How to Run a Friendly, Successful Nerf War (Basic Nerf Article)


Photo found on Flickr, thanks to whoever uploaded it.

This article was requested by a reader of mine. He wanted an article about “how to run a nerf event”. He was referring to a Nerf War with his friends. Well dear reader, heres what you requested. Hit the jump to hear my first hand tips and experience in organizing, hosting, and participation in those friends only sort of Nerf Wars.

I’ve organized and “hosted” at least 4 Nerf Wars in my private school, and held numerous ones in my church. All had great success by certain standards. Each Nerf War had 10-20 people participating in it, and everyone had a good time. Lets take a look at what I did right, and what I did wrong. Also PLEASE NOTE that these are not labeled in order of importance, they are all important.

For reference, this is what my school play area looks like. And this is what my church play area looks like.

What I did right:

Planning: If you want your Nerf Wars (in general) to be successful, you gotta plan them out. You could just invite people and hope for the best, but the best results rarely come from that. Planning goes into many factors, just as location, rules, talking to parents, safety, water, bathrooms, game types, and more. I’ll tackle some of these below. Announce your event with your friends at least two or more weeks in advance. That way you can adjust your event or make up for lack of people. Whoever you invite can make the time or adjust their schedule if you give them proper time.

Invite Many People: It does’t just have to be your for sure interested friend’s you invite. If you know someone who’s mildly interested, why not invite them? Worst case thing they say no. Best case thing they yes. Don’t forget the more the merrier!

Picking the correct date: When I planned Nerf Wars at my private school, we always played them on Fridays or minimum days. That way, people would have time to play. This also allowed us to pick up casual viewers and younger players for even more fun. With the successful Nerf Wars in my church, they happened during a sleepover. I invited people who I knew would play or were at least casually interested. When everyone started gearing up, these casual people would usually play if asked. Try to not have it conflict with any big dates or events.

Picking a good location: Try and pick a good location to play Nerf at. Your going to want to have obstacles and cover, and allow battles & skirmishes to happen 25 feet or lower. These are the effective distances for most Nerf blasters, and raising these distances makes the games not as much and difficult to play in. Also make sure your play area and obstacles can supplement the amount of players playing safely, and that the amount of people playing does not interfere with game quality.

Safety: Safety should always remain a priority when playing Nerf games. Like the old saying “it’s only fun until someone gets hurt.” Make sure your play area and location is clear of dangerous debris, and that it has enough space to accommodate your number of players. Glasses and goggles are optional, but if the blasters tend to be on the more powerful side, or their modded, strongly consider glasses and goggles. I know most don’t have glasses or goggles, and game tend to be on the more casual side. Most of my friends don’t even wear safety goggles, but try to keep safety in mind. Keep the young players protected and enforce their future safety awareness by making them wear goggles when playing.

Good Flow: Keep your games flowing. Dart pick ups after every game tends to slow the game and pace down, which makes people lose interest. Instead of picking up darts after each game, try having people picking them up after every other game. Or get people to pick them up after they get out. Have a game moderator pick them up during the games. Dart pickup is the most dreaded part of Nerf, and anything to lessen the sorrow of picking up foam helps a lot. Also try to lessen the times between games, because people seem to lose interest or find other things to do in between games and you tend to lose players like that.

Good Moderating: A moderator doesn’t have to be sitting out of games and watching. A moderator can also be playing and participating with the players. However good moderators will straighten out disputes, game rules, rulings, and keep people straight. They must also be fair, patient, understanding, and willing to listen. It’s not easy job, and sometimes moderators must think quick on their toes. Often game organizers are moderators, but they should be people with the above qualities.

Variety: Putting variety into a day of Nerf keeps the players interested and prevents a day of team deathmatch from getting boring. Try to switch up game types, rules, teams, or blasters once in awhile to keep things fresh. Variety is not always required or necessary, but in the long run it keeps people playing and allows you to try out new things.

Look out for A-Holes: I know some people who don’t mean to be a-holes, but they are. A lot of times their just being too competitive, or frustration. Try and help them to either chill out, or take responsibly. You can’t guarantee 100 percent cooperation though. An example of this is that I knew a person at my high school (when I was going to high school anyways) who liked Nerf. We invited him to play. I played against him a good amount of games, and their team often lost. He made a couple of bad remarks about his team. My best friend was on his team, and said it was bothering him. I switched this “A-Hole” guy into my team, and when we won, he would make snippy comments. I talked to him after games about this, and while it helped a little bit, he still made a comment or two after each games. Moderators must play their role strongly with people like this.

Lots of Darts and Blasters: Lots of blasters gives people multiple choices, which goes with my variety topic. Lots of darts supplies those blasters can can allow people to go extra games without picking up more, as you can see in my Good Flow section. It also can help combat the loss of darts in the often occasion of losing some. A good amount of blasters can be lent off to friends to keep things interesting and encourage non players to play. You don’t have a blaster, but want to play? Borrow one of mine!

What I did Wrong:

Since my Nerf Wars were all successful, I only did a couple of things wrong.

I didn’t play as good as a moderator as I should with my “A-Hole” acquaintance.
I didn’t keep the games flowing.
I didn’t think quick enough on my toes on all game im balances.
I usually don’t put much variety in my games.

I believe the above guidelines I listed are all very solid, but thats it for now folks! Leave a comment if you would like, what works for you in running Nerf Wars with your friends?

3/14/12 EDIT: I bolded all the main points, to help readers browse the article more.

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