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Laser Trooper Valentine’s Day Massacre Tournament

I arrived at Laser Trooper in the West Ridge Mall in Topeka, KS just in time for the start of their first ever Valentine’s Day Massacre Tournament, a fitting name for an event that was held on February 14th.

The owner, Kip, was the first to greet me when I arrived. When I walked up to the counter Lane handed me my souvenir token for the event, which was a very nice surprise, as I always enjoy taking tag swag home with me. I think it’s very smart for them to offer something collectible as a takeaway for participation. If I know that there is a special tag swag item that is only available at special events it encourages me to make a little more effort to get there and this is EXACTLY the kind of thing that I know lots of people collect from tag sites…just ask anyone who collects the LQ magnets, for example.

Within a few minutes players started to arrive and the first players I met were Thomas, a semi-regular here, and his friend who arrived just in time to enjoy really nice start to the evening. This tournament began with a BBQ dinner that was included with the registration. Kip invited us across the hall to another suite in the mall which serves as his party room and we got ready to enjoy a delicious catered spread of BBQ, mac and cheese, sides and desserts so the players would have a chance to socialize before the competition.

It was here that I met more of the players and took a seat at a table along with Theo, Rachel, Rufflez and Theresa. While chatting I learned that Theresa and I both grew up in the same hometown in upstate NY and that we graduated from the same high school! What are the odds of us both ending up playing at a laser tag event in Topeka?! It was really nice to get to know some people before we got started.

Kip briefed us on the games and how the Laser Trooper equipment works.

Then we prepared for what would be our practice round.

This was a first chance, even for the regular players, to see the new addition to the arena…a newly built raised platform area that had only been completed that very same day and offered a pinnacle point for players to gain height during the game.

Then the games got underway and we played in four consecutive rounds of solo format game play where cumulative scores would determine the results for the event.

We entered the arena, a dimly lit space with movable walls of coroplast and pulsing music emanating from the speakers. In order to be able to hear the feedback from the more pertinent speaker, the one located on the stock end of my tagger, I kept the phaser rifle held high and supported the back part on my shoulder. That way the speaker stayed close to my ear and I could hear the system tell me “well done” when I made a successful tag on another player or “hit, don’t give up” before a series of three “woosh, woosh, woosh” sounds to give you an aural indication of when you can take your courtesy shot. In this system once you are hit your phaser goes down for six seconds, however at the fifth second mark (indicated by the end of the third “woosh”) you can take a courtesy shot while you are still shielded, but before the phaser can again be tagged by an opponent. I tried to use this feature to my advantage.

With sensors on both sides and also down the front of the barrel, I also held the phaser turned on its side to reduce the amount of visible access to the side sensors during the game. This positioning made it a bit harder for me to make proper use of the red dot sight, which was actually not a big deal because I don’t typically play tag where sights are necessary. In fact, some players didn’t even bother using one at all.

The further away you are from an opponent the wider the splay of the IR beam, so for me playing as a sniper was a greater advantage than playing close up because the sensors are so small.

In the first of the four games I played especially hard and ended up getting the top score of the entire night with 4662 points. However, that also gave the other players a heads up that I came to play and the next game everyone else really focused their attention against me, which knocked my next score down significantly and giving the edge to Mystamaris and Push. The third and fourth games were much tighter. Mystamaris in particular was really bringing his top game and since this was going to be based on cumulative score at the end, I really couldn’t say for sure how things were going to play out. This made it much more interesting and it was great to play against players who were really bringing it!

Something interesting about the fourth game was that the staff had us take a short break, during which they rearranged several of the movable walls inside the arena. It was intended to be a surprise, however they forgot that the monitor in the lobby gives a full view of the activities in the arena. So, we knew the walls were being moved, but didn’t totally appreciate how that would impact our playing patterns until we got into the next game. I couldn’t tell you which walls they moved, but I was definitely aware of a change in the flow of the arena. This was a really cool capability and an advantage to their light walls as I have never before experienced an arena that could change their layout on the fly like that in between games. Mystamaris and I were still neck and neck and pulling out all the stops, playing hard and targeting me at every turn. Actually, the top three players for the night rotated placements in several games, which made it a very close contest between Mystamaris, Push and me. I love a good competition!

Once the four qualifying games were completed, we were invited to play a bonus game of Infection while they tallied the scores. A special award was presented to Rachel, who was named the “assassin” with the highest overall accuracy. She was given a really cool hot pink sight of her own!

Then the scores were announced.

In third place with 11,490 was Push.

In second place with 13,041 was Mystamaris.

In first place with 13,499 was Tivia!

With only a 458 point difference between first and second place I want to extend my congratulations to Mystamaris on a really close competition, Push and the rest of the players who came out for this event. I had a wonderful time playing a system that is particularly special because it currently is only available to play at this location (or if you happen to be lucky enough to attend one of their mobile events) so this was a rare treat to get to play Laser Trooper with a really great group of competitors.

I had a wonderful time from start to finish. I look forward to the next time I get to return to Topeka and play Laser Trooper again!

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