Nerf Gaming

Nerf Game Types

  • Solo: No team assignment, and everyone can shoot everyone else. Friendly fire is on. Good for warming up, and for finishing off a day as numbers decline
    • This is also a good time to start spotting people not entering into the spirit of friendly competition. If you’re going to play fair, you’ll start off fair. If you’re going to nitpick the call, it’ll show up at the start as well.
  • Team: Team assignment can be random (draw straws), pre-determined (set teams), or picked between rounds. Team balance is a key, and mixing the veteran players with the rookies makes for a more fun game. 
    • Watch for cliques, and power gamer groups in random and picked events.  This is an issue in really big games (50+) or the HvZ style, but can be really off putting to the irregular players. Split up the power groups, and face them off against each other if opportunity permits.  Odd-even team assignments for Round 1, pick from a hat round 2, shuffled random cards Round 3. Anything that stops people from gaming their way to a team up is useful here.
    • If the game type is based on preset teams, keep them together as best as possible, since the object of the game was to run with the people you know.

Solo Deathmatch (Warm up)

A warm up deathmatch is played on unlimited respawns, and usually with fairly minimal kit – half the players are either arriving, setting up or test firing gear to ensure they’re game ready.  The rest wander into the game field as they see fit, and operate on the “Shoot everyone, try not to get hit”.  I’m usually loading cameras into position, and kitting up, so I don’t play that many solo warm up matches.  If match area knowledge is important – eg, you need to know respawns, flag points, checkpoints and chokepoints, the warm up matches are a great way for new players to learn the environment

  • Indoors: Add a white board where you sign in, and put your respawn up – each time you respawn, you add a notch to your tally. It’s a good way to also get new players introduced to the sides.
  • Outdoors: Usually a smaller field, or half an arena.
  • Spawn: Unlimited. Track how many
  • Limited Weapons Rule: Off. Let anyone roll out with whatever hardware they fancy trying out – it’s a warm up.

Solo Deathmatch (Open Paranoia)

This is the first of the One-Shot, One Kill style matches where the game hinges on everyone being willing to fire on everyone else.  Temporary alliances are only as good as your firing arc permits, and allies are going to eventually have to be enemies or prey.  One or two of these matches at the end of the day for an outdoor game will often produce some cinematic fight scenes to close out the day.  The only two rules worth noting are match area restrictions may be needed if this is going to be fast event – you need players spread out enough to make those first few moments (up to about 5 minutes) filled with paranoia, jumping at shadows, and trying not to betray your position by the sound of your heart pounding.  If the match area is too large, players may elect to try to hide out the match, and come sweeping in at that last minute mark when the main game looks to be over. 

  • Indoors: Ensure there’s enough points in the map for people to be able to hide, use cover or generally not open the match in a Mexican stand off
  • Outdoors: Close the arena down, and limit the play to a quarter of the map if it’s been a big game.  Also remind players that being the last person standing because you were hiding in a tree is not actually a win
  • Limited Weapons Option: This can intensify the tension dramatically –
    • Paranoia pistol round. Single or double shot blasters. This tests everyone’s nerves because you can’t spray and pray – you have to pick your shots, and if you miss, then they know you’re reloading.
    • Limited Ammo option: Single shot to six clip. Any weapon type, but the clip cannot hold more than six rounds – Mavericks, Spectres, Nitefinders, Recons, and even the longshots and longstrikes. Just remember though – you can only bring one clip, whereas the nice people with the single/double shots can bring all the ammo they can scrounge.
  • Spawn: Limited. Usually one life, although it can be played to multiple lives with a specific respawn point. Of course, multiple players respawning at the same time makes for some interesting temporary truces.

Team Deathmatch

This is the heart of the non-objective team gaming experience.  Teams are drawn together, and must function as a unit to take out the opposing team or teams.  This is where the natural leaders emerge, and some of the more memorable moments of game play can take place since you’re working with other players.  Team elimination games requre three staging points – a neutral area (usually where everyone left their gear at the start), and two spawn points (where the match starts and restarts). Players in the neutral area can’t tag or be tagged, and active players have to stay out of the zone (or forfeit) to avoid confusion as to who’s in, and who’s out.

  • Indoors: Clearly defined respawn points. Consider respawn immunity to avoid accidental or deliberate spawn camping .
  • Outdoors: Decide early on shared spawns, or team specific spawns. Shared spawns can pin down a lot of players around the respawn, and could end a match quickly. On the other hand. two spawns spread out from each other may encourage a more sedate game dynamic.
  • Limited Weapons Option: Available.
    • Pistol round. Single or double shot blasters. This makes for tight knit team work, as you can get some interesting, and relatively long duels between two groups of players – each side has just enough time to reload whilst their friends fires a covering shot. Unlimited or limited ammo.
    • Limited Ammo option: Single shot to six clip. Any weapon type, but the clip cannot hold more than six rounds
    • Team Weapons Limit: Everyone gets a weapons class (eg heavy can carry stampede/vulcan/nitron/rayven; scout can carry pistols, mavericks; sniper gets the longstrike/longshot and more ammo etc) but classes are restricted. It means rolling out different weapons and ammo types, and testing if it’s the player or the blaster than counts.
    • Team Ammo Limit: This is good for advanced players – 100 shots between the team. Distribute wisely, because the ammo goes back to spawn with the player.
    • Unlimited weapons, unlimited ammo: Free for all. Friendly fire is off.
  • Spawn: Limited. The aim of the elimination is usually to reduce the opposition to zero active players.
    • No spawns: One shot, one kill, one player down.
    • Individual spawn: Maximum number of respawns per player. Honour the count, and when you’re out, return to  a central neutral zone.
    • Team respawns: Each team has a maximum number of spawns – once that count is used up, then nobody from that team is going to respawn.  It’s important to remind players that they don’t have to spawn – this avoids that moment where a new player could wipe six of the ten team respawns without tagging an opponent – they can opt to sit out the rest of the match if they’re feeling like they’re over using the team respawn.
    • Timed match with count up respawns: Players must respawn, and note each time they’ve had to spawn. Team with lowest count wins the round after a time limit.  Good early match for building team dynamic, and letting people just get out there and fire some foam.


  • King of the Hill
    • Flatlanders: One dart, one shot
    • Flat Lander II: Only your dart
  • Capture the Flag
    • Two flags, two teams, one goal.
    • Variations: The Retrieval, The Point Cap
  • VIP Escort (moving CTF)
    • Single tag on the VIP, match is over
  • Medic
    • Unlimited respawns from the medic for everyone except the medic. Tag the medic, and the match is over
  • Siege
    • Five CTF style capture points, moving respawns, and a lot of fired foam.
  • Humans versus Zombies
    • Juggernaught
    • Master Zombie Modes (Staged, timed, untimed)
    • Mobile Zombie Spawns
    • Fixed Zombie Spawns
    • Timed Zombie Spawns
    • Oh god we’re all going to die mode
    • Moving Feast Mode