What’s the best gear I can buy? What does an advanced kit look like?

I’d like to get this out of the way right off the bat: nothing you can buy will improve your tactical laser tag game. There’s a few things you can buy that will help make playing your best at laser tag easier, but nothing will, by itself, make you a better player.

…but again, there are a few things that will help you show off your best laser tag game with less effort and in more circumstances. In roughly the order that I would prioritize them, the items below can be really helpful. Continue reading

Work together and win!

I don’t think that anyone ever thinks that trying to fight your way across the battlefield alone is the best of all options, yet most people wander across the laser tag field with little to no coordination with their teammates, especially after the first 5 minutes when everyone has died once or twice. Why is this? Well, frankly, it’s a tough skill to learn. Fortunately, though, it is a basic skill, so no matter your skill level you can always work on it. Continue reading

What’s the difference between “strategy” and “tactics?”

Strategy and tactics are often used interchangeably, which is actually an error. Although they are related, they do refer to different things.

Strategy is the approach taken overall in a battle. Strategies include rushing, turtling and camping, multi-prong attacks, etc. A strategy is the general approach to a conflict and while it may dictate what individuals on the battlefield will do it doesn’t, as a rule, tell them how to do it.

Tactics, on the other hand, are the specific actions you take on the field as an individual or as a small group to achieve the goals of the overall strategy. Will you use a pin and flank maneuver or two separate attacks? What pieces of cover will you choose to hide behind? How do you use that cover and, if necessary, leave it? What roles will the people on your team fill? When five opponents come barreling down the trail how will you ambush them? These are all tactical considerations and are generally solved on the fly, usually with the training or skills that the individuals involved have learned.

So in general, strategies are how you win the battle and tactics are how you solve the problems that you run into while executing the strategy. Which is more important? Well, both, really. I’m fond of saying, “a bad strategy executed perfectly will usually beat a perfect strategy executed badly.” In general a good strategy will help you win but tactics will keep you alive on the path to victory. They both rely on each other quite a bit.

Tactical Maneuver: The Pin & Flank

A pin & flank is the most basic tactical solution to taking out an opponent who is behind cover. Usually, you will decide to execute a pin & flank for one of two reasons: either the opponent is firing on your position and you can’t poke your head up to return fire without being shot or you’ve got a group trying to fire on and eliminate an opponent but the cover they’re hiding behind is preventing you from taking them out.

A pin & flank requires at least two people and is better (like most tactical situations) if you have at least 3-4 teammates taking part.

Divide up your group into two fire teams. Have the first fire team (we’ll call them Alpha for this example) start to lay down suppressive fire. Suppressive fire means that the members of Alpha are all up and firing, but they probably don’t need to fire more than once every second or two. This will help them conserve ammo. In real life suppressive fire usually entitles several hundred rounds of fire, but that rate of fire doesn’t usually become necessary in combat sports like laser tag.

Send the second fire team (we’ll call them Bravo for now) circle around to the side of the target. The goal is for Alpha to cause the opponents to keep their heads down (or pin them) so that Bravo can find another angle where they have a clear shot (by flanking them).

In general you probably want Alpha to be the larger of the two, but circumstances may require more strength with Bravo. If, for instance, Bravo expects to fall under fire from additional opposition forces (usually called OPFOR for short) then Bravo needs to weigh whether they can find another approach (which is preferable) or whether they will risk engaging the additional OPFOR. Engaging opponents other than the target is a big risk because a) the target may realize what’s happening and attempt to escape and b) if Bravo is eliminated Alpha will have a larger firefight on their hands at a big disadvantage.

Use Cover! Don’t Get Shot!

Equally useful as a strategy aid for Battlefield Live, paintball, airsoft or even traditional lasertag this was originally posted to the Battlefield Live forums on April 18, 2008. Since Mike wrote it, he’s reposting it with only a few slight modifications. Enjoy! We also highly recommend pole dancing (not like what you’re thinking!) as a drill to teach new and experienced players alike the strategy behind using cover.

The first instinct of new players is to avoid fire by running directly up to obstacles and huddle up close. When they decide to fire they then turn, bring their gun to bear on the target and fire. Unfortunately, this is not the most efficient tactic and can open you up to taking the first shot, which is a situation to be avoided.

When you approach cover, maintain enough space that you can have your weapon raised and sighted between you and the obstacle. This eliminates the vulnerable fraction of a second when you would otherwise need to raise the weapon after stepping into the open. Be aware that this will reduce the “safe” area your cover provides! If you are under suppressive fire or are certain of an opponent covering you with point fire it may be to your best advantage to in fact hug your cover and call for an ally(ies) to engage your attacker(s).

There is not only a proper technique to using cover to avoid fire but also for using cover to provide a platform to rain fire on your targets. There are essentially three ways that you will fire on your opponents when using cover: Firing over the cover, firing from the side of the cover and firing under your cover.

If you have maintained an appropriate distance that allows you to keep your weapon raised between you and your cover then firing over your cover becomes a far safer affair. By maintaining your distance from the cover you’re hiding behind you will find that you don’t need to raise up more than a fraction in order to shoot targets that are taller than the obstacle you’re hiding behind. Even if the targets are the same size or smaller than your cover, the distance between you and your cover allows you to more easily control the exact exposure of yourself from beyond the cover.

To understand why leaving space between yourself and your cover allows you to better control your exposure, grab yourself an apple and a ruler. Let’s represent you with your left fist. Put your fist right next to the apple with your thumb on top. Hold the ruler so that it rests on your thumb and the apple. Notice that small movements of your thumb make the ruler tilt quickly, but if you move your fist back 10cm or more from the apple the same movements from your thumb tilt the ruler more slowly. It can be hard to make very small or exact movements with your body, especially if you’re crouched and leaning, but distance from your cover allows the same gross movements to have a finer or more exact effect.

When firing from the side of your cover it is far preferable to fire from the side of your cover that your trigger hand is on. Your opponent will have less time to react and attempt to fire first if you do not need to move your bent arm and full body out from behind cover before you fire. Again, by maintaining distance from your cover you can open yourself up to return fire only as much and as long as absolutely necessary with a minimum of movement.

When you want to fire from the off-hand side of your cover, a quick step that brings you completely or almost completely into the open but allows you to step just as quickly back is rarely preferable to leaning, even though leaning is generally slower. Try to minimize the distance that you have to lean by staying back from your cover. Leaning will almost always give you a much smaller profile and the motion can be made much more slowly, which makes it easier to avoid being seen. Learning to fire with your off-hand is not a very useful option in the long run since you are unlikely to learn off-hand shooting as well as you can fire with your preferred hand. If you are trying to eliminate a skilled opponent you will be better served to use a method that allows you to engage with the highest accuracy and speed, which means using your preferred hand.

Firing under cover is typically inadvisable. Crouching is a slow method to move yourself into a firing line, giving your target plenty of time to either sight on you or simply move. Rolling can be uncomfortable, can be hard to precisely control and disorients you before you can fire. If you have a low opening in your cover that you intend to fire through you will probably be best served by approaching it as firing from the side of the opening, rather than firing from the top. Low openings in cover are generally far more useful if you use them to determine that an opponent is passing by and ripe for an ambush than if you use them to fire from.

One additional note should be made regarding firing and cover. Always take your shot in such a way that you don’t open yourself up to incoming fire from vectors you can’t see. If you are firing through a window do not extend your barrel through the window. First, you have a sensor on your gun that everyone will be able to shoot. Second, you may allow another opponent to visually confirm your location when they would have otherwise only heard you. Human auditory perception is not designed to discern distance or direction very well. Don’t give your opponents an advantage that you can deny to them. This same principle applies to doorways, fences, cave openings, tubes, etc. Be aware that you have a visual silhouette and prevent your opponents from identifying it.

Last but not least are two notes regarding aspects that should be emphasized with Battlefield Live gear. First, we do not fire a solid projectile like paintball or airsoft, so you should never be afraid to start firing a split second before you actually expose yourself from cover, especially if you know with relative surety where your target is. There appears to be a slight delay between pulling your trigger and firing and at the least there is approximately a 33 millisecond delay for a signal from your opponent’s brain to reach their finger, after a 10-30 millisecond visual recognition delay. Take every advantage you can or your opponent will benefit against you.

The last caveat I offer is that it is crucial to learn when your cover is no longer offering you any benefit. It is a misconception that cover is beneficial as long as it protects you from being immediately shot. Cover becomes useless when you can no longer LEAVE it and move somewhere else without being shot, too. If you are in a 1-on-1 showdown and your opponent has a Spitfire at a distance where they can cover both sides of the tree you’re behind then the tree is essentially no cover; you will be hit and the only question is when. Likewise, do not repeatedly expose yourself to the same side of your cover if your opponent is already sighted on the location that you are moving to.

A related example of this is that cover is useless once your position is overrun. Your position is not overrun when there are opponents on your side of the cover but rather when you can no longer leave the cover safely. This could be because you are flanked or because the opposition has an advantage of height over you. Either case is difficult for your teammates to rescue you from.

Aside from your gun, cover is the thing you are going to use the most when playing. Take care to use it appropriately and you’ll find that you’re winning more often.

Being Ambushed and Ambushing Back – For fun and victory!

You’re going to be jumped by someone almost every time you play. Our goal is to help you survive and fight back. First off, find cover. Get behind anything that’s close by, although taller is better (because it allows you to stand up behind cover, which lets you move easier) and wider is safer. The wider the cover is the harder it becomes to flank you. Next, take a full step back from your cover, maybe two or three or more. Yes, you heard me. Don’t hug that tree you’re hiding behind; pretend that it’s got the stinkiest armpits ever. Why you’re moving away from the cover you’re hiding behind is a little complicated for a quick snippet of help like you’re getting here, but the answer is in the essay on how to use cover, if you’re interested. Alternately, try the pole dancing exercise above to get a good intuition for why you’re stepping away from the cover.

Third, be aware of where your teammates are. Can any of them flank the ambushers? Are you likely to fire at anyone on accident? Are you far enough away from any of them that you can work together to get a wide angle of fire on any ambushers? This last suggestion is essentially a Pin & Flank without moving. Finally, if you have no support then move decisively: put enough fire on your opponents that they keep their heads down (this is called suppressive fire) and then run! Stay under cover as much as you can and don’t be afraid to stop and give yourself more suppressive fire as you go, but only fire from behind cover.

Want to turn the tables on your opponents? There are a few tricks to pulling off a good ambush:

  • Don’t open fire until the entire group you want to ambush can be fired upon. Don’t give them the opportunity to split and flank you.
  • Remember that with our Battlefield Live laser tag gear you can only be hit once per second. Sweep your fire across the group. If you’re a lone ambusher and you’re only taking on one or two other people try firing in 3 or 4 shot bursts.
  • Divide and conquer: when you’re ambushing with multiple people, distribute the work in advance so that each person is only firing at some of the group.
  • Don’t have ambushers on both sides of the target. It’s ok to have teammates firing at a 90 degree angle to you, but the moment you start firing across from each other you’ll have people firing at each other.
  • After the ambush make sure to pull back! Don’t let your ambush party get snuck up on and flanked! Since the enemy team already knows where you are, make sure you aren’t still there when they come back.

Last but not least, the slower and more silently you move the less likely you’ll be ambushed. Human eyes are attracted to movement. Also, sound tends to travel more than you expect it to. Just because your opponents are on the other side of a hill does NOT mean they can’t hear you! If you have to move within your opponent’s vision move straight towards them and keep as low and small a profile as possible.