Laser Corp.

Today was the celebration of Selena’s 25th birthday, held at Laser Corp. in Swan Valley (a lovely area). Beth and I got up early to get there just in the nick of time, but unfortunately even though she had already paid for her session she wasn’t feeling well and sat out. I don’t think she saw very much though, as the field was massive and we were mostly just crouching behind cover and popping out to pick off the opposing team.

It was my second time at Laser Corp. and there was a significant difference in my style and performance since my brother’s birthday in early 2007. It’s interesting to me how strategies and tactics come intuitively to me. Andy (more on him later) says a lot of it’s common sense, but I think I understand combat on a deeper level: I see the paths of bullets, so to speak. I can sense the appropriate move at the right time. For instance, when I was pinned down by Sel who was shooting at me every time I peeped out of cover and losing health fast, I looked for a better way of trying to overcome her. I moved around to the other side of cover and saw a path towards the next point of cover- I’d be in the open for a few metres, and when I reached cover the angle would be awkward and very narrow. Visibility from that position would be poor, and if she saw me transiting she might change position to counter the move. To avoid this I would have to take a moment to centre and check for movement (either by leaning out of cover for a brief moment, or at an extreme low to minimise the target) before closing in. From Sel’s position she would only be able to see outwards, and to fire at me she would need to either expose herself or break from cover. I could force her to move in a certain direction by coming from directly behind her, or I could try to outflank her and move to her blind side. Both had risks, and I decided to approach the barricade silently from behind and lean over the top to shoot her.

This is just one of the countless examples of knowing intuitively the best thing to do at the best time. Like paintballing, I understand on a deeper level that it’s not about skill. It’s not about accuracy, or how many bullets you have, or how fast you can run. The most important thing is strategy- being one step ahead of your opponent, always being in control. Accuracy, ammunition, timing, rate of fire, distancing, environment, enemy position, support fire, reliability of team members, incompetency of opposition team members… These factors all come into it, but they need processing on the spot. Combat is instant strategising and adaptation to enemy’s strengths and weaknesses.

A few points that really, really stand out for me as treasured memories include:

  • Duelling with Selena. I was crouching behind a fallen tree, she was on the other side. I could hear her, sense her. She had five health, I had two. I switched to single-shot and proceeded to pop in and out of cover, going over or to the side of the log at random intervals, shooting at her every second or so. The erratic movement and my slightly better accuracy/distance for the weapon allowed me to overcome her with just one health remaining. It was awesome.
  • Captain Andrew Phillips, leader of our team. Of us all, I think Andy understood tactics the best. Certain other people knew what they were doing, but enjoyed one style of combat to the exclusion of others. For instance, Matt (who was covered in frayed rope so he looked more like a wookie than a
    shrub) lay in a trench with his sniper rifle peaking over the top, waiting silently and perfectly still for a target to present itself. He stayed there for almost the entire game, while the rest of us moved backwards and forward like a chess match. It would have been a good tactic if he had better view of the enemy, but for the most part the action was on the other side of the field. What he lacked was adaptability. Andy understood this- he gave us a battle plan before each match. In The Last Stand, he split the team up into three groups: two groups would flank in both directions, using snipers and medium-range weapons to close in on the defenders. Andy and I, using our short-range rifles, would serve as a distraction, presenting ourselves as targets and drawing attention and fire away from the others. As it turned out, the others were all picked off over and over again until Andy moved up and up and up until we had secured the area around the base. We did this through leapfrogging and advancing from cover to cover, watching each other’s backs and taking out the opposition’s snipers. Of all the people there today, I was most glad to have Andy covering me and vice versa- we weren’t afraid to move at the risk of being shot if it meant securing better ground.
  • Limited respawn death matches. That is to say, matches where you don’t come back if you’ve been shot dead. As we were discussing tactics, we decided to let all our team know how many were left by using the old samurai war cry "Yo!" In the early days, this was used on the battlefield to let your side know you had just delivered a killing blow. The effect of this is that if one side was a constant chorus of "Yo!", the other side’s morale would weaken. Further, if you’ve been hearing one man yell "Yo!" over and over for half an hour, and it’s your turn to face him, it creates a very different sort of battle. It was indescribably satisfying to hear someone’s death throes and then turn over my shoulder and bellow "YOOOOOO!" to my team. Truly, there is nothing more satisfying than screaming a war cry on the battlefield to let everyone around you know you just incapacitated your enemy.
  • Saving Drew from a killer ant. At the end of the day when we were taking photos, there was a giant muthafucking ant (l;ike, at least an inch long and half as tall) crawling across his hat. He was kneeling in front of me, and I freaked out and said "Dude, there’s an ant on your head!" Then, I decided I’d do him a favour by knocking the ant off with my 15kg rifle. I got the ant off, but I clocked him over the head as I did so. Everyone thought it was hilarious, though I couldn’t apologise enough. I’m still not sure if he entirely believes there was an ant. It became a running joke every time someone needed to hit someone else.
  • Saving Tristan’s arse. No disrespect to Tristan, but he was kind of amateurish. I was teamed up with him to block off the enemy at a crucial point- a hill in the centre of the field. He had a sniper rifle, I had a short-range weapon. He was basically looking out for the enemy while I was to cover him, but in the time I was with him, he never really took out anyone. He saw where they were and ducked behind cover to avoid being shot at without returning any fire. I think he was using the semi-auto setting as well so he was going through ammo pretty quickly. I ended up sneaking around taking out the people who were trying to take out him. I remember this one epic moment where there was a counter-sniper in the trees shooting at him and he was shooting back. I could hear Tristan’s gun screaming from being shot at, and he was one bullet away from being killed when I ran up behind the counter sniper and shot him in the back of the head. So satisfying.
  • Selena crying when she got her Darth Maul lightsabre, packed in a giant box cushioned with marshmallows. She’s come so far since she’s come to Rebel- I’m really glad she has a family to love and be loved by.
  • Hearing someone run out of bullets as their gun clicked with an empty chamber, I ran out of cover to assault them before they could reload only to find my chamber was empty too. I hit reload and ran back, going "Shit shit shit shit!" as other people on their team started shooting at me.

I think that’ll do for now.

Awesome times. Looking forward to $8 paintballing these holidays.

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