Tuesday, 16 August 2016

MHvZ Game Report 13/8/16 - Semi Auto Testing, Blombies


Today's MHvZ event was pretty good. I was able to test out several of my newly completed semi auto flywheelers. We also had quite a high player count, which made for some pretty good games. We also saw the return of Defence Survival.
Gamemodes:
Old:
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, we used Infectors and Tanks available from the start and Husk at 5 minutes. Last human to fall wins.
Secret VIP - There are 3 special players in this game: the VIP, the General and the Traitor. The VIP is a human who the other humans are trying to protect and is restricted to a given area (we used the usual tambark area), while the Traitor is a zombie masquerading as a human. When stunned, zombies must move outside of the VIP's area before counting down their stun. The only person who knows the VIP's identity is the General, while all original zombies know the Traitor's identity. Everyone knows the identity of the General, making them the only guaranteed trustworthy human. The Traitor acts as a human, but can at any point do a single Traitor zombie tag, revealing that they are the Traitor, and thus turn into a regular zombie. Additionally, if a human hits another human, the hit human is stunned for 15 seconds. If the humans protect the VIP for a given period of time (e.g. 10 minutes), the humans win. If the zombies successfully tag the VIP, the zombies win. Zombie upgrades are unlocked on a timer like Survival, with Infectors and Tanks available from the start, and 5 minutes for Husk. If a human is hit by a grenade, they are instantly turned into a zombie. This is the only way to actively eliminate the Traitor.
Defence Survival - The three zombie upgrades of Infector, Tank and Husk are spread throughout three separated squares, about 3m wide. Zombies can pick up the upgrades if they touch the desired upgrade inside 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 for (in our case) 35 minutes. Zombies are only allowed one upgrade at a time.

New:
Blombies - A pickup game. All players start as humans, and start with two darts. If a player is hit, they must take a knee and are temporarily out of the game. Once they are tapped by another player, they join that player's team as a zombie (if not already a zombie). A zombie tag instantly converts a player into a zombie and they join to the appropriate team. The zombie upgrades are available for a certain amount of darts collected and returned, something along the lines of 20 for a sword, 40 for a shield, 60 for the Husk rocket launcher. The last human player remaining wins.

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 a count of 25 (not necessarily 25 seconds). A human can also stun a zombie with melee, but only with a direct hit to the back.
There are 3 standard zombie upgrades/mutations/perks: 
Infector - zombies 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 - zombies get to use shields, which block darts. The shields cannot be used to tag humans, presumably as a precaution against shieldbashing which could cause significant injury.
Husk - a zombie gets to use a ranged attack, in this case a Drain Blaster firing rockets. A ranged Husk attack counts as a regular zombie tag. Husk ammo can be picked up by any zombie, but can only be used by the Husk naturally. The Husk may move from the place they were stunned to retrieve their ammo, but do not count down their stun timer until they return to their original stun place.
Zombie upgrades cannot be stacked, so a zombie can only have one upgrade at any time.
If in play, grenades can stun a zombie with a hit to any equipment, including swords and shields, and can be reused at will.

Blasters:
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. Being that I can't be everywhere at once, it's entirely possible I completely missed some blasters. Note that the new HvZ rules have a 130fps cap.
Recurring/Regulars:


Elite Rapidstrike (various motors, LiPos) - there's always quite a few Rapidstrikes at MHvZ, and they always do a lot of damage. High ROF with decent range, they can tear through hordes and fend off zombie rushes with ease. Trigger discipline and reloading technique are necessary to get the most out of them. I've included one particular Stryfe in these pictures as it had a full auto kit, performing essentially the same as the Rapidstrikes.
I finally had a chance to try out my Bullpup RS with its new XP180 pusher. On full charge it was pretty fast, probably close to 14dps. It took a bit of time to get used to the much higher ROF, but the insane torque of the XP180 made it a lot more controllable. I think I still need to practice with it a bit more to get fully used to it, I fired a lot more darts than I should have.

Elite Stryfe (various motors, LiPos) - the go-to standard flywheeler, there's always a lot of them at MHvZ. Decent ROF, range and generally easy to use effectively. A lot more forgiving for poor trigger discipline than a Rapidstrike. There's always far more Stryfes than any other semi auto flywheeler.
This is the first time my Stryfe has seen combat action with its Blade 180/-3240 overhaul, though I wasn't the one actually using it. It performed well, pretty much as expected. I'm quite happy with it, with one exception. Its trigger was a little sticky and occasionally got stuck part way, though this was easily remedied when I arrived back home. Even with that fix, the trigger pull is not quite as smooth as I'd like. I probably won't be making any further changes unless it gets worse though, it works fine as is.

Elite Retaliator (various pump kits, upgrade springs) - another staple of MHvZ. Probably the most powerful of the springers that I'd consider all-rounders, though a little slower firing than those with slam-fire. Quite easy to set up effectively, and typically more effective at mid range than most flywheelers. More vulnerable in close range due to their lower ROF, naturally.

Buzz Bee Sentinel (stock US spec?) - there are only a few of them that see use in Melbourne games, but appear quite regularly at MHvZ. For a stock blaster they are very powerful, which is their main selling point. They have a relatively slow ROF being lever action, and aren't great ergonomically, but it's hard to argue with such a cheap, powerful stock blaster.

Elite Alpha Trooper and Rampage (unknown springs) - the standard pump actions if you don't want to buy a pump kit for a Retaliator. Both have significant downsides to a Pump Retal, but for out-of-box pump actions, they're the best options available at the moment.

ZS Slingfire (upgrade spring) - same one used by the same player at previous MHvZ events. A decent performer, but easily outclassed by anything pump action or flywheeler.

New/Infrequent:

Elite Rayven (Black Dog/Pigs, Worker flywheels, 2S LiPo) - gave this thing a shot since upgrading it further from its previous state. It performs far better now, getting very good muzzle velocity and good rev speed, but is still rather inaccurate. I may end up fabricating a brass guide for it if I don't try fixing or replacing the flywheel cage (or if that ends up unsuccessful).

N-Strike Barricades (set up for Elite style darts) - these are dual wielded by one particular player, who uses the open cylinder design to reload them on-the-fly. Not as generally effective as say a Stryfe, but suits the scavenging play style quite well.
"Elite" Longshot (stock) - used more for fun than anything else. Pitifully weak given it's an N-Strike level stock blaster, generally just not at all good.

N-Strike Stampede (unknown mods) - an old school modded blaster, with decent ROF and range, but generally outperformed by flywheelers. Only superior to flywheelers in that it can fire half length darts much more effectively (if modded appropriately).

Modulus (Banshee 130s, 2S LiPo) - another flywheeler I completed relatively recently, it performed fairly well, though again I wasn't the one using it. Naturally the first comment about it was the horrible horrible handle, but otherwise performed as expected, roughly the same as a similar Stryfe.



We used the same play area as always for HvZ, a mostly open area with a couple of trees. One particular area is quite dense with tree cover, and is covered in tambark. The weather was quite nice, with the skies being clear and the temperature ideal. We had quite a high player count today, around 27, which really helped with zombie based games. Near the end of the games, the horde grew to be quite large, and it was quite a sight as a human seeing 20+ zombies charging towards you. MHvZ has also switched to Koosh darts along with their 130fps cap. Though the new Kooshes achieved a much higher muzzle velocity out of flywheelers than the old, used FVJs, they also tended to be less stable and could often be seen veering off or helicoptering. There were only 3000 Kooshes (in comparison with the ~8000 or so mostly FVJs usually used), so we had to do a lot of dart sweeps throughout the day. This will presumably be remedied for the next event, as they will be ordering several thousand more darts.

Photo credit to MakeTestBattle

The first game of the day was a standard Survival round. It progressed pretty much as expected, quite slow and minimal progress until the zombies got shields. From there, the zombies would be able to just slowly whittle down the humans. Tanks are always an essential part of zombie combat, as without them, zombies must typically rely on poor situational awareness or overwhelming numbers to tag humans, neither of which are usually available in early game. They might be able to tag one or two human stragglers, but that increase in number is still largely inconsequential against a still much larger human group. I was able to survive up until the end of the round, constantly moving away from stunned zombies while trying to avoid any Tanks with an ever-diminishing group of humans. Eventually, I was singled out by a Tank with maybe 3 or 4 humans left, and was tagged. The remaining humans all fell shortly after.
In this first round, for much of the game, the humans split into two distinct groups. These two groups survived just fine on their own for the most part, through sheer size and firepower. I was in the group that was involved in less early combat, so was witness to how Tank rushes broke up human formations. Shields force humans to be aggressive if they want to stun the Tank, as they are only really vulnerable by flanking. A shield rush against an unprepared group typically incites a lot of fear and panic, causing them to scatter instead of assuming proper flanking positions. From there, the zombies have easy pickings at any isolated humans who were left behind, or went in a different direction to everyone else. I saw this happen to groups of 10+ humans who were uncoordinated and unprepared.
Photo credit to MakeTestBattle

In contrast, just two or three well prepared humans can force back a Tank and several zombies. Although they may not necessarily be able to stun the Tank, the Tank will be unable to push forward if the humans assume a good flanking position. Several times I was able to work with another human to push back a Tank. We would move up quickly to both sides of the Tank, pressuring them into moving back. Moving quickly ensured that the Tank would have as little time as possible to wait for reinforcements, and also greatly reduced the time the Tank had to make a decision. This is very similar to how Tank rushes are so effective - the combination of speed and a significant threat often incites panic and the fight or flight instinct, regardless of more effective, tactical options available. If the Tank turned to engage one of us, there was always the threat of the other human simply pumelling them from behind. We were able to force back many a Tank this way, regardless of how effective it could have been if they'd just charged at one of us. Naturally this tactic becomes somewhat useless in late game where there are heaps of zombies, in which case running is really the only viable tactic.
Photo credit to MakeTestBattle

We also ended the day with a final round of Survival. It progressed much the same as the first Survival round, and much like most other Survival rounds at MHvZ. Again the humans tended to split into two groups - one group that would quickly escape from a perceived bad position, and the other which would typically hold their ground as long as possible. Tanks would ensure that the zombies would always have some kind of edge against the humans, allowing them to reliably whittle down the humans. I was pretty tired for the majority of the round to be honest, although I managed to survive until near the end. All I distinctly remember from this round, besides the human group split, was that I was tagged through poor situational awareness. After stunning all the zombies coming directly at me, I moved to try and regroup with the surviving humans. However I ran straight past a zombie who was only just becoming unstunned, and so they had an easy tag, with the remaining humans falling shortly after.

Photo credit to MakeTestBattle

Due to the substantial ammo consumption in the Survival round, we played a pickup round. We tried the new Blombies gamemode, where dart pickup gives zombie rewards. To start, the players were all spread out around the play area. Upon start, most players either went to pick up darts, or tried to down a nearby player to grow their team. Some players would focus on taking down and converting enemies, while other players focused on picking up darts. Being quite tired from the previous Survival round, I focused purely on picking up darts, essentially ignoring any nearby players regardless of the threat they posed. I was turned into a zombie from the very start of the game. Eventually I returned a number of darts, obtaining a shield as well as a sword. I then moved to help protect the human leader of the team I was on. Eventually, all but one human had been converted into a zombie, with that human being declared the winner.
Photo credit to MakeTestBattle

Personally, I didn't really like Blombies. As a pickup round, I feel like it fared quite poorly. After the first ~60 darts (shield + sword or Husk), there is no further reward for a player, so there is no incentive to continue picking up darts, instead of just hunting down humans to end the game. As a human, there is no reason to deposit darts since humans cannot attain any further upgrades. Instead, a human player would simply load up and use the darts to defend themselves and convert other players. Unlike with 6 Dart Sweep, there is no incentive for a player to continuously turn in darts, and as a result, Blombies didn't actually pick up all that many darts.
As a regular gametype, I personally felt that it was too chaotic and ridiculous. Since there's no way of immediately telling what team a player is on, there was a *lot* of friendly fire and confusion about who should be targeted. The sheer number of players didn't help this either.
Personally I feel that this version of Blombies at least, was not a very good gamemode. It didn't get many darts picked up, and I didn't really enjoy it. There was far too much confusion that is not easily solved in a real life game of HvZ, something inherent to the "Blob" style gamemode. A 6 Round Pair Sweep would have been more enjoyable and far, far more effective at picking up darts. I absolutely do not blame the MHvZ admins for trying out a new gamemode though, 6 Round Sweep can get pretty boring, especially if the humans are not particularly offensive minded.

Photo credit to MakeTestBattle

We then played a pair of Secret VIP rounds. They worked quite well, though particular poor errors from the humans resulted in the zombies winning both times. Both started off as per usual, zombies having no real weapon and getting few, if any tags, until they got access to shields. From there, well timed shield rushes combined with the claustrophobia of the tambark area would give the zombies a way to really pressure the humans, and get some decent tags. Human victory depended primarily on how well the humans could fend off shield rushes and constant zombie attacks, while also being wary of the Traitor. Oddly enough, in both rounds, the Traitor screwed up and revealed themselves early without accomplishing too much.
In the first round, I believe the Traitor misunderstood the Traitor tag, and attempted to tag multiple humans. Since the Traitor is limited to one tag before becoming an ordinary zombie, they were unable to make a significant impact on the human group, although more zombies is always helpful, especially in early game. Regardless, the game wore on with the zombies making some, but not great, progress. Eventually the game reached a particular point, where several zombies including at least one Tank were positioned along the north. Despite this, human attention was almost entirely focused in the other direction. The north group of zombies took advantage of this and charged in, decimating the human group, allowing for the VIP to be tagged shortly after.
Photo credit to MakeTestBattle

In the second round, the humans fared much better. I was the VIP, and was around 15 seconds short of a human victory. The Traitor revealed themselves early, however failed to actually make a tag, and so was inconsequentially turned into a regular zombie by the grenade. The game progressed with the humans generally being much more alert than the first round and losing less players. In one particular engagement, a human tried to grenade a Tank but just missed. This Tank was stunned regardless, however as the grenade was left on the edge of the tambark, the Tank was able to protect it with their shield, preventing the humans from retrieving it. This effectively removed the grenade from play for the rest of the round. The game progressed to its final stages, with most humans running very low on ammo (including myself) and the zombies beginning their final desperate runs. One particular shield rush broke through the remaining human defences, plunging the entire area into chaos. Without the grenade, the humans had no reliable way to ward of Tanks, and so the sudden rush of zombies was able to disorient and disorganise the remaining humans. I ran away from the Tank, however unknowingly ran past a zombie (who I had thought was either a recently tagged human or recently stunned zombie), and was tagged.
That first round was entirely decided by the humans failing to cover all directions, in particular one direction with several zombies. This was simply exceptionally poor group coordination, and it is quite uncommon to see multiple zombies completely unguarded. I believe that a major contributor to the second round loss was the loss of the grenade, as a human with the grenade could have easily warded off the Tank, while a couple of other humans kept the other zombies back. My incompetence was also a significant contributor, had I paid more attention to my surroundings, maybe I could have survived the remaining 15 seconds. The higher than average player count also contributed to the feeling of claustrophobia, which perhaps added to my panicking in that second round. Still, I enjoyed both Secret VIP rounds quite a lot and am fairly happy with the gamemode as is.

Photo credit to MakeTestBattle

After the Secret VIP rounds, we did a quick pickup, and took a break for lunch. After lunch, we played a round of Defence Survival. For once, I was an OZ. I personally hate being an OZ, as I much prefer the human combat side of HvZ, and am not fond of repeatedly getting pelted by scores of Rapidstrikes, Stryfes, etc. Regardless, I did what I could to support my fellow zombies and try to grow the horde, though I don't think I actually achieved any tags.
Early game was pretty standard, a near permanent stunblock on the side of a square, waiting for a lapse in human concentration to try and grab a sword. After multiple failed attempts, all of the OZs were able to acquire swords, and moved to try and acquire shields. Again we were involved in several minutes of stunblock, however this time a stealthy zombie was able to sneak up on a few of the humans and tag them, giving the rest of us the opportunity to grab the shields. Once we acquired the shields, the game turned into typical Survival, the humans being worn down through attrition, eventually devolving into a running game.
The key turning point was that surprise attack at the shield square. Without that, we would likely have spent a lot longer stunblocked, as the shields were left in the middle of the square, whereelse the swords were often just scattered around the place. As I've mentioned many times before, Tanks are critical to zombie combat, as they offer the only reliable method of safely closing distance to humans. In Defence Survival in particular, they also make stunblocking very risky, as the Tank shields offer too much cover to reliably fend off in close quarters. As such, as soon as the zombies acquire shields, the humans stop defending squares and revert to standard survival instincts.
Defence Survival is a simple alternative to regular Survival that changes up early game, but late game is essentially the same. It's useful for training reaction shots and close quarters tactics, but otherwise doesn't introduce all that much new into the game.

Photo credit to MakeTestBattle
I quite enjoyed this month's MHvZ event. Besides the experimental (and in my opinion, failed) gamemode of Blombies, the day was fairly smooth and straight forward, and a lot of fun. I always enjoy the slightly-less-competitive aspect of the asymmetric HvZ game style, as it offers a more casual environment ideal for testing out blasters, or trying out goof loadouts and blasters.

Thanks to MakeTestBattle for letting me use their photos, you can find a full album here on Facebook, or Imgur.

A link to the same post on BlasterHub: link

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