FECs I really appreciated that this one was providing such a great experience with the focus right where it should be…on the laser tag. I wished I had more time to spend here to play a few more games and next time I pass through Murfreesboro I definitely hope to return.

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Return to Hendersonville

I’m sharing a few of these stories out of order because I had to play the sites a bit out of order too. Because Holder Family Fun Center/Adventure Alley was closed for a private event while I was in town I had to make my way down to Murfreesboro first and then drive back an hour to return to Hendersonville to play at this site. By the time I arrived things had slowed down and the corporate group they were hosting had left. I told the game master that I was in a hurry because I now found myself pressed for time to get back to Nashville, so he took me in for a quick round of CyberBlast so that I’d be able to check out the arena.

This must just be my weekend for Tron tubes and classic CW aesthetics because when we walked into the arena I say some of my old familiar friends…we all recognize this guy, right?

But this time the structure had a Blast target attached and peeked out of the upper level of the arena.

This is where I got a bird’s eye view of the familiar aesthetic and also where game master Chance and I played it out with the phasers.

For the first part of the game I was mentally taking notes about the targets, which could be hit from certain angles and I think I lulled Chance into a false sense of security because I let him get a few easy shots on me. Then when I decided I was ready to really play it was game on and I took that lead back with a vengeance! :) I say that all in good fun, but I do realize I surprised him as I came around one corner and then instinctively knew he’d be headed around the other side where I was waiting. That’s one thing I’ve noticed about playing in CW arenas is that they are fairly predictable maps. So we finished out the game (I won, but probably mostly on target points) and I thanked him for letting me fit this game into what had been a very full day before leaving Hendersonville.

Comments or Questions?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

What's Unusual Here?

As I mentioned before, I unexpectedly found myself flying to Nashville instead of Spokane, which meant a total 180 for my tag plans, but it turned out to be wonderful…and with a few other unusual twists! Starting with my first stop, just a short ways outside of Nashville at Southern Lanes in Bowling Green, KY. Do you see what’s unusual here?

The most interesting thing I noticed immediately about this arena is that they are using Zone Helios gear in a Tron arena. Whenever I see this I am probably more fascinated than I should be by the juxtaposition of these two brands, but it just strikes me as unusual to see the elements of these two systems colliding. I assume that at one point this was a Tron arena, but actually when I found it listed on WhereTo they had it down as a Laserforce arena, so there may be a multi-leveled history of systems here for all I know.

The next unusual aspect of the structure was a REALLY steep ramp to an upper level overlook. Actually, I started up the ramp and midway to the top I stopped because I momentarily wondered if this was leading to an observation deck and possibly not even part of the arena. Yeah, it was THAT steep and high up, but it gave a very nice bird’s eye view of the rest of the field.

Although there were some little equipment glitches during the game I really enjoyed starting the day off with some Zone.

Then I proceeded on my route which included seven laser tag arenas for the day. Now, I’ll mention a couple of others slightly out of order at this point because later on in the day I had another encounter where I found myself playing Zone in a Tron arena at Hendersonville Strike and Spare.

Once again, I put on a Helios pack and found myself playing the game with a group of enthusiastic players who probably had no idea how unusual it is to aim these phasers around the tubular tron structures.

It was a team game in a small, single level arena. I was with a group of teens and tweens and played it lightly, however the game master was watching me and commented “you’re killing it!” which was nice to hear, but I had to honestly say “nah, I’m just walking it.”

Before I left I asked the game master about the other arena in town. He didn’t know what I was talking about, but there is actually another laser tag arena three minutes away in Hendersonville, TN! However, when I drove over I discovered that they were closed for a private event until later in the day, so I had to bypass this arena and stop back around later in the evening.

So instead I moved on to Stars and Strikes in Smyrna, TN. In case you can’t tell by the names, none of these were stand lone laser tag arenas. Almost all the sites I played this day were located inside bowling alley FECs including this one. However, the juxtaposition was switched here…at this site I played Lasertron in a CW arena!

Although we played a basic shields-up game there were bases inside the arena, located where you’d expect a base…just not one like this. :)

The arena walls were very familiar, but it was a nice double level maze and actually this game felt more natural in this setting than in a classic Tron environment. I don’t believe I’ve ever before played Tron in an arena like this.

Although I had to settle for the pre-determined pack name (Black Widow) I got just as much satisfaction out of seeing that name with my score topping the list of high scores for the day.

Thank you to everyone at Stars and Strikes!


I had many varied experiences at the arenas I visited on this trip, but I had to share these three together because they were very distinctive for merging elements unexpectedly. All were a great time!

Comments or Questions?

Stop Over in Charlotte

You really never know where life will take you! This past weekend my plan was to fly across the country and be tagging at a few sites around Spokane, Washington. However, I unexpectedly found myself spending an awesome weekend in Nashville instead! More on that later, but in order to get anywhere I first had to get myself to a hub airport, which is how I ended up with a one night stop over in Charlotte, NC where my weekend adventure began.

I took an afternoon flight after work and got to Charlotte around 6:00 on Friday evening and immediately headed for Sports Connection (Ballantyne) where I met the activities manager, Becca, who helped facilitate a great start to my tag trip. They did not have groups scheduled until later in the evening, so she found three guys on staff to challenge me in three rounds of 1v1 shields up Tron.

Ethan was the first person I met and as we walked back to the arena he said “I’m going to apologize now because I’m going to win, but we’ll have fun.” Little did he know that this is exactly the kind of talk that motivates me and I smiled to myself thinking I was glad this guy was ready to give me a challenge as I walked through the arena entrance.

We each grabbed a Lasertron pack off the vesting racks.

Then we entered a nice, medium sized double level Tron arena with ramps on each side.

This kind of felt like going into a modern-day Roman amphitheater as one by one each of the guys took turns challenging me in the arena while the others looked on waiting for their turn. Ethan put up a good game, but in spite of that I took the win pretty easily in that first round. I believe that was a surprise to everyone observing as we had several staffers watching this game play out, especially considering his earlier comment. Good game, Ethan.

Next up was Eli. I think after watching the first game he came in ready to challenge me even harder, but the second round ended exactly like the first. Thank you, Eli…next player! And the final round I played against Josh. Another good game, but another victory in my favor. There’s something rather gratifying about being underestimated at first and then stepping up to the challenge. I appreciate that each of these guys played hard and gave me a good challenge. This was an excellent way to start my first night of this trip. Thanks to all at Sports Connection for a great time!

From there I headed over to the Lake Wylie Bowl N Bounce. This was a different kind of experience altogether. I am guessing that this is a rather touristy area because I drove past a beautiful waterfront area to get to the arena. This place probably caters more to visitors and families. The arena itself was nothing unusual. The CW walls and layout were exactly what I’d expect in this kind of center. There’s nothing wrong with that, but also nothing exceptional to speak of.

I’m guessing the beautiful weather was part of why things were quiet on this evening as I was once again getting ready to play 1v1 against a staff member. I was escorted to the vesting room by a teenage guy who was so devoid of energy and enthusiasm for this that I couldn’t even engage him in conversation. I commented that he needed a shot of Dunkin’ and all he had to say to that was he was working until 1:00 am. That would have to make this the start of his shift and, frankly, I wasn’t sure he was going to make it through the night at this rate.

We put on Helios vests and went into the double level arena for a very lackluster game. This is not a reflection on the arena itself, but just on the particular situation I found myself in with this game. Compared to the players at the previous arena who really put their heart into playing against me (and I’m always VERY appreciative of that as it makes even a small game worthwhile) here this guy was just walking through it less than half-heartedly, which is unfortunately the main thing I remember about this visit. About halfway through the game I just stopped on the ramp, casually crossing my legs and leaning back to wait.

I wanted to yell out “Come for me Gmork! I am Atreyu!” but frankly I thought the reference would be lost on this kid, so I just waited out the game from that point onward. Sigh, ok…so playing tag was not this guy’s thing. I at least got to experience the arena, so that was something good. It seems like the kind of place small groups and families would particularly enjoy, but for me it was just a check mark before moving on.

My last stop of the night was Laser Quest Charlotte.

I have played here before when the place was packed with quality competition so I know that this is a great arena, however this night I arrived for the Ironman and as it turned out I was the only one who showed up. Again, I blame the quiet night for tag on the weather actually being TOO nice. During the summertime it’s often harder to get people tagging indoors. But I did appreciate that the manager was kind enough to give me a game pass for future as consolation for not being able to play. At that point I still expected to be headed to LQ Spokane the next day, so I figured it would get put to good use. However, by morning my plans would take a turn and lead me to Nashville instead. And that was just fine because anywhere I end up that I can play laser tag is fine by me!

Comments or Questions?