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Northwind

Foam Dart Thunder skatepark event review

Thought I would do a proper writeup of my first FDT skatepark event which was at Transgression Skate park, Edinburgh, on the 4th of April. I like the sound of my own typing, so, TL;DR version- it's really damn good, as long as you're happy playing with kids, and I highly recommend it.

First of all, I should say I've never done any other Nerf events, so I can't really do comparisons, I think there's some specific differences for FDT compared to a typical NIC Nerf event which I'll try and cover.

Overview and Format

These are all-ages events, which for this one meant mostly kids of various ages plus parents, plus me! 40 players in a massive indoor skatepark.

Really, I think the event is defined by the kids as much as the venue and organisers. Some serious players might not dig that, but for me I was soon caught up with the energy and enthusiasm of it. It's the absolute opposite of serious mil-sim stuff and I loved it, it's funny and fluid and nonstop. I reckon it's a pretty logical way for us to play with our kid's toys. It's competitive but the joy's in the competition not the winning.

The other players were really welcoming too, it'd be easy to feel like a big weirdo as the sole non-parent adult but I think they just see a big daft kid. (I did go around introducing myself to parents, to reduce the chance of ending up on a special list...)

We played 4 different events with a couple of games each- a team elimination round with a simple tag-back-in system, a hold-the-timer event (complete with riot shields), some HVZ and then a big mad free for all to finish. I think I preferred the first; they all worked well (trying to catch kids as a grownup zombie was a bloomin nightmare though! Partly because they're too maneuverable and partly because I was afraid I'd squash them or kick one into the roof)

Venue

I was really impressed with the venue, it doesn't immediately sound ideal with the big open spaces and lines of sight but, well, Nerf darts are their own limitation- it works really well as you've got loads of space to move and play and you can get a good tactical overview of the full game, but the effective size of your own individual game is quite close. (you could I'm sure dominate with a high power blaster; more on that later)

Moving around the venue is good fun too- lots of different levels and inventive approaches, ramps to climb or or slide down, there's natural walls and cover and variations in shape but there's no real chokepoints so things are very fluid. Once you're used to it, it makes perfect sense using the ramps (climb up, let off a few shots, slide down) and I saw some crazy wallride moves especially in the zombie games.

(Don't fall off the ramps. srs.)

There's also a cafe, good parking, viewing etc.

Darts

The other major part of the format is that FDT supply all the darts- elites and kooshes. That means you can't use a tactical rig full of 18 dart clips, everyone was using one or two blasters and reloading on the fly. Again, maybe if you've got the kit and you like spraying darts that's a downer but I found it a really excellent leveller- there'd be little advantage having a super-fast full auto loadout, and it keeps otherwise uncompetitive blasters in play. Ideal for kids to use their favourite toys but worked for me too, it just demands a different approach. And scrounging darts under fire is nicely frantic

I suppose the downside of this is that the darts suffered as the game went on- quite a lot got squashed or lost heads. Of course this is also a level playing field but if your blaster is picky, you're going to have some problems unless you're very careful when picking up darts. Which leads me to...

Blasters and mods

FDT asked anyone with a modded blaster to own up at the start of the game, almost everyone was using stock blasters and a lot were using low performance options. FDT also says that anyone with a high power blaster needs to choose their targets and not shoot the younger kids, which is totally sensible even with eye protection.

So here's the thing... Your high performance blaster is inappropriate here, IMO, so leave your rapidpistol or BB at home. It wouldn't be right for shooting kids, it wouldn't be fair against other players with out-of-the-box nstrike blasters and the like, and frankly it wouldn't suit the limited darts format either. Just imbalancing, not fun for you or for others- like a cheat code

I used a lightly modded rapid red (girl's stryfe)- I reckon it was pretty ideal- small, not too powerful or unbalancing, reliable and not choosy about darts.

I guess I'd say, usability and reliability mods are fine; serious firepower mods not so much, I wouldn't take anything that really outclassed a stock blaster. I like this, it's an interesting puzzle. I reckon a stryfealike is pretty ideal but I'm going to try a stockade next time for on-the-fly reloading. I suspect springers might lose out in later rounds once there's ropey darts in play, not sure. Or maybe an automatic dart tag blaster might work? But the bottom line is, you could have fun with anything and I'd be totally happy taking a stock blaster- happier than with a top end blaster.

Organisation

Basically, the only time anything looks this simple, is when someone's sweated the details beforehand- FDT's organisation is pretty invisible which speaks volumes. Referees were on hand to stop cheating and keep things safe, I saw a couple of minor injuries dealt with really well. The games were simple to understand and well explained, and the rules well enforced- not too strict, not too loose, to keep things fun. It's slanted towards the kids' party feel rather than serious every-dart-counts competition and you know what? That's pretty great.

Overall

Lacking anything to compare it to other than laserquest and paintball, I basically have to give it top marks... I'm not certain everyone would be into the format but provided you can get past that, you will have a ball. I think it's probably more playful than the average grownup Nerf war, maybe even childish, I just don't see that as a downside.

I never really expected to really be doing this sort of thing, I like Nerf for the modding and the collecting/planning/techy side more than the "sporting" side, it's something I do when it's cold or raining outside mostly. But I'm a convert, I totally recommend it.

Next one is I think May the 9th.
FDT

Mate, thanks for taking the time to write that review.

I was stoked when I knew, like Milofo coming along to the adult's only event, that we had a Britnerf regular poster coming along to this event and was really interested in your opinion. I'll reply to the points in your review later but look forward to seeing you on the 9th May Smile
Northwind

FDT wrote:
Mate, thanks for taking the time to write that review.


Damn straight, it took ages, all them words! (I,er, may be banned from the forum I normally waste my time on just now...)

Pretty unlikely I'll make the next one as I'll be in full on training mode for a couple of big bike races but we'll see!

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