Nerf Game Report 21/8/16: Melbourne League of FoamSeptember 1, 2016
We had quite an eventful MLF game today. The on-and-off rain had quite a significant impact on play, and we also played a few rounds of BHD for the first time in a while. In this Nerf Game Report, I’ll be going through the main blasters that saw action, the gamemodes we played, and how the rain affected play.
- 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 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.
- Black Hawk Down – asymmetric game type with two teams: the smaller Special Forces (SF) and larger Insurgents (who often go by a variety of less politically correct names). The SF win if they eliminate all Insurgents. The Insurgents win if they eliminate all SF, or capture the SF’s flag. The SF players are all medics and instantly revive with a tag, while the Insurgents have a single medic who operates on ordinary medic rules. An Insurgent melee attack is a suicide attack and eliminates both the SF and Insurgent.
- 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. The VIP is not allowed within 5m of their team’s spawn.
Since there were a lot of different blasters there, I’ve generalised them and only listed down the ones I saw as significant or noteworthy, or remember for that matter. Being that I can’t be everywhere at once, it’s entirely possible I completely missed some blasters.
Elite Rapidstrike (various motors, LiPos) – very common blaster at any Melbourne Nerf events. Excellent for close-mid range though needs good trigger discipline and a lot of mags to keep in check. I’ve included the Demolisher in this section as it has a Rapidstrike pusher for full auto, making it behave essentially like a Rapidstrike.
Elite Stryfe (various motors, LiPos) – solid all rounder flywheeler. Not as high ROF as a typical Rapidstrike, but much more forgiving with poor trigger discipline.
Elite Retaliator (various springs, pump grips) – decent all round springers. Usually close to matching flywheelers for range, and typically seemed a little more accurate. Much lower ROF than flywheelers naturally, though still probably the best all round springer.
N-Strike Longshot (various breeches, springs, pump grips) – high power springers with a relatively low ROF. Quite effective for mid-long range cover fire, but naturally quite poor in close quarters.
N-Strike Stampede (stock? completely unknown internal state) – much slower firing than a typical Rapidstrike build, and also seemed quite weak. Its only advantage was that it was largely unaffected by the wet darts.
ZS Sledgefire (singled, unknown spring) – a reasonably powerful, fairly accurate blaster. Extremely slow ROF given it’s a single shot, but much easier to use and handle than a Longshot. Fairly effective for mid-long range potshots, but worthless in close range.
Elite Firestrike (NF internals, C836 spring, speedloader) – a little less accurate than the Sledgefire, though still quite powerful. It is notable for being exceptionally small compared to most of the other high power blasters, making it much easier to carry alongside something like a Stryfe.
We used the third play area, by far my favourite one. It’s substantially wider than either of the other play areas, and also has a much better variety of vegetation. It does have an incline going upwards from west to east. The play area is littered with various plants that offer an excellent variety and somewhat balanced layout of cover. The south edge of the play area is bordered by a series of large trees, while the north edge is bordered by fences and property. There’s plenty of room to maneuver and a lot of great places to have firefights around. Player count was solid, 10 or 12 for all of today’s game. Certainly more than enough for some good games.
We were faced with one challenge, that being the weather. Throughout the day it rained on-and-off, never heavy but always annoying. The main problem it posed was that it made any darts on the field wet (as well as mags, equipment and clothing). Wet darts wreak havoc in flywheelers, since flywheelers rely on friction and water greatly reduces friction. There were a lot of flubbed shots where a wet dart would be ineffectively fired from a flywheeler, and ordinary shots were substantially slower. Flywheelers with Worker flywheels seemed to fare better with wet darts, though they still struggled. Springers were pretty much unaffected by the wet darts. The rain also made the play area challenging, and the weather caused us to finish up the game a little earlier than usual, as it was threatening to rain down heavier after the end of the final game.
We started off with a trio of 5v5 Kill Confirmed rounds. They all progressed and ended very differently.
In the first round, my team started in the east. I raced forward to the middle-south, while the majority of both teams engaged in the middle-north. I noticed one enemy player attempting to flank around the far left along the south edge and moved to engage him. I was able to push him back and obtain a flanking position against the enemy team. In the meantime however, my team had been completely routed, and I was left alone against all 5 enemy players. Though I was able to achieve quite a lot of hits, I was never able to down all of them, and so was eventually overwhelmed and downed.
In the second round, my team started in the west. I started by moving through the middle, with one teammate to the north. I noticed two enemies moving to engage my northern teammate, and moved to give him support. I managed to catch both players off guard, allowing my teammate and I to eliminate them and move up. The remaining enemy players had bunkered down behind a large bush on the eastern edge of the play area and my team moved to engage them. In the chaos, two of the enemy players were able to escape, with the third being left behind and eliminated. Since my team was still at full strength, it was a simple matter of hunting down the last two players and overwhelming them.
In the final round of KC, my team again started in the east. Like in the first round, I moved up into the middle-south. Once again I noticed my teammate just to the north getting overwhelmed with the majority of the enemy team, so moved to assist. The three enemy players there were initially focused on my teammate, giving me a free shot at an enemy player out in the open. I managed to catch the second enemy player going for the revive, then downed the third player. By this point, a fourth enemy player had moved up to assist, however I was able to catch them out in the open and down them while eliminating the downed enemies. Several of my teammates had moved around the south and pushed the last remaining enemy player towards me, and I caught him off guard with a burst of darts.
I was completely oblivious to what happened to the rest of my team in that first round, as I was completely focused on eliminating this particular enemy player. Considering what happened to them, I really should have had better situational awareness, and moved to support my team rather than continually hunt down one player. Though I performed quite well in that last stand, I shouldn’t have had to put myself in that situation in the first place. On the other hand, we won the second round because I moved to assist a teammate, and caught the enemy players off guard. If I had let my teammate get eliminated or retreat, the enemy team would have achieved a good flanking position and have much better momentum.
The final round was won partly through luck, as well as having the element of surprise. I was able the two immediately threatening players out of cover, and from there was able to engage the remaining enemies one-by-one. I also somehow managed to avoid every single dart that was fired at me, despite me engaging in relatively close quarters out in the open.
We played a pair of VIP rounds, and both lasted for quite a while.
The first round was a bit of a dud round, in the sense that it was essentially unwinnable for my team. The rule regarding the VIP not being allowed near their own spawn is often forgotten or not mentioned. As a result, if said rule is not explicitly stated, at least one of the VIPs tends to retreat towards their spawn if threatened. This happened frequently in this first round. Several times I would get behind enemy lines, close to the enemy VIP, only for them to retreat near their own spawn with a few teammates. Since those enemy players are near their spawn, they’re essentially invincible, forcing me to retreat. In contrast, our VIP stayed relatively close to the front lines, and was involved in a lot more combat. Eventually the enemy team was able to pick off our VIP, and the rest of us fell shortly after.
The VIP-spawn rule was reiterated for the second round, though the early game progressed essentially the same. I would spend most of it trying to down particular enemies to determine who the VIP was. Eventually, through the process of elimination (and a moment of incompetence), I was able to determine the VIP’s identity. My team was able to establish a good offensive position, and we were able to pin down the enemy VIP behind a particular tree, while holding off the other enemy players. Through sheer attrition we were eventually able to down the enemy VIP, though my team had suffered significant casualties so we moved to regroup. In the process however, our VIP was also downed. Nevertheless, we had an advantage of 5 players to 3, and were able to outmaneuver and outgun the remaining enemies to win.
In VIP it is important to maintain an offensive position, as well as keep track of who has been downed. It is difficult to down the VIP through chance, as they usually play conservatively enough to not be immediately vulnerable from the front lines. Though I personally downed every enemy besides the VIP to determine their identity, it is much easier and faster to quickly check with teammates who has and hasn’t been downed to try and deduce the VIP’s identity. Maintaining an offensive position helps to keep your VIP safe, and also helps to reveal and eliminate the enemy VIP. In that second round, my team maintaining an offensive position meant that the enemy VIP was permanently pinned down, making it much easier to identify, locate and eliminate them. Additionally, it gave me a much easier time hunting down particular enemy players whom I suspected could be the VIP. It is important not to let your guard down after eliminating the enemy’s VIP however, as if they can eliminate your VIP shortly after, the game becomes a dangerous sudden death. In that second round, my team was quite lucky as along with the enemy VIP, we had also eliminated two other enemy players. We also had all of our team members still alive, so were able to simply leverage superior numbers to win. In a less ideal scenario, it’s entirely possible for the team who loses their VIP first to gain a numerical advantage while eliminating the other VIP.
After the lunch break, we played a trio of Black Hawk Down rounds. These rounds were a little experimental and brought to light a lot of useful information. In all rounds, the SF team had instant revive and a shield.
The first round was a 3SF vs 8I. I was an Insurgent. This SF team played very defensively, and bunkered down in one corner of the play area. Though they set up their shield for a solid defensive position, the Insurgent team surrounded them and just started pelting their position with darts. Though several times an SF player would survive by virtue of the shield, allowing them to revive their teammates, eventually all three SF players were downed, ending the game.
The second round was a 4SF vs 7I. I was an SF player. The SF team took a much more aggressive stance this time around. Our shield took up position in the main front, facing off against the majority of Insurgents, while I covered our flank. I would often call on a fellow SF player to cover me while I moved to engage any flanking players, as our shield and the remaining SF player could easily survive on their own for a short time. With this occasional support from my teammates, I was able to eliminate several Insurgents, and from there could move to flank the remaining Insurgents. With the support of the shield, the rest of my team was able to wipe out the rest of the Insurgents.
The final round was also a 4SF vs 7I, however this time I was an Insurgent player. This SF team also elected to play aggressively, and would often be able to push back the spread out Insurgent team. However, the SF players also started to spread out, making them more vulnerable. During one particular time, the SF player with the shield was downed. I rushed in to try and down the rest or eliminate, and although I was able to down another SF player, I had absolutely no team support and was downed and eliminated myself. The remaining SF players then simply revived their downed players extremely quickly, returning to full strength in an instant. After regrouping, the SF team was able to make a lot more progress against the Insurgents, progressively eliminating them and eventually winning.
These rounds proved just how incredibly powerful the shield is. In the first round, despite a tactically poor game and being severely outnumbered, the SF team weren’t wiped out immediately. They cornered themselves and allowed themselves to be flanked, yet were able to survive for a significant amount of time purely because of the impressive cover that the shield provides. Having instant revives also helped their cause, as it left them vulnerable for very little time. In the second round, the shield was a critical part of our offensive. With it, we were able to set up a good offensive position with almost no regard for the terrain, and fend off superior numbers with ease. This allowed me to go and fend off flankers, and then establish a good flanking position for the final offensive. Even if an SF player or two get downed, the cover of the shield coupled with instant revives pretty much guarantees the revive unless the Insurgents can achieve a good flanking position.
The last round in particular showed off (to me at least) the severe imbalance of the SF team with shield and instant revives, and Insurgents without shield. About half way through the round, someone managed to down the shield player, so I rushed in to try and down the rest, or eliminate someone. However the threat of the shield had forced all of my teammates back, and none of them were near enough to support my rush, which ended up unsuccessful. Even then, my teammates should have had a good opportunity to push in and finish the job, however the SF instant revive allowed them to get their shield player back instantly, quickly shutting down that idea. If the SF team had one of the shield or instant revive and not the other, it would perhaps be more balanced. A count revive would have forced the SF players in that last round to make themselves vulnerable for a short time, perhaps giving the opportunity needed for my teammates to move in. Alternatively, having no shield greatly reduces the SF team’s staying and pushing power, but instant revives let them get back in the action more quickly.
A final possibility is instead for the Insurgent team to get their own shield. While the SF team have their shield up, it is extremely difficult for the Insurgents to push forward, however a delayed revive offers a small window of opportunity. Giving the Insurgents their own shields gives them an effective method of defending as well as pushing forward, greatly reducing the overwhelming power of the SF team’s shield. It also creates some interesting shield vs shield dynamics, where the shields are a significant part of play, but no longer imbalance the game so severely.
Though the weather did present issues, this MLF event was quite fun. It was especially nice to have a good player count at this play area, as it allowed for some proper team games. Though BHD was somewhat unbalanced, playing it again in such circumstances allowed for a better formalisation of how to balance it. I expect that in the future, it will be a lot more competitive and fun.
You can also find the same Nerf Game Report on my own blog: Outback Nerf.