With the inaugural season of Atlantic Laser Tag League play starting in just a few weeks, we figured we at Enter the Bunker would share a few tips to prepare you and your team to take home the gold. Resident paintball and laser tag geek Tyler has kindly shared his best advice to up your laser tag game today.
There’s still time to register your team for our league: registration is open until March 11th, 2019!
And now, here’s Tyler:
The taggers are just as advanced as the system itself. Choose from multiple aiming sights, and tagger modes. Modes include battle rifle, energy blast, shotgun, and more. Whichever mode you’re most comfortable with will need to be accounted for when you make decisions on the field. Battle rifle is a good choice for beginners, with balanced stats and a decent amount of “ammo” – that’s right, you don’t just get to fire away willy-nilly, in this game you’ve gotta consider reload times. Aside from the excellent choices in tagger modes, the equipment is physically lightweight but substantial, with no dangling cords or extensions to get in your way.
The system doesn’t use chest pieces or sensors. Instead, we have headbands with multi-directional sensors, and sensors on the tagger itself. So you can’t block shots by hugging your tagger to your chest anymore, there’s no safety in sniping from a corner, and keep your head down or you’re going to lose points fast.
Pictured: awesome high tech laser tagger.
Speaking of keeping your head down, the headband sensors are able to output damage from certain kinds of shots. For example, if you take a hit from a rocket, any teammates standing a little too close to you are going to take damage as well. This makes for a dynamic, unpredictable playing field, and needs to be accounted for when coming up with your play strategy.
Outside of your equipment choices and considerations, you’re going to need to consider what game mode you’re playing. In league play you could see Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, Domination, Tactical Medic, or Team Domination Tactical Medic. Each match consists of three games, each played in a different game mode. Each team selects one mode, with the third chosen by the Game Warden. So know which mode your team excels at, and consider what the other team’s strengths are, before you choose.
Now that we have a good understanding of the equipment, let’s dive into tactics. While there’s a lot going on in the “heat of battle,” if you follow these tips you’ll have a solid strategic foundation to work with. We’ll cover some of the basics such as shooting techniques, how to utilize cover, and talk more about field control and awareness.
1. Tagger Technique
Hold that tagger snug to your body.
The first thing you need to master is holding your tagger. Just like a violinist’s bow hold, this forms the foundation of play. Obviously “point and shoot at target” is a great start, but if you’re not holding your tagger properly, you’re not going to be able to react quickly to all situations.
The most important thing is to remember to keep your gun up at all times. Always be ready. Far too often I see new players move from cover to cover with their tagger pointed at the ground. What are you going to shoot there? Keep your tagger always at the ready, and you’ll never miss an opportunity. You never know when an opposing team member will come running by, looking the other way, presenting the perfect opportunity for a quick few points.
With your tagger up and ready, now you need to make sure you’re holding it nice and tight. I don’t mean squeeze it with all your might, I mean keep if close to your body, not arms length away. Keep your tagger next to your chest as much as possible, and you make a smaller target. Hold it loose, away from the body, and you’ve just spread out the target between your headband and tagger sensors.
This tagger is way too far from the player’s body.
Finally, shooting. Always be looking for targets. Keep an eye on shadows, headband lights reflecting off the floor, walls, and barriers, and other signs that an enemy might be popping out from behind a bunker in a second or two. Keep that tagger trained on that motion, and start shooting before your target pops out – get the jump on them. That’s “pre-firing.”
Once you start firing, don’t stop. Your target will likely start firing back at you. Don’t panic and run, keep going. Be tenacious. They’re taking damage too, and if you’ve got the jump on them, you’re more likely to come out the victor. So give it all you’ve got.
Now that you’ve downed that player – and your system’s let you know by calling out “Tango Down!” – don’t stop and celebrate. Keep moving, either choose a new target and keep firing, or get behind cover ASAP – or both. Don’t leave yourself a sitting duck for the downed player’s teammate to take vengeance on. Get out of there!
Once you’ve mastered these basics, you can start working on more advanced techniques, like switching grips. If you can learn to shoot left as a righty, or right as a lefty, you’re giving yourself twice the range of motion to work with, and won’t expose yourself trying to awkwardly manoeuvre around to get a few shots off on your “bad” side.
Tyler claims not to have “a bad side.”
2. Utilizing Cover
Sharing some cover.
Now that you’ve downed a target, get yourself behind cover. Even the best shot out there needs to know how to effectively use cover. Your sniping skills can only get you so far, you need to reload, and leaving yourself exposed is asking to be eliminated. Cover isn’t just a defensive move either, it can be used for offensive purposes as well. Players will need to understand both uses to make the most of the field obstacles.
First, let’s cover defensive uses. Don’t loosen that tagger grip just because you’re behind cover. Keep that thing close to your body at all times. Make yourself a small target and wait for the system to give you the “Good to Go” message, indicating your health points have recovered. It takes about 10 seconds to regenerate health, so keep that in mind as you hide from the opposing team. Now you’re ready to get back out on the field and keep firing lasers.
Do take the time to let your health recover when you can. There’s nothing worse than gaining a good position on the field only to fall because you didn’t take the time to rest up. This can swing a game, especially in modes like King of the Hill, where your objective is to capture and keep a part of the playing field.
Tyler demonstrates: always keep that tagger up.
While taking cover, keep your tagger pointed in the direction you’re most likely to move. Although you’ve taken damage, you’re ready to go out fighting – or maybe even win a shootout,
While you’re taking cover, take a moment to breathe and look around to see where your teammates are. If you’re pinned down, or on the other hand if you have a good position, don’t throw it away by running in Rambo-style and trying to take out the other team like a one-man army. Communicate with your teammates, turn a defensive situation into an offensive one by working together.
Using cover for your offences is the key to winning your game. Before you even start playing, take some time to inspect the arena. Field configurations change every night of play, so you’ll want to make a point to do this every week. Plan your path across the field, know where the next obstacle is, where an opposing team member could be hiding, or where you could hide. Also, take a good moment to view the field from your opponents’ point of view. It will help you understand how they might be planning to eliminate you.
Think like a zebra: zig-zag. Too many players pick one side and stick to it, or keep hiding behind the same bunker. Mix it up, don’t get predictable. Get low, get high, choose different barriers, different angles, and always bear in mind where the other team could be hiding so you can start pre-firing.
Lastly, as it applies to both defensive and offensive strategies, let’s learn about blind spots. A blind spot is any location on the field that’s blocked out by a large obstacle or piece of cover. When you’re in a blind spot, enemies could get the jump on you. When looking at a blind spot, you can get the jump on them. Always keep this in mind when planning your path across the field.
3. Field Awareness and Control
Always work with your teammates.
Now that you’ve got the basics of tagger skills and cover uses, you need to learn how to control the field. Awareness of the field and split-second decision making will make or break your team’s game.
Most importantly, be actively aware of the position of your own teammates, and where they’re aiming. They’re your backup, and you’re theirs, so whenever you can take a second to check on them. Keep your efforts spread evenly across the field. If you all focus on the left side, you’ll find opponents waltzing along the right edge and surrounding you. Never a good situation. Keeping your head swivelling will keep you informed of your teammates actions, where they’re focusing and who they’re targeting, so you can support them. Communication is very important.
Get a feel for the field. Look for spaces that give you an offensive advantage and communicate this to your teammates. Plan how to get into that position without getting taken out. How are you going to defend that position once you take it, and where do you retreat to if you lose it? What happens if you get locked down, meaning the enemy has you cornered there? Work together to identify and take out the key opponent and make your escape – and if you decide to play the hero and “sacrifice” yourself, make sure it’s going to pay. Don’t throw yourself in front of a laser only to find your teammate wasn’t on board.
Working together as a team to identify and take strong positions is the only way you will succeed. Especially in league gameplay, where every move is important and just a few points can swing the score in your favour.
Use these tips and play smart, and you could just take home first place in the spring season of Atlantic Laser Tag League.
You have just two weeks left to register your team for the first season of Atlantic Laser Tag League. Get your team together and send in this form to get in on the action – or be forced to wait until next season!