Wow, where to start?! FFS3 was incredible, and was easily one of my favourite days Nerfing. Soooo much to talk about, I hardly know where to start. I have no doubt this AAR will end up being lengthy, but I’m planning to do some separate detailed posts on blaster and loadout at a later date (life is crazy busy currently, so I’ll cover some of it here no doubt)
It’s no secret that I’ve been preparing for FFS3 months ahead of time. From trying to build a reliable feeding brass breech Longshot that averages 200+, to creating a loadout that will cover as many bases as possible while best suiting my play style, FFS3 has been my primary focus for several months. My LS has been an ongoing project since before FFS1, and while not yet it’s final form, it’s getting close: I’ll be doing a more detailed report on it in a separate post in the near future. The tactical gear was built around the fact I wanted a rubber knife, and I found one on eBay which was being auctioned as part of an ACU full plate carrier rig, which I ended up winning for just £22! From there the rig grew and grew. I knew I had to have a hydration carrier on the back (the belt mounted canteen I used at FFS1 had put too much pressure on my hip joint), capacity for 6 mags at a minimum, a radio pouch, pouches for 2-3 smokes, a dump pouch, space to affix a knife, and an admin pouch for adding a few patches to. After a lot of eBay and Amazon shopping I finally built a loadout that was as close to perfect as I felt it could be without actual battle testing.
Thankfully on the day it all worked out for me, which is unusual for my projects (my BB Retaliator having failed catastrophically at the last 2 BBs, while previously performing fine for hundreds of test shots at home). My blaster was incredible. While not having the power and range of some of the HPAs or Caliburns, the accuracy was obscenely good. I didn’t have a single feed issue all day, except for when I was hiding in the Rectory and tagged Martin as he walked past the door, and the second shot aimed at the person following him hadn’t loaded a dart at all, so I just dry fired at them before getting nailed by their Caliburn from 4ft away! And I really should have made sure my hydration pack was done up properly when I put it in the car – as soon as I put it on to walk from the car it leaked cold water all down my back!
Before the day I was a little worried about the idea of a 2 hour game, given that people often splurge through 150+ darts in 15 minute games, and any wars of attrition were just going to become a game of who can scavenge darts the fastest. However, when the game rules were released, with the multi objective format, my worries were lessened greatly. Both teams had the same objectives, so there would be no set attackers and defenders for 2 hours solid.
The long game was incredible. Our team tried talking pre-game tactics initially, but I felt a lot of the initial plan went out of the window once we’d got through the initial firefights. Within half an hour or so we’d all found our own style of play and made it work for ourselves. Our self-appointed commander Green Potato (Boff) giving directions from Ladybird Base via the radio was initially a bit annoying in my opinion (there didn’t seem to be much going on to warrant so much radio chatter), but once the game got rolling and everyone got the hang of effective radio usage, having Green Potato give updates on observed enemy positions and activity became a very useful tool. Likewise, having team mates updating on engagements or positions they’d captured meant others could move towards them to give covering fire or support as necessary.
I adopted my usual role of pain-in-the-enemy’s-arse potato pretty early on. Slowly sneaking around from cover to cover meant I was able to go unnoticed a lot of the time, which allowed me to close ground and line up shots with my scope. Who’d have thought an actual magnifying scope would be useful in a Nerf game?! On several occasions I teamed up with a team mate to work together in pinning players down, blocking lines of advance, or digging out entrenched enemies. Props to the guy who tagged me out with a Hammershot after me and Davera had worked to clear the Landrover area of all enemies – patience payed off for him, and I just walked into his shot.
It’s funny, as we were playing I realised I hadn’t contributed much to scoring points; only recovering one treasure, not knowing where the timers were at all, and only turning 3 flux points in total (I’d even cleared several flux points without realising there was a point in there to take). I did make a hell of lot of tags in return for not getting myself tagged very much at all. Therefore it was a massive surprise to learn that we’d won by such a big margin at the end of it, because from what I observed in person and heard on the radio chatter, it felt like the orange team were playing far more aggressively and that we were on the back foot a lot of the time.
Attack the fort was over very quickly, but provided a good change of pace after the epic opening game. Attacking was great fun, because once one or two defenders had been tagged out, it’d leave the defence very stretched. In the second attack I was able to get right up close to the fort, and just shoot Boff in the back of the head every time he finished his 30 count, because Damon wasn’t able to provide cover at the rear as he was pinned down in the corner by James and Pete. Fair play, defending it was not an easy task, especially with the attackers coming from both sides. The TDS boys rushed in fast with their smoke screen, while TT sat back for quite a while. We managed to pin down TDS & co. fairly well, but Damon rushed the bomb in under cover of smoke. At the same time TT rushed us at the back, and got two bombs to our defensive line, but not over it. This led to all sorts of confusion where the front side were calling game, but we defenders were calling not game because TT hadn’t got their bombs in at the back – we didn’t know Damon had snuck one over the wall in all the smoke.
The final game of king of the hill was awesome. There was initial confusion for a lot of players as to where the timer was, and a lot of players were focussing on capturing the tower instead of getting the timer. The green team probably had the worst spawn point of the three, with the timer being on the opposite side of the building to them. This didn’t stop them from capturing and controlling downstairs in the church quite a bit, but they could never get far enough around the building to get the timer turned and held. I may have played a part in that by sneaking down low in the woods and sweeping around past the church, disrupting the players coming from respawn. I managed to get some great footage of some quick-paced kill streaks, until Damon and Tom started to use my own tactic against me by dropping down into the woods and flanking our team. Fighting inside the church was tricky with the low light and unwieldy blaster. However, I used the dark corners to my advantage, getting in a couple of knife kills, before Boff and I had mutually assured destruction when my knife went up against his Stryfe poking round the corner and shooting me (there was some confusion over whether knife hits on blasters count, but reasoned that blaster tags from darts count, so we’d both take the tags).
I spent most of the second half of the game working my way up and down the ditch from the middle bridge to the Prison, disrupting the TT guys coming from their respawn from the cover of the undergrowth. I used this pattern of play to take out the couple of players coming from respawn which then left me just enough clear space and time to get closer and fire on anyone in the graveyard that wasn’t on my team, before then running away back into cover.
And with that, the day was over, all too quickly for my liking. I would have happily gone on for another couple of hours, even in the rain.
I know constructive criticism has been asked for, and while I have a couple of things to suggest, I want it to be clear that FFS3 was amazing, and I am by no means trying to take anything away from the brilliant work the team did in organising and running it.
The long tactical game was brilliant, and multi objectives were great fun. What would I change? Not much. Perhaps make the “treasure” more obvious, but maybe better hidden. Things like half a dozen large manila envelopes could be used for “secret documents” to be captured, and half a dozen random items could be sprayed gold and tucked in the undergrowth to represent actual treasure. Each of the documents could be marked with a special feature, such as “plus 5 points if held at end of game”, “enemy loses 3 points if held at end of game”, or “if player tagged while carrying document, drop document, respawn, but do not add point to tally”. Likewise the treasures could have had a different number painted on the underside, so not all treasures are worth equal points.
The timers weren’t very obvious unfortunately. Maybe I’m just ignorant, but I know I wasn’t alone in not spotting where they were placed during the first game (likewise, not everyone knew where it was in ATF).
Trying to get organised on the radios at the start was tricky, because we were trying to do radio checks on the same channel the organisers were using. It may be worth the organisers assigning their own channel early on in the day that everyone can tune into, then when we went out to set up base, the organisers assigned a channel to each team via the radio.
ATF needs just one bomb in play to make it last longer. I think it’d be fun to have the attackers all start at the same point, but then respawn from multiple points. It’ll keep the defenders on their toes, especially if the dead are allowed to carry the bomb back to a respawn point with them rather than having to drop it when tagged (but still allow them the option to drop it too). I liked having lots of smokes going off, but can understand why there may be a need to limit it. Maybe only allow one active smoke on each side of the fort at any one time; that way it’d be hard to create a full curtain of smoke.
There seemed to be a lot of confusion after ATF as to what was happening next – were we going back to safe zone? Playing another game? Maybe have an agreed point on the map that all players meet at straight after each game so everyone gets the same information about what’s happening next. I like the ability to roll straight into the next game, so maybe do the brief for the next game on the field straight after a game finishes, then set the start time ready for the next game, so all players get 10-15 minutes to reload, go back to safe zone, chat about their latest mods etc. and the next game starts regardless of if all players have got ready or not.
KotH was a lot of fun, but I understand that spawn positioning played a role in making it harder/easier for certain teams. As a game type it really works, and I think is a good game for FFS. Maybe having the timer in a more open and neutral position would have been fairer, or have all teams spawning off points along the bottom road? How about having each of the bridges have a timer on them, and play two team Domination, spawning from opposite ends?
I know a few people have mentioned about engagement distances with high powered blasters, and I know this could be a contentious issue that causes a lot of debate. All I’ll say is we’re all adults, playing Nerf games, for adults: we should know the risks involved and wear appropriate padding/clothing if we’re worried about getting stung with a foam dart. After all, would anyone be complaining if it were paintball? Having said that, the only mark I came away with all day was that bloody Hammershot kill! Even Damon’s Prophecy didn’t leave a mark on my face after two separate head shots.
The only other constructive criticism I have is for myself: make sure you actually record the games! I rigged up my action-cam to my scope, but didn’t try turning it on until out in the field. I couldn’t get it to start recording, so I assumed it was defunct. During the lunch break I took it out of the case and it worked fine. Turns out the pin on the button of the case wasn’t quite reaching the record button fully; something that was hampered further by me wearing gloves and not pressing it down hard enough! I did get some footage of ATF and KotH, so I’ll be trying to edit something together over August to share with you guys (including knife killing Boff, shooting Davera in the ass as he fell through a door, sniping FDS and Damon while remaining unnoticed, and no-scoping L11 in the ass during a tense sniper standoff).
Cheers guys, can't wait for next time!
If you're not having fun you're doing it wrong
Call your hits; take your tags