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Armageddon - Day One (and a half)

Armageddon is here!

The tournament, that is. And I am happy to be playing with a great group of guys...Bill, Carl, Will, Andrew, Georgio, Ziggy and Ben...aka "Team Let's Go Buffalo".

Here is the story of my first major laser tag tournament experience...

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and if that's true I'm about to be the strongest woman I know! I was up at 5:00 A.M. on Armageddon Thursday packing up everything I'd need for my five day excursion. The first Armageddon injury is mine to claim as before I even left the house I jammed a finger on my trigger hand and had to ice my injury.

So, that's how I started my journey towards Buffalo to meet up with the other New Yorkers on my team and carpool out to Michigan for the start of the tournament, as we had to arrive at the first location by 9:00 P.M. We set out at noon, went the shorter route through Canada (passports please) and only stopped once for food and once at the duty free shop (no ketchup chips?), but somehow the trip still took longer than planned and we did not have enough time to stop at the hotel (Ziggy came in earlier from San Francisco and had a room where we could crash for a nap of time allowed), so instead we went to the first arena early to check things out. They had a public game of blast going in and we decided to warm up by feeling out the arena. A few other early tournament arrivals had the same idea, do we played some Blast and got acclimated to the space where we would spend 13 1/2 straight hours playing three tournament systems later that night.

The warm up game was fun and I did well. In a round with my teammates, other tournament players and some public players I left that round in third me that was a fairly good start.

Then we grabbed some dinner and returned to meet the rest of our team and get briefing on the three systems that would be used for the 63 games of the tournament to be played back to back that night...Q-Zar, Laser Storm and Laser Blast. This was a disadvantageous way for me to start because I have NEVER before played Q-Zar or Storm and the Blast was to be COMPLETELY different from what I had just done earlier that night. But I came for new laser tag experiences and was ready to give it my all with whatever came my way.

The first game we played was Storm. This is very different from the other forms of laser tag I have played in that, although you do wear a pack on your chest, you don't shoot at it. Instead your lights appear on a headset and you have an odd phaser that is almost more similar to a remote control than it is like a gun.

We did not win the first game. I hoped it was just a matter of getting our bearings, but there are lots of really incredible laser tag players here and somehow I suspect our team is one of the underdogs. Still, we did our best in a game that included lots of elements that were new to me. We began each game by running through a line-up to energize our phasers underneath a charging station like this...

Periodically as you ran out of ammo you would be called back to recharge (what a pain/inconvenience) and then at the end of the game you would hold your phaser under the charger one final time to register your points. Then at the end our team captain checked out our scores (as this was a system brought in for use at the facility there was no built-in scoreboard for us to follow, so I don't have many individual stats to share). Then, when the players in one round of competition were done they had to walk up the second level ramps and exit the arena from above in order for the next game's players to enter immediately from below being suited up with packs from the alternate system in play.

Because three laser tag systems needed to be completed in one night at one location, packs were brought in for Laser Storm and Q-Zar. Thanks to everyone who set this up to run as smoothly as it did. This is what the vesting room looked like.

Upon arrival for each game a full team would need to be on deck before the game in front of them was completed. If one team was using the Storm packs the next team would be already suited up with Q-Zar packs and everything ran tightly and promptly in ten minute intervals continuously for 13 1/2 straight hours...that was the "what doesn't kill you" part of the first night experience. Although I must give big thanks to everyone who made it run so smoothly. Ricky Vega (the organizer) and Kelly and Anita and everyone else who made it all work so well.

When our team was called up next we were on deck for Q-Zar (another first for me).

In this game you must start by charging you phaser at an energy station.

After being tagged you have to periodically return to energize your phaser again. Then you set out with the goal of tagging enough opponents to super charge and then (IF that is accomplished) you can try to take the base. That did not happen for me at all this night, but if it had I would have found bases for all three systems set up in the same base area.

Instead I just tried my hardest playing games that were totally foreign to me, but it was enjoyable just to play and learn and work with my team...although the novelty did start to wear off around 2:00 in the morning :) Anyone who knows my background with the land of sparkly hats knows I love healthy competition, but HATE the show "Toddlers and Tiaras"...however by the middle of the night/early morning hours I was preparing my own recipe of "go-go juice" from Pixie Stix and five hour energy drink. This is the only thing I've learned from Honey Boo Boo that might (in this circumstance only) have some practical application. IN THIS CIRCUMSTANCE ONLY.

Seven teams of eight players each took turns playing against all the other teams on each system. And we played hard and were exhausted. Most of us used our team table less for strategizing and more for a place to take a nap.

Our youngest player had the roughest time with this grueling schedule (sometimes you'd get a lengthy break, sometimes just a game or two in between before you were back on deck) and at one point he felt too sick from the day to continue. However, we cannot play with less than eight, so...friendly peer pressure at least ensured he finished the night with us, which at that point (or whenever...the hours all blurred) we began playing Laser Blast. I recently wrote about a great experience playing some one on one Blast. I was familiar with the equipment and the feel of the shots...and it couldn't have mattered less because what I experienced was unlike any other laser tag experience I have had...EVER!

Playing Blast we had some odd particulars, apparently requested by the local players (and approved by the captains) that I hope to never deal with again. The phaser would only shoot one time every two seconds (even Photon is 1.8 seconds I believe) and then if you were tagged you were down for 14 seconds AND had to return to behind your designated area immediately to wait for your reset. O-M-G...the most boring and unpleasant format I've ever played. But my perspective on it at 10:00 in the morning (having played 13 1/2 hours straight through the night and not slept since 5:00 A.M. the day before) might have been a tiny bit tinted because by that point I no longer had the ability to stay conscious.

OK, front street...our team at this point in the tournament has only won two games, putting us in second to last place. We are all playing with heart to the best of our abilities, but this is new for several of us and it has not yet gelled. I am way more optimistic about the systems I am familiar with, but in spite of not killing it with scores we are having a good time. I didn't have unrealistic expectations because I am hear playing with and learning from some AMAZING players from all over this country and other countries too (the Swedish team is FIERCE) and so as a first time competitor I am trying to take away knowledge and experience this time around in order to be better next time. However, first I must survive the rest of the event :)

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