Saturday, June 17, 2017

Firing Demo! Dart Zone "BallistixOps" Powerball Blaster - the Nerf Rival.... rival?

Sunday, June 04, 2017

"Nerf" Arenas - Blaster Battle Facilities in the U.S. Are Here

"Nerf" Arenas Continue to Spread - a look at NDWA and Dart Warz from 2015







BASIC STATS:

Dart Warz
Locations (US):
Meridian, ID
Colorado Springs, CO
Centennial, CO
Wichita, KS

Pricing:
Varies by location: see website - DART WARZ
Banned blasters?
Yes - see website
Socks/Shoes during play?
Socks

Dart Warz! One of the first arenas I ever heard about, but also definitely the first franchise I ever heard about. Randi and Stanton W. were nice enough to fly me out for a night to experience not only their arena(s), but to try my skills playing on one of their teams for their proprietary tournament, NDWA (National Dart Warz Association.)

As it stood, I met staff from the Idaho location, but had the privilege to look at the Centennial and Colorado Springs locations in the scenic, lovely, state of Colorado. Each location had 2 arenas (with enough square footage to accommodate modern Nerf blasters that hit 40-50’ flat, if that’s helpful), littered with obstacles, pro shop, rental stations, safety briefings, DJs playing music, open play, private games, things like that. It was a real neat setup to see in person. I believe each play area could accommodate up to 40 players on each field, and I can only imagine the chaos THAT would look like.

Dart Warz has rules, as many competitive style places do. One rule is, you play in socks. In order to preserve their floors (foam mats), they ask that players wear socks during play. It took some getting used to for me, but after a bit of time it wasn’t a serious problem. Different, yes. A deal breaker? No. The games also have referees, which removes the honor system in place for a lot of Nerf I played in the past, at least most of the time. Refs are still human and you might think a call gets missed, but just play through and get it the next time. Either way, it’s definitely nice to have the refs there in the first place. There are also special house rules, some special house game types, but nothing I can really go into detail here. Must be experienced! But I had fun and the games we played ranged from the familiar to the alien, and it was great to see a bunch of new (to me) ideas at play. House rules such as bunker destruction, “grenades”, and precision targets as objectives were all fun to participate in, especially in large team games. Players were allowed armor and shield rules as well, which added another depth of tactics for some game types and situations.



The obstacles were sturdy enough, and the field layouts had decent movement, cover, firing lanes, choke points, and so on. Once in awhile the field arrangement seemed a bit favored but for the most part they worked. Dart Warz at the time was still using Vortex blasters heavily, which added an element of surprise, due to the curve of the discs around cover. Many players really liked Vortex, and remarked they were sad to see it fading even then. The Pro Shop had Dart Warz emblazoned gear, including socks, shirts, and headbands. Blasters were rented from a base tier to more expensive tiers, and I think a chronometer was available for “xtreme” (modded, blowguns, etc.) league play. Yes, that’s right, league play. Either way, the facilities and business models appear to have an option of foam blaster play for all ranges of interest in the hobby, from people just getting into it to heavy modders (within reason).

The NDWA tournament itself was an intense affair, pitting the skills of staff from the three arenas against each other in a variety of games, both blaster and melee (with foam swords and other weapons) oriented. Objectives had to be met, flags raised or captured, and within a time limit. Points were awarded based on performance and ultimately one store’s staff would lead in points, but ultimately everyone is still one big Dart Warz entity, just there to have fun and meet the other staff. I had a good time talking to some folks and seeing how they developed their play styles within Dart Warz, and definitely took home some ideas to tool around with in my own games. I flew into the tournament blind, ultimately, and used a Cycloneshock for the duration of the tournament. Opting to step out of my comfort zone, I went with a Mega blaster with slam-fire, and it served me well during the tourney. My loadout consisted of that, my ammo pouch, and my eye protection. It was kinda liberating to not rely on my "favorite" blaster and just go with what I could, a little extra difficulty for me, but an element of the unknown that makes stepping into an unknown playing field with an unknown opponent even more interesting.

I regret I only had a day to spend playing at Dart Warz, but what I did experience was different from my usual park pickup games. And it was a lot of fun all the same trying out something new and seeing how a place like a dedicated Nerf arena might operate, in this case the Dart Warz model. The fact that three stores operate under this brand show there’s some interest out there, and it’s interesting to know that within 3 years of emerging they’ve grown even this much. Yes, it may be a little more rigid than internet organized games and meetups, but places like this forge their own niche in the hobby, as well as introduce the idea of blaster games to a larger more regular and accessible audience. If you have one in your area, it’s definitely worth a look at least once.

SUPER BIG THANK YOU again to the staff and owners of Dart Warz, for bringing me out and putting me up for the night to have this experience. It was a glimpse of something new and different for the hobby, and as a proponent of varied play, I am totally fine with that. Have blaster, will travel.


Questions? Comments? Any facets of the place I missed? Let me know!

Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt - Review and Firing Demo!

Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt is a Huge Crossbow against the Undead Horde



NERF ZOMBIE STRIKE DREADBOLT Blaster

(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $49.99/Available: Fall 2017)
Outsmart and dominate the zombie hordes with the ZOMBIE STRIKE DREADBOLT blaster. The first-ever arrow-firing ZOMBIE STRIKE crossbow, the DREADBOLT blaster can take down zombies like never before. Use the detachable scope to line up the target, aim, and fire! Includes five arrows and detachable scope. Available at most major retailers nationwide and HasbroToyshop.com.

Well, there it is. the Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt. First seen at New York Toy Fair, I was most shocked at how super sized the thing was. The ammo was the same as the Rebelle Arrow Revolution, Agent Bow, and Courage Crossbow, but the build of this Crossbow is arguably WAY bigger than any of those. 

Aesthetics:
I like the way the Dreadbolt looks. The Zombie Strike junkdeco is still in effect, along with the green/orange motif. Nothing new or surprising there. The nuance of a wrench as the priming handle is a nice touch, and one of my favorite features of the blaster. Yes, nothing really new as it's a crossbow reusing ammo from previous blasters, and the priming mech uses a a bowstring, but the fun is in the small details, like the priming arm wrench. It's a smooth action with the priming handle too, and the stock is comfortable to hold. My frame is about 5'8", and the stock is plenty comfortable for me to use. The blaster is a little front heavy though, and with the wrench positioned where it is makes finding a grip for your offhand a little odd sometimes (there's a grip area after the wrench, but sometimes my hand kept finding its way further up the body naturally.) Overall, a nice job with a solid build. The arms make moving through tight spaces a bit more difficult, but hey, that's a crossbow for you.

Usability:

The elephant in the room is that this is an "impractical" blaster for a Nerf war. And we'll look at a couple of reasons why.

- The ammo. Most games I play in utilize darts and maybe a few players bring Mega or Rival rounds. If you're using this or something like it, you best have a sidearm or be ready to chase your ammo down, lest your round with this blaster end quickly. The Rebelle version of the arrows are still available so a player could stock up ideally, but they might be the only player with that ammo type that day. 

- The range. Flat, this blaster hit 40', maybe. angled it would hit in the 50s and beyond but other blasters are doing that at lower angles with faster velocities. Style points would be the main incentive at using this against dart firing blasters.

- The cost. Given the price of this and other products coming out this year, consumers may feel compelled to have another selective year buying blasters. at $50 this is already a chunk from buying the Regulator or Nemesis, as cool as it looks. You could put your money into this blaster or something that will extend your play time during a game round.

Probably other reasons, but those seem to be the main ones for me.

With a little practice I was able to smoothly reload arrows, but the malleability of the shaft of the arrows also adds an extra level of sensitivity, you have to make sure you don't push too hard, lest the arrow flex out of place or veer off target because it gets bent. Besides that, aiming (and I found that easier without the sight) moving with the crossbow, all of it was ok. Going through doorways and tight spaces could be a liability with the Dreadbolt, but those are minor issues at best considering the number of other blasters available for different situations.

HOWEVER - 

This blaster was still one of my favorites from the show. The priming mech, massive build (relatively speaking) and Crossbow love were enough to make me give this blaster a prolonged look. In this toy there's definitely a roleplay element that is being tapped into more with this blaster than performance in rate of fire or range, and that's ok. Kids that want to imagine carving their way through an undead horde will get a kick out of this, as will players who may want those style points, or work on a more unique play style that doesn't involve streamline sized darts or Rival ammo. I see the value in unstructured play and imagination, and that's the crux of this blaster seeing yourself in that position of a crossbow wielding hero against the teeming undead masses. And in recent pop culture history, we know where that's coming from ;)

That being said, for the sheer size of this blaster I know some people will find purpose for it and it's not a bad buy for a blaster. I would remark that maybe wait for a sale or coupon to  buy it, as $49.99 is a little steep for a 5 shot specialty ammo blaster, considering the future and currently available blasters. But even at that, it's a proud addition to any collection, and a fun blaster in its own right. Whatever you pay, I found this blaster still offered a fun experience shooting arrows, and I hope you find it that way too.

Sample provided by Nerf, but all opinions remain my own!






AFFILIATE LINKS BELOW:




FOAMME FATALES

RSS FEED - READ AS IT POSTS!