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Boffer vs. Latex

Cain

New member
Banned
Are you kidding me? That's the exact opposite of what I wrote.
So you never wrote this?:

All up, I'm inclined to agree with those who've pointed out that latex weapons have been used by many thousands of people over several decades, and we don't actually see the hypothetical concerns that people are raising here, or at most they are rare events.
Rattan has been used my many more thousands over an even longer period. "Live" steel is used by lots of people over a long period of time too. That's the standard for safety that you set in your own argument. You're contradicting yourself now.

The bottom line is, some things are just safer than others, and you don't need to hit people with weapons to conclude that. The fact that you wouldn't let me (an amateur) hit you with "live" steel shows that even though live steel is safe, you don't feel safe enough to actually let new players hit you with it.

You know why your ultralights are so light compared to classic boffers? Because they have adopted aspects of latex weapon design, which has always been far lighter than classic boffer design.
You have that backwards. The first evolution of ultralights comes from about 1991, before latex larping was a thing. Latex stole the core material from boffers, because it's safer.
 

PST

Registered User
Validated User
Thrust safe latex polearm


Boffer polearm


I'd rather be hit by the first than the second.

Cain, you can keep arguing your point, but you're not going to change opinions from those who disagree with you. You can insist that boffer is 'safer', but as said repeatedly, safety is in the hands of the wielder, not the weapon itself. I'm 'safe' with a steel weapon. Someone can wield a boffer weapon 'unsafely'.

Different larps have different expectations of safety, immersion and standards. What you think is safe (boffer combat), others think looks unrealistic. What you think is not as safe (latex) others think is entirely safe.

I don't see anyone coming along to Tewkesbury and telling us not to wear a full harness or fight with steel because it's 'unsafe', it's down to the culture, standards and expectations of the event attended.
 
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Cain

New member
Banned
Cain, you can keep arguing your point, but you're not going to change opinions from those who disagree with you. You can insist that boffer is 'safer', but as said repeatedly, safety is in the hands of the wielder, not the weapon itself. I'm 'safe' with a steel weapon. Someone can wield a boffer weapon 'unsafely'.

Different larps have different expectations of safety, immersion and standards. What you think is safe (boffer combat), others think looks unrealistic. What you think is not as safe (latex) others think is entirely safe.

I don't see anyone coming along to Tewkesbury and telling us not to wear a full harness or fight with steel because it's 'unsafe', it's down to the culture, standards and expectations of the event attended.
No, but you're also not arguing at live steel is just as safe as boffers. There seems to be a lot of denial over the fact that boffers are safer, they're significantly safer in a lot of different areas, and that it comes to accepted risk and not factual claims about safety.
 

PST

Registered User
Validated User
I think boffer weapons might be 'safer' in the degree that something which is already safe when used properly (latex weapons), can be compared to something else which is safe when used properly (a boffer).

That said, I've reffed and run large battles in larp (which I believe are all larger than the biggest individual larps in the US) for over 16 years, I do risk assessments, I manage teams of battle referees for these. To read your comparisons you'd think we were comparing nerf guns with M4s loaded with hollow point rounds.

I think that every boffer fight I've seen looks terrible with awful fighting that's entirely about flailing around and no actual fighting style, weapons used entirely inappropriately (in fact used exactly as if they were a bit of foam on a stick) and little immersion or roleplaying at all during the fighting (ic reacting to blows etc.).

I think that boffer weapons look terrible in comparison to latex, and am glad I never have to use one.

There, i'm done and out.

Edit: PS the reason why people who use latex are arguing with you is that we just don't care that boffers 'might' be safer than latex. Latex weapons are safe enough, look better and feel better while fighting with them. It's akin to arguing that a VW is safer than a ferrari, thus no one should drive a ferrari.
 
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Summer Solstice

Fire and sunlight
Validated User
Thrust safe latex polearm


Boffer polearm


I'd rather be hit by the first than the second.

Cain, you can keep arguing your point, but you're not going to change opinions from those who disagree with you. You can insist that boffer is 'safer', but as said repeatedly, safety is in the hands of the wielder, not the weapon itself. I'm 'safe' with a steel weapon. Someone can wield a boffer weapon 'unsafely'.

Different larps have different expectations of safety, immersion and standards. What you think is safe (boffer combat), others think looks unrealistic. What you think is not as safe (latex) others think is entirely safe.

I don't see anyone coming along to Tewkesbury and telling us not to wear a full harness or fight with steel because it's 'unsafe', it's down to the culture, standards and expectations of the event attended.
That boffer would be completely illegal in my club.
 

BrianDR

Registered User
Validated User
The Forgotten Dreams latex sword (110cm long) I suggested earlier weighs 285 grams. I believe that's at the lightest end of latex weapons. Epic Armoury swords of 110cm length weigh more like 600 grams, relatively heavy for latex.

Comparing one latex weapon and one boffer weapon is just anecdotal though. What are the ranges of weights for classic boffer swords of that length? What about ultralights? I'm interested to know typical weights of classic and ultralight boffers for comparison to the range of weights for latex, but it would need to be about the same length and a few examples to be meaningful. I'd also be interested in what a molded-foam weapon like Calimacil weighs at this length.
Hey Ryan, I've ducked out of this argument but realized I might be able to help shed some light on this for you. Of course, boffer construction can vary tremendously from area to area, but I had a bunch of weapons of varying quality lying around and a decent sense of what is average in my area, so here goes.

Unfortunately, the only scale I had is only accurate to .1 lbs. Then I realized I never saw it display an odd decimal - so I think it's actually only accurate to .2 lbs. But I can still give you a vague range.

First some swords - i tried to get as close to your target of 110 cm as possible. Everything I do is usually in imperial units, but I did some conversions:

My heaviest sword is around 120cm and my scale is flickering between .8lbs and 1 lb. This is about 362-453 grams. This is an absolute crap weapon, pretty old and obviously using older construction methods. It's notably heavy - likely to be one of the heaviest weapons (of that length) that a PC is using, and most players will react negatively to using it. It sucks. But things like this do get used occasionally, so there it is.

Another sword I have is about 95 cm or so. My scale flickers between not registering it at all and .2 lbs. That suggest no more than 90 grams or so. I consider it decently light - it doesn't suck- but not the lightest in use by far. Maybe slightly lighter than average.

Next up some longer weapons. I have both a staff and a polearm. The staff is about 60 inches (152 cm) the polearm about 64 inches (163 cm). Both show consistently on my scale as .6 lbs - so somewhere around 270 grams or so. The staff I'd consider a bit heavier than the average staff in use, the polearm is probably average.

"Ultralight" has many meanings - some use it to mean anything using kitespar instead of PVC, some use it for only the lightest most modern kitespar weapons out there. However, none of my weapons are "ultralight" in the sense of being among the lightest out there. More and more people are using weapons that when I pick them up I go "whoah, I barely feel like I'm holding anything". I don't have any of these on hand to weigh; my weapons are all older and thus tend to range from average->crap by modern standards.
 

Cain

New member
Banned
I think boffer weapons might be 'safer' in the degree that something which is already safe when used properly (latex weapons), can be compared to something else which is safe when used properly (a boffer).

That said, I've reffed and run large battles in larp (which I believe are all larger than the biggest individual larps in the US) for over 16 years, I do risk assessments, I manage teams of battle referees for these. To read your comparisons you'd think we were comparing nerf guns with M4s loaded with hollow point rounds.

I think that every boffer fight I've seen looks terrible with awful fighting that's entirely about flailing around and no actual fighting style, weapons used entirely inappropriately (in fact used exactly as if they were a bit of foam on a stick) and little immersion or roleplaying at all during the fighting (ic reacting to blows etc.).

I think that boffer weapons look terrible in comparison to latex, and am glad I never have to use one.

There, i'm done and out.

Edit: PS the reason why people who use latex are arguing with you is that we just don't care that boffers 'might' be safer than latex. Latex weapons are safe enough, look better and feel better while fighting with them. It's akin to arguing that a VW is safer than a ferrari, thus no one should drive a ferrari.
I've fought in very large larp battles too, and trust me, people lose control when the crowds get bigger.

As far as feeling better, I've found that the constrained style required for latex is immersion-breaking for me and many people. I only get to fight one way, need to swing lighter and slower, and generally don't look very convincing because of it.

That boffer would be completely illegal in my club.
Yeah, spiral-wrapped duct tape is illegal for many boffer groups. Comparing an illegal boffer to a legal latex sword is an unfair comparison.
 

OffSide7

Retired User
"Safety is in the hands of the wielder" and "when wielded properly" to me means "boffers are safer". I LARP with newbies. The comparison of newbies with boffers to newbies with latex is relevant to me.

Also, "every boffer fight I've seen looks terrible with awful fighting that's entirely about flailing around and no actual fighting style, weapons used entirely inappropriately (in fact used exactly as if they were a bit of foam on a stick) and little immersion or roleplaying at all during the fighting..." is downright insulting and unnecessary, and from my experience, completely untrue. This thread isn't about appearance- I can see how they look for myself.
 

Radendaren

pew pew pew lasers
Validated User
All individual weapons are different. If we take "safety" to mean "lightness and softness" then both boffer and latex weapons occupy a range within this category.
What I think we can say with certainty, based on the actual experience of both longterm boffer and longterm latex weapon systems, is that the difference between the "safest" foam weapon and the "unsafest" foam weapon is really quite negligible compared to terrain injuries and other accidents at such events, and certainly much smaller than the difference between the "unsafest" foam weapon and the "safest" wooden or steel weapon.

What is clear from this thread is that people are still caught up in trying to call one range of foam weapons "better" than the other. In reality, every game system accepts its own range of "safety" from the ranges available. Some games will also judge weapons on appearance; for example a game might have colour coded weapons and a weapon that isn't one of the allowed colours will be prohibited, or it might refuse weapons that have an anacrhonistic appearance (e.g. no pipe wrenches in a Renaissance game).
Boffer weapons, latex weapons, wooden rattan weapons and blunt steel weapons are each a different product with different requirements on the user. Similarly, every LARP that uses weapons is a different product. As with all products, people will have preferences, based on a number of factors. One product is not "superior" to another based on preference; however it is possible to say that a product is more or less suited to a given purpose. You wouldn't get away with swinging an SCA rattan at someone in a foam weapon LARP, regardless of how armoured the target, for instance.

So when someone says "I don't like boffer weapons, they don't look good" that's fine. There are plenty of alternatives! Similarly if you're in a system that uses latex weapons and don't like the way you have to fight with them, perhaps there are other systems (i.e. other products) more suited to your tastes. Or there might be alternative products the system might be persuaded to allow - e.g. if you hate not being able to thrust with latex weapons, you might look at the range of thrust-safe latex weapons and persuade the system to allow their use. Boffer construction isn't ideal for a game which prioritises the appearance of weapons. Latex construction isn't ideal for a game which prioritises faster swings and universal thrusting. This doesn't mean that there aren't products within the range of boffer and latex weapons that would cater to either type, but the terms are generally useful as a nomenclature to denote what the general range of acceptable weapons is.

On the point of safety of use, also, I would turn it on its head and look at it from the other perspective, namely: if I try hard enough, I am certain I can find a way of hurting someone with a cored boffer weapon. Anyone who's had a taste of SCA combat will realise that even the hardest swings you get in a LARP game are nothing compared to the full force you can put behind a weapon. Since anecdotes are being passed around, I'll share one of mine: the worst injury I've heard of caused by a weapon was a broken collarbone. This was done with the squishiest open-cell foam hammer I've ever encountered. Yes, it was a freak occurrence - but it does demonstrate that soft padding isn't everything.


So can we not escape from the endless spiral of bickering over the same points? The comparative merits of each type of weapon have been perfectly well established, so anyone running a game or looking for one can make an informed decision. Sure, you have to adapt your technique to the weapons allowed at a given game. That's a feature, not a bug.
 

Cain

New member
Banned
All individual weapons are different. If we take "safety" to mean "lightness and softness" then both boffer and latex weapons occupy a range within this category.
What I think we can say with certainty, based on the actual experience of both longterm boffer and longterm latex weapon systems, is that the difference between the "safest" foam weapon and the "unsafest" foam weapon is really quite negligible compared to terrain injuries and other accidents at such events, and certainly much smaller than the difference between the "unsafest" foam weapon and the "safest" wooden or steel weapon.
Here's the problem. As long as people cling to the mistaken assumption that latex weapons are equally safe as boffers, you're opening yourself up for a world of trouble. And certainly, there's a lot of reason to say this: you can't thrust with latex, you have to swing slower and softer, and so on.

I can prove that, in the United States, boffers are always a superior choice. That's not hard. But as long as people are in denial about the relative safety of weapons, there's no point.
 
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