Making an Outdoor Laser Tag Field
With Steradian Laser Tag equipment, you can play just about anywhere: indoors or outdoors, concrete basketball court, a hundred acres of woods. The first thing you need when setting up a laser tag field is permission to use the land. Thankfully, since laser tag is harmless, and leaves no residue or waste, getting permission is not as difficult as it sounds. If you are using public land, make sure to phone the local police a few hours ahead of game time, and let them know you are holding an event. They appreciate this, and it greatly reduces the chance for hassles. You need to carry insurance in case somebody trips and falls. Many public places will require proof of insurance before they let you play there. Whether you own the land or just borrow it, there are many things you can do to create a fantastic field.
Backyard or Park
This is a barrier game, which can be played on small to medium fields, and is the main format for indoor play. A full-length basketball court is considered the minimum size. The barriers should be large enough to fully hide behind. Steradian Reflex Barriers are a great option for mobile businesses. Set up as many barriers as seems appropriate for your area.
Teams are usually 5 people per team, 2 teams. The goal is either team elimination or capture the flag.
Team strategy usually involves a leapfrog approach across the field to get into a wide-angle shooting position, trying to leave the other team nowhere to hide. Time limits are usually imposed; 5 minutes is typical.
Forest Play Style
Forest play is quite different from the close range barrier play found in LaserBlitz style games. One major advantage is the ability to conduct large strategic plays out of the sight of the enemy. Since you are using trees and underbrush for cover, it is possible to see someone at a great distance, but almost impossible to track them if they move. Thus, teamwork is vital.
It is recommended that most players have radios. Inexpensive FRS radios (USA) provide reliable communication between teammates, and offer countless strategic possibilities. (Note: many people ask about the other team listening in. We say, let them! Because while they are listening to the other team, they are not listening to their own team, and will often miss a vital bit of information.)
Typical Game Let’s walk through a sample game. First, we set up 2 teams of 5 players each. We start the game using the LaserTagScores.com interface, and send the teams to their respective starting zones. The teams can now take a few seconds to review their strategies. Once the pregame timer runs out, all the guns will activate and announce that the game has started.
At this point, both teams are running towards the middle ground, the black bar on the map. Blue Team gets there first, stops, sets up in cover, and looks for the Red Team. Red Team is still jogging up when several of them take hits from the better-prepared Blue Team. Red Team scatters; whatever plans they had are put on hold until they can locate the concealed Blue Team.
Blue Team presses the advantage. While three players hold the center and lay cover fire over the whole Red Team, the two other Blue players split up, heading wide right and left. The right flank player gets shots in on Red Team from a new angle, forcing them to bury themselves even deeper into cover.
The Blue Team’s left flank player makes it to the creek. In a brilliant move, he quietly slides down into the creek, below where Red Team can see. He carefully walks his way up the creek, until he gets deep into Red territory. He now carefully climbs up the bank, and stays very still. He is now behind the Red team. He can still hear the fighting at center field, and over the radio he hears that one of his team has been tagged out. Now is his time to move.
Being stealthy and staying low to the ground, he finds a hiding place where he can see three Red Team players. He acquires the first one in his scope, and pulls off just one shot. The target dives for cover, still thinking the attacks are coming from midfield. The Blue player proceeds to tag the second Red player, and finally lays into the third player full blast. He calls over the radio for a full assault. After the ensuing mayhem, one Red player and two Blue players are left.
The Red player runs full speed until he gets out of sight. The two Blue players coordinate their attack approach.
The Red believes one of the Blue players only has one hit point left, and orients himself to attack that player first. Trying to slow down his breathing and stop his shooting hand from shaking, he sees movement and pulls up his gun. A head pops out from behind a tree, and he fires. Yes! Got him! Tagged out!
Of course, the Red player never saw the other Blue player right behind him.
Blue wins the day!
Medium Forest Field
This field is a small area of forest, typically a few acres. The example field shown here is about 5 acres.
One major advantage of a forested field is you don’t need to build any barriers, since you are surrounded by natural barriers and cover.
Below is a rough overhead map of the playing area. The olive colored area is out of bounds (cornfields). The dark green is in-bounds. The dark blue line is a creek, just a foot or two deep in the summer. The light green lines are paths suitable for running on. The darkened area is a dry sandy creekbed. The red dot is the starting point for the Red team, and the blue dot is for the Blue team.
Large Forest Field
Fields of 20 acres or more are similar to medium fields, but the scale introduces a few new problems. 20 acres will play more than 25 people (up to 100).
If you have 100 players on 20 acres, the game will start out very fast. Because the player density is high, it is a very target-rich (and shot-rich!) environment. After only five minutes, 50 players are likely to be tagged out; after ten minutes, you will likely be down to 20 players.
These remaining players, with lots of space to maneuver, will now reorganize and come up with good strategies. The play is more deliberate now, and many consider this to be the prime stage in the game. After another 15 minutes you are down to 1 person against 3. However, this last battle can easily take another hour to complete.
Therefore, you need a game timer to speed this up; 20 or 30 minutes should be plenty of time to allow for good strategies without forcing the 90 or so tagged-out players to wait too long. At the end of the game, the winning team is announced, even if players still have hit points remaining. Alternatively, if you are playing with a large group that isn’t thrilled with the idea of sitting on the sidelines while a few people have all the fun, use Immortal Arena rules to allow people to stay in the game for the entire duration.
It is important to clearly mark all the trails, and provide a map to new players. If you have fewer than 25 people, you should tape off a smaller part of the field.