Game Report: Melbourne League of Foam 15/5/16May 17, 2016
MLF event with less players than usual for the majority of the time, with several players joining in about an hour before the end of the rounds. Nevertheless the day had quite a few good rounds. I chrony’d several blasters as we had a chrono on hand, which was nice.
- If a player is hit with a dart, they are downed (“hit” and “downed” are often used interchangeably). When downed, they can choose to wait for a medic, or go to respawn (if the gamemode has respawns). If the downed player chooses to respawn, once they move from their spot they can no longer be revived by a medic.
- A medic revives a downed player by placing their hand on the player, counting to 3 (at a reasonable speed). Once the countdown is complete, the downed player is revived.
- A grenade hit forces a player to respawn, and they cannot be revived by a medic.
- A melee tag also forces a player to respawn. If a melee weapon is not available, the attacking player can simply tag the target player with their hand.
- A shield naturally blocks darts, but breaks when hit by a grenade – the shield must be dropped immediately and cannot be used for the rest of the round.
- Kill Confirmed – very similar to Freeze Tag/Tag Teams. When a player is hit, they are downed and must wait for a teammate to revive them, which is achieved with a simple hand tag. In Kill Confirmed, all players are medics. An opposing player may tag a downed player with their hand to “confirm the kill” and eliminate them from the game. Naturally if an entire team is downed, then that team loses even if none of them are “confirmed”. The last team with surviving, non-downed players wins.
- VIP – one player from each team is designated as the VIP of that team (the teams do not need to tell other teams who their designated VIP is). If the VIP is downed, their team can no longer respawn (but can still be revived by their medic). The VIP must call out when they are downed, and cannot be revived by the medic. One player is designated as the medic of the team (likewise whose identity does not need to be publicly shared). The last team with surviving players wins.
Only the blasters that saw significant action (that I saw and remember) are listed here.
Elite Rapidstrike (various motors, LiPos) – standard high ROF blasters, effective at close-mid range though ammo consumption can get out of hand quickly with poor trigger discipline. Relatively recent developments like Worker flywheels and brass dart guides have helped improve accuracy significantly, to a point where they feel no worse than Retaliators and such.
This was my first event with a brass guide in my Bullpup RS, a piece of 19/32″ brass that I’ll be going into detail about in a future post on my own blog. It worked well, accuracy did feel a little improved compared to having just Worker flywheels, and from a chrono test as well as combat experience, muzzle velocity did not appear to be significantly, if at all, impacted. The bonus of no darts popping out the top of clips (mags) is nice as well.
This is also the first time I’ve used my old 2S RS rifle in a long time. I’ve installed a pair of MTB Reapers (name coined by Foam Data Services), the 2S 180 that Ryan had samples made of but didn’t put into production. I installed my pair in my RS rifle along with Worker flywheels. Compared to my Bullpup RS, the Reapers achieve a good 10-15fps more on average (tested using FVJs). As with the brass flywheel guide, a full post on the Reapers will be done in the near future on my own blog.
Elite Stryfe (various motors, LiPos) – the most common blaster at MLF, they have good ROF, range and with the right parts acceptable accuracy. Can’t keep up with Rapidstrikes for spam, and can be outdone for range by high power springers, but very good all round blasters, and a good number of our players prefer Stryfes over Rapidstrikes.
Elite Retaliator (various pump grips, upgrade springs) – solid pump action blasters with decent power and accuracy. Compared to stock flywheel flywheelers accuracy is superior, but is not significantly different to an accuracy improved flywheeler (whether by Worker wheels, brass dart guide or otherwise).
This was my first event using my Gavinfuzzy gripped Retal, and it was rather disappointing. It seemed to be substantially weaker as well as less accurate compared to my Bullpup RS, though that could be just issues with this particular Pumptal. The muzzle velocity was highly variable, presumably dependent on dart fit. It’s a shame, I was really looking forward to using it.
Elite Alpha Trooper (upgrade spring) – has a slightly higher ROF than a Pumptal, but lower power. An effective entry level blaster, but overshadowed by most other popular primaries.
Buzz Bee Sentinel (brass breech, upgrade spring) – quite a powerful blaster, easily reaching the upper limits of the muzzle velocity cap, capable of 130-150fps with a good setup. ROF is quite slow due to being lever action, so it’s significantly harder to use in close quarters or against several enemies, but the high power allows you to keep enemies much further back.
Lanard Hand Cannon (couplered for absolvers and Demo rockets) – more a utility blaster than a main use blaster. When using absolvers, it has a good dart burst at surprisingly long range, making it very dangerous in close quarters. If 2/3 barrels are blocked, it can also fire a single dart fairly well, though still substantially weaker than a Sentinel or other high power blaster. It works decently well as a grenade (Demo rocket) launcher, with enough power for a decent shot.
We used a new third play area, and I think this play area is by far the best. It has a good diversity of cover, with some open areas and other areas super dense with trees or shrubs. It’s long enough to have a significant divide between the two teams, while also being wide enough that the teams can attack along several lines, probably about 3 distinct lines. The north and middle paths have quite a lot of trees and bushes spread out, while the southern edge has a straight line of pine trees that offer decent cover and an ideal line to push up or retreat through. Perhaps the only problem is that there is an incline, with the east side being higher than the west, though I didn’t see it being that significant in gameplay. Despite this area being the furthest away from where I live, I personally would prefer more events in this area given how superior it is overall.
There were a couple of notable features in this play area. First is the aforementioned pine line, which is a very useful line of cover not only for combat, but also as a distinct geographical landmark. On the eastern side, there are a couple of very dense and quite large bushes a few metres across that act as very large pieces of cover. They completely block darts and line of sight, and can be used as very effective hiding places if you’re quiet and crouch. Finally in roughly the middle there is a large bunch of very thin trees very closely grouped together. While thin enough to see through easily, getting darts through the cover is a matter of luck, sometimes the dart will find a hole in the cover and fly through, in other times the dart hits a thick branch and stops. These sorts of tree areas offered a very unusual cover element.
Weather peaked around 20 degrees C, with a mix of sunshine and cloud cover throughout the day, perfect for nerfing. Player count was oddly low, the majority of the event only had 7 of us, which was quite awkward for balance. We had a couple of players join us later on which made balance much easier.
Given our awkardly prime low player count, we played a lot of Kill Confirmed. While I feel it can get a little boring in the other play areas, due to the diversity and size of this play area, I saw a lot of different tactics and areas used. We also tried a variety of different team setups, including 3v4, 2v2v2 (with one cooking sausages), 2v2v2v1 (with one having the shield) and 4v5/5v5 (with the extra players).
3v4 was pretty unbalanced so we only played a few rounds of it. Both times the team of 3 got stomped. One of the major problems with this setup was the advantage of that one extra person. A team of 4 people can split into two pairs, who are readily able to revive their partner, and so can effectively attack from two directions. The team of 3 can’t split up, as the one person left out effectively gets instantly eliminated if they get downed. As such, the team of 3 are highly vulnerable to getting flanked and thus getting wiped out, and that’s exactly what happened to us. If the team of 4 do split into two pairs and are significantly separated, it is possible for the 3 team to rush and eliminate one of the pairs, but this requires very good coordination and timing, as well as some luck. Not only do you have to very quickly overwhelm both players in one of the pairs, but you also make yourself quite vulnerable to the other pair of enemies. Overall unless you give the team of 3 some significant advantage, with both teams having similarly skilled players, the team of 3 is at a massive disadvantage.
2v2v2 was a fair bit more balanced than 3v4, and was a fair bit better than previous 3 team rounds in previous events thanks to the play area. In the first two play areas, either cover is too sparse or the area is too narrow, resulting in one of the teams getting trapped in the middle and wiped out quickly. The width of this play area gives teams much better maneuvering space, somewhat reducing the threat of being surrounded. Typically if two of the teams target one in particular, those two attacking teams also get close enough to one another to trade potshots, and so cannot focus entirely on that one team in the middle. Something we tried to make 2v2v2 a little more interesting was to have partners start separated, however this had minimal effect on the game as the partners always just ran off to link up at the start. This only really changed where the teams started, and even then they were pretty close to where the teams normally started anyway. Usually the way 2v2v2 worked was that one team would hang back while the other two fought each other, ending with that one team engaging the survivors. Because of how Kill Confirmed works, the survivors are usually just one of the teams, with the other team getting wiped out. There were times when there was just one survivor, though this was relatively rarer as that required one team downing and eliminating one player, before getting wiped out by the other player.
In the 2v2v2 rounds I was paired with one particularly aggressive player who was not especially team aware. Naturally at times this was very effective, and at others got us into trouble. In one of the rounds, the two other teams engaged one another while my team was further back. My partner rushed up behind one of the teams and wiped them out before they realised he was there, and I still had not been spotted. This gave me a bit of an advantage when engaging the remaining team, and we were able to win that round. Conversely, in one other round, my partner again rushed forward, but was promptly taken down.I attempted to revive them, but as they were downed in an open area in range of several enemies, I was unable to get them revived and so I was left alone against several enemies. Especially for small team KC, knowing when to be aggressive and when to be defensive is crucial to giving yourself the best chance of victory. Excessive aggressiveness leaves you at high risk of being downed in a very exposed location or too close to enemies (and thus being unreviveable), while being overly defensive leaves you at risk of being surrounded and having nowhere to retreat to.
2v2v2v1 was the most chaotic, though was arguably a little more balanced than 2v2v2. The odd player out was allowed the use of a shield, which offered its own benefits compared to having a partner – the player alone is far more effective, however is also much more vulnerable as a single lucky shot instantly takes them out of the game. The presence of this 4th party however reduced the frequency of one team getting ganged up on – what I saw was typically one team engaging the shield player, while the other two teams engage one another, or keep their distance. The shield player is especially dangerous to go up against if your team is together, as the volume of cover in this play area offered them quite good protection from grenades and stray darts. I found that the best way to combat the shield is the same as a zombie shield in MHvZ – flank them (either with your partner or another team) to get an opening and hose them down. Being that they had no partner, a single hit is instant elimination – as a lone player they are much easier prey if exposed compared to any other players, who can still be revived. In one round where this occured, the shield player was the first casualty, turning the game into a regular 2v2v2. There were times when the shield player was able to fend for themselves quite well, usually by sticking with a good volume of cover that helps protect from flanking and trying not to draw too much attention to themselves. In one of the other 2v2v2v1 rounds, there were 4 players remaining – both players in my team, the shield player and one other player. I went to eliminate the remaining regular player while my teammate fought with the shield. Once I caught up with that player, I fired off a burst of darts, but before they had hit, he turned around and managed to hit me with a dart, so both of us were downed. Meanwhile my teammate was barraged by darts and managed to get a grenade throw off before getting downed. The shield player saw the grenade and went to dodge, but somehow managed to catch the grenade in his dump pouch. All four of the remaining players in this round were downed at roughly the same time, so incredibly we had a 3-way tie. I don’t expect this to happen ever again, it was a pretty funny and extremely lucky/unlucky situation.
The 5v5 round was the last of the day, and was very short. My team was able to pin the enemy team down in the south western corner of the pine line. I attacked west directly along the pine line with a teammate, while the rest of our team attacked from the north. I had initially thought it was a mistake to rush the enemy team so quickly, as I was the first to engage and attacked so much earlier than the rest of the team. As it turned out, it was a good move as the rest of my team was able to catch them off guard while they were focused on me, and so got caught out of cover and mowed down quite quickly. The key here was my initial rush that stopped them from getting a better position. They should have already been moving to establish a good position, but were attacked very early by me and chose to stick together instead of leave two players to fight me and have the rest move off to engage the rest of my team. Had they moved off and acquired a better position and better cover, the game could have gone very differently.
When the extra players arrived with about an hour left of the event, we played a few VIP rounds of 4v5. I was on the team of 4, and overall it felt a little more balanced than the 3v4 Kill Confirmed rounds, though the lack of a player was still significant. Assuming the VIPs take a relatively defensive stance, the game effectively becomes 3v4, though as there are respawns, it didn’t feel as unbalanced as with KC. A lone player can push up and attack the enemy, and if downed simply runs off to respawn, whereelse in KC if a lone player is downed, they are basically out of the game. Since we were at a player disadvantage, we did have to work harder to try and keep the game on level terms. Like with standard VIP, the game completely changes once one of the VIPs is eliminated. Up until that point, the game is effectively a Team Deathmatch where you’re trying to down every player at least once to find the VIP. Once one of the VIPs is eliminated, that team is pretty much doomed unless they are able to eliminate the other team’s VIP before losing any players. In the rare event that both VIPs are eliminated, the game becomes a Sudden Death Elimination with medics (if they’re not already downed).
Making sure the VIP is as far away from combat as possible is a good idea defensively, but it is then immediately obvious who the VIP is and your team effectively has one less player for trying to take out the enemy VIP. Having a more aggressive VIP makes it much less obvious who the VIP is and better balances firefights, but naturally puts the VIP in much more danger.
In the first round, the majority of my team pushed up along the southern area, while our VIP was somewhere in the north, near the north west area. As such, we were unable to defend him effectively, and rather inconveniently, our VIP was eliminated just before two of us could respawn – as a result our team was reduced from 4 players to just 1, who was quickly overwhelmed.
In the second VIP round we played, my team won as our VIP hid inside that one particular large bush that was near our spawn, and none of the enemies had any idea where he was. This allowed us to attack with minimal defensive concern, and by progressively downing each of the enemy players, we eventually eliminated their VIP, allowing us to wipe out the rest of the players and win.
In the final round of VIP, our VIP was eliminated relatively early, however through sticking together, I was able to keep the rest of the team alive longer than usual for a VIP round (I was the medic). From the numerical disadvantage plus having to stick together for the sake of revives, we were eventually overwhelmed and were unable to eliminate the enemy VIP, though one of our teammates got close.
Overall despite the lack of players in this event, the sheer diversity of terrain in this play area made up for it. I would happily come to this play area more. I would have liked to play more objective or asymetric gametypes, but the awkward player count was not helpful in that regard.
A link to the same post on my own blog: link