The Nerf Vortex series was a slow starter for me. Up until this series launched, I’d been on the pre-order list equivalent with the ANU HvZ group, and I’d paid more than market rates for a range of N-Strike equipment by this point. So when the disc based gear rolled out, I bought a basic pistol for politeness, and left it at that at the onset.
Overall impression of the series: The discs have a strange gameplay dynamic, and their lift, drag and slower speeds make them a more deadly than expected combination. The lift is extremely vulnerable to the wind, which is pro and con – you’re not about to make a called shot to a body part with this thing, and the odds of an accidental head shot are quite high as they suddenly waft up from chest to jaw. On the other hand, you can put one down a corridor on an indoor match, and have your opponent step out into the shot because the timing of the disc is just that much slower than the darts. Particularly in an unmodded Vortex versus modded dart blasters, you can draw people out of cover as the darts land, and the disc shows up a second or two later.
Note: The unjamming function works. I’ve had a firing jam on all of the blasters, and they’ve all unjammed as per instructions on the blaster. The Nitron and the Praxis external release switches were particularly effective – unjamming in game, discarding the disc, and returning to firing whilst moving around avoiding incoming streamline was a remarkable experience.
The Gear: Vortex Proton
That basic pistol was the perfunctionary single shot Vortex disc spinner. Armed with three discs, and a single shot mechanism, I managed to reduce my ammo count to two within minutes of firing the thing in a closed space the size of a shoe box (couches, the eternal nemesis of the nerf pistol). In all honesty, for the first few matches, I’d roll up with the Proton for the express purpose of returning fire at the disc using players with their own ammo. It was a case of sporting behaviour – I felt it was polite to give the enemy their limited edition ammunition back as conveniently as possible. Once the modding started, I was able to do a spring load switch – moving the firing spring back, getting a little extra punch, and generally adding some distance to a mid level blaster.
That said, I wasn’t that impressed by the performance of the blaster until we had a lot more players running Vortex, and a lot more Vortex ammunition in the field during a match. At that point, the blaster suddenly turns from mild annoyance to serious support. Although it’s a single shot, it’s a very easy prime and fire mechanism, which means you can advance down a CTF field picking up stray discs, and firing from kneeling or crouched stances. The Proton has a shallow curve to the shot (see the video), so you can either lead a target slightly, or fire a slight decoy shot to distract your target, and let the faster firing N-strike darts of your team mate get the tag.
For a pistol round, bring a 10 or 20 clip, and just sweep a single disc off the top of the clip to load and fire. It’s not a solo weapon, and you need a Praxis or Nitron to get real value from it.
Modded: Adding a new spring from Black Tactical gives it significant punch, whereas winding the spring back inside also makes a nice shift to the speed (if not the range)
Summary: Limited value if you’re the only Vortex player. As a pick-up and fire blaster for pistol rounds, or late in a big Nerf match where there’s discs all over the map, it’s a handy support weapon, although holstering is proving difficult – leave it by the flag or at a safe capture point and come back when it’s low-ammo clip or pick up and fire time.
The Gear: Nerf Vortex Vigilon
I’m glad the Vigilon was my third blaster in the series, and not the second. I wasn’t convinced by the Proton at the outset, and I find the Vigilon extremely frustrating. On the surface, this should be the best blaster in the market, but there’s a serious design flaw. On the drawing table, the quick load mechanism should be the killer app for the blaster – you have a quick release spring load door, five disc load, and satisfying reload action that brings you up to a firing position. The problem with the blaster is that the load mechanism and the blaster door just don’t work properly in the field – the spring latch on the door is prone to trigger at random (or least convenient), and the load mechanism doesn’t rise – considering how the ammo clips for the Vortex and the N-Strike series use springs to force each dart/disc up to the firing mechanism, you’d think they’d have this one solved. But…if you look at the picture, you can see the arrow I drew on the back of the ammo chamber – the ammo riser is very low down, and consequently, it doesn’t apply a lot of pressure for the ammo. Put five discs in, and the first three fire clean, and if you move the blaster around at any point after disc three, you’ll jam on four and five as the discs will roll over in the chamber. Assuming the door hasn’t opened to dump the ammo beforehand.
It’s pretty, has a beautiful feel for the weight, and test fires like a charm. It’ll get you tagged and bagged in an HvZ, and looking for the pile of discs on the ground that shouldve been in the chamber.
Modded: To fix the problem, you’ll have to change the way the ammo chamber works – which is a problem, because the 5 shot chamber is not that much of an advantage stock, and if you’ve going to mess with the chamber, you may as well upgrade to the Praxis. I wouldn’t bother with a spring change on this except for the practice – the ammo issue is a deal breaker
Summary: It’s very pretty, and a great way to do some test firing and practice with curving the discs. But really, it’s not much value in a match – it’s the only one that I don’t carry onto the field.
The Gear: Nerf Vortex Praxis
This is the blaster that converted me from the dart to the disc, via means of an unbelievably epic fail. After reading up on the Praxis as a mod-friendly blaster, and having successfully modded the Proton, I decided to buy the Praxis for modding. After cracking open the case, and setting to work on reseating the spring according to the instructions, I had the blaster in pieces, and was working on this piece when it shattered. Boom. Seriously cracked and wrecked plastic. So I salvaged the ammo, and the clip, dumped the shattered wreck of the shell and bought a new blaster (it was a literal turn around, run to the shops, buy blaster and extra ammo, unbox, slice the pieces off cardboard, shove in bag, catch bus to match. I spend parts of the match marking my discs and blaster whilst I waited to respawn).
Now, despite the fact I’d destroyed one in modding, what happened was an unexpected bonus – having a second ammo clip, and a pack of spare ammo meant that I was able to play a more reckless style than 10 shots, clip reload will ever allow. That’s when I realised that maybe I was onto something with this thing. Ten shots, reload, twenty discs in the field, and switch to the Proton – and reload when I spawned. I even learnt to load the spare clip on the move as the Vortex ammo is strangely easy to load.
I’ve since field tested the blaster in Nerf Summer series – and coined the term “ankle cutter” for one of the best uses of the Vortex disc – low, flat and slow firing under the cover being used by the opponent.
Modded: I assume they don’t all explode. I have bought Black Tactical replacement springs, but as yet, not upgraded.
Summary: A good shotgun, great range, and a nice feel to the firing mechanism – a real solid piece of kit, and reloads beautifully mid match.
Performance issues: In the Brisbane matches, I’ve had double discs firing – which is confusing because the design shouldn’t allow for it – possibly it was the humidity causing the first primed disc to stick, and the second to dislodge it. Still, it’s become the blaster of choice for the TAG Hunting Parties.
Note: Although the Lumitron is little more than a Praxis with a paint job and an LED clip, I plan to acquire the Firefly Tech discs as soon as possible – having a single white disc as a marker of low ammo will be useful for improving reload/weapon change actions.
The Gear: Nerf Vortex Nitron
The Nitron is the Stampede of disc flinging – bigger clip, flywheel drive, and battery ammo costing as much as the blaster (seriously, C batteries are expensive). The Nitron was a late edition to the stockpile as I’d felt sufficiently equipped with the Praxis and spare clip (a tribute to the Praxis). Picked up on sale as an afterthought, and really bought with the intention to overclock the motors with a battery mod. Field testing on unmodded voltages proved to be an interesting experience – the rate of fire is relatively slow (stampede level slow to be honest here), but the dynamics of the disc flight still made for effective suppression fire – because you can pump out about eight or nine discs into moderately controlled firing arc, you’re able to make a line of defenders in CTF dance around, and maybe take their attention off your team mates. Alternatively, if they’re focused on the dual Stampedes, they’ll not recognise your flywheel spin up sound, and you can rain slow moving tags upon them.
Modded: Fast and loud. Really loud.
Summary: I am resisting the urge to buy a second to dual wield. The stock speeds are good, and suppression fire is a good role for the blaster. Just order a lot of extra discs, and a couple of spare magazines (One 20 disc and set of 10s is going to be disappointment in waiting.)
Performance Issues: Similar dual disc firing due to the weather conditions, battery life could be an issue, and field replacing 6 C batteries will be unpleasant. There was a complete lock-up jam in one match, which was cleared somehow via the various switches and buttons on the case, which is a tribute to the designers skill, but still a real sinking sensation that your big powerful toy is now an ugly paperweight.
The Full Load Out
- Harvester (Stock Vortex Nitron)
- Hallowmas (Modded Vortex Proton)
- Retrograde (Stock Vortex Proton)
- Solistice (Stock Vortex
- Equinox (Stock Vortex Vigilon)
- Ammo count
- 6 x 10 clip
- 4 x 20 clip.
- Just enough discs (marked and unmarked) to fill all of clips and single shot blasters.
The naming theme is around a more celtic theme – it seemed apt to go for a completely different protocol for the Vortex series. As there is a strong chance of having a Modded/Unmodded Vortex stash, the stock will probably become Summer themed (eg Summer Solstice), with the Winter theme for the customised gear.