Sunday, September 30, 2012

What's NEW for Tactical Tag?

September has admittedly been a slow month for Tactical Tag, which reflects how busy I've been with other things.  At the same time, I know there's a slight concern out there from folks who have seen NM&R's activity take a massive dip with Jerm's departure from the hobby as he ::gasp:: refocuses his time on more important things in life.  While I'm not certain of NM&R's foreseeable future, as the other administrators there are discussing our options, Tactical Tag will always be here.  That much I am certain of!

There are a few things in the works to make Tactical Tag better for both my readers here and on YouTube.  First, I will be opening a store that I'll list products that I've worked on.  I still won't be accepting any commission work, but instead continuing to be active in the hobby and find good homes for my older projects. 

Second, I WILL be bringing back the Weekly Giveaway in some form.  I still haven't decided how I'm going to run it, but I can tell you it will no longer be a random selection.  It will also likely not be a weekly event anymore, but rather a monthly contest with a prize.  I know a lot of readers had been wanting the giveaway to return in some respect, so I'm hoping to give back to the community that has been so good to me!  No official ETA on that just yet.

And lastly, I'll be improving a few media things both here and on the YouTube channel thanks to a new camera I have on order and access to better video editing software.  It's something I've wanted to improve to better serve the hobby as far as promoting Laser Tag and Nerf as well as continuing to document and follow projects and make some nice tutorials.  I'm really looking forward to bettering the experience here for you, so stay tuned for all that!

Should I stay or should I go? Tactical Tips

It seems like when I'm playing a laser tag game outdoors with friends or when I'm slinging foam darts around indoors, folks tend to make some odd decisions as far as their movement (or lack thereof) is concerned that is tactically disadvantageous.  Since this blog is called "Tactical Tag", I figured it'd be a good time to address this common issue that novice players tend to make.  This marks the start of a series of "Tactical Tips" I'll be making every other week for this blog.

Should I stay or should I go?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Plan-a-saurus Rex

While I may not have been super busy with games, projects, or otherwise, don't think I've forgotten about it!  Life right now is a little busy, what with a new job, music gigs coming out my ears, moving into a new place, and just general life craziness, I haven't had time to actually pick up a blaster and mod it or have a game with friends recently.  Whilst running through this hobby drought, I do have a few things coming up quickly.

The first of those is a laser tag game coming up on October 14th.  There's also our Halloween Laser Tag game coming up on October 28th, so it'll be nice to tag it up outdoors again.

Next in line is related to that Halloween Laser Tag game.  Progress is slowly coming along on my Colonial Marine costume.  I have a few ideas on how to build/replicate the distinctive armor they used in the film and the Pulse Rifle isn't too far off from completion.

Lastly, a few friends have unofficially started organizing indoor and outdoor Nerf games too.  We'll be having more games and more modifications coming up as a result of that.

So while there's nothing really to report as far as games or gear for my hobbies, that's what's been on my "to do" list.  My other life commitments definitely take precedence over them, but I certainly haven't forgotten any of it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

USCM: Colonial Marine Build

Well, thanks to the great responses I've read from the previous post, it seems the overwhelming majority of folks are fans of my favorite Sci-Fi film ever: Aliens (1986).  Honestly, I can't blame them!  The Colonial Marines depicted in this film really paved the way for lots of our "future soldiers" we know and love in more modern science fiction themes both on-screen and in video games.  The Pulse Rifle is also one of the most iconic sci fi blasters of all time and JUST so happens to be the pride of my collection.  Even though it's currently unfinished, it's REALLY CLOSE to being completed.  I think between finishing the Pulse Rifle and getting some armor together for the Marine outfit that I can pull off this costume pretty easily.

I'm thinking about doing a hybrid modernized costume for this. In the original film, the Marines had a very "Vietnam" camo style both painted on their armor and worn on their fatigues.  I have seen more recent versions that utilize modern digital camouflage currently used by our United States Marine Corps, and I have full sets of Desert and Woodland camo for this.  I might try and go this route to help expedite the costume building process.

Either way... this means the Pulse Rifle's development gets put back on my priority list!  It's SO CLOSE to being complete so I'm hoping my Arduino buddy who has this thing all programmed can lend a hand to finish this up.  As I wait to resume work on that, it's now my task to find armor materials.  Should be a fun month!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Halloweeneth Approacheth

Last year I covered a bit of the progress I made on my costume for our Halloween Laser Tag game: Captain America.  I still haven't settled on whether I want to reuse this for the game this year or if I should try something else.  Figured it'd run the idea past my favorite people ever: this blog's readers.

I wouldn't be opposed to using the costume again, maybe tweaking a few things that I just didn't have time to really devote attention to last year.  But I've got a few other options I've been considering and wanted to gauge your opinion on them.

  • Use parts of my Cap costume to make the "Avengers" version of Captain America
  • Use items from my tactical gear to recreate a character from GI Joe
  • Finish the Pulse Rifle and go as a Colonial Marine
Any preferences?  I'm open to suggestions too, but I've only got a month and a half to put something together, so I'd rather do one of the options I've listed since it'll be quicker to put together.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Apple Attacks

While I highly doubt they meant to, the iPhone 5 looks to put a dent in Hasbro's newest gadget: Lazer Tag Augmented Reality.  The new phone is physically bigger than the previous iPhone 3 and 4, both of which are compatible with the new iOS cradle in the newest iteration of Lazer Tag.  Hasbro has been heavily advertising Lazer Tag with it's iPod and iPhone heads up display gimmick and it looks to either make them design a new cradle (which isn't totally out of the question) or redesign this brand-new system to adapt to this new size.

Those involved with the LTAR's Development have already been hard at work meeting the demands of consumers who wish for Android functionality... but now there's another elephant in the room thanks to the larger size of the iPhone 5.  Got the tip from Skurj over at The Hive Mind, so give that article a read too.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 Years ago

It's hard for me to grasp that 11 years ago I sat bewildered in a classroom looking at footage of airliners smashing into the World Trade Center buildings.  I was still in high school at the time and all I could do to try to understand what I was seeing was to think that it was some kind of movie.  When I first started to see the footage, the second plane hadn't hit yet.  Witnessing that event, even if it was just on a Live TV broadcast, sent a shudder down my spine.  It was hard to stomach that I had just watched an airliner full of people perish amidst the flames and debris.  The punches of reality really set in as I watched each tower sink into ash clouds below.  It's truly been the most horrific thing I can say I've ever seen.

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
11 years ago, I'm kind of glad this is still true.  I'm glad that nothing else of this magnitude has happened.  Not just on American soil, but around the world.  Mother Nature has dealt blows with natural disasters, but there's no malice, no hate in those actions.  Politicians have been attacked verbally, physically, but those were actions against individuals.  Even a shooting in a mall in the city I live in doesn't stack up to the events that unfolded on this day 11 years ago.

Take some time today to reflect, even if you're not living in the United States, about what happened that day.  Over a decade later, it's easy for those feelings to fade away from our memories, but those who served, died, and witnessed this event deserve a few minutes of your time.  I realize that some of my readers may not have been of age to witness this tragedy or were too young at the time to fully understand it, but regardless of that fact, the right thing to do today is to give a bit of your time just to think.

Monday, September 10, 2012

White Praxis!

Unfortunately, it's not another one of Nerf's repaints.  At least, not yet!  A friend of mine across the pond painted up his Praxis in the same scheme as the Pyragon and I gotta say, it looks good in white! 

In 2011 when the Vortex Line made it's debut, we all assumed that the colors for the line would remain in green.  Then the "Light it up" series kinda threw a wrench into that with the Lumitron.  Later, when the Pyragon came out in the summer of 2012, there's question marks over whether the Vortex Lineup will switch to this white scheme or not.  Is this going to be a change for new Vortex Blasters to come?  Or will the Vortex line have different color schemes, much like the N-Strike lineup had (Blue, Yellow, etc).  We'll just have to wait and see.  Until then, this paintjob is a neat look at what the Praxis would look like if Nerf did infact make that switch.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fun in the Fine Arts Building!

Yesterday I hosted an indoor Lazer Tag game for "FAUST", a university theater club on campus, that engulfed the stairwells and hallways of the Fine Arts building in battle.  I've been running games, when asked by their event coordinators, for about 3 years now and it's always a great time!  We actually had quite the equipment shortage going on thanks to the epic turnout, so we improvised a few fun games to make up for this.

24 in total attendance along with myself and an MLTA veteran who's been helping me run games like this for quite awhile.  We had all of our LTXs out, as well as our two LTARs and 4 backup LTTO Deluxes running for these games.  We had a rolling respawn team game that worked out pretty well, but the best events we had was "Horde Mode".  We Split the group of 24 up into 6 teams of 4.  Each team got a chance to battle the "horde" and see how long they could survive against them.  The Survival Team of 4 was set on 25 hits and were outfitted with Shotblasts on their LTXs.  The Horde Team of the remaining 20 players were set on 10 hits and basic equipment with unlimited respawns.

Things initially started off in favor of the Survival team, as the horde was largely unorganized and were getting picked off pretty quickly.  By the second round, the horde had a plan to take out the survival team by sweeping each of the 4 floors as rapidly as possible and alerting other players when they had found the survival team to hone in on their position.  Thanks to the building layout and it's massive staircases, the horde mode quickly found that speed was starting to work against them, as their players were exhausted from sprinting up and down flights of stairs.  By the 3rd and 4th rounds, the horde had slowed back down and the time was favoring the survival teams.  The best survival team by the end of the night was just under 18 minutes, which was largely due to the last survivor's expert run-and-gun tactics.

Either way, it was a great event for FAUST!  There are also talks of another indoor AND outdoor game with us in the Spring semester, so I'm excited to do that again for the Theater folks.  They were great to work with and played well!

Next up is another outdoor game for the off-season MLTA players!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Out with the New, in with the Old

Deja vu?  Nope, just more crappy parts
To the left is the replacement Orange Mod Works Longstrike Massacre breech.  Earlier, in my Massacred post, I had this same breakage on this kit with a 6kg spring.  Admittedly, I was trying to single-hand prime the bolt-action Longstrike and this likely put stress on the part where it broke.  When I received the replacement breech, I installed it with a 5kg spring instead and used the Xplorer rapid-fire grip designed for the Longstrike.  I used it and tested it out a little bit, but nothing too serious.  A few days ago, I let a trustworthy friend borrow my Xplorer/OMW Whiteout Longstrike and during the game it ended up busting at the same point.  He's not known to be rough or inconsiderate to my blasters (I wouldn't have let him borrow the blaster if that were the case) but it jammed mid-way through the game and after I took a look at it, I couldn't believe to see the same break I had experienced before.

Today I decided to open it up and fix this.  I removed the bolt sled and breech, peeled off the OMW logo that had once donned the top-grip before, and re-installed the stock parts.  I probably won't even bother asking for a replacement part at this point, as I have no desire to continue to run unreliable parts in my Whiteout Longstrike.  I'll be keeping the 5kg spring, the OMW plunger tube (since I haven't seen any of those break) and the metal catch and discarding the leftover breech parts. I thought about using the bolt sled, but it seemed like more work than it was worth at the time.

There was still a dart trapped inside the breech, so I decided to get it out.

Once I put the blaster back together, I tested it out with some Elite darts and set it aside for it's next game.  I'm pretty confident it'll be more reliable in it's current state to whomever I end up loaning it out to. I have also decided to cancel my Immortal Longshot kit I've ordered from them.  Experience with OMW tells me that regardless of how much time they spend on testing out these parts (which was the main delay on the Massacre kits) that it'll still be an unreliable and breakage-prone design.  I'll let someone else be the guinea pig for that release.

Post Game Report: 9-3-12

Loaned my OMW Longstrike to a friend for the game
On Labor Day a few friends got together to have an outdoor Nerf match.  As you know, I play games indoors, so this was an interesting opportunity for me.  We had plenty of space, even parked a few cars out in an empty lot to act as barricades and cover during the match.  No-one had any homemade blasters, just stock and modified Nerf-brand blasters using stock darts.  It was what I expected, lots of dodging darts on poor trajectories, getting the jump on folks caught reloading, and a massive cleanup.  However, after we were done with our outdoor games, we moved indoors and had a blast in a large unfinished basement.  The whole event really just solidified why I do what I do: Nerf indoors, Laser Tag outdoors.

The game host, decked out a little TOO much
There were 10 of us total at the event, nothing big or fancy.  I didn't manage to get a full group shot of the players, as I was just too busy playing the game and finding all our darts.  It was fun, but I definitely preferred the indoor games.   The indoor setting was a large unfinished basement.  We would have one team start inside and have the attacking team enter through the double doors to the walk-in basement.  The doors were metal and rusty, so we would actually kick open the doors to start each round.  From there, it was a lights-out battle to clear the room that was fun for both sides.  A large room to enter into, a second large unfinished room, and a long narrow unlit hallway to connect the two areas made for some exciting games and interesting strategies.

However, there was a casualty amidst the fun.  The OMW Longstrike's breech broke, in the same place as it had before.  This is the replacement part Orange Mod Works sent me and even while the blaster is using thew 5kg spring instead of the original 6kg spring and using the Xplorer top-grip to single-hand prime the blaster while keeping pressure even to both sides, the kit still failed.  I am extremely unhappy with this result and will likely not even bother asking for another replacement from them.  It also has me rethinking the long-standing pre-order on the Immortal Longshot kit, as my faith in OMW has been dwindling ever since the kit delays in January of 2012.  It has been nothing but overpriced products with long delays and failing parts the past few months.  I'm seriously reconsidering doing any future business with OMW when it comes to their kits (aside from springs, which I don't think they're capable of screwing up).  After every precaution was taken with this Longstrike, the same failure happens.

N-Strike Elite: Recolors and Retooling

Well, the N-Strike lineup isn't exactly free of recolors, but at least up until now they've been promoted as just that: alternate coloration variants of your favorite blasters.  TheWhiteout Series, the Sonic Series, the Clear Series, all of the other N-Strike recolors haven't really tried to BE anything else but that.

The N-Strike Elite Lineup, I had hoped, would just be launched with some retooled blasters.  The Retaliator (Recon), Rampage (Raider), and Stockade (Barricade) were all just updated versions of their N-Strike counterparts.  While these are still more than just a recolor, since they have improved performance with better internals, there's not a whole lot of  "wow" factor to them outside of that.  The Elite Lineup has really only had one "unique" design come through in the Hail-Fire.  The Firestrike and Strongarm are both new shell designs, but they're based on tried-and-true N-Strike blasters (the Nitefinder and Maverick, respectively) and now we've got another recolor: the Pinpoint Sight.

While I can't say I'm surprised, I am slightly bummed that the majority of the N-Strike Elite lineup has turned out to be nothing more than retooling and recoloring stuff that's been on the market for awhile now.  While I still like everything that's coming out... I find myself really just wanting to replace my N-Strike stuff for Elite gear instead of have it ADD to my collection, you know?  I'm curious.  What are your thoughts on the progression of the Elite series?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labor Dabor!

September 3rd is Labor Day (US) which means we get a 3 day weekend!  Well, as it turns out, I'm helping plan a Nerf Game that'll actually be outdoors, as opposed to our usual indoor Nerf Games that I partake in.  A friend mentioned that he wanted to do a game at a park with some friends, so naturally I wanted to join them.

I've only done a handful of outdoor games and each time they've been only 5 or 6 people at the most and at the end of the game, I end up wishing we had used laser tag instead.  With their limited range, the cleanup of the darts, and the general inaccuracy that is worsened by the slightest breeze, I choose laser tag over Nerf in an outdoor setting any day.  While I do recognize that there are homemade blasters and darts that can offer better performance that is more suited for an outdoor setting, it doesn't help that no-one else around me modifies blasters like that.  I could be a "Trendsetter" and be the first that would likely trigger others to do the same, but most of the folks who play Nerf with us also play Laser Tag, so we tend to stick with that for our outdoor games.  However, with better turnout anticipated for this game, I might have to start Nerfing outdoors.  I'll just have to see how this game pans out!

  I'll have pictures and details about it tomorrow!  In the meantime, have a great Labor Day weekend!  And if you're of the international flavor, have a great normal weekend!