Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Laser Trooper and the Latest Data

While I was in Kansas I looked forward to the opportunity to visit with my friends Miranda and Elaine and also return to play some tag with them at Laser Trooper in Topeka. At Laser Trooper Kip and his staff operate using a LaserMaxx product line that can only be played in a few select locations and the last time I was here I enjoyed trying this system out in their arena in the West Ridge Mall. Since then they have moved their arena…and yet, they are still in the West Ridge Mall, now on the downstairs level.

We arrived on a quiet day so Miranda and I had the whole arena to ourselves for a 1v1 game (Elaine sat this one out).

With this system there is no need to “suit up” as the entire game is contained in the phaser with sensors down the front and on both sides. So we just picked out our taggers, which are an interesting hybrid between traditional and tactical laser tag…

…and we headed into the arena.

A simple space is transformed by a movable arena that Kip plans to build upon and modify every season. 

Because Laser Trooper is such a rarity to get to play I will look forward to returning to see what they do next.

I debated whether or not to count this site again (making it my 301st arena) simply because it is the same arena walls inside the same mall as it was the last time, but ultimately I decided that I will count it as a new arena because the design, layout and specific location (i.e. the suite address) have all changed. The general consensus of those I have asked is the same. How ironic that (at last I knew) there are only five places in the world where this specific system can be played and I’m now claiming to have played it in two locations in Topeka, Kansas. It’s a judgement call because everyone I know who has an arena count into the triple digits maintains their list a little differently and I want to be consistent with my own criteria, which is predominantly leaning towards only counting actual physical location once…but going from upstairs to downstairs in the mall did give me something to ponder.

In previous posts we have discussed the various criteria that determine whether an arena is an entirely new site or a modification of a previous version. The moment to pause on how to classify this one got me thinking about the last time I shared my list. Actually, there are two lists I keep. One is a list of all the arenas I have played which is updated regularly and can be found here on my website…

However, my other list is one I was curious to update and that is a system count list of how many arenas I’ve played using each laser tag system. The last time I updated this list was about a year ago when I played my 200th arena, so I was curious to see how the makeup of my system count list has changed with the last 100 arenas I have played. So let’s take a look…

Here is the system count list from when I reached my first 200 arenas side by side with how it looks after 300 arenas.

So here’s what this data comparison tells me…

The systems I had already been playing the most like Zone and Laserforce continued to stay highest on the list. Can this be attributed to personal preference, proximity during my travels or overall volume of sites available?

Laser Quest, not surprisingly, made the biggest jump since I’ve been making a deliberate effort to play them all.

Final analysis of the results?  I just play a CRAZY amount of laser tag! :)

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Monday, November 18, 2019

My 300th Laser Tag Arena

This weekend something special happened...I played my 300th laser tag arena at Laser Quest Wichita! This visit to Kansas also allowed me to count Wichita as my final LQ in America. As of now (unless any more should happen to open) I have played every currently active Laser Quest location in the United States. And this was the perfect way to complete that journey.

My day began with a 3:00 am wake-up (as most of my tag trips do) and it was early afternoon when I arrived in Wichita and was greeted by manager Nate who hooked me up with some tag swag and most importantly...the proof!

I told him I wanted to play a couple of games right then and afterwards I planned to travel two hours north to visit friends in Topeka (and yes, play a little more tag, which is why I had to make this number official before doing anything else) then I would return later that night to play the Ironman. So I signed up for the first available game which included some public players and a birthday group. Fortunately, it also included a more experienced player, Grant (aka GGGUnit14), who I was told in advance is one of their regulars who is quite good and mostly comes in to play for cardio. Perfect! I introduced myself and he asked me if I was “the legend”, to which I said “hardly...just a prolific player” because even though I’ve played at a lot Laser Quests I don’t really get to practice often because there are none in NY. Still, it was flattering that he knew what I was there for and we agreed to do some dueling against each other in the orange tower and this was a fun way to get a little more competitive. Such a great time!

The arena is large and a more classic LQ look than some of the others I’ve played recently.

The fog makes it hard to get good pics inside the arena, which is a shame because the banner glowed neon bright under the black lights...

So once it was official we took a few pics outside instead.

After a couple of games I left for awhile to visit with my friends who live in northern Kansas and returned later in the evening to learn that there was a packed arena for the 9:30 Ironman. This looked like the start of a great game!

Sure enough, this proved to be a wonderful time. 33 players made returning for the game really worthwhile and it was a great way to round out a long, but very enjoyable day.

BTW, the top score was Grant using an alternate code name. Nice game!

I was only able to stay in Wichita for just this one evening, but I’m so glad that these are the memories that I will have to look back on when I think about the completion of my “quest” to play at every Laser Quest in the USA (truly laser tagging America) and where I played my 300th arena.

What’s next? Well there are still five more LQs for me to get to in Canada! ;)

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

RVA Solo

The RVA Solo tournament held at LQ Richmond was actually my very first Laser Quest tournament. I looked forward to seeing what this experience would bring and I’m really pleased to say I met some great people and had a wonderful time.

Playing at this site gets me a step closer to a hitting a significant milestone when I play my next arena, but at this point I was simply appreciating the how impressive the arena in front of me was and looking forward to the rest of the night. This LQ was built on another former Ultrazone site and is also very distinctive as a result. I walked around taking in the full scope of the maze even though the tournament would only be played on the ground level.

I asked about the one souvenir I was most interested in taking back with me…the magnet!

And as I adopted a spot at one of the tables I started to meet the other players before the competition got underway.

The evening began with eight regular games being played with the entire group. After each game we would rotate to the next sequential pack so that nobody would play with the same pack twice for the obvious reasons.

As I recognized I was in the presence of much better players I adopted a strategy based on my own strengths. I know I am not good at dogfighting, but I have always done well as a sniper, so I hung back and took my shots while the more experienced players were distracted with each other. However, this was just enough to keep my head above water. It was more of a learning experience for me to be in midst of this kind of competition as the only times I have played competitive Quest in the past were at multi-system events like Armageddon. I learned a lot simply from observation and implementation.

At the end of the regular games the cumulative scores were tallied and we were broken into groups to play in the ladder ascensions leading towards the Triple Quest finals. I was not surprised to be in the lowest group on the ladder, but for me this was simply about the experience so I went in ready for whatever would happen playing a four-man round against Aigis2000, The Hand and TrixR4Kids. Now, I’m not suggesting that this was a spectacular showing, but I was pleased that by placing in the top two of this game I was a wild card and got to advance to the next round.

Unfortunately, that’s as far as I made it in the main comp, but I was actually heartened to have done that decently. I was a rookie here and also glad that I would have a chance to play in the Rookie Double Quest later in the night.

I’ll cut to the chase, I took second in the rookie division behind Kristin (aka Lucky Charm) by a scant 29 points (heartbreaker!), but I congratulate her on taking first. Between us the scores were 675 to 646, so it was pretty close and resulted in me taking home a nicer souvenir than my magnet!

Now, to be honest, I really have no idea what happened in the Triple Quest. I say that for two reasons…first, I was in this part of the arena playing Rookie Double Quest while it was happening…

…and second, I am not sure I am reading the spreadsheet correctly, so rather than report it incorrectly I’ll just refer to the final results Travis announced.

First Place with 931 points – The Fiesta

Second place with 792 points - Juggernaut

Third place with 781 points – DJ Puppy

Congrats to them all. I especially shout out DJ Puppy for playing through on an injured ankle which occurred in one of the final three rounds.

The Fiesta takes home a belt worthy of a WWF wrestler…I’m not quite sure the significance of giving belts as awards, but I guess it makes as much sense as a trophy, lol! And the rest of us took home some great memories and for me a bit more of an education about this facet of competitive Laser Quest. For as many LQs as I’ve been to I generally only get as competitive as playing the Ironman. Perhaps I’ll get to do that on my next adventure which will mark another laser tag milestone. You see, LQ Richmond was my 299th arena and my second to last LQ left to play in the United States. That said, can you guess where I’m headed next? ;)

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Tagging Before the Tourney

Even though we were going to be playing laser tag all night long in the competition, a few of us decided to play some Helios Pro at Launch Richmond before the tournament began.

I met up with Travis, Eric and Gambit and we took some time for a warm-up game in a small, but nicely done two-level arena. This is the third Launch location I have played and I liked the layout of this arena with long wraparound ramps on each side leading to the upper level and a lot of extra targets all throughout.

The base housings were quite open, so defending from above was easy.

We all destroyed the bases fairly quickly, so from there it was just a two on two team game, but it’s always much more enjoyable to play with others who have experience. This was a fun way to start the evening out before gearing up for the rest of the night.

After we left Launch we decided to stop over to Applebee’s where Travis demonstrated what tournament Quest players call “practice”. As for me, I needed a bite to eat for energy to power through as I looked forward to our next stop, the RVA Solo event.

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It's Tagtime!

It must be time for more tag since my next stop was at a place called Tagtime!

I drove about an hour north into Newport News to pay a visit to Tagtime Tactical Laser Tag and join in the next hour-long session using their Adventure Sports HQ gear.

Upon my arrival I met the owner, Brad, who told me they do a lot of outdoor mobile business and had intended to build an outdoor arena when the opportunity presented to build this 10,000 square foot urban battlefield to add more entertainment options within the plaza where they are located. Laser tag sessions start on the hour and several game formats are played within each session. I got a look around the space between games. There are several “rooms” constructed including a home base on opposite ends of the arena for respawning.

Themed obstacles including barrels and vehicles are strategically placed throughout the space and there are two sniper towers in opposing corners.

There were a few bright glowing elements accenting the field as well.

But the games are so immersive that these elements become secondary to the objectives.

As the session got underway with about forty players we were randomly divided into teams by being asked to select a headband from the “bag of destiny” where you would pick either a red or blue headband to determine your team. I liked this method for breaking up the groups and it seemed to result in a pretty balanced separation of players. I was on the red Alpha team.

The next stop was the armory to get out taggers and velcro head sensors.

I picked the one called “Radio” since it seemed appropriate for me… :)

Our first game was Domination. I think at this point I have played Domination on almost every major system. I enjoyed this game. The goal was to press the button for your team’s color on each of these Domination boxes and maintain control of the color for as long as possible.


My team held it down well and we won this round quite easily.

The next game was “Protect the Commander” where a random player had to be kept “alive” and untagged for the entire game. Once again, my team did well and won the round. Next was Team Deathmatch where each player has one life and once you are tagged you are out, so it’s really about who has the most players left on the field in the end. I stayed in the game for the majority of the time, but ultimately I did get tagged out. The blue team won this round. After that we played Search and Destroy where one team presses down two buttons to activate a two minute countdown during which the other team has to find and disarm the box with a code. This format seemed a little unbalanced to me as it appears one team has a natural advantage. I’m not just saying that because my team failed to disarm the box in two minutes time…but that’s how it went and the blue team won again. At two wins per team this final game format would be the tiebreaker.

Our last game was called “Smoke ‘em” and the objective was simple…the team with the most tags wins. This is how I enjoy tactical tag the most. Personally, I am far less interested in strategy games and just love to tag. I think the rest of my team felt the same way because we did in fact “smoke ‘em” with 153 to 117 tags. This hour just flew by!

I took home a couple of souvenir t-shirts. If I had more time I might have tried my hand at the other attraction they offer…axe throwing (have I mentioned I’m a former Lumberjack Princess? I think I could have done some damage there!), but I had to continue on my way back towards Richmond. However, if I find myself back in Newport News again Tagtime Tactical Laser Tag is definitely a site I would love to play again!

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