Soapbox – General rules of blaster play

Going to take a step away from the norm this week and kick off something I’ve been meaning to do for some time now; time for a general rant/opinion piece. There will be more entries to the soapbox as time goes on throughout this blog, but today’s topic is going to cover what I believe to be some general rules of blaster play. This isn’t going to talk about in game rules or tactics or anything like that, but rather what I believe to be an assortment of truths that many new comers don’t immediately pick up on. By all means, take this as an encouragement to get more involved in local games but also take it for what it is, general advice from someone is probably isn’t quite as good as he thinks he is.

1. You’re not as good as you think you are!

I mostly blame FPS video games for this (now there’s a sound bite and a half), but really video games in general could probably take a fair chunk of the credit. Call it an unfair stereotype it you must but a lot of the people who play with blasters also play a decent chunk of FPS’s. That in itself isn’t a bad thing and it makes a lot of sense; play with pretend guns in a virtual world, play with toys guns in real life. Instead, the problem stems from with it does to your ego. In FPS’s, you’re always the protagonist; in real life, you’re not. Protagonists get all sorts of super magical powers even when they’re just a “normal” dude/dudette.  They can run out in front of 50 henchmen all going nuts will full auto guns, not get hit, and still take out all 50 bad guys with only 20 shots. Conversely, you are just a “normal dude/dudette”. When you run out in front of even 5 people on another team, you’ll  just get shot.

Many people, particularly newcomers, then get frustrated by this. They were all psyched up for their first game. They’re read all about the rules and game types online, they’ve already built themselves an uber-blaster, they’ve got all these really cool ideas of the mad ‘jump-dive-roll-shoot 10 guys-backflip-shoot 10 more guys’TM sick moves they’re going to pull; then they turn up and get shot in the first 30 seconds of their first encounter. This is devastating for them. They had visions of how awesome they’d be and their reality didn’t quite match up to that. Unfortunately  this then sours their experience of the whole day and hurts the chances that they’ll come back.

Instead, what people need to understand is that blaster games are quite similar to most other things on the planet; you don’t get good at something just by thinking about it, you have to practice. For blaster games this mostly means attending more and more games. Sure you’ll have skills that will transfer over from other things you’ve done before but unless you’re some kind of freak, you will get better the more you play.

Crux of the argument is that you’re not as good as you think you are, don’t expect to be the best person on the field on your first outing. Learn to walk before you try to run (metaphorically of course, running it quite a useful skill to have!) and you’ll be fine.

2. You’re (probably) part of a team, don’t try and be the hero.

The vast majority of games I’ve been involved in, I’ve been a part of a team. Sure there are the odd occasion where it’s an ‘everyone for themselves’ type game, but they’re fairly few and far between. This then ties in fairly well with our first part but unless you’re some kind of super human protagonist type (re-read the first point if you have to because you’re not), you will need the help of your teammates. Going it alone will only get you shot. Learn to work with the other members of your team and you’ll have a lot more fun.

3. You don’t need an uber-blaster.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say that they didn’t want to get involved with an organised game because they didn’t have any really good modified blasters. Nuts to that. Turn up with what you’ve got and run with it. Sure you might not have the range or rate of fire of some of the other players, but you’ll still have fun. Take it as a learning experience; learn to play to your advantages and minimise your weaknesses. If you don’t have the massive range of an air blaster, learn to get up close and surprise people. Don’t have a high rate of fire, learn to make the shots you can take count. If you then do decide to later upgrade to a “better” blaster, all the skills you’ve picked up along the way will now be further amplified.

4. You don’t need 17 blasters.

Similar to the last point but albeit in a slightly different manner, don’t let your armoury stand in the way of you joining a game.  There will be people at your games who have 3 of every blaster ever released, you will be fine with practically anything. A single Hornet or Magstrike might cause you some problems, but any clip based blaster should be fine.

The more you play, the more you’ll get a chance to observe other players and figure out which blasters best suit your playing style. Allowing you to purchase only the things that you need.

5. Carry what you can actually use.

I’ve brought this point up with many players in the past but for some reason, lots of people immediately think that they need to carry at least a primary and a secondary. They’ll turn up with a Magstrike strapped to their back, a NiteFinder in their pocket, a LongShot in their hands and 12 clips spread around their person. How do you expect to be able to move? Blaster games are often fast paced, you will be at a disadvantage if you can’t move freely and effectively. Also, how do you plan on using all of those? The Magstrike is often a single use blaster and the other two each take two hands to reload. The answer is often someone along the lines of “I have this one as a backup” but really, how often do your blasters break mid game? Use one blaster to its potential, rather than using three half-assed.

On the darts front, it can be a little harder to know what you’ll need. For most games I’ll run with either a single 35 drum or two 18 clips taped together and not carry any spares. More often than not, that’s enough to last me a game. I’ll sometimes take another drum or pair of 18’s and leave them somewhere on the field (spawn points are good if the game type has one). Again, carrying extra things will just make it harder to move and slow you down. Take only what you need.

Ok, and that about wraps us up for this week. I do have a few more points in mind but we’re already fairly long on this post, so I’ll save those for another day.



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