February 10th, 2007


scruffy-looking nerf herding

War. War never changes.

Nerf battle tonight with David Lou, David Carlson, Matt, Samantha, Roger, and Elise. Armanent: five Maverick pistols, a Magstrike SMG (with two cartridges), two double barreled shotguns, a Longshot sniper rifle, two flashlights, and two cardboard riot shields. Arena: Burton basement--or rather, one corner of Burton basement, with long hallways and little cover. Teams of 4 vs. 3.

I'd like to say it reminded me of my childhood, but that would be completely untrue. For one, adults actually follow the rules--none of that "I shot you! Noyadint! Yesidid! Noyadint! Yesidid!" I remember so unfondly. In fact, we not only accept death, we die in the most melodramatic way possible. ("MOTHERLAAAAND!") For another, adults play a far more tactical game. While outwitting the other kids was always the key to victory in kid Nerf battles, rarely does a team of kids have the patience and discipline necessary to set up squad tactics and pull off elaborate ambushes. There were times, kneeling in the dark ready to lay down suppressing fire for a fireteam charge, when it felt more like Rainbow Six than Quake 3 Arena. When you're up against friends weaned on Counter-Strike and bad spy movies, there's so much more to the game than rattling off foam darts at each other. You use flashlights to throw off the enemy team's aim. You hide in the shadows and watch changes in light for movement, crouching low to make yourself a smaller target. You prop chairs against doors for use as motion sensors. You strike when you hear your adversaries discussing strategy, and move when you hear them reload. It's all the fun of soldiering, with none of the actual violence.

Not that we took any of this seriously, of course. Not at all. Matt and Sam, being actors, lent an air of theatrical badassery to the battle--slinging rifles across shoulders, tilting hips while lining up shots, wielding pistols in each hand. At one point Matt even took off his jacket to show he meant business, revealing a very intimidating and very Jayne-esque wifebeater. (He was promptly shot.)

As experienced as I am with squad tactics and first-person shooters, I confess that I'm terrible at Nerf. I'm pretty good with a BB pistol, but I couldn't hit your mom with a Maverick if she was on top of me. (Which she was last night. Ohhhhh.) Gravity is not kind to the Mavericks, which are designed to be fired across small living rooms, not long hallways--and the sniper rifle is surprisingly not much more effective in that regard. For three of our five rounds, I had the dubious privilege of dying in the first few minutes. Sometimes it was just a consequence of me serving as a diversion. Other times it was because the Matt and the Davids are incredibly good shots--there was one instance in which I was hiding behind the riot shield and providing suppressing fire while Carlson reloaded, and Matt managed to angle a dart right over the shield and into my forehead. pwned!

I did get him back for that, though--what I lack in accuracy I make up in ninja. By the fourth game or so I knew I was a poor shot, so I chose the SMG, which fires three darts a second but has a range of about three feet. As my teammates prepared for an assault on the door in front of our base, I turned out the light and hid against a wall across the corner from the door on the other end of the hallway. I saw a silhouette disturb the pool of light coming through the door window and crept into the shadows, just out of his cone of vision. Matt burst through the door, pointed his gun across the room, looked right over my head (I was crouching down), and walked in, cautiously, searching the darkness for shapes. He spotted Elise waiting in ambush on the far wall and started inching towards her. I waited until he was barely too far out of cover to run back into the stairwell, and then cut loose with the SMG. Five darts to the face! Poor guy was so surprised it nearly keeled him over.

My favorite Fallout Tactics technique actually worked in real life. I am so pleased.

i think i've died and gone to...wherever vgmix went when it died

SMW, by XOC! Free to download. Not just your average video game arrangement album, SMW contains live covers of every song from Super Mario World, using all manner of instruments familiar and strange: acoustic guitar, banjo, piano, cowbell, schoolbell, digital cameras, fridge doors, asscheeks. The indiest video game arrangement album ever--and it actually sounds pretty awesome. If the greatest talents on vgmix.com had a music orgy, this would be the creative santorum. Five stars.

XOC also has an album called Videogame: The Movie: The Game: The Cover Album. He is possibly the only video game arrangement artist crazy enough to compose and record the soundtrack to a fake NES game just so he can cover it.