April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Fun Things to Do in New Jersey: Birthday Party at Tac Ops—Tactical Laser Tag

Laser tag is not your typical adult birthday celebratory site nor a sport that most would consider challenging or requiring strategic thinking. In truth, besides Barney Stinson from the hit TV show “How I Met Your Mother,” the majority of adults probably would never go laser tagging unless their children begged them enough times. However, I recently went to Tac Ops Laser Tag in Florham Park, a place that takes laser tag to the next level. By adding militaristic strategies to an otherwise simple game, Tac Ops Laser Tag makes it a worthwhile visit for people of all ages. I went with a group of 14 people in celebration of our friend Shani Schatz’s birthday. Since the closer location in Fairfield was fully booked, we went to the farther location in Florham.

Before checking into Tac Ops, I had downloaded the app “Call Sign,” which allowed me to create an online laser tag profile for myself. After arriving at Tac Ops, a tablet next to the cashier connected my profile to the group laser tag game. Once I signed in, my username “zacksnackpack” appeared on a TV monitor alongside those of my friends’ usernames, as they had also pre-registered. One of my friends, Shlomo Aminsky, who had visited a different Tac Ops location previously, conveniently found all of his stats from his previous experiences at Tac Ops next to his user name.

After signing in, I headed over to the gun locker station. In each cubby was a laser tag gun that resembled a genuine military gun. It was very large, requiring two hands to hold it. There was a scope on top for targeting, and it came with a strap to put over my shoulder. While holding the gun, I suddenly realized that this experience was going to be a lot more intense than I had anticipated!

The 14 of us were split into two teams, each getting its own “home base” where we plotted strategies. On the laser tag gun were five lights representing five lives; following each hit, one light expired. If a player got hit five times, they died and had to return to their home base, where they were able to scan their gun in a respawning booth, thereby enabling them to reenter the game with a new set of lives. The first round was a regular Team Battle in which our goal was to get more kills (causing another player to die) than the other team. That initial round and the five subsequent ones lasted six minutes each, with several minutes allotted in between for strategizing.

The laser tag arena was themed to look like downtown Tokyo; it was made up of about a dozen different rooms, decorated with Japanese posters and graffiti marks scattered throughout. The rooms were dark and full of trucks, barrels, planks and stairs, which served as obstructions. Throughout the arena were buttons that, when pressed, upgraded the player’s gun to a “better” gun that could shoot bullets faster.

An intricate part of the round occurred when a player went on a “killstreak” (killing a certain number of players without dying), which had the special effect of causing their opponents to lose lives automatically, without even being hit. The longer the kill streak, the more lives were taken away. During the first team game, Shlomo, who was on the opposing team, had a 14-person kill streak that completely wrecked our team because due to the kill streak’s special feature, even after respawning, we lost all five lives instantly. It was really fun, though, because it forced us all to go after Shlomo to end the streak.

We then faced off for a round of “Capture the Flag.” The goal was to get to the opposing team’s base and find a button that a player had to hold down for about five seconds, which captured the enemy’s flag. Then, the player had to run back to their own side without getting shot, and be successful in holding down a button on their side which would secure the flag and the victory. In my game, I covered for my teammate who had captured the flag. After I got shot and killed, however, I pretended to be alive, continuously shooting my gun at the enemy team. Not realizing my deception, the team kept firing at me. Amazingly, this maneuver on my part gave my teammate enough time to sneak away and secure the flag safely.

We next played a “Gun” round, which had the same rules as those of the “Team Battle,” except offering the unique feature that with every kill, a player got a “better” gun without needing to press a button. For the fourth round, we switched sides and had another “Team Battle” just like in the first round, but with opposite home bases. Once again, Shlomo got the most kills, giving the other team the win. In the fifth round, we played “The Box Game,” in which there were three designated boxes, and the goal was to seize and hold onto as many boxes as possible for the longest time. The boxes were claimed by shooting at them, but the other team could steal them by shooting at them as well. Our strategy was to focus all of our attention on obtaining two boxes and guarding them well, while completely ignoring the third box. This strategy paid off because the other team tried going for all three boxes at once, spreading themselves too thin, and preventing them from getting through our defenses.

The last round was a “free-for-all” with no rules other than to shoot at each other. It was very hectic and my least favorite of all of the rounds because of the absence of any required strategic planning. I ended up getting killed the most times out of the group but did manage to achieve the fourth-most kills. I also was awarded for being the most trigger-happy by firing my gun the most times in that round. Afterward, we all took a group picture together and drank a lot of water, very thirsty from all of the running around!

Overall: I would rate my experience a 7 out of 10. The guns and scenery were cool, and I enjoyed the large number of tactics and strategies required as compared to most typical laser-tag places. My favorite parts were “Capture the Flag” and “The Box Game” because I liked having an objective element added to the game in addition to trying to shoot at the opponent. At times, the layout was a little bit too confusing for me, due to the many rooms and obstructions, but I imagine that after going there several times, I would feel more confident in knowing my surroundings. If you have a special occasion and a lot of people who thrive on some friendly competition, I highly recommend that you check out Tac Ops. It is well worth the cost, and we had a blast!

Price: $40 a person for over an hour of laser tagging

Location: Florham Park

Unique Feature: Tactical laser tagging with strategic gameplay


Zachary Greenberg is a health & benefits consultant analyst at Mercer as well as the TABC Track Coach. In 2019, he interviewed NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire, and the full interview can be found on his YouTube channel. Zachary recently read the book and watched the flick “Death on the Nile.”

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