Sunday, 21 February 2016

Equalz Dee Game Report 20/2/16 - One Sided Bombing Run, King of the Hill

First event of the weekend.

Survival HvZ - standard HvZ, humans try to survive as long as possible. Players who arrived late become zombies, and the zombies get progressively more upgrades if necessary. Humans will be slowly given more armament later in the game.
Freeze Tag/Tag Teams - if hit, a player is frozen and is stuck. After 20 seconds, they may be touched by a living teammate to return to life. If all members of a team are frozen, that team loses. Last surviving team wins. 

Ace Squad - if hit by a dart the player is out for 20 seconds. After 20 seconds, they may touch a living teammate to return to life. If no members of a team are alive, that team loses. Last surviving team wins.
One Sided Bombing Run - attacking team tries to get all of their rockets into a particular box. The rockets cannot be dropped on the ground or thrown, and are taken back to spawn if the holding player is hit. A player can only carry one rocket at a time. Rockets can be passed between teammates. All players operate on one-hit respawns, attackers respawning instantly and defenders respawning after a short delay.
King of the Hill (Cards) - on the "hill", there is a known set of cards, with 3 face down cards and the rest of the deck free to look through. To win, a player must guess/deduce one of the 3 face down cards from looking through the remainder of the deck. If the guess is correct, that player's team wins. If incorrect, the player must take the guess cards, return them to the deck, reshuffle and draw 3 new face down cards before going to respawn. If a player is hit while looking through the cards, they must put the cards back down before going to respawn.

Other rules:
Double Tapupon a first hit zombies would be stunned for a short time. If hit again the zombie must go out of sight of the humans to respawn. Melee can only stun a zombie and cannot fully doubletap them. Mega, Vortex and Rockets all instantly doubletap a zombie with a single hit.
Grenade (Mini Vortex Howler) - a throwable weapon that stuns shield wielders for 10 seconds. Can be picked up and reused.

Zombie upgrades:
Sword - increases the reach of a zombie, can be used to block non-rocket ammo.
Shield - blocks all non-rocket ammo, a shield hit with a rocket/grenade is a 10-second stun. Shields cannot be used for tagging.
Spitter (Mini Vortex Howler) - stuns a human for 10 seconds, during which they cannot move or fire. Can be picked up and reused as necessary.

Rebelle Sweet Revenges (modded) - my standard modded dual wield pistols, didn't see all that much use today.
Elite Roughcut - performed as usual.
Elite Strongarm - performed as usual.
ZS Hammershots - same usual, solid all round pistols.
Mega Thunderbow - same as before, a large, silly and intimidating Mega firing blaster that gets solid ranges.
ZS Flipfury - as usual, a Strongarm with a higher capacity.
ZS Slingfire - not bad given it being clip (mag) system allowed a good capacity, but otherwise not too notable.

Mega Cycloneshock - as usual, good power but due to design fired slower than Strongarms and sometimes the rotation mech didn't work properly. Quite popular.
N-Strike Thunderblast - operated as usual, an anti-shield blaster good for little else.

Rebelle Codebreaker - good capacity compared to most pistol sized blasters, but had serious misfiring issues. Performance was not notable, and the misfiring was noticably and irritatingly frequent.
ZS Hammershot (modded) - excellent power, however the draw is quite stiff and painful. Much better effective range than stock, but not as good in close quarters.
Elite Retaliator - used with an 18 clip (mag), so had a massive capacity advantage. Performance was not particularly notable.
ZS Sledgefire (modded) - was extremely effective in instantly double-tapping zombies, or guaranteeing taking out a player in close range. Very slow to reload and all round a pain once the shot was made, but a lot of fun to use.

We used the "standard" school, with most action focused in a mostly undercover area between buildings. There's another tight area between buildings, but that area is just two parallel corridors, so less ideal for regular gametypes. This area has the above pictured openish area, but has plenty of cover around, and a lower "trench" along one side.
Weather was not an issue, temperatures around 22C and the sun was not noticably harsh today.

We started with a round of Ace Squad with 4v4, which for the most part worked like TDM. When the opposing team was down to one member, the whole team went running off to try and stall out for a respawn. This presented a big problem as it was unclear who was still alive and who was waiting to respawn, so the next round we switched to Freeze Tag/Tag Teams rules. Though very similar to Ace Squad, having players freeze made it far easier to distinguish live players from the tagged players.
In both rounds my team was able to wipe out the opposing team in a few minutes, usually with minimal casualties. Freeze Tag/Tag Teams is often more fun with multiple teams, however as we had 8 players at the time, 4v4 was the only reasonable team setup.
We then switched to Survival HvZ. We started with 2 OZs and 6 humans. The first round went quite poorly, the humans weren't coordinated and about half the humans were lost through just negligence and poor communication. The last human was lost probably 10-15 minutes in. The second round went for much longer and went much better for the humans. They stick together and worked together very well, and even shield zombies struggled as multiple humans went for one shield zombie. One of the OZs wielded a pair of Spitter grenades, however was helpless against 3 humans, or less if the grenades missed. Another wielded a shield with a sword, and was by far the bigger threat. Good human teamwork kept the humans untouched for probably 15-20 minutes, and humans only started falling after one particular shield rush. Once the zombies were able to attain numbers, the humans were permanently on the run and eventually overwhelmed through sheer numbers. This second round lasted for at least half an hour though, which is quite a while for Survival in these events.

We played a round of 4v4 King of the Hill, using a deck of spades and hearts only. Early on, the opposing team was able to establish a good defensive position and one of their players started going through the cards, however we were able to take them all out just before they were going to make their guess. We were then able to establish a defensive perimeter while I started going through the cards. I was able to make a correct guess only a few seconds before the opposing team would likely have hit me.
The area we used was fairly good for KotH, with several layers of cover on both side. The cards were placed near the hopscotch panda in the above picture, in a doorway out of the wind. Perhaps the only issue is that all of the combat was focused around a small area in the middle of the play area, and the rest of it was just space to run through.
The game only lasted maybe a minute as going through half a deck of cards and guessing just one of the three missing cards is relatively easy. It's so easy that my team was perhaps a second or two from defeat in the middle of the game. The time required to go and respawn was too long relative to the time required to hold the Hill to win - I was almost unable to even return to combat after being hit by virtue of the game almost being ended by the time I returned. I only kept my team in the game by running at full speed, and even then was about two seconds from defeat. A team should not have a practically automatic win because they eliminate the other team first - they should have to wipe out most of the opposing team as well as fend them off again afterwards before winning, otherwise too much of the game will rely on luck of individual firefights. Since the win time is so short and not much can be done with the respawn time (being that the player has to go back to their respawn point first), the best way to increase win time is to increase the size of the deck, thus increasing the time required to make an almost certain guess. Naturally the game does allow for random lucky guesses, but this is more a limitation of this type of KotH more than the gamemode as a whole. The far more conventional KotH uses a simple timer, but this cards version was designed to give the more intellectually inclined players something they can excel in.
We intended to play another round with a larger deck and different spawn locations, however I happened to get a leg cramp and was unable to participate for the rest of the event, unbalancing the teams. As a result, we decided to try a few rounds of One Sided Bombing Run, an assymetric game designed specifically for unbalanced teams.
We played a few rounds of 3 defenders v 4 attackers as the intention is for attackers to always win, with 6 rockets for the attackers to carry. We placed the goal box on one end of the undercover area, with the attacker spawn point on the other, and the defender spawn some distance behind the goal box.
6 rockets for the attackers works well for the game in this instance - assuming the attackers aren't terrible/defenders aren't amazing, it doesn't take too long for the game to end. Conversely, it is impossible for the attackers to win in a single assault, as they can carry a maximum of 4 rockets between all of them, thus requisiting at least a second successful run to win. This gives the defenders a much better chance of prolonging the game to a reasonable length. Since attackers are usually only able to deliver one or two rockets per successful run, and only a small fraction of runs are successful, the attackers have to make a lot of attacks to win.
We equipped the defenders with medium sized shields to help them defend, as a 3v4 game without them would likely end very quickly - the attackers can just leverage their numerical advantage and the long respawn delay of the defenders to make for easy repeated runs.
The balance we had was quite good - a good attack run coupled with a bit of luck would allow for the attackers to deliver up to 2, sometimes even 3 rockets, but these were rare. A decent attack run with some luck could allow a lone attacker to run up and deliver a single rocket, and these were more common as the defenders would often have their hands full holding off the other 3 defenders, or be down a player. The superior positioning of the defenders coupled with the shields would give the defenders an advantage in most combat situations, so a successful run would often occur after several failed runs.

Cover is especially important for emphasising the attack/defence roles and making the game work. In the play area we used, the design of the area made several "stages" of cover, not dissimilar to a sequence of trenches. This allowed the defenders to set up a defensive position ahead of the goal box, while the attackers also had sufficient cover to use to stage attacks. The goal box needs to have nearby cover that the defenders can use effectively, or else it becomes far too easy for the attackers. Similarly, it should also be reasonably but not extremely difficult for an attacker to make a straight sprint for the box - the idea is that the attackers should be able to push the defenders back far enough to get a few rocket runs in, but not so far that the entire team can stroll in and dump all their rockets.
The attackers should have a larger ammo stash, as they have less opportinuty to pick up off the ground. Since most of the combat will happen closer to the goal box, where the defenders will usually be, the defenders will have ample opportinuty to reload off the ground, and so won't need too much spare ammo from the start.

Overall while most of the games we played had a few kinks to iron out, there's serious potential for some really good gamemodes. One Sided Bombing Run is one that I particularly like as I have an annoying ability to get exactly 7 players to my events, and King of the Hill is always something I've been interested in trying.

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