Participating in a NERF war probably sounds like it would be a heck of a lot of fun, right? Well, it is. Unfortunately, unless you live in a large city where wars are regularly hosted, you’re probably going to have to get things up and running on your own. But to successfully do so, you’re going to need to invest some real time into planning.
Should you designate yourself as the head NERF War planner, you need to be aware that you are making yourself responsible for every aspect of the NERF War. That means location, time, date, food, water, restrooms, trash, rides, parents, and rules. Not only that, but you need to make sure that all this information is communicated to every attendee. And that is going to take more than just an email or two.
So, are you feeling up to the challenge? If you’re ready to organize the most talked about NERF war in your area, wait. Don’t tell anybody yet. Instead, follow these steps to pre-plan the important details so that when you extend the invitation, everything will be ready to go, and you’ll be able to field all the inevitable questions.
Choose a Location
Start with the most basic question first. Where will your war be held?
An ideal location will have three requirements: cover, lack of crowds, and availability of amenities. You will also need to make sure you choose a location where players can duck down and hide from oncoming bullets. No one likes to play in wide-open spaces! Likewise, you want your location to be as empty as possible. Selecting somewhere that is teeming with little kids and parents will not make for an ideal match. Similarly, if there are no water fountains, restrooms, or places to grab a quick bite, participants are libel to be uncomfortable and crabby.
While no location will be perfect, truly any location with some variation, these three factors will work splendidly.
If you need some inspiration for locations, drive by your local elementary and middle schools to scope out the landscape. Also, check out the less popular parks in the area. Whatever you do, don’t pick a busy park as your playing field. Doing so will only annoy the parents of both the players as well as those of the little kids who your NERF warriors may mistakenly trample over.
Regardless of your first choice of locale, always make sure that you have a backup venue. Ideally, it will be somewhere within walking distance of your original location. Why? Because sometimes, despite your best intentions, your first choice of playing field will not be available or you may find yourself kicked out.
Choose a Date & Time
Once you have your sights on a location, next you need to pin down your date and time. How you do this will depend on how many people you expect to attend your NERF War as well as how well you know the individuals.
If you know several of the people who are planning on attending well, consult them for options of dates and times that will work for them. Once you have a handful of options, you can then send them out to the group at large and take a vote on which time works best for most people. You can easily set up a SurveyMonkey or a Doodle poll to keep track of people’s input.
While you are deciding at which time the event should start, you should also be considering how long the war will last. This can be tricky. If this is your first foray into campaign management for a NERF war, you should probably make the event last 4-6 hours. If you don’t know many of the attendees or aren’t sure of the turnout, make it four hours.
After you’ve hosted your first NERF War, then you can readjust your times. For example, if you end up with a larger-than-expected turnout and everyone leaves the game clamoring for more, then tack on two more hours for next time. However, never make your NERF Wars longer than eight hours. Doing so could put players at risk of fatigue or burnout.
Feed the Troops
Of course, if you are hosting such an elaborate event, you are going to need to have a lunch plan in place. While a lunch break isn’t always necessary, it is better to plan for one. That way you’ll be able to keep the team’s spirit and energy up which will result in better gameplay.
One way to organize lunch is to require everyone to bring their own. If you go this route, make sure that this is communicated out clearly. If not, you could have kids suffering more than just a rumble in their tummy.
Another solution is to plan a lunch break where either the food is delivered or you are able to walk to a close-by restaurant and sit down to enjoy a quick meal. However, make sure that the restaurant is in walking distance as many parents are not eager to have their children ride with unknown drivers.
Clarify House Rules
It is also critically important that you define the rules of the game long before anyone hits the field. House rules are completely at your discretion, but there are also two main methods of play that are accepted.
West Coast Rules: Each soldier has five hit points. When a soldier is hit, they lose one point and must count down from 20 with his gun held up in the air until they are allowed back into play. While counting down, soldiers may pick up ammo and walk around, but are not allowed to fire and cannot be hit during this time. A soldier must count down the last five numbers loudly and announce when he/she’s back in. Soldiers leave the game permanently if he is down to zero hit points.
East Coast Rules: Each player has ten hit points, and will lose one point each time they are hit. There is no 20-second invulnerability period during which the same rules from West Coast apply. Soldiers leave the game once they are out of hit points.
You can alter the rules as necessary to accommodate the game you want to play. Just try and make everything self-explanatory and easy to remember. Also, it is recommended that you make eye protection mandatory for every player.
Choose a Style of NERF War
Make sure that you pick a style of NERF War to start out and that everyone understands what they will be playing. As rules vary between games, players need to be aware of which set of rules to follow.
You are not pigeonholed into a certain game though. After each battle, you can change up the style to keep things fresh.
The Big Reveal
Once you’re ready to announce your war, make sure you do so 3-4 weeks in advance. People need to be able to get it on their calendar early so that they can make a solid commitment to attend.
To host a successful NERF War, you are, however, going to need to do more than just send out a couple emails. If nothing else, you are going to need to work hard recruit players. Ask your friends to ask their friends, put out posts on forums and Reddit, post up physical flyers at the local university, and get on Instagram and Facebook and start posting. Make sure you spread the hype. If you don’t, your turn out won’t be what you hoped.
The big day has arrived and it’s time to play with some NERF guns! You might think that now that everything has been organized, your job is over. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As the host, you also need to transform into a leader. You must become a NERF warrior. After all, it will be you who will decide what style of battle will be played. It will be you who will determine lunch time. It will be you who divides the teams. It will be you who determines how much fun the players have.
In order to make sure that thing go as smoothly as possible, what you cannot do is lose control of the war.
Having natural charisma will, of course, help. But having the right attitude is the key to a successful NERF War. You want to make sure that everyone is having fun. As the leader, you set the tone, so if you are having a good time, they are too.
After each battle, you are going to want to re-divide the teams. To keep things even, try and randomize the selection process. Make sure each team has a relatively even distribution of gun types and player skill. After a couple of battles it will be easier to determine skill level and make building teams much quicker.
Randomizing the teams keeps the game lighthearted. You don’t want the winningest team to win every time. That will only serve to frustrate the other NERF battlers. However, if people really want to pair off into set teams, let them. Just make sure you keep the teams for the duration of the war and that the competition doesn’t get too heated.
In addition, try and take the pulse on players’ enthusiasm. Did they enjoy the style of the last battle? If they didn’t, switch it up.
All in all, the basic gist of hosting a successful NERF War is:
- Keep things moving.
- Keep the atmosphere light and fun.
- Be courteous to other people in the area.
- Expect stuff to go wrong and be ready to adapt when it does.
- Have fun!
If you can master these five tenets of a NERF War you are guaranteed to have a good time and convince people to come back for more.
If you do happen to live in a larger city, then you can check NERF forums like OzNERF, PDK Films, NERFRevolution, NERFhaven, NERFHQ, Foam Universe, and Heart of NERF where they list plenty of NERF Wars who are usually looking for new players.