There's no denying Mega XL is (dare I say) a massive improvement from other Hasbro releases in the past couple of years. They use minimal glue and welding, The plunger tubes are built for rebarreling, and the ammo type doesn't have the foam equivalent of DRM. We went over the first in the line to hit store shelves — the Boom Dozer, just last week, and it proved pretty decent as a blaster by itself and as a platform for new cylinders and other custom options.
But what about the Mega XL ammo type itself? How effective is it at range, and what role does it play in games?
CONTEXT FOR NEWBIES
While the rules and guidelines vary between different foam-flinging clubs, ammo types generally fall into three categories: Normal, Medium, and Heavy. In the Pacific Northwest, heavy ammo types, like Demolisher Rockets, are "shield breaking," where a dart disables the blaster, shield, or melee weapon it hits for the remainder of the game. Regular Mega and other medium-sized ammo types count as "shield-piercing," which merely tags you out regardless of what it hits on your person but doesn't destroy any objects in-game.
In other game types (like Humans vs Zombies), larger ammo types serve as a plot device — to take down an enemy or boss that cannot be defeated with regular rounds. Undoubtedly, the organizers of Endwar and Ragnaroktoberfest are already scheming about the implementation of Mega XL.
WHERE DOES MEGA XL FIT IN ALL THIS?
While we have yet to do a comprehensive test on the ammo type here at OOD HQ, Captain Xavier made a brief video with his own findings:
So, based on range tests and dart size, the captain concluded that Mega XL is probably fit to match or replace the role rockets play in games. Tentatively, I would agree with his assessment. The blasters that fire Mega XL are not compact by any stretch of the imagination, and managing to hit something at range with Mega XL would be close to a miracle.
It also has yet to be determined if any third-party company will take up the mantle of making cheaper or more accurate Mega XL darts. At $8.49 MSRP for a ten-dart refill, these things aren't cheap, but they're far less expensive and more accurate than Rockets, of which the only available refills lack spiral fins. Their rarity in loadouts contribute to how game admins might implement them in games.
However, I think there should be another niche that a medium-to-large ammo type could fill in some ways. Some commenters on our review of the Boom Dozer pointed out that, at least in stock form, most all the slam-fire-enabled blasters are considered medium, and the heavier you get, the more often you see a single-fire HAMP involved. If the firing capabilities of the blaster chambered for that ammo type is the dipstick by which we determine its effectiveness, then Mega XL seems comparatively overpowered in that category.
If Mega XL fits into its own niche, perhaps they only temporarily destroy shields. You could make Mega XL cause a player to drop whatever it hits, and only after they respawn can they attempt to grab it again. The addition of this rule potentially allows anyone else to use that shield or blaster; strategic competitors might use this to their advantage, slowly disarming their opponents, but at risk they might get tagged recovering the dropped item.
Alternatively, if Mega XL replaces the shield breaking category, Rockets could become something else, like a tag-out with splash damage. A few in our video comments have mentioned that splash damage is more complicated to enforce than a clear hit from a single round. However, some others have straightforward ways to determine who is still alive.
Ultimately it's up to the game admins of each club to test and evaluate Mega XL for its effectiveness. A lot of the criteria in categorizing the different foam calibers is entirely subjective. The next game we get to play might not have the chance to test our theories, but with rainy weather coming and no major games being hosted the rest of the year, we are in no rush to make any determinations for our own games.