Thursday, June 14, 2012

Panther Family Fun Laser Tag Strategies

After playing Laser Tag at a few birthday parties, I decided to search online for some strategies to improve my results.  I was surprised to find hardly anything, so decided to write up a guide myself.

The information in this article pertains to Panther Family Fun Center at 13520 Overland Park Drive in Sterling/Dulles Virginia.  Although the rules can vary from one location to another, many of these strategies should apply at other Laser Tag places also.

The "rules" that they provide in the brief safety instruction video before you play are very vague and do not tell you hardly anything about the scoring of the game.  The only way to gather this type of information is by interviewing the staff or by trial and error to see which methods seem too work and which do not.  And often the staff do not even know how the scorekeeping works, so they are of limited help.

Anyhow, the following is information and strategies that I have gathered:

  • If possible, try to be on a team with fewer people and more enemies on opposing teams.  This will give you more targets to hit for scoring points.
  • Make sure you get into the playing arena as early as possible.  The staging room, where you put on the equipment, is a bad place to stay, because (a) sometime they turn on the guns early and little kids will start shooting you and scoring cheat points (b) the first few seconds of the game are critical and you need to get close to a base so you can destroy it before people figure out how to defend it.  If you look at your gun, it will show how many seconds there are until the game starts.  Some bases can be hit from 10 feet away or more if on the proper angle.  Learn these angles, as they will be critical for destroying bases.
  • There does not seem to be a point penalty for being hit; only the penalty of being disabled from shooting for a few seconds.  Therefore, the best strategy from an individual standpoint is counter-intuitive.  Rather than finding a safe spot to snipe people from, it seems better to run around and shoot as many people as possible.  Even though this strategy can hurt your team by increasing the scores of people on other teams, it increases your personal score even more.  If you can find a central spot that is somewhat protected and has many good sight-lines for shooting people rapidly, then that is ok also.
  • Of course, destroying the other teams' bases is critical to getting a high score.  Unfortunately, there is no way to know which bases you have destroyed in-game.  Even though each base makes a noise when destroyed ("base destroyed"), unless you are the only person shooting at it at the time, there is no way to know whether you got the points for destroying it, or if one of your teammates did.  Thus, it is best to try to destroy each base two or more times if possible.  Or destroy it right at the start of the game when you are by yourself.  Or just come back later by yourself if one of your teammates is already shooting at the base.  The other good time to destroy bases is late in the game, because people on other teams get bored with defending their base after a while.  One lesser known tip is that you get an odd number, 1001 points, for each base that you destroy.  So at the end of the game, you can tell if you destroyed both of the enemy bases if your score ends with the number 2 in the units digit.  (Also, if someone claims that they destroyed both bases, you can check this by looking at their score to see what digit it ends with).
  • At the end of the game, check twice to make sure you can remember what character you are.  Otherwise, you wasted all of your effort since you will not be able to see whch score is yours.
  • It is better to shoot someone in the sensor on their back or chest than on their phaser or on their shoulders.  This gives you more points and also stuns them more completely.
  • At the end of the game, the winning team is not really relevant.  For example, if a team of one person played against a team of 8 people, the team of 1 would have a major advantage because he has many more targets to shoot at for scoring points.  So you should really only be concerned with your individual score, since often the teams have lopsided numbers of people anyhow.
  • Follow some kids around for a few minutes the next time you play.  This  will teach you all of the highest traffic areas, because you will see that come back there over and over again.  Learn these areas and gravitate to them for maximum scoring.  Also, following little kids around is an easy way to get more points and they don't really care about their score anyhow, or even know how to check it in many cases.  Near the base with the team that has the most little kids is usually a great place to find many exposed enemy targets.
  • Always keep moving.  If you are sitting still, you are not getting as many points as you could be.  The additional exposure you suffer is usually less that the points you will gain, unless you are playing with older kids or seasoned players.  Don't be afraid to get shot once in a while.
  • Sniping from above is not recommended.  The scoring opportunities are too spotty.  Better to run around below where all of the action is.
  • Don't get involved in cat and mouse or grudge matches.  If someone is tailing you, move rapidly to the farthest location that has lots of little kids running around
  • If you are playing the "free for all" version of the game where there are no teams, note that you can destroy each base multiple times.  This is not an advertised feature but can give you a lot of extra points if you can take advantage of it.
  • If you bring your kid to a birthday party, a lot of times they have extra passes for the parents but the parents don't want to play or are too busy.  Wait around to see if they offer you a ticket, and you can play for free.  This is a win-win, since you can be in the arena in case one of the kids has a problem.  Make sure you help the parents out with the party while you are there.
  • Some places hand out sheets of paper with results, but some only flash the results briefly on a monitor.  You may want to take a picture of the results (usually 3 screens, one for each team) from the screen before they are replaced and lost.
If you have found anything different than what I stated above, please leave comments and I will be interested to test new ideas out and post corrections.