I feel compelled to write about strategy this morning, even knowing full well that by putting this out there it may come back to bite me next time. This is a map of the arena where I was playing laser tag last night. The goals are two-fold...tag as many players as you possibly can while making sure to tag each of the opposing teams' bases once per game. Let's assume for the sake of the following examples that I am playing on the red team (FYI, my strategy will change based on which team I am on and I suspect next time I will end up selecting a different team just to keep a few surprises). There are several things I can do right out of the gate. Mixing them up so the other team doesn't know which is about to happen is key to not having a tactic predicted by an opponent. My first strategy might be to make a hard run on one or both of the bases immediately. If I'm going after the green base I will "walk quickly" from the red entry door directly to the base. However, if the green team is smart they will have already sent some of their players up the bridge, so I will pause at the first X, look and shoot left for protection and then storm the green base (second X), which may also have some players there to guard already. In my opinion those guards are simply acting as martyrs because that frees up other players on their team to go after points, which is how the game is won. If I am quick I will take this base right away. If I am not and there are more guards than I care to take aim at then I can skirt around to the next base or just kill time tagging some players while I wait for them to clear out.
Now, to mix things up I might start out differently and go for the blue base first. This is actually easier and I don't know why more people don't start here more often. You could call this a patience play because once the doors open if you patiently await the others getting deeper into the arena first you can scoot around and the blue base is generally open right there. I would anticipate there could be a guard, but I would also expect that the team is more interested in getting the red and green bases for themselves this early into the game, so it's not a bad place to begin.
An alternate tactic along this same route is to perform a sneak attack. There will be a grace period while players are entering the arena when the packs are not armed, so if I enter and then simply follow behind or mix in with the blue players (or any team...this is just a for instance) then I might catch them by surprise when the packs turn on and I have several of them with their backs turned to me. I performed this maneuver several times last night and was surprised that only the last girl in line seemed to catch on and try to give her teammates a warning, while the others were asking "how'd you get here so fast?"
I like this arena because there are two levels and those levels are the bridges. If you are on the bridge there are advantages and disadvantages. On this first bridge if you stake out the spot with the X you can see a direct shot line down to the outer part of the green base. If you are a good marksman this is a place where you can rack up points. However, it is also a vulnerable spot and, in my opinion, it's easier to get a shot from below aiming up the bridge than the other way around. So use this position, but don't stay open for too long.
Undoubtedly, there will be opposing players trying to stake out the other bridge. There is a sweet spot where you have a double advantage if you head down the first bridge and cut across. Hiding behind one barricade by the X until you are ready, you can often catch one player on the top of the bridge off guard (because they don't tend to suspect fire from below) and you can also aim directly into the blue base, which by this time probably either has someone guarding or someone trying to capture it. Either way, catch them while they are distracted and you can rack up some points by ducking back into this hidey-hole and repeating the process. Just watch your back, as this is another spot where you could become vulnerable if you hang out for too long.
Last night I was fairly consistent in my playing. Almost every game I was either in the first or second place based on points. I was not concerned with team ranking as the teams ended up being a complete mish-mash with no particular coherence. Our team from last week ended up splintering between the three team colors so I felt the teams were less coordinated and more effort was put out by individual players, yet every team had at least a couple of really solid players, which always makes things interesting. There was only one game where I really slipped up and I put the blame squarely on myself...and my scores reflected that (I think I was in 7th place...I didn't even bother to document that game). I fell victim to another team's strategy that in hindsight may not have actually been a strategy at all.
There was one guy and a group of three girls who were staking out a corner in what used to be the blue base reload station (reloads are no longer used here). They did not appear to be playing very intensely...rather they seemed to just be idly hanging out, which is why I thought this would be easy. I had the same preconceived idea about these girls that other players sometimes have about me. That said, I was hoping for fish in a barrel, but that's not what I got. I came around from the far wall by the doors and tried to shoot into the reload station. I knew they were there and they knew I was there. Unfortunately, each time I'd go for a hit on one, another would tag me. I'd try it again...same thing. They say insanity is the act of repeating the same action and expecting a different result...I should have remembered that. Instead I wasted too much time and took too many unnecessary hits while trying to prove that I could take out this corner single-handedly. If I had some team support it could have happened, however this game was part of the splintering off and I was working this area alone. Precious seconds of game play were lost.
If I had been playing it smart I would have just left them there and found my points elsewhere. Especially considering I could have better viewed this situation in a different light. I should have banked on the universal truth known by every soul living on planet earth...teenage girls are a tremendous distraction to teenage guys. If I had just let them keep him distracted over there I would have had one less aggressive opponent and could have just focused on the rest of the arena. Chalk that one up to "things I'll do better next time". And truth be told, this wasn't my only mistake that game. I also didn't properly recognize what an excellent marksman one of my fellow team members from last week was until I was opposing him (props to you Joe), so I take that entire game as my learning experience of the night. It's good to have those now and again to keep you analyzing things and striving for success in the next round. This morning I feel like a football coach reviewing my own plays in my head. I know what I'll be doing differently the next time I play this arena. However, I have at least three new laser tag experiences in my sights in the meantime, so my next strategy for this map may just have to wait :)
If you have questions or comments please visit my website at www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.