Monday, 5 October 2015

MHvZ Game Report 3/10/15 - High Temperatures and Zombie Stunblocking

This month's MHvZ event. With 3 events in 6 days, my legs basically no longer work.
Survival - Standard HvZ gametype, humans try to survive for a given amount of time (or until the last human falls). Zombies are given access to upgrades at various times, for instance Infectors at 5 minutes, Tanks at 10 minutes and Husk at 13 minutes.
Defence Survival (Three Squares) - The three zombie upgrades of Infector, Tank and Husk are placed in the centre of three spread out squares, about 2-3m wide. Zombies can pick up the upgrades if they touch the upgrades in the middle of the squares. If a zombie is stunned within a square, they must move outside of the square before counting down their stun. The humans try to survive as long as possible (I believe there could have been a time limit, not sure). Zombies are only allowed one upgrade at a time.
Blind Bomber - One human is designated as the Blind Bomber and is blinded (in our case with blacked out safety goggles). They cannot be zombified, and so are invincible. They are given a "bomb" (just a timer), which has two time settings - in our case 3 minutes and 5 minutes. The objective for the humans is to get the bomb to the first location, "assemble" the bomb for 3 minutes, move the bomb to the second location and "detonate" the bomb for 5 minutes. If the bomb survives the 5 minute timer, it "detonates", eliminating/curing all zombies and thus giving the humans the win. However the Blind Bomber is the only human able to touch and move the bomb. If zombies tag the Blind Bomber, they must drop the bomb for two seconds, and then can pick it up again. Zombies can move the bomb, and if they get the bomb outside of the play area before the bomb "detonates", the zombies win.
6 Round Sweep (non team) altered - Each player is only allowed to start with 6 darts. Any blasters/large melee the players want to use are placed in the middle of the field, and can only be used by the player who chose them. All players start with a small melee weapon. In the middle of the play area is a collector, who collects the darts from each person. The person who delivers the most darts to the collector wins. Each player has 3 lives, with each hit from a dart taking one life and requiring a respawn at any tree. A large melee hit depletes all lives, however a hit from the starting small melee only counts as a single hit. Once a player is out of lives, they become a zombie and drop all their darts. A single zombie tag immediately turns humans into zombies, regardless of life count. Players are safe while depositing darts, but only during the time that they're depositing darts (and maybe a second or two to pick up their blaster again).


Zombie rules:
Zombies tag humans with their hands onto any body part, blaster, tactical gear, etc, turning the human into a zombie. If a human hits a zombie with a dart, the zombie is stunned for 25 seconds. A human can also stun a zombie with melee, but only a direct hit to the back.
There are 3 standard zombie upgrades/mutations/perks: 
Infector - zombie(s) get to use foam swords, pool noodles, etc. Tags with said foam melee weapons on humans count as regular tags. Said melee weapons can also be used to block darts.
Tank - zombie(s) get to use shields, which block darts. The shields cannot be used to tag humans, presumably as a precaution against shieldbashing which could certainly cause injury.
Husk - zombie gets to use a Titan firing rockets. The rocket counts as a regular zombie tag. There is usually only one Titan and one rocket on the field at any time. Other zombies can pick up and return the rocket to the Husk.
Zombie upgrades can be stacked in most games, so for instance a player could take both a pool noodle and a shield.
Grenades can stun a zombie with a hit to any equipment, including swords and shields, and can be reused at will.

Since there were a lot of different blasters there, I've generalised them and only listed down the ones that I saw as significant or noteworthy, or remember for that matter.
Rebelle Sweet Revenge - My standard dual sidearms. Worked well when I had time to draw them, but didn't see quite as much action.
Elite Alpha Trooper (some stock, some modded) - solid all-round blasters, had decent (but not great) ROF, and had usable (but not extreme) power. Relatively easy to use, so made good blasters for newbies.
Pump Action Elite Retaliator (various internal kits, often fully tac-ed up) - a common sight in MHvZ, reasonably accurate and fairly powerful, making them quite effective for mid-long range shots, but the relatively slow ROF compared to flywheelers made them less effective in close quarters point defence.
Elite Rapidstrike & My Bullpup Rapidstrike (various motors, LiPos) - the king of close quarters point defence given their ROF, and for the most part could hold their own in HvZ. Generally poor accuracy made them ineffective at longer ranges, but when it came to stunning a whole bunch of zombies at close range, the Rapidstrike was unmatched. My preferred primary, mainly for the ROF.
Rebelle Rapid Red (Banshee motors, 2S LiPo) - saw only a little use and while it had solid power, the lack of ROF compared to Rapidstrikes was an issue in close quarters. Though that could just be me being not used to semi autos, since switching to Rapidstrikes.
Elite Stryfe (various motors, LiPos) - as per usual, slower firing Rapidstrikes that were lighter and more maneuverable than an equivalent Rapidstrike. From watching Stryfe users the ROF seemed just fast enough for close quarters panic combat, but I think a big part of the draw of Stryfes is that they're generally easier to control in terms of ammo consumption if you don't have a particularly precise trigger finger. Customisability may also be a big draw of the Stryfe, it's very easy to put a whole lot of tacticool attachments on.
Lanard/Air Zone Triple Shot/Shotgun (inline clipped "Quadshot") - once again the most powerful blaster around, it was nailing zombies well beyond the range most players would even consider zombies a threat. It's user was again able to save a lot of humans who normally would be too far away to be saveable. Naturally the length of having full barrels on top of inline clips made it significantly less maneuverable in close quarters, so its user was typically taken down in situations where he couldn't stun most of the zombies from further away. Not my sort of blaster but extremely effective for supporting other humans, particularly Rapidstrike users. It's certainly not fun to go up against as a zombie. In this event it actually managed to snap the frame of a set of cheap safety glasses with a direct hit, which was impressive.
ZS Slingfire (typically stock) - typically used one-handed, which allowed the users to perform other actions with their free hand, such as using a Hammershot, or picking up darts. They did well enough to hold off small numbers of zombies, and didn't need as much ammo as most primary blasters around.
ZS Hammershot (some stock, some modded) - performed very similarly to my Sweet Revenges, very effective for on-the-run reloading and scavenging play. Certainly a very solid choice for a sidearm.

N-Strike Modulus (unknown mods, but sounded and fired like an overhauled flywheeler) - performed basically like a big Stryfe, nothing too special. I just included it since it's the first time I've seen a Modulus in action. Looked pretty cool with some of the Modulus accessories, but naturally most of them were practically pointless.
Dual N-Strike Barricades (modded to accept Elite style darts, but otherwise mods unknown) - these were used by a few people with varying results. One person who used a single one experienced frequent jamming, which forced him to revert to using his Maverick. Another person who dual wielded them used them in a similar fashion to Hammershots, for on-the-run scavenging style play. Their ROF was not very good, however the high capacity allowed the user to fend off a lot of zombies before running away to reload, awaiting the next wave.

The play area is the same as always, mostly sparse with some trees, and a cluster of trees in a tambarked area. One tree happened to house a bee hive, which we stayed away from.
Player count was only about 15, which I believe is partly due to today being AFL Grand Final day.

I experienced a lot more jams today than usual, and I believe the cause was the heat. In the past events I'd gone to I don't think temperature broke 25C, however on this day it broke 30C. One of the main jam types was the constant beheading of darts as they passed through the flywheels, which typically occurs from the glue holding the tip on giving out, whether because the dart has been heavily used or because the glue is bad. The other main jam type was squibbing, in which the darts would make a "plop" sound and get stuck within the faux barrel. This typically occurs from particularly heavily worn and used darts, with shrivelled bodies that the flywheels struggle to grip properly.
Both of these problems were already issues I experienced in past events, however I believe the heat accentuated the problems further. The heat can soften the glue used on the darts, thus increasing the number of darts whose heads can get ripped off, and also softens the foam bodies of the darts, thus making them squishier and effectively thinner. I experienced more jams in this one event than I have in my past 3 MHvZ games combined. MHvZ will be receiving a new lot of darts soon, so once those are in use I believe these problems will pretty much disappear, at least for the first few events while the darts are still in good condition.

Defence Survival went worse than usual for the humans, with the Infector square being lost very early on. I believe this was partly due to lack of players. Most players as usual concentrate around the Tank square, since shields are by far the most effective and useful zombie upgrade. It only took a couple of minutes for the zombies to successfully dive for Infector swords, and once both OZs had swords they were able to get a few tags, but more importantly moved towards the shields. Poor human coordination (or possibly lack of humans) allowed the zombies to get shields quite early, getting a few tags along the way as well. Once the Tank square was lost, Defence Survival turned into just regular Survival.

Survival HvZ went as expected, nothing too special. Early tags were rare, and usually occured from humans being too close to zombies at the end of their stun timer, getting lunged at and tagged while picking up ammo. This is probably more due to poor communication than anything else. As with just about every Survival game the zombies didn't pose a serious threat until Tanks hit the field. Once Tanks came out humans were forced to be on the move at all times, as per usual.
In the first Survival and Defence Survival rounds I was able to survive until the very end by sticking with a few players who kept on the move, circling around the play area constantly. This allowed us to potentially link up with any human stragglers who were still around, and avoid getting cornered. For the most part the zombies tended to focus on humans who stayed put to fight, and while the good humans could survive for a while, the increasing pressure of more and more zombies attacking led to their demise. As my group kept on the move, any zombies we stunned would be too far away to be a threat, so our biggest concern was any tanks who charged at us. In one of the subsequent tank charges my group got separated and picked off, with me typically lasting longer purely through running. With my dual Sweet Revenges I was able to hold off several non-Tank zombies on my own, but with the loss of the rest of my group I couldn't take on any Tanks.

In the second Survival round, the last game of the day, I was too tired to run everywhere as a human, so I used the Shamecannon and was lost as soon as two zombies charged me at once. Once again the last humans were those who kept on the move, and kept their blasters topped up at all times. Without Tank support us regular zombies and Infectors would typically be unable to tag any of them, as they would stun the ones they could hit, and retreat before we could overwhelm them. Even with Tanks, it took some time to be able to split the humans up and take them down, as the humans always ran together, rather than panicking and splitting up. We were only able to split them up with a majority of the horde focusing them down one-by-one.
The second Survival round also had a hidden OZ, which was nice for keeping humans on their toes, though for the most part early on the hidden OZ acted just as a regular human. Another rule added was a 25 second stun on humans if a human is hit. This was to make it almost impossible to differentiate the hidden OZ from a regular human. While hidden, the OZ can identify themselves as a human when asked, naturally. Once the OZ achieves one tag, they must drop their blaster and then must identify themselves as a zombie.
I didn't witness the hidden OZ achieving their first tag as I was too far away, but it is a useful way of kickstarting the game if the other OZs are having too much trouble, or for taking out one particularly threatening human.

Blind Bomber went a little awkwardly this time around. In the first round the zombies got heavily stunblocked, in the sense that they were surrounded by humans and constantly peppered by darts and so couldn't move. This lasted for a while and the humans were able to get the bomb to the first location, finish the timer and get towards the second location without any losses. This only stopped when two of the humans felt sorry for the zombies and sacrificed themselves. By the time the zombies were able to pose any threat, the bomb was already ticking down in the second area. However one of the issues here was that the tambark was not a no-respawn zone as it usually is, so the zombies could creep in slowly towards the bomb in between stuns. With the reduced player count it became even harder to hold off other zombies while keeping the closest ones constantly stunned, and staying out of range of all the close zombies.
The first round started with 2 OZs and somehow ended with a human success. I was one of the last humans, and managed to burn through most of my clips (mags) before falling to the now large zombie horde. With several zombies very close to the bomb and the Blind Bomber, I was unable to tell what exactly was happening, but what I do know was that the humans successfully detonated the bomb for a human victory.
The second round started with 3 OZs, ending in a zombie victory through very poor human communication. The bomb got to the second location without incident, but it was there that everything fell apart. I was one of the few humans on bomb point defence, with most humans stunblocking a few of the zombies. The remainder of the zombies were able to avoid the bulk of the humans and strike towards the bomb, and the few of us defending the bomb were unable to hold off zombies while also stunblocking the closest ones. As a result all of us on bomb defence were lost about half way through the timer, with the rest of the humans oblivious to what was happening. Before the rest of the humans were able to regroup and defend the bomb, a zombie had stolen the bomb and run it out of the play area for a zombie victory.

The Blind Bomber rounds demonstrated how effective stunblocking can be - in the first round the zombies were basically permanently stunned and completely helpless, and only had their chance when some of the humans felt sorry for them and turned themselves. The second round was only a zombie victory through terribly poor human communication - had the humans better coordinated themselves I think it very likely that the zombies could have been fended off for the whole time.
I think the removal of the tambark no-respawn zone was also a bad idea as zombie creep encourages and enforces stunblocking, which is significantly less fun than the zone defence style of game that the no-respawn area creates. Zombie creep also greatly increases the chance of having questionable calls with regards to who hit/tagged first and whether or not the zombie reached something before being stunned. Though that's a problem that will remain so long as you're in real life and not a video game, so nothing we can really do about that.

The altered 6 round sweep started differently, but ended up much the same as usual. At the start, everyone starts with a small melee and are lined up on one border of the play area. Upon round start most players sprinted towards the blaster pile, however I stayed back and just picked up darts early on. Early round player interactions are usually just standoffs, as people rush to deposit their first batch of darts, to see who will be in contention. Some small groups of friends tend to team up and deposit all their darts for one person, and it's these people who typically end up as the leaders. Once some leaders are established, some players will abandon depositing darts in favour of attacking other humans. Once humans start to fall and become zombies, combat becomes a lot more common as the leaders try to fend off zombies and hostile humans, while trying to also deposit as many darts as possible. It's very much possible to skirt around these engagements and pick up the fired darts, but it's also very risky if you're spotted, as you'll naturally become a target of all parties.
For the most part 6 round sweep collects the majority of the darts on the field, though naturally from combat some darts do remain on the field. It works well enough, no complaints here.

Grenades were used extremely effectively in this event. Though there were typically at most 2 grenades on the field, the humans wielding them were typically quite aggressive, often actively chasing down tanks who posed a threat to humans who couldn't just flank and stun the tank. I saw one grenadier run with just a Hammershot and a grenade, actively running down every tank in range, and saw another who stuck in a small human group, who typically stunned every nearby zombie before grenading the tank. For the most part as the grenadiers typically only targeted tanks without fellow zombies, or had other human support, the grenades were easily retrievable and so stayed in human position for most of the rounds. The grenades were typically only lost towards the end of rounds, where the remaining few humans have no time to retrieve the grenade, being chased down by a number of zombies.
Some zombies did target the grenadiers to get them to waste the grenade, but for the most part the grenadier was either able to stun them with their blaster, or just retreat back to a human group. Since the grenade is a stun to an Infector's melee (which darts are ineffective to), Infectors can't try to block the grenade, but for the most part it's safer just fire darts at them as unlike Tanks, Infectors can still dodge very easily, so aren't very vulnerable to grenades.
Grenades are a very valuable piece of equipment for the human side, as they're the only way to reliably fend off a Tank without having several humans surround them, and so allow the humans to save darts, time, and potentially getting flanked by other zombies.

Some of these paragraphs are probably shorter than usual, being that I've covered these games quite comprehensively in my past game reports here, here and here.
I'll probably look at running primaries besides Rapidstrikes for some variety, maybe my EAT, maybe a semi-auto, maybe something silly like an Absolvered Titan.
The altered 6 round sweep and the hidden OZ were neat changes to already solid gamemodes, but again I wouldn't mind trying some other more novel and quirky gamemodes, provided they aren't overly complex or difficult to balance (which unfortunately is the hard part of making new gamemodes).


  1. This is titan. I would like to hear about an absolved titan.

    1. I got a little bit of action with it in another event, that post will come soon.