Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Game Report 28/9/15 - Rush, Longshot Appearance

An event I held for just my friends, we tried a few things out, in particular a proper Rush gamemode.
Videos will come when I have the time to edit them together.

Siege the Fort (STF) - a large number of defenders would try to hold off a small group of attackers as long as possible. Attackers operate on one-shot-respawn, immediately spawning from a given point away from the defender's area. Defenders operate on a 3-shot-eliminate, turning into an attacker upon elimination, and are restricted to the defender's area. Typically played with the defenders on a defencible location such as a playground or well covered area.
Borrowed from BasicNerf.
Capture the Flag (CTF) - steal the enemy's flag and return it to your flag, and be in possession of both flags at your flag post to win. One-shot-respawn at a respawn point behind your flag collection point, with 5 second respawn at the respawn point.
Bombing Run (BR) - stolen from UT. Effectively 1-flag reverse CTF. You try to take a central bomb to the opponent's goal, while they try to bring the bomb to your goal. You cannot fire while holding the bomb. Uses the same respawn system as CTF. The team who gets the bomb to the enemy's goal wins.
Octozombies v1.2 - a small scale version of Runner HvZ, using a small play area such as a basketball court. Effectively a Nerf-ed version of the beloved primary school game Octopus. Starting zombies get swords/bats/similar suitable melee. If a human is tagged, they become a zombie in the next round. At the end of each run the humans pick up their one shot if used (or just load a new one in). Humans are not permitted to scavenge off the ground during runs. In early runs, the humans have just one dart/disc/etc each and replenish only at the ends of each run. In later runs the humans as a group will have exactly enough ammo to stop every zombie if they don't miss (ie 4 zombies means 4 darts/discs/whatever), which can be distributed however they want.
Zombie hit rules (that we used):
If there are less than 3 zombies - zombies operate on x-second stuns - we used one for a lone zombie (zombie must come to a stop, say one, then can continue), and three for two zombies.
If there are 3-4 zombies - zombies operate on one-shot octopi - when hit they are immobilised but can still tag humans.
If there are 5 or more zombies - zombies operate on one-shot eliminate.

Rush - a gamemode ripped from Battlefield and modified as needed. The attackers attempt to take a series of objectives which the defenders try to defend. An objective is taken by an attacker placing their hand on it and counting down from 5. They cannot fire while taking an objective, and if hit while doing so must stop their counting, which is reset. Multiple attackers can attempt to take an objective at any one time, but have individual counts. The active combat area contains only one objective at any one time. The defenders respawn infinitely from locations behind the current combat area. Attackers respawn from a location away from the combat area, and have limited respawns as a team. Once an objective is taken, the defenders must fall back to the next area, while the attackers get time to reload. If the attackers take all the objectives then they win. If the attackers run out of respawns then the defenders win.

Elite Alpha Trooper (spring replaced) - standard all-rounder, reasonably powerful, accurate and fast firing. We had 3 of these in action today.
Elite Rapidstrike (Blade 180 motors, 3S LiPo) - the ROF made it extremely scary to go up against, especially if the user had reasonable cover. Could usually only be threatened during reloads or if out of cover. Accuracy was somewhat poor resulting in very high dart consumption even for short rounds and skirmishes. The presence of a lot of cover gave non-Rapidstrike users a much better chance against Rapidstrike users.
Rebelle Rapid Red (Banshee motors, 2S LiPo) - basically a smaller, slower firing Rapidstrike as usual. For the most part quite effective, though the slow ROF compared to Rapidstrikes was quite a disadvantage in close quarters.
Ultra Tek 8/Champion (added spring) - the weakest blaster present, it was compact and easy to use but not very powerful and not very fast firing. Nevertheless it worked well enough for an attacker in STF, where firepower is not crucial.

Bullpup Rapidstrike (Falcon motors, 3S LiPo) - worked basically like the Bladed Rapidstrike, with very slightly slower spinup (which was especially noticeable in the videos). The ROF was nice, but the terrible accuracy made hitting targets at range quite difficult, especially when they were in cover.
Elite Stryfe (Mach Dash Pro motors, IMRs in parallel) - like the Rapid Red except with even slower spin-up. Still got maximum velocities at full rev, but unlike most flywheelers the spin-up time was actually significant, so I considered it to be the worst of the flywheelers present. Certainly still usable, but not optimal.
Blue Longshot (extra springs, AR removed, reinforcements) - outranged everything else, so the user could just stand back and fire off potshots. Naturally it had only limited effectiveness at longer ranges because of the inherent inaccuracy of Nerf darts, but it was still a threat for the unwary. Pretty terrible in close quarters naturally due to its slow ROF.

We used the same playgrounds that I normally use with my friends, two playgrounds that don't have a whole lot of surrounding cover. Just a few trees and a barbecue around the place.
The larger playground is the one featured in more of my videos, it's a decent size with a central tower with decent but not great cover. The second, lower playground is a lot denser and so has more cover, but also a lot less maneuvering space.
Player count was 6 or 7 for all of the games, 6 being used for the more tactical team games and 7 for STF. Octozombies was played with both numbers and worked fine.

Siege the Fort worked quite well, we played 3 rounds of it with varying results each time, usually dependent on what the starting attacker's blasters were.
In the first round the two attackers used the Longshot and UT8, with the defenders using two Rapidstrikes, two EATs and the Stryfe. The first round was played on the smaller, denser playground so cover was easy to come by. The very low ROF of the attacker's blasters meant it was very difficult to make any real progress in early game, as if they got too close they would just get hosed down by the defenders' superior ROF. As such most early game tags were potshots rather than any pushes. The first defender lost was the one closest to the attacker spawn, who spent a lot of time just firing at attackers near spawn. From what I can remember and can tell from my footage he slowly accumulated hits from being our forward point defence and thus being the target of more potshots. Eventually one attacker distracted most of us, allowing the second to score the final hit. This first conversion occured about 7 and a half minutes into the game, more time than the other two rounds combined. A combination of the increasing attacker numbers and the defenders running pretty much out of ammo resulted in an attacker victory only a few minutes later.

The second round started with the attackers using my Bullpup Rapidstrike (me of course) and an EAT, both blasters with significantly higher ROFs. We also moved to the larger playground. Naturally the hits on the defenders came much faster. In the first round early hits typically came only through potshots as the attackers didn't have a high enough ROF for an effective rush. In contrast, in the second round, while the defenders were distracted by the other attacker, I was often able to rush in and completely eliminate a defender before being hit. Like with the first round, the closest defender was the first to fall, but unlike the first round he was being constantly hammered by my Rapidstrike and not just long range potshots. Naturally because of how quickly I could straight up eliminate defenders with my Bullpup Rapdstrike, this round was the shortest of the three, lasting less than 3 minutes. I don't know how much better defender coordination and awareness would have helped, given the inaccuracy of Nerf darts it's not easy to hit a fast moving target darting from cover to cover, especially when targeted and suppressed by a Rapidstrike. 

The third round started with the attackers using the Rapid Red and UT8, and behaved similarly to the second round though there was a distinct lack of defender coordination early on as well as an inopportune jam, resulting in an unusually early defender elimination, as well as more early hits than usual. With better defender coordination the game could certainly have been stretched out by a few more minutes. The third round ended up lasting only about 3 and a half minutes, not much longer than the round when I started as an attacker.
A common theme with all the defenders who were eliminated early is that they were typically quite aggressive, often being out of cover to fire at/chase down the attackers. The more defensive players (such as myself) typically get a lot less early hits, but also typically survive longer. The balance of having both types of players keeps the game more interesting. Starting attacker weapons can often determine the length of an STF game. If the starting attackers have slow firing blasters, then it will typically take several minutes before a defender gets eliminated, however if the blasters are powerful enough it is certainly possible that most of the defenders will have a hit from a lucky long range potshot. If the starting attackers have fast firing blasters, rounds will be very short, with the first defender falling in potentially less than a minute. Any hits a defender takes early on will likely be from a rush rather than a potshot, since a rush has a much better chance of eliminating a defender.
Both types of attackers are just as likely to get hit frequently, however they will likely be hit in different situations. A longer ranged attacker will more frequently get hit from longer ranged potshots or a rush from a defender, while a fast firing attacker will more frequently get hit in an attacker rush, in close quarters.
One change I was intending to implement but forgot about was allowing the attackers to spawn at a number of locations, not just one. This would make early game much more interesting and would reduce the viability of camping in certain locations.

Capture the Flag and Bombing Run both worked fairly well, running as expected and not particularly notably different. The teams were roughly balanced so the games were usually decided by a combination of tactics, the results of skirmishes and luck, in no particular order.

Octozombies worked nicely as something different, as it involves less combat and more running.
We played a number of rounds, starting sometimes with just one zombie and sometimes two. The one zombie start is more suited to the very first round(s), to get players warmed up and introduce the rules and gamestyle to those who haven't played it before. One zombie start usually takes a number of rounds before a human is lost, as the typical playstyle is to run if there's an opening, and if not hit the zombie for a short stun then run. Because there's only one zombie, only one shot is needed to get everyone past, as the zombie will go after one person in particular, and everyone else will run past without issue. The last person left has their one shot, which if it hits is enough to get that person past. If that person misses, the rest of the humans rarely care enough to help out their fellow human, and so the one zombie scores their first catch of the round. These first runs are basically tutorial runs for new players.
Once there is a second zombie, the runs start being a lot more intense. With the second zombie in play, it's practically impossible for a lone human to survive. As such the humans have a much greater tendency to group together, though if there is a clear opening a number of the humans will run through that, regardless of any stragglers. If a single human is left behind, they're guaranteed to get nommed so the last few humans usually stick together. If the zombies decide to target one human each, the humans have a very solid chance to stun both zombies and run past. What normally happens is the zombies target one particular human, whose survival is thus dependent on whether or not any remaining humans are willing to try and help, or just take advantage of the opening to run. From the rounds we played, running appeared to be the preferred option if the zombies targeted one particular human, but if not then staying around to fight is generally preferred.

It's very rare for every remaining human to survive mid-game runs, where most/all humans have just one dart, requiring teamwork to stop all the zombies. If the human group resolves to stand and fight then they have a very reasonable chance of survival, since in mid game the zombies operate on a one-shot octopi, so are little threat once hit. However most humans in mid game play in fear of being left behind by the group and nommed, so most will bail if the opportunity presents itself.
Late game runs actually present a very reasonable chance for humans to make the run unscathed, as all the remaning humans will now have multiple darts each. Now operating on one-shot eliminate, zombies are no longer a threat once hit, so good human coordination would allow the humans to eliminate the majority of zombies and just run past any stragglers (or just hit every zombie, that works too). In practice this rarely happens again because the zombies tend to just focus on one particular human rather than try to take out both at once. The one human not targeted usually takes out any threatening zombies then just runs, instead of getting closer to the other human to help, which would put them at risk again. It is actually very rare for both humans to get taken down in one run, partly because of the zombie focusing tactic, partly because each human has enough ammo to stop a couple of zombies on their own without issue, and partly also the distraction of the second human.

The last human also has a very reasonable chance of winning, as witnessed in some of the rounds we played. If the human is sufficiently aggressive and fast, they can tear through one side of the zombie horde, then sprint through the hole before the rest of the zombies can catch up. This aggression let several humans win their final run. Obviously if an aggressive player misses, they're probably screwed because their aggression will bring them to within zombie range, and they won't have enough time to take out all nearby zombies. Obviously if zombie coordination is particularly terrible then the human will have a much easier time.
A defensive player is very unlikely to be able to make the run successfully, as the zombie tactic for the final run is generally just a full charge. It's much easier to deal with the zombies in sequence and in small groups (as the aggressive play takes advantage of) than the entire horde all at once.
The three final runs I remember ended with two successes and a failure.
The two successes were very similar, the human would charge towards one side, take out the nearby zombies, then run past and take down any other zombies that came too close.
The one failure had the human stay back too much and play too defensively. While he was able to take out most of the zombies, he stayed back and missed once, and so had to try and get past a single zombie (me) with no darts, which naturally ended with a defeat. If he had played more aggressively and ran earlier in the run he would likely have made it past and survived.
Octozombies is a good warm-up and break game, it's fast, simple and requires basically no dart pickup. 

Rush is a new and rather complicated gamemode, but if you've played Battlefield Rush you'll know the gist of it. The attackers have a set number of respawns as a group (in our case indicated by a number of darts in a certain pouch), and remove one dart every time one of them has to respawn. If an attacker goes back to respawn but there are no tickets available, they cannot spawn. If all the attackers get eliminated and there are no tickets left, the defenders win. The defenders have unlimited respawns, but while attacker respawns are instant, defender respawns have a short timer.
At each phase, the attackers attempt to take a particular objective by placing their hand on it and counting down from 5, and cannot shoot while taking an objective. Once an objective is taken, the defenders must fall back to the next objective, giving the attackers time to move their respawn counter forward (in our case a respawn pouch), as well as pick up darts and reload. Since the attackers always spawn in or near the area in which the previous objective was, they get to pick up all the darts from the most recent engagement, while the defenders are forced to move back into a barren area. The defenders are given all the spare clips (mags), but their ammo supply dwindles faster than the attacker's ammo does.

We played a 3-phase round of Rush, and while I think the balance is not quite right, it certainly has some potential, and the game we played was surprisingly close. I played on the attacking side.
The first phase had an objective on a table, and had basically no nearby cover. The attackers had little trouble taking out the defenders, needing only 1 respawn. The objective fell very quickly, which was as expected and intended.
The second phase involved pushing into the smaller, denser playground, and it was at this location that possible balance issues began to appear. The objective was located in the middle of the playground, which can be reached from ground level but is highly vulnerable. The playground has one particular wall with a few climbing holes facing towards the first objective, making it perfect cover for defenders and an absolute pain for attackers. The only flanking routes are either coverless or require going through the rest of the playground, where the other defenders are. This one wall however was a key position for the defenders. In the last of the attacker's many rushes, I was able to hit the defender behind the wall, and from there was able to advance through and take out the rest of the defenders, clearing the way for taking the objective. This phase took about a third of the respawns, though I'm basing that only on how filled our respawn pouch was.

The third phase took the most time and was the most intense by far. This phase used the larger playground, with the objective on the top of the tower. Once again the cover very heavily favours the defenders, with several walls suitable for taking cover behind. Conversely the attackers had a few trees and a barbecue to take cover behind, only one of which is close enough to get to the playground itself. What also makes this playground hard to attack from the direction we were attacking from is that to get close enough to the objective, you need to climb the playground, which requires putting down your blaster for a few seconds, making you highly vulnerable and also not helping your teammates, who are probably under heavy fire. While on top of the playground, you're naturally highly vulnerable and also a priority target so surviving on top of the playground takes reflex, accuracy, teamwork and a lot of luck.
Since the objective is also in quite an exposed position, it is extremely difficult to complete the full 5 countdown while not being able to defend yourself. This phase was extremely close. In the late stages of the game both sides were running low on ammo, and the attackers running low on tickets. We were able to get an attacker to start countdowns several times, but were never able to defend him effectively as us remaining attackers usually had to sacrifice ourselves to clear the way. The defenders ended up depleting all of the attackers respawns, though with very little margin to spare. Besides the half countdowns, by the end of the game both sides were practically out of ammo. I spent the last few seconds of the game pointing and revving my empty Bullpup hoping to scare away some of the defenders.

Talking to some of the defenders after the game, there were actually opportunities for the attackers had they rushed while the defenders were reloading, however the attackers spent this time reloading as well. Had I had just one more 18 clip (mag), I think we would have been able to win at the very end, as I was able to get quite close and get several tags, but ran out of ammo before I could get through the last defenders.
An odd feature of Rush is the breaks in combat between phases. The breaks allow the defenders to move into the next area and set up their defensive position, while the attackers get time to pick up and reload. Since the defender win condition is based purely on attacker respawns and not time, the attackers can spend as much time as they want reloading, which is something we didn't abuse enough. In the breaks between combat we typically filled at most one clip (mag) each, when we could instead have topped up basically every single clip (mag), which I think would have led us to a victory. As mentioned earlier, near the end of the game both sides were running very low on ammo, however with the phase system the attackers should have enough used darts nearby to keep their clips (mags) topped up pretty much all the time.
I believe the total respawn count was somewhere in the 20s, though I wasn't the one who filled the respawn pouch and I didn't keep track of everyone's respawns. For the terrain imbalance we had, the respawn total was reasonable. As mentioned earlier the final phase was extremely intense and the attackers had several chances. However I felt like the extreme terrain imbalance was not the best, in particular the solid walls that were perfect defensive positions. Part of what made these pieces of cover practically impenetrable was the defenders having high ROF blasters like a Rapidstrike or Stryfe, making going out into the open a terrible idea, which was the only way to assault those positions.  

After playing that round of Rush I've been considering several balance changes, such as limiting the defenders to pump blasters to slightly reduce the effectiveness of the wall cover. Naturally to compensate the attackers would get less respawns, and the defenders would get even more spare ammo, so as to reduce the amount of ammo available to the attackers. The limitation of pumps (or slower) would force more tactical play from the defenders, though if the attackers use extremely high ROF blasters there may be a balance issue of the attackers blitzing the defenders far too easily.
The objective located on the tower in the final phase I've considered moving down to the ground, so no climbing is needed to reach it. It would still be in a position highly vulnerable to the defenders as its cover is faced towards the attacker spawn.
A final major change I think would work is a system more faithful to Battlefield Rush, in which the attackers simply start a timer of (for instance) 10 seconds on the objective, which the defenders try to stop. Obviously a longer time is needed than the place-hand-and-count time, as the offending attacker can now defend themselves while taking the objective. Naturally the defenders will try and stop and reset the timer.
This system could work really well as it would be less ambiguous than the place-hand-and-count system, which is variable based on how fast the attacker counts. Something is also needed to indicate to all players that a timer has been started or stopped, though I expect it wouldn't be hard to get a timer to play a siren or something while counting down.

All in all I think Rush is certainly not perfect, and the disruptions of game flow between phases may not be to your liking, however it is a different and more tactical game than most others that I play. Only trial and error will determine what the best Rush rules are, and that will come when I get my friends to come around again. 


  1. This is titan. Are absolver shotguns a viable option is your games?

    1. Generally not, they take far too long to reload and pump up, and require either constantly refilling the same absolvers or carrying a whole bunch of preloaded absolvers.