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King of the Nerds: Season 2, Episode 3 - To LARP or Not to LARP

King of the Nerds
King of the Nerds

Tonight's episode picks up with the aftermath of Zack still staying in the game on Team Midas.. The contest features an aspect of geekdom of particular interest to this column -- Live Action Role-Playing games (LARPs). So did King of the Nerds treat LARPing with respect? Here's what Nicole had to say:

LARPing's kind of like D&D except you're not just saying that you're going to something, you're actually doing something.

Xander unhelpfully added:

If you put on a costume and said that you're a character, you've LARPed. It's role-playing, even if you do it in the bedroom -- it counts!

The contest is similar to Season 1: The teams must come up with names, create costumes, build entire mythologies, which will be part of a performance showcasing all of their characters' skills. Complicating matters is that Titans of Rigel has five people (to Midas' four) and therefore one of them must sit the contest out. Chris proclaims that:

LARPers are one type of nerds that I just don't understand. I don't want to do what they do.

Xander seems to think "all of LARPing is improv" and therefore Kayla should sit the game out. This makes sense later, because Titans of Rigel decide that they're going to make their performance entirely improvisational. Ooookay.

The LARP this go-round divide up into semi-traditional class roles. Here's how Titans of Rigel nets out:

  • Bard: Nicole (Lady Aria) is a band geek (shocking!).
  • Monk: Jack (Sacre Monje) and Zack argue about monks wielding weapons, which means Zack doesn't play 3rd edition D&D. In the end they settle on Jack being the monk, which he really commits to by shaving his head. But because the judges didn't know Jack was bald, this doesn't quite have the effect he was hoping for (this seems to be a theme with poor Jack).
  • Spell Singer: Mary Kate (Khalan)
  • Warrior: Zack (Magnus) who sees his role as an anime archetype. Unfortunately he's wearing penny loafers.

Curiously, no cleric or rogue. But really Zack's rant makes him more of the barbarian rager type:

If you push me away from this team I will not be a member of it, I will drive us into the ground and systematically destroy each and every one of you!

Five minutes are then taken up by a Little Caesar's in-show commercial in which both teams eat pizza. Which just makes me really crave Little Caesar's pizza.

Titans of Rigel appears to net out as follows (the show doesn't bother to explain which role is which):

  • Bard: Brian (Yorath), narrating with eloquence and a fake nose.
  • Monk: Katie (Morea), who builds her own crow marionette. Zack seems to think Katie's existence as a female monk is impossible. As Jack points out, she seems more forest nymph than forest monk.
  • Spell Singer: Xander (Itacho), who is hilarious with his over-the-top scenery-chewing.
  • Warrior: Chris (Tituss) dressed as an orc.

During the break there's an awesome Radio Shack commercial about how the "80s want their Radio Shack back." Which is interesting because my local Radio Shack is still stuck there.

The two teams take different approaches to what a LARP is. Team Midas plays it as if it were an improv game, whereas Titans of Rigel treats it as a play. LARPing is on a continuum with cosplay and improvisation, but they're not necessarily the same thing.

The judges are Jon Heder (of Napoleon Dynamite), Yaya Han (of Heroes of Cosplay), and Kevin Sorbo (of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys). The teams are judged on their costumes, performance, depth of mythology, and individual character work. Titans of Rigel wins! Their reward: going back in time to the high seas where they battle a sea dragon and drink with a bunch of pirates (in Anaheim). It's a lot like Medieval Times, only with pirates.

Midas Touch Attack has to pick one person to go to the Nerd Off, which of course means Zack goes entertainingly off the cliff:

It's just hilarious because I can understand everything right now! Don't you understand within my head there is an interweaving cosmos that you cannot even begin to decipher?! I am in four dimensions and you are still stuck in your three!

Midas Touch votes Zack to the Nerd Off. Titans of Rigel votes for Mary Kate. Since they've been arguing the entire episode, this is appropriately epic. Mary Kate picks Jack as her aide-de-camp, and Zack (after an impassioned speech about nerds not excluding nerds) gets Chris.

The two face off in a strategic wargame called Battle Hammer. Battle Hammer is like a medieval version of Battleship. You roll a dice to determine how many attacks you get. You either attack to defend on your turn, you can't do both. If you choose to defend, you can move on the X and Y axis. Each player gets five archers, three dragons, four knights, five orcs, and six pikemen (23 in total). The full set of rules are available here.

MK unfortunately rolls 1s over and over and over (we've all been there girl!), costing her the game and ensuring we'll have at least one more episode of Zack zaniness.

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