Friday, 12 May 2017

MHvZ Game Report 6/5/17

We had some solid games today at MHvZ. The on-off rain did dirsupt play a little, however we managed to miss the majority of it.
  • (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 2-3m 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. Zombies are only allowed one upgrade at a time. Once all upgrades from a given square are removed, the zombies no longer have to leave that square to un-stun.
  • Squad Survival - Humans are split into small squads. When hit by a dart, a human must respawn at a tree. During this time, they cannot shoot however are still vulnerable to zombies. Humans can respawn three times at a tree, after which another dart hit will turn them into a zombie. The last squad with surviving members wins. Zombie upgrades operate on timers, as with Regular Survival.

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. 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. 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 a shield, 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 Stryfe (various motors, LiPos) - the standard semi-auto flywheeler at MHvZ. Compact, reliable and effective, they are one of the most popular blasters (if not the most popular blaster) at Melbourne events.

Elite Rapidstrike (various motors, LiPos) - the standard full-auto blaster at MHvZ. Capable of very impressive volumes of fire, though require a lot of trigger discipline and ammo to be effective over a longer time.
Elite Retaliator (various springs and mod kits) - the standard springer at MHvZ. Simple and reasonably effective, quite a few today were run still with the top slide prime, rather than an underbarrel pump grip. ROF is naturally a lot slower than a typical flywheeler, but is generally enough to get by in most combat situations with backup.
ZS Slingfire (upgrade spring) - sufficiently powerful for HvZ, with a usable one-hand prime useful when on the move. ROF is naturally quite slow, making maneuverability even more of a necessity for survival.
ZS Hammershot (various upgrade springs, cylinders) - there's always a lot of Hammershots at MHvZ, but during this event a lot more were actually used than usual. They are quite effective backup blasters, sporting enough capacity to fend off a couple of zombies, and a one-handable prime ideal for on-the-run combat and reloading.
N-Strike Rayven (upgrade motors, LiPo, full-auto pusher) - an overhauled Rayven fitted with an auto-pusher, making it perform similar to a Rapidstrike. A good amount of power with solid ROF, making it an all round very effective blaster.

Elite Firestrike (couplered, upgrade spring, speedloader) - a high power, compact single shot blaster. Effective at mid-to-long range potshots, ideal for scaring away far off zombies and covering fellow humans from further away. Vulnerable in close quarters due to a heavy prime and manual barrel changing making for a very slow ROF. Is typically used as a secondary to the Rayven featured just above.
?? Alpha Trooper (unknown mods, if any) - an out-of-box pump action springer, making for a solid entry-level blaster. Packs enough power for closer range combat, with a decent ROF


Elite Rhino-Fire (unknown mods, suspected at least overvolt) - a blaster built purely for fun and silliness, this one was mounted on a camera tripod to be usable while standing up. Though not at all a practical HvZ blaster, it was quite fun to see in (30 seconds of) action.

ZS Sledgefire (singled, various upgrade springs) - high power, single shot springers. Effective at mid-to-long range fire support, especially useful for picking off unaware sombies from a distance. Vulnerable in close quarters and larger groups due to their single shot nature, necessitating backup or a secondary blaster for late-game survivability.
Doomlands Lawbringer (unknown mods, if any) - essentially a high capacity, oversized Hammershot. Has a similar one-handable prime ideal for on-the-run combat, and a much larger capacity than a typical Hammershot, allowing much better survivability against multiple zombies. The extra bulk does make carrying it a little harder, as well as hindering aiming and maneuverability a little.
N-Strike Modulus (unknown mods, if any) - unsure if any mods were performed to this blaster. Regardless, it would perform very similarly to a comparable Stryfe. I've included it here simply because it's quite rare to see the Modulus blaster in Melbourne events.
N-Strike Vulcan (unknown mods, if any) - much like the Rhino-Fire, a blaster more for fun and cool factor than anything else. Its capacity is decent at 25 darts with a standard belt, but the belt-feeding system is rather impractical, particularly when compared to mag fed blasters. Range is also not particularly good, and its ROF is easily matched and beaten with more popular blasters like the Stryfe.
N-Strike Stampede (unkown mods, suspected at least overvolt) - not a bad blaster as such, just outclassed by typical flywheelers. Range is roughly comparable to a spring upgraded Elite Alpha Trooper or similar, and ROF is decent, around 4-5dps.

Mega Rotofury (rebarreled, various upgrade springs) - high power springers capable of fairly fast successive shots, unlike the other high power springers featured. The 10 dart cylinder coupled with pump action allows a Rotofury to be much more effective against multiple zombies and in close quarters than the other high power springers. ROF wise they still pale in comparison to more conventional springers and flywheelers, but are quite effective at mid range combat.
We used the same play area as always, a large triangular grass area with some large trees and a tambark area in the middle. The temperature peaked around 20C, however dropped off quickly from rain. The majority of rain came during the lunch break, delaying play slightly and making the play area quite damp and a lot colder. Player count peaked at around 30, however varied between 25 and 30 throughout the day.

As usual, we started with a Survival round. As is standard for a Survival round, the zombies were generally unable to make any significant inroads into the human groups, only getting a few tags through poor situational awareness. The release of Tank shields at 10 minutes gave the zombies a more reliable way of pressuring the humans, giving them many more opportunities for tags. My group of humans started encountering significant combat when the human and zombie numbers were roughly equal. We took up the high ground to the north of the play area, and were easily able to fend off any zombie advances. Moving back and forth between the north-east and north-west corners, we were able to survive with minimal casualties long enough for the zombies to go off and hunt down other human groups.

The zombies returned not too long after, having tagged the majority of the humans, and outside of my group of humans there were few other survivors. Facing essentially a full zombie horde, we lost much of our group in the first few charges. One other human, along with myself, were able to escape the onslaught, and managed to survive on our own. A combination of firepower and coordination allowed us to fend off just about any zombie charge, and in particular coordination helped us in fighting off any Tanks. Eventually both of us ran out of darts and were overwhelmed by the sheer number of zombies.

We played two rounds of Secret VIP. In the first round, I was selected as the General, and selected the VIP as a player I knew could handle themselves, but not be too obvious a target. About 30 seconds into the game however, the Traitor chose to use their tag on me. Immediately joining the zombie horde, I told my fellow zombies who I had chosen as the VIP. I believe the VIP also chose to reveal their identity, at least to a couple of other humans. Without a Traitor to help us from within the human group, us zombies resorted to consistent head-on charges. For the most part, we would be hosed down before getting remotely close to the human group, though some of the other zombies were able to tag an unwary human or two.

The zombies really started to make progress once Tank shields were made available. With such a high density of humans, along with a grenade in the mix, a typical Tank charge was rarely able to tag any humans. While there were a few tags from the Tanks themselves, many more came from the rest of the zombies. Importantly, while the Tank themselves would typically get surrounded and hosed down, they would draw the attention of the majority of humans in the area. Furthermore, after successfully stopping a Tank, there would often be a short lull in human concentration and awareness as the humans regrouped from the Tank charge. This small gap in concentration was enough for many a zombie to get a sneaky tag or two. I myself was able to make at least two tags this way, and I am a very defensive and conservative zombie who rarely, if ever, makes any tags. The human group did survive fairly well considering, rarely leaving opportunities for a zombie to make more than one or two tags before hosing them down. In the final minutes of the game, we were able to tag the last few remaining humans, with the VIP being the very last human, for a tight zombie victory.

I was an ordinary human for the second round. For whatever strange reason, the General and a number of other humans elected to leave the tambark area completely, leaving the (still unknown) VIP and the rest of the humans. This tactic is very much ill-advised for larger groups of humans, as the VIP cannot leave the tambark area, leaving them much less well defended. In this round however, it acted as a useful distraction, drawing a lot of zombie attention away from the tambark area. This diversionary tactic worked well until Tank shields were released. The tambark zone, as a no-respawn area for the zombies, acts as a buffer against Tank charges, as you are guaranteed a certain range of relative safety. Outside of this tambark zone however, it is very easy for Tanks to relentlessly pursue and push back human groups, regardless of how well equipped they are. As such, the humans outside of the tambark zone quickly retreated back inside to regroup.

Once the humans returned to the tambark (or were tagged), the round went on as per usual. In comparison with the previous round, the human group was much more adept at maintaining situational awareness during and after Tank charges. A small group of humans would focus on the Tank(s) while the rest of the nearby humans would watch for other zombies. There were a lot less casualties to sneaky zombie strikes during and after Tank charges. As a result, even with the release of the Husk with 5 minutes remaining, the human group was able to maintain quite a solid defence, leading to a decisive human victory. I do not know what happened to the Traitor, but I do not recall any friendly fire occurring so I have to assume that they simply used their Traitor tag on someone without causing a commotion.

These rounds of Secret VIP really demonstrated the effect that Tanks can have on human groups. Even with extra zombies, a Tank charge is not particularly threatening to a human group that is well coordinated and prepared. However the mere act of a Tank charging at a group of humans can easily disorient the humans, often making them easy pickings for the Tank and any other zombies nearby. As I've mentioned many times previously, Tanks are by far the biggest threat to humans. This is not just because of the combat advantage they have one-on-one, but also the psychological factor and the attention they draw. It is extremely important for any humans engaging with Tanks to constantly keep an eye on any other nearby zombies. Any lapse in concentration and awareness can easily spell doom for human players if there are any zombies nearby. It was this that brought the zombies victory in the first round.

Conversely, as I have described before, I have successfully fended off Tanks and a large number of zombies with the help of just a few fellow humans, sometimes even just one other human. Instead of focusing on the Tank from the get-go, our usual strategy involves stunning as many other zombies as possible, giving us the space and freedom to easily push back the Tank at our own pace. This tactic really demonstrates the vulnerability of Tanks when faced with multiple humans alone, as while they can easily block and approach a lone human, they can't block multiple directions at once. In the second round, Tank charges were often performed with a lot less secondary zombie backup, and as a result could be picked off and stopped much more easily.

Another contributing factor was Tank placement. In the first round, the two Tanks were usually far away from each other, often on opposite sides of the VIP's area. As such, a simultaneous Tank charge could disorient and divide the human group in the middle, greatly reducing the effectiveness of the human defences. In the mayhem and chaos, there were often also many opportunities for any unnoticed zombies to slip in and tag some humans. Conversely, in the second round, the two Tanks spent some time together, essentially forming a super-Tank. While this offered the Tanks and nearby zombies superior protection, it was also much easier for the humans to focus on, and many a Tank push was repelled by flanking humans.

I also feel that the Traitors did not make full use of their abilities. In the first round, the Traitor immediately revealed themself to tag me as the General, leaving the humans without the threat of an attack from within. As a result, the zombies struggled early on to make inroads into the human defences, and the game ended very close to the 15 minute timer. I believe that a general lack of situational awareness cost the humans the game; a few extra stuns here and there, and the humans may well have survived just long enough.

This was shown even more obviously in the second round, where the zombies failed to make significant inroads for the entire round. A Traitor attack from within just before a Tank charge is one of the best ways for the zombies to shatter the human defences, and I've seen it executed extremely well in previous events. In the second round, timed well it may have been enough for the zombies to get the upper hand and tag the VIP. Instead, what I saw was one of the most decisive human victories in a Secret VIP round.

We played a round of Defence Survival after Secret VIP. I grouped up with a couple of humans to defend the Husk square, leaving the rest of the humans to guard the Tank and Infector squares. Since only one zombie went for the Husk, we were able to hold him off for quite a while. The rest of the human defences were not as solid however, with the Infector square being the first to be lost. Some of the zombies moved up to help with the Husk square, while the rest pushed for the Tank square. By this time the zombie horde had grown to around 8-10 players, possibly more.

We were able to hold off the zombies from the Husk square until approached by Tanks from the newly-liberated Tank square, after which we retreated. We moved to link up with some of the surviving human groups, however a lapse in situational awareness allowed a zombie to approach from behind and tag us. The remaining human groups didn't fare too well, being tagged out within just a few more minutes.

In general it was poor situational awareness and coordination that caused such a quick collapse of the human group. While there is not much that can be done defensively once the Tank square has been breached, the remaining humans could and should have linked up quickly. Once regrouped, the humans would have had a much better chance at surviving for a decent amount of extra time. Instead the separate human groups were much more easily and quickly picked off by the ever-growing horde.

We ended the day with a Squad Survival. My squad of humans moved up north, and were quickly targeted by the starting zombies. We were able to fend them off, however had to keep moving to avoid the other human squads. After some time, with the release of Tank shields, my squad was again targeted by the zombies, and in a lapse in coordination, two of our humans were tagged. The remaining three squad members, including myself, were able to escape, however were pinned between two hostile human groups who were working with the zombies. Being forced through the branches of a large tree, we were caught by some zombies, and in some incredibly poor situational awareness, were quickly all tagged.

The human competitivity of Squad Survival drastically shortens its play time compared to other Survival gamemodes. The humans are limited to much smaller groups than usual, and have to contest with one another, not just the ever-present zombie threat. The human vs human aspect freely boosts zombie numbers, while also adding an extra threat and distraction, which all give the zombies a massive advantage compared to other Survivals. Not only is it far easier for zombies to tag unsuspecting or distracted humans, but their numbers also grow from the humans fighting one another. The added human competitivity also adds some variety to the game and the event, which some players particularly enjoy. While I personally prefer the purely humans vs zombies gamemodes, I certainly don't mind the variety or faster paced rounds of Squad Survival.

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