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The Scenic Route

When my Phocon weekend was nearly over I played a final game of Photon, calling it my "one for the road," and I started back towards New York. However, I decided to take a few detours along the way. I looked at the route on my GPS and decided that I would stop at as many laser tag centers as I could that were reasonably located near my route. So for each city I was going to pass through I ran a search using (a great site for which I recently learned Bill, our team captain from Armageddon, is responsible) to find nearby locations. Early in the day I had some challenges (which should not have been totally unexpected since laser tag tends to pick up later in the afternoon/evening)...I would have loved to play a bit more Darklight at the Shadowland location in Columbia, but when I stopped all they had was a private party and no other players. I figured that was likely, but I took a shot. My second attempt was to see if there was anyone at the second XP Lasersport location in Owings Mills (which, in fairness, they told me they didn't have a group booked until 2:00), but I was still too early. So I continued onward and my third attempt was a success.

Once I was in Pennsylvania I detoured into Hanover and found a game using Lasertron equipment at a family amusement center called Hickory Falls. I purchased a single game and waited outside the briefing room.

Entering the room with me were four athletic looking guys in their mid-to-late twenties. This game would just be the five of us playing a free for all...and let's just say they didn't look overly concerned about me. We watched the briefing video and were let into the vesting room where we were instructed to take any pack we wanted. Now, I had some expectations of what a Lasertron location would be like...and this was very different. There were no bases. There were recharge stations, however recharging was not necessary at all in this game, so I don't quite know what the purpose was other than to have a location to return to after each game. The twenty minute session was broken into two ten minute games. With no bases and no special chips this game was simply about tagging the other players and nothing that's what I did. And I am pleased to report that Tivia made a comeback.

Those guys never saw me coming! I made my way to the upper level right away while they all stayed on the lower level. That height advantage makes a huge difference and I was sniping away without a great deal of resistance...which was strange since they all said they had played before and certainly looked like they could be formidable. However it felt great and the game gelled for me immediately. I felt like I do when I'm having a really "on" night at my home arena. At the end of the ten minutes a voice came over the speakers directing us to return to our recharge station. My pack started to ding and indicated to me that I was the high score player. Smile. My intuition had already told me that, but I enjoyed the affirmation.

Then we went right back into a second ten minute round and I was still feeling really on my game...meanwhile it appeared that the guys were upping theirs. The first round I went in underestimated. This next time out they knew where I liked to perch, so I had to move around a bit more, bobbing and weaving on both levels. And even though it was a free for all I think they started to join forces because I had them targeting from both ramps and eventually trying to take the upper level. However, I was shooting fast and furious (my accuracy was atrocious, but my score was excellent) and at the end of it all I left feeling like I had a great workout and was on top of the world. My pack once again affirmed that I was the high score player...I love that sound...and we went out to pick up our scorecards.

We were only given one card reflecting the scores from the last game. I inquired about why there were no scores from the first game and I was mildly irritated because I believe the answer I got was, well...not quite the truth. They told me there were no scores for the first game because it was just a warm-up session to get familiar with the equipment and it didn't really count. Didn't really count?! Warm up game?! None of that was ever said. And none of that makes sense...the game doesn't "count"? Count for what? This was casual Sunday afternoon public laser counts for nothing, but a few minutes of fun and possibly a bit of an ego boost. What does that mean "it doesn't count"? What I think it really means is someone forgot to print the scores, but...whatever. I was handed the scores from the second ten minute match. And here's how it went...

Incidentally, I was player 08. Even though we filled out a computer profile/waiver that included a request for a player codename it was apparently not used. However, I was very happy with my performance and I bought a t-shirt before getting back on the road and continuing onward.

Further along my route I came across the Carlisle Sports Emporium...

This place was also identified on the web as a center having Lasertron equipment, but unlike the first place I played it was much more similar to the Lasertron I had experienced in Amherst. After a weak showing in this system at Armageddon I really had a strong desire to do well here. Not that a public game on a Sunday afternoon was on the same level, but it was a good re-entry for me that helped me feel enthusiastic about the prospect of playing more Tron in the future.

This time around I understood a lot more and the act of playing again just reinforced the concepts I've mulled regarding Lasertron. The game master gave very clear descriptions and tips about what to do if/when you received the rapid fire chip (the only special feature in play). This time I felt more ready. I understood the tagging (which is quite different from other laser tag in that you aren't tagged "out of commission" with just one's more like 20 shots before you are sent back to the recharge station). And I also better understood the value of tagging the base as well as how your opponents could really do some damage while you are there and while you are retreating. Well, now I get it...a little late, but I understand it much better now. And in understanding the game better I also knew what I could do to play it better. And I still believe that the answer lies in getting the base. So I did...a lot. I got the high score in the first game (and was second place the next) by racking up base points, especially when I had the rapid fire ability.

Of course the other team tried to shoot me down while I was going for the base and also when I was retreating afterwards, but with a little practice I got a feel for how far I could push it and still come out ahead in points...and I am so glad that it worked. Coming out of that game successfully really made a difference in my attitude about playing more Lasertron in the future. It put a positive spin on something I had recently been left with negative thoughts about. Now I feel recharged and ready to take on more of this system. When the new facility opens in Rochester later this month I will definitely have to pay a visit. I think you need to strike when the iron is hot and play when the momentum is high. That's how I felt coming off of this whole weekend, particularly these last couple of experiences, and this trip along the scenic route has done wonders for getting my mentally psyched up to get back to doing my thing in my home arenas. I am ready and can't wait to play some more laser tag again weekend.

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