Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Too Much Tag Nearly Killed Me...Let's Do It Again!

Just kidding…there’s no such thing as too much tag. However, after returning from my most recent (and amazing) tag travels I have too many stories to write up all at once, so I’ll be gradually adding posts over the next few days. Let me just give you a quick overview of why I am so tired this week!

On Thursday I woke up before the sun at 2:30 AM to get ready to leave for the airport to fly to Philadelphia and then make a connecting flight to Atlanta. As soon as I got into my car I looked down at my phone to see a notice that the Atlanta flight had been cancelled. But all I could do was press onward with faith and optimism that I would somehow end up where I needed to be and that happened time and time again.

I got to Atlanta on Thursday and spent the whole day at a site in Peachtree, GA. The next morning I was up by 3:30 to catch my flight out of Atlanta and end up across the country in Salt Lake City. I arrived around noon, grabbed a sushi lunch and then proceeded to play at several sites, not even spending 24 hours there before heading back to the SLC airport to catch a red-eye flight back to the east coast at midnight.

That flight arrived in Charlotte early on Saturday morning. From there I flew into Akron/Canton and got the rental car with which I would drive back to New York. I played more tag before a very unexpected detour to pick up some Q-Zar packs (more on that later) and because I was driving back I was able to take them home with me. After spending the final part of Saturday night in Ohio I drove to my hotel in Erie, PA before getting up early enough to play one game of tactical in Buffalo before playing beat the clock to get the rental car back to Syracuse on time so that I could play in the laser tag league with my team back in ‘cuse on Sunday night. I didn’t get home until around 11:00 Sunday night and then had to go to work the next day.

Four days, four states, twelve laser tag arenas…not my personal record, but still a lot for a weekend.

That’s why right now I look like this…


…and the posts will be added as soon as I can sit down and process what just happened! Great trip though and thanks to all who were a part of the adventure. :)

Comments or Questions?

Monday, July 22, 2019

From Tiaras to Tactical Tag

What, doesn’t everyone dress like this when they’re going to play outdoor tactical laser tag, lol?

I was in Corning, NY this weekend even though I had originally I had planned to be laser tagging on the other side of the country (more on that later). But my plans changed for a very good reason…one of our local titleholders from the Miss Finger Lakes/Upstate New York program became Miss New York and will now be advancing to the Miss America Pageant! Congratulations Lauren!

So, the homecoming/crowning of her local successor was planned for this weekend in Corning. When I was asked to be there to help and run the sound equipment for this celebration I knew that it was more important for me to be here so I cancelled my original plans to be in a laser tag tournament in California and packed up my gear to head for the southern tier of NY. After the celebration, in spite of not having any change of clothing, I ran a search on my phone to see if there was any laser tag nearby. I was amazed to learn that there was a center that offered tactical laser tag right there in Corning! For all my years traveling down here for the pageant program I never knew about this place. So, I made a call and drove a short ways, just a couple of blocks over to the Park Ave Sports Center.

Since I had no other tag clothes with me, I walked in wearing a polka dot dress and sandals…not at all the proper attire, but certainly not the first time I’ve shown up for laser tag wearing a dress! When I arrived I was shown to the outdoor laser tag field where Kyle gave me a tour and set up a demo game for me.

This location uses Laser Tag Pro (now known as Battle Company) tactical equipment which I have only played a few times before. Kyle told me they added the laser tag attraction about three years ago. He gave me a choice of smaller or larger phaser and I picked the larger Battle Rifle Pro XL because I was pretty sure I had never used the larger model previously.

Then we toured the field which included an alcove style respawn station on each side. This one is for the red team…

And sniper towers in each corner as well…

Along with various obstacles, buildings and barricades to play in and around.

Kyle described the various game formats that they use here including Team Deathmatch, CTF, Domination and Juggernaut. My own experience with the system has been limited to more basic games so it’s nice to know that they can accommodate a wide variety of the game options that you would expect.

We did a short, timed demo game 1v1 so I could experience the field before their next party group arrived. It was fun! The shot damage was set at 20 percent, so to deplete an opponent’s health you have to successfully target the sensors on either the headband or the front of the phaser several times to send them back to the respawn station. That actually makes things more interesting than the one-shot format that keeps you running back and forth constantly instead of actively in the game.

At the end of our time the game had been declared a draw with both of us getting two deactivations on the other.

Big thanks to Kyle and to Park Ave Sports Center for letting me play some laser tag this weekend after all!

Comments or Questions?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Playing in the League with "Game of Groans"

This past weekend a new league got underway in Syracuse and I am really looking forward to playing again.

The teams did not start to assemble until we arrived for the first night because we weren’t certain until then whether we’d be playing with three-man or four-man teams, but my spirits were boosted when I saw a post online earlier that afternoon from T-Cow calling for “DIBS ON TIVIA” because it’s always nice to be wanted first for a team. Then once we got there, Axman and I decided to team up as well since we had very similar thoughts about how we hoped to see things go. The final addition was Saiyan Prince once we were told we’d go with teams of four. And that’s how we formed our new team called “Game of Groans”.

Credit to Cecily for that team name. We’ll be playing this league against four other teams including the THP (Try-Hard Paradise), Psychopaths, Rainbow Six and my favorite team name of all…Oooof. 

We will be playing a different format every night we play and this first evening we got ready to play the three-team Masters format. Things started off very well and we came up for strategy that seemed to work nicely. I won’t get into it now just in case we may need to use it again. ;)

We were undefeated for the first four games which is certainly a solid way to begin. However, we were running neck and neck with THP who had also won four and they came in second in one. So, when we played our fifth game and came in second that meant that we were tied with THP and still had to go up against them once more in the final game of the night. At this point we played hard, but not quite hard enough and we took second to them meaning we ended the first night with 10 tourney points and they had 11. Fortunately we have plenty more weeks to try to take back that lead. The final point tally for night one was:

THP: 11

Game of Groans: 10

Oooof: 5

Rainbow Six: 4

Psychopaths: 0

In fairness, I want to point out that the Psychopaths were down a player for most of the night due to a sunburn that was really aggravated by putting on a pack. All teams played with heart, and it should be fun to see how this plays out.

Meanwhile, I have plenty of tag adventures left before the next league night. I might even rep for Syracuse by wearing my new member jersey that just came in.

It’s a sharp look that our Syracuse guys will be sporting at Nats this week. Best of luck in Detroit!

Comments or Questions?

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Parker Lewis CAN Lose at Laser Tag (According to Corin Nemec)

Who besides me remembers a little bit of 90s television nostalgia called "Parker Lewis Can't Lose"? It was a show that aired from 1990-1993 starring Corin Nemec. Well, as the internet never forgets anything, there are still a couple of publicity pieces about this actor floating around that reference him "playing professional laser tag". This is a term that I vehemently dislike because there is no such thing as "professional laser tag". I challenge anyone to show me they are actually getting paid to play this game because that is what defines something as being "professional". Anything short of that is simply an "enthusiast". However, the claim was too interesting to ignore, so I had to check it out...nearly thirty years later. So I went to the source to ask Corin Nemec himself whether it's true that "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" at laser tag and here's what he said...

My guess is that he either didn't know about or doesn't remember anyone attributing that particular fact to his name during his young actor days. You always hear that a lot of what's printed about celebrities is made up anyway, so maybe that's the case here. In any case, two lessons can be learned from this...

1. There is STILL no such thing as "professional laser tag" (ahem...Cody)
2. You can't believe everything you read on the internet! 

Comments or Questions?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Armageddon Day 4

By this point in the tournament we knew that the Force results were not going to change the order, so there was no particular pressure for anything to happen but fun with this system. So, it was back to Syracuse for the final day of Armageddon 2019.

A few games of SM5 are way more tiring by Day 4, but we powered through.

We started out with a win right out of the gate. That was a nice start to this system. However, the next game was a heartbreaker lost by the narrowest margin of only 300 points. Sigh...

The tournament t-shirts had arrived by the end so we all took our souvenirs and got ready to go home and rest.

I want to sincerely thank RNT for organizing this and Kelly for all her hard work with the scorekeeping. There's a lot to keep track of here. Also, some shout outs to my team...

Wil - Thanks for captaining this ship and inviting me to the party. It was great to play another Armageddon with you and I hope we get to do it again.

Emily - So glad to meet another woman with a passion for laser tag. Your enthusiasm for this game is awesome and I love the way you're already planning ahead for more. Maybe we can play some Tron next time I'm in Buffalo.

Cecily - You are such a fierce competitor with a wicked sense of humor! It was a pleasure to be on your team this time around...and equally a pleasure to watch you demolish in Tron in spite of an injured ankle.

Scuba Steve - So great to see you again! Let's definitely try to tag in Texas. You have some amazing experience to draw on and made the trip a lot of fun. Plus, I now feel very educated about salt. Good luck with growing that business!

Jerome - I'm really glad you joined us. You've got a ton of skill that clearly translated across all the systems. Hope you can find more tag opportunities in your new hometown, but always great to tag with you in 'cuse. Glad this gave you a reason to come back home.

Dave Hatt - Your Storm twirls are epic! I'm sure there's a better name for that move, but regardless it was very cool to watch you do your thing. How nice to have you showing us how to roll with this system that is always a bit of a challenge for the rest of us. Maybe we can play in a divided arena sometime.

Dave Merriott - Sorry I didn't immediately realize we had two Daves! But I'm so glad we did because it was awesome to meet you. You taught me a few things about Quest, but above all I love that we just had fun no matter what!

Dallas - You bring a wealth of experience to the party and it was great to play on your team...even when we had no idea if/when to take you seriously! Thanks for being part of it all.

Congratulations to all the teams, particularly $hots for their first place win, FSA in second and Storm-anators in third. Everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed playing with you through this long, exhausting and crazy event called Armageddon 2019.

Comments or Questions?

Armageddon Day 3

Armageddon Day 3 took us to Ultrazone in Bensalem, PA and it was a little nostalgic, reminding me of the last time I was here with my AATB/Ascendance team. Sigh...good memories. Now I would hope to make more memories with a new team.

This time when it came time to play it felt considerably different. As the only "Zone player" on our team this was the system I was to take more of a lead with, but for as many Zone sites as I have played I realized it has been quite a while since I've actually played the tournament format. So this was both a rare treat and a chance to rack my brain for something beyond "Elmo, Elmo, Elmo!" (shout out to RivalBlue, Diz, Razz, Threl and Bubblez with that one...miss you guys!) It also makes me stop and consider why I identify as a Zone player when I don't have any access to playing the tournament format locally (even though I do have a home Zone site in Albany). Unquestionably, I play in our local Force site more frequently than any other location and yet I don't call myself a Force player because I don't regularly play the SM5 tournament format. In fact, I have deliberately made that distinction, so why do I think of Zone any differently? I think it comes down to having played Zone first before experiencing anything (and almost everything) else. But I digress...back to Armageddon.

We started the day with breakfast quite literally calling my name...

And then the bus took us to this familiar destination to start a full morning of tag.

They use Helios Pro and have briefing room art to reflect that (which I'm reasonably certain was updated since my last visit here in 2015).

Then of course it's on to the vesting room.

And then on into the uniquely shaped arena with bases in three corners. 

Because these are three-team games we had longer windows of continuous time in the arena. If your team isn't playing then you're in there reffing. Once again, I'm going to just gloss over the challenges and focus on some positives and a few moments of personal accomplishment. I was pleased to learn that I pulled the top Zone average for our team, even though it was by a lesser margin than I hoped and was not enough to counter the wallop we took for much of this system. And yet, I still love it and if given the choice I still would have played more of this over any other system we played. But every tournament gives you a chance to grow, so I count that as one of the benefits of playing with people at this level. Especially bearing in mind that most of them have been tagging for a considerably longer time than I have with systems they are able to practice regularly. A few even work for laser tag companies or own/manage laser tag businesses. So considering all that I think my team played with heart on a system that some were playing for the very first time ever, so I congratulate them for working together and making some strides and adjusting the tactics throughout the events that resulted in us taking second out of three teams in a third of these games. Not as good a showing as at Tron, but still something.

After Zone we headed for a popular local restaurant right in that same plaza called Taranova's...excellent food! 

Then we headed for Wyomissing where I broke off from the group for a visit with a friend for whom I'm doing sound and voiceover work on an animated movie. How nice that this tourney took me right to his hometown with a nicely spaced break so we could have sushi and chat!

Then came time for Laser Quest Wyomissing.

Hunter and I got our "arts and crafts" time taping the LQ arena codes onto the "surfboards" (activators) before the rest of the group arrived.

Keeping with my "t-shirt for every system" theme I sported the latest LQ wearable gear.

Meanwhile the guys were doing their Ghostbusters thing...

And we played. And we groaned. And we tried to keep track of the packs. And we groaned some more. And we took heart again that we had points on the board...although clearly not enough.

But at the end of the night we mostly enjoyed the camaraderie of the group.

Well, I enjoyed the camaraderie right up until it manifested into a pillow fight in the hallway of the hotel keeping me from getting to my room and getting some sleep! But nobody really expects much sleep at an Armageddon. That will have to wait until after the Force events tomorrow!

Comments or Questions?

The Day I Deliberately Played No Laser Tag (aka Armageddon Day 2)

Yep, you read that right. And here’s why…

Day two of Armageddon started for me at 3:00 AM when I set out for Syracuse to get on the bus that would take us to Lasertron in Rochester. Sigh...although I think this is a really impressive facility I can't say that competitive Tron has ever been my forte. That’s putting it mildly…it’s really my least favorite system in tournament competition. I understand the areas of laser tag that I'm good at, but I also recognize my weaknesses and competitive Tron is definitely one of them. Fortunately, I am on a team with some strong Lasertron players. And since I didn't sit out at all in yesterday's games (as we are fielding a nine person team, but can only play eight at a time) I voluntarily sat out as alternate today. I was of course ready to sub in for Cecily if needed because of her ankle injury, but also very confident that this girl would not need the backup because she is fierce.

Equally fierce are the other Tron players in our group including Wil, Emily and Dallas, so I felt like our team had a very good chance to make up some ground in Rochester. That’s why I was happy to hang back and be the cheerleader for this system, knowing I can contribute far better in the others. 

I have little to add to a Tron discussion other than this...Rochester has a beautiful arena and a windowed viewing area for watching the teams compete.

But the most important thing is not how the arena looks, but rather how it plays, so our team strategized a bit over the map to put together a plan.

I think reffing first gave the experienced Tron players a good chance to watch and identify the other teams' strategies. When it came down to it our team did very well. As soon as they returned from the first game I could tell this was the right approach. So our team took the win in both games against The Storm-anators. Then two more successes against FSA. While they were in this second round I was pacing, praying and all but actually chewing my nails because it would be a shame to ruin this manicure painted in a "Purple Nurple" color...

...as they started strong, gained the lead, lost the lead and then made an awesome comeback!

I am very proud of my team and their performance. And although I love all laser tag, I don't love every system equally, so I'm glad that I was able to let the stronger Tron players do their thing while I get psyched up for tomorrow's events which include my favorite system, Zone!

Comments or Questions?