Before anything else is said, I want to make it very clear that I really enjoyed Dead Legends overall. If this event is renewed for next year, I absolutely will go again and try to get some other friends to go out with me. That said, this is a recap of my experience this year with what went well, what didn't, and what could be improved.
Let me start out by saying that this is the first Living Legends scenario game I've been to. I've been to a few local big games, but no other scenarios, so some observations may be due to lack of experience.
When this event was announced, I was super pumped. I'd heard how great the Living Legends events were, but could never quite commit to the travel across the country. Now that there was one within driving distance, I was ready to go.
I think the event was promoted reasonably well and using APPA to handle signups made things pretty easy. However, there wasn't much information given out regarding specifics. Vendors and camping was promised, but not much elaborated on as time went on. This was pretty important to me as my friend and I were planning on camping out there that weekend.
It just so happened that the weekend of the event fell on the one weekend where two major storms swept into the northern California area. Months of clear weekends before and clear skies afterwards, we just got extremely unlucky with the weather for the event. This was something out of the control of the organizers of course, so I tried to take this into account when discussing the experience.
My friend and I drove out to the field after work. It had been raining pretty steadily all day. We didn't arrive until around 8PM and it was dark and raining. The address provided for the field was for an intersection to the highway. We didn't know we had to turn into the road and drive about 3/4ths of a mile to get to the actual field entrance. There were no signs or anyone directing traffic so we did a bunch of backtracking to figure it out. The road to the field was pretty muddy and had a lot of standing water. Good thing my friend had a Subaru, the four wheel drive kept us from bottoming out in a big mud puddle. We entered the overflow lot and were told by some other people camping out that the main lot was up the hill. The path up the hill was all mud and steep. We tried getting up it a few times before giving up and pitching a tent below in the overflow lot. The bathrooms that were mentioned turned out to be port a potties, so my assumption that there would be some sort of sink or place to wash up was proven wrong. Pitched a tent and tried to stay dry.
We woke up around 7. The rain had stopped and we made some breakfast. Hiked up the hill and checked in. The player cards didn't come with lanyards or anything, so I had a heck of a time trying to find a pocket to put mine in (I wear old pants that don't have zippered pockets). Had a player meeting and we started playing at 10. Overall, the play on Saturday was lots of fun. The rain held off, we had enough people who braved the elements to make it exciting, and I felt like I was in a WW2 or Vietnam War film on patrol. Great firefights and the varied terrain was a lot of fun to play in.
However, the two spawn points were pretty far away from each other. If you were in the middle of the field and were eliminated, it was a pretty far walk to respawn. With only the boundary bordering the staging area taped off, I almost walked in the wrong direction the first time I was eliminated before a kind soul on my team pointed me in the right direction. Also, the staging area was on top of the hill with the game below it, so it was a bit of a hike to get to your paint and air. It was a bit muddy, but not too terrible.
With regards to the gameplay, I had no idea when we had new missions. It was pretty difficult to know what the objective was unless you happened to be at base when the missions were posted there. Perhaps with more people, things would have been communicated better, but the great majority of the time, we just tried to keep control of our flags and push the other team back.
The concept of horses was a great idea, but they caused a lot of confusion and tempers flared. The initial rules did state that both teams would have horses, but what their exact regulations was never made clear. It seemed like both sides played with different rules according to the refs and this became a heated point of contention. Initially, both sides had 5 horse they could use over the entire course of the day. Each horse would last 30 minutes and once you were out of horses, you could not have any more the rest of the day. The red side (my side) was told that the person on the horse was invincible but could not shoot or otherwise eliminate other players. So we used them as scouts and spotting. The other team was apparently told they could use horses but only shoot with one hand. As long as one hand remained on the horse however, they were invincible. This was explained to us as a "helicopter" concept. What happened in reality is that the other team got a couple of horses, ran around shooting everyone, and then spawn camped our base for awhile. They then amended it down to only being able to barrel tag people to surrender them, but the end result was pretty much the same. Fortunately, they did away with horses after the morning session.
In my opinion, I think it was a decent idea, but needed some balance tweaks. Shortening the amount of time or reducing the number of horses available would help. Making the horse not invincible or only partially invincible would also help. Perhaps bringing grenades or rockets into play as a way to eliminate them would be a good way to go (there weren't many bunkers on the field so the rockets were not very useful anyways). I like the idea, but definitely clarifying the rules would have helped. When they were on the field, it turned into a big game of hide and go seek which wasn't much fun.
By the time the afternoon session was over, the weather forecast indicated rain, so my friend and I didn't hang around for the player party. We briefly checked out the vendors. I had hoped there was going to be a PE, Virtue, or MacDev booth, but none were there.
We were planning on getting a hotel room as the rain and winds made us fear for the integrity of our tent. A kind friend of mine (shout out to Loner Norcal
) let us crash in his hotel room. Hot showers, a decent meal, and some beers do wonders for your spirits. Considering that most hotels were at least 30 minutes from the field, camping would have been our number one option, but the weather and lack of amenities made us decide against it. Some trash cans in the overflow lot would have helped considerably on Friday night as well as during the day on Saturday.
It rained steadily all night and by the time we got to the field around 9 on Sunday, the parking lot and trail up the hill were much muddier and more slippy than Saturday. It was also raining steadily and the forecast indicated more rain. My friend and I decided to get the last of our paint and head out early. Hats off to everyone who stayed and played the morning session and the final battle.
In conclusion, I think it was a good effort for the first year. Certainly there are some organizational and informational things that could have done better. But at the end of the day, if you get a couple hundred paintballers together and let them fight it out, it's really hard to not have a good time. Hopefully the event will be back next year with some of the kinks worked out. With better weather, hopefully the turnout will be better. I know I'll be back rain or shine.