- (Regular) 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 at 5 minutes, Tanks at 10 minutes and Husk at 15 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 turning into a regular zombie. Additionally, if a human hits another human, the hit human is stunned as if they were a zombie, however they can still fire their blaster. If the humans protect the VIP for a given period of time (e.g. 15 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 available from the start, 5 minutes for Tanks and 10 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 2m 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. Zombies are only allowed one upgrade at a time.
- Hostage Survival - Three humans are selected as "Hostages". These Hostages have their hands bound, and abide by some special rules. Each hostage is given a grenade, but cannot use or pass it. The humans can choose to "free" a Hostage, removing their binds and allowing them to be a fully functioning human player, and granting use of the grenade they are holding. If a hostage is tagged while still bound, the grenade they are holding is removed from the game. One of the Hostages is (supposedly) a Traitor, who operates on the same rules as the Secret VIP Traitor, and can use their Traitor tag while still bound (this of course unbinds them and turns them into a regular zombie). As such, the same human vs human combat system is implemented, a human hit by a dart is stunned as if they were a zombie, but can still fire. The zombie upgrades are made available the same as in regular Survival.
- Blind Bomber - one human is designated as the Blind Bomber, and is the only human who can carry the bomb. The humans start in the bottom corner of the play area. They must first take the bomb to the first point, at which the bomb is "armed" for 5 minutes. Once fully armed, the bomb must be taken to the second point, at which the bomb is "planted" for 5 minutes. Once that 5 minutes has elapsed, the humans win. If the bomb is moved during either timed phase, the timer is paused and only resumes when the bomb is returned. The objective of the zombies is to take the bomb to the edge of the play area. All zombies can carry the bomb, but cannot throw it. If the Blind Bomber is tagged by a zombie, they must drop the bomb, wait for a count of 5, then can try to pick up the bomb again. If a zombie is hit while carrying the bomb, they must drop it. Zombies respawn at any tree (that is not being used as a point) with a count of 15. Zombies start with Infectors, get Tanks as soon as the Blind Bomber reaches the first point, and get the Husk as soon as the Blind Bomber reaches the second point.
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. 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 Vortex Mega Howler. 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.
If in play, grenades can stun a zombie with a hit to any equipment, including swords and shields, and can be reused at will. If human vs human rules are in effect, a grenade hit to a human will turn that human into a zombie immediately.
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.
Elite Retaliator (various internal setups, pump grips) - there were a wide variety of Retals present, including multiple actually without pump grips. Regardless of the setup though, a Retal is always a solid blaster. Stock ones perform noticeably better than most other stock Elite blasters, while spring upgraded ones (usually with pump grips) perform very well at mid-range with decent ROF.
Elite Stryfe (various motors, LiPos) - solid all-round flywheelers. Highly effective at close to mid-range, and relatively easy to build and control. A great blaster all round.
Elite Rapidstrike (various motors, LiPos) - high ROF flywheelers exceptional at close range and volume of fire. A lot harder to build and control than a Stryfe, and requires a fair bit of practice to master, but is a lot of fun and can be devastatingly effective in the right hands.
Buzz Bee Sentinel (various springs) - decent springers notable for their high power out-of-box. A lot less comfortable to use than Slingfires, but make up for it with raw power, being able to easily keep up with Retaliators and the like. ROF is of course the main weakness of the Sentinel, but it is still fairly effective at mid range.
Elite Alpha Trooper (various springs) - solid entry-level springer, with out-of-box pump action. EATs are noticeably weaker than other Retaloids, however the out-of-box pump action, with a vertical magwell, make it a decent all-round springer in a pinch.
ZS Sledgefire (upgrade spring, singled) - a high power springer capable of quite accurate mid to long-range support fire with the right darts. With Kooshes however, it tends to be too inaccurate and inconsistent to be effective. Being a single-shot blaster also really doesn't help in HvZ, where close-range is the primary engagement range.
ZS Longshot (upgrade spring, pump grip) - a high power springer that is capable of mid to long-range support fire. Unlike the Sledgefire, the Longshot's use of mags keeps it viable even without ideal darts, and a pump grip helps to bring its ROF up to more usable levels. It's still sorely lacking in ROF for close quarters, but it packs a punch and works best supporting other humans.
N-Strike/Elite Rayvens (various motors, LiPos) - essentially Stryfes that are a little less efficient. A well built Rayven is still perfectly viable at HvZ, but Stryfes are a little easier to set up and perform slightly better.
N-Strike Magstrike (stock) - a relic of a time when Rapidstrikes did not exist, a working Magstrike provides the same sort of high ROF that is exceptionally effective in close range. Being an air blaster though, it has to be pumped up frequently, and it can only use its own proprietary 10 dart clips. As a result, although Magstrikes are great fun to use, practically speaking they are far inferior to a well built Rapidstrike.
N-Strike Modulus (Banshee motors, 2S LiPo) - performed essentially like a Stryfe. This is the giveaway Modulus, and is now in the hands of its new owner.
Elite Rhino-Fire (MTB Honey Badger on pusher, 3S LiPo) - I used it for short periods of time. It was a lot of fun to use when it worked, however had pretty poor range and accuracy, making it very difficult to actually use effectively. It was was very picky about mags however, and often refused to fire newly replaced mags without a bit of pusher jiggling. It was an absolute pain to lug around due to its size and side magwells, but was a heap of fun when set up on the ground. I might bring it to HvZ again some time just for fun, but it's definitely not something I'll get into a habit of bringing along.
We used the same play area as always, a triangular area with a couple of (now heavily leafed) trees and a circular tambark area. The skies were clear for entirety of play, with the sun providing a bit of extra warmth on quite a nice day, somewhere between ~20-25C. We had quite a good player count today, starting already in the 20s early in the day, as more players crept in we hit a peak of around 25 players. A lot of these were relatively newer and inexperienced players. Throughout the day, we had various groups of people come and go, which naturally disrupted our games. This meant that for most of the games, there would be some section of the play area that we had to avoid. This was less of an issue for games like Blind Bomber and Secret VIP, but became quite a problem in the larger gamemodes.
We started the day as usual with a regular Survival. It progressed as per usual, minimal human losses until shields were released. From there, the zombies can continuously hound the human groups to eventual extinction. A recurring theme throughout the day was a general lack of human coordination, and there were many prime examples of that. For much of the game, I led around a small group of newbies to help them survive and get the gist of the game. Entering the late stages of the game, my group was forced towards another group of humans, with zombies chasing both groups. We were surrounded and outnumbered, however we were tagged not through sheer numbers, but through failing to cover all directions. While we were able to stun most of the zombies, one flank was left open and one zombie was able to use that opening to tag several humans, including myself. Better coverage and situational awareness would likely have had the humans escape with minimal casualties. There were few remaining humans, and it was only a few minutes before they all fell to the horde.
We switched to Secret VIP, and played two rounds of it.
In the first round, the zombies made relatively little progress. Despite the release of Tanks at 5 minutes, they were unable to break through human defensive lines, and there were relatively few human casualties. The sheer number of human players meant that the volume of fire was enough even to find off tanks reasonably effectively. It was down to the Traitor to turn the tide. The Traitor was able to acquire the one grenade, and moved to tag the General with it, which would allow the Traitor to still have all the benefits of being a human player. There was a second human next to the General, so the Traitor went to tag them as well with the grenade. That player turned out to be the VIP, so the zombies won this round.
In the second round, the Traitor chose to reveal their identity immediately, opening fire on the humans. While this served as quite an effective distraction, the zombies were unable to take advantage, and could not tag any humans before the Traitor was hit with a grenade. The knowledge that the Traitor was no longer in play helped to solidify the human defences further, and for the most part the zombies were unable to make much progress. Generally speaking, the humans were well enough organised to fend off most zombie attacks, while the zombies were generally not particularly well organised, and so were unable to inflict significant casualties on the human group. Instead, their best chance would be for lone stealth attacks during moments of distraction. As it turns out, this was in fact how the zombies won. One zombie was able to get through the human defensive fire and tag two or three humans before getting stunned. As it happened, one of those humans was the VIP, giving the zombies another surprisingly early win.
The first round demonstrated the power that the Traitor has with the grenade, though was more just a demonstration of why the Traitor is dangerous - and why the Traitor should always make a decent attempt to disrupt the humans. The second round was a demonstration of the necessity for the humans to maintain coverage of all angles at all times, even if the Tanks are preparing a big charge. Quite often the big charge is not what tags the VIP, rather it's a lone zombie who takes advantage of the distraction and chaos that the charge provides. Though big Tank charges are still a huge threat, the humans need to make sure that all angles are covered at all times if they want a chance of surviving the whole 15 minutes. This is exactly why I usually stay away from the main human group in Secret VIP - I focus on covering our flanks while letting the bulk of the humans fend off big charges. With the Traitor revealing themselves early and not being able to achieve any tags, I think we had a solid chance in the second round if we had stopped that lone zombie from tagging the VIP.
We took a break for an early lunch, and when we returned we played a round of Defence Survival.
Early game went quite poorly for the humans. Though we were able to defend the Tank square for some time, the Infector and Husk squares both fell very quickly, within a couple of minutes of starting. The loss of the Tank square was inevitable though, and once the zombies had a Tank, the game devolved into regular survival. There was only one Tank however, so the humans did have a slightly easier job trying to survive.
A lack of human coordination was again a key theme in the early game. There weren't many human players actively defending the Infector and Husk squares, making it much easier for the zombies to break through and acquire those upgrades. Even when those were lost, there was not a great deal of coordination in defending the Tank square, and only maybe a quarter of the humans were on active defensive duty. This made it much easier for the zombies to eventually break through to the Tank square. Another contributing factor was the size of the squares. In previous Defence Survival rounds, the squares would be 3-4m wide, leaving plenty of room to stun any zombies trying to dive for the upgrades. Throughout the year, those squares have slowly become smaller, and were only around 2m wide in this event. This made it ridiculously easy for a zombie to simply reach in and grab the upgrade. With larger squares, it is much more viable to actively defend the squares, and with some really good teamwork it is possible to stall the zombie upgrades to longer than regular Survival times. With these small squares, it is almost impossible to actually properly defend without wasting a lot of darts. Given that the gamemode is called Defence Survival, defending should be at very least possible for longer than a few minutes.
We tried a pair of Blind Bomber rounds, a gamemode that hasn't been played for quite a while. Due to the presence of bystanders in the tambark area, we stuck to using the west side of the play area. Starting from the southmost corner, the first point was a very small tree in the west of the play area. The second point was a tree at the northern end of the play area. In this way, we could have a full game without being disrupted by the bystanders. We also started with quite a large number of zombies. Where most gamemodes start with up to 5 zombies (depending on player count), Blind Bomber had 8-10 starting zombies.
The first round was a complete mess, with the humans losing before the Blind Bomber even reached the first point. In a total lack of human coordination, the Blind Bomber and their tiny escort moved towards the first point, while the rest of the humans hung back and were completely useless. This tiny escort was easily overwhelmed by the full force of the zombies, and they were able to run the bomb off the play area very easily.
The second round played out much better. The now-coordinated human group moved quickly as a group to the first point, and were easily able to begin "arming" the bomb. The zombies were able to use the nearby trees as a staging point for attacks, and were able to get multiple tags, however the human defensive line held firm and they were able to complete the bomb "arming" phase and move the bomb to the second point. The second point is a tree with leafage forming a sparse dome around the trunk. This allows zombies to get up closer quite easily, though also allows the humans to form an extremely dense defence if they group up inside. The majority of the humans however chose to form up just outside the tree, leaving only a few humans within the leafage of the tree. The zombies were able to slowly wear down and pick off humans from the group, culminating in a final confrontation of the few remaining humans within the tree and the rest of the zombie horde. The zombies were able to break through and steal the bomb, running it off the play area to win.
These two rounds provided a perfect contrast in coordination and results. In the first round, with no coordination, the humans failed completely and were humiliated with an extremely early loss. In the second round, with some coordination, the humans were able to reach the final stage, and actually had a reasonable chance of victory. In that final stage, the majority of the humans stayed outside of the leafage, presumably out of fear of the close quarters of the tree. However, it's entirely possible that staying within or at least right next to the tree would have been a better option. By staying together, the humans would have been able to concentrate their fire to fend off just about any zombie attack. Tanks could be easily taken care of in close quarters by the grenade. Furthermore, the leafage blocks sight both ways - while the humans can't see too well outside of the tree, the zombies can't see too well inside either, and the tree prevents zombies from charging in too quickly. While the humans would likely suffer some casualties, they would have likely maintained a better number late in the game, and would have stood a better chance of survival.
Blind Bomber, like Secret VIP, is designed to be a shorter gamemode. Since both timed sections are only 5 minutes each, and the humans want to spend as little time in between, the longest that a Blind Bomber game can realistically last for is still less than 15 minutes. Provided it is set up well, I think it is a reasonable alternative to Secret VIP, as it provides a similar hectic, close quarters feel, but also has a lot more mobility and space to it. Having an objective that is clearly obvious, instead of hidden, also helps to focus and coordinate players, which I think is very helpful when most of the other gametypes are purely survival, rather than objective based. I wouldn't mind trying it again with access to the full play area.
We ended with a Hostage Survival round. This round was a bit of a mess right from the beginning. The humans were set out as usual with the Hostages among them, each holding their grenade. Because the Hostages must physically hold the grenade, and any physical contact with the grenade is deemed to be a tag, there were one or two incidents of friendly fire. The Hostage would inadvertently (or maybe deliberately) tap the human trying to free them, causing them to become a zombie. Besides those, there was a general lack of coordination from the humans, and only a couple of players actually made an effort to defend the Hostages, with most simply opting to survive on their own, as with regular Survival. As a result, the Hostages made easy pickings for the zombies, and within only a couple minutes of start, there was only one Hostage remaining of the three we started with. The game quickly devolved into a regular Survival from there.
While Hostage Survival is a comical and silly gamemode, I don't think it really adds anything to the game, unlike Defence Survival. If you do a good job in Defence Survival, you can delay the zombies from getting their upgrades, which is by all means advantageous for the humans. In Hostage Survival, there's very little reason to protect the Hostages and keep them as Hostages. Although one of them is supposedly the Traitor, releasing the Hostages grants access to grenades, which are an incredibly valuable tool for fending off Tanks, especially later in the game. There isn't much reason to keep the Hostages bound but alive, besides the threat of a Traitor (which may or may not actually exist). If you free one, you might as well free them all so you can get all the grenades. Bound Hostages are also far too much of a liability to actively defend, and the gain from keeping them alive as bound Hostages is very small, given that a bound Traitor can still tag humans. I think that keeping the Hostages bound and alive should provide a much, much greater reward for the humans. For instance having zombie upgrades tied to particular Hostages would drastically increase the value of the Hostages, and give the humans a significant choice to make.
I had a lot of fun with the Rhino-Fire this event, and we got the opportunity to try out some different gamemodes. Some alterations might be necessary but there is promise and they do provide something different to our regular gamemodes.