Friday, 15 August 2014

Game Report 13/8/14

Another report from a game with the guys at Tag Recon.

We played the same gametypes this time as previously, and in the same area. Copying from my previous post:

Mini HvZ works as you'd expect a small scale HvZ to work. The zombies simply have to touch the humans to convert them into zombies. If a zombie gets tagged by a blaster, he/she is stunned for 5 seconds. This results in relatively short games that work with as little as 6-7 people. The winner is the last surviving human, although the game continues until he/she gets tagged by a zombie.
CTF again works just as you'd expect from a Nerf-based CTF, respawn at a point away from the flag (designated in this case by 6 dart clips [mags]), drop the flag if tagged, one-shot-respawn, no firing with the flag and have both flags to win, pretty simple.

We are looking at implementing a few new gametypes though.

In this game we had more people than before, so capacity did become an issue.
In the previous game we used exclusively Whistlers/Sonic Micros. In this game, we brought out some Elites and I also brought my Kooshes. The bright green Kooshes in particular were very easy to spot in the dark, and the Kooshes in general offered much better accuracy than Elites.

Blasters included Strongarms, Roughcuts, my Sweet Revenges and Elite Spectre, one guy brought a modded Recon, Magstrikes and Rayvens. I also brought along my Blastzooka because one of the guys wanted to see it. Unfortunately he fell while using it and it snapped it in half, but luckily the internals are undamaged. I'll probably look at integrating it into something later.
And hey, that guy is now probably the first person in the world to break a Blastzooka!
Anyway, let's look into how the blasters performed.

As always, the Strongarms were the commonly used all round blaster. In HvZ the low capacity wasn't a huge issue as you would have short periods of rest to reload in. In the CTF however, the low capacity became a bit of an issue. Because we had 4-5 people per team, and you would usually use several darts to tag one person, you would usually run out of darts before you could take out enough people to rush. This often resulted in some awkward standoffs where some people would quickly run back to pick up darts, and their teammates covering them. This was somewhat balanced however by the fact that a majority of people were using Strongarms, and so most people had the same disadvantage.

My Sweet Revenges performed decently, however their inferior capacity to the Strongarms was particularly apparent. I would often run out of darts quite fast due to the number of players, forcing me to fall back and reload. I might look at using a clip (mag) system blaster for extra capacity for the next games instead if we keep getting more players. Dual wielding Sweet Revenges did help me fend off zombie rushes in HvZ, as only late into the game would you get more than 3 zombies rushing you at once, and fending off 2 zombies is easy when dual wielding.

The Roughcuts became a little more popular this game, possibly because of the extra shots it provided over the Strongarms. The dual shot was particularly effective at stunning zombies and tagging opponents at close range, especially with the surprisingly accurate dual Koosh or Whistler shot. However the single shot was rarely used as it is very hard to pull off in a combat situation, so Roughcut users often found themselves out of ammo faster than Strongarm users. They were also slightly easier to reload than Strongarms, as there was no need to pop out the cylinder.

The one Recon introduced into the game was one with an OMW kit, so it was firing much harder than a stock one, however it wasn't too powerful to be banned from use. The user had two 18 dart clips (mags) stuck together for faster reload, and that capacity advantage let him fire a lot more darts at targets before needing to reload. Its power was decent as well. These two aspects made it rather difficult to approach the user as none of the other blasters had even half of its capacity, and the range was superior to the stock blasters there. However, one major flaw with the Recon was that it jammed up several times throughout the games. This would pretty much guarantee that the user would be tagged, and naturally would occur when in the worst conditions. This one key flaw is something I would never want from a blaster.

The Magstrikes and Rayvens were largely used similar to how the Magstrikes were used last game. People would pick them up and greatly enjoy the rapid fire ability, only for the experience to turn sour when they realised what a pain reloading would be. The Rayvens also suffered terribly from awful range. In particular, the Rayven would be rather ineffective in HvZ due to the difficulty of reloading, and the abysmal range meaning you had only one chance to stun a zombie. The Magstrike was never used as its rate of fire meant having to pump it up and totally reload it basically every 5 seconds after reloading it. These traits resulted in the Magstrikes and Rayvens being dumped in favour of Strongarms and Roughcuts.

The HvZ games ran pretty smoothly, you would normally have a few minutes of standoff where the zombies are just constantly stunned charging at people. At some point, someone would miss their shot, resulting in the zombie getting the tag. It would just snowball from there, with the tags getting more and more frequent despite the increased frequency of stuns.
Often the last few survivors would fall purely due to running out of ammo, as they would have used a few darts to get some of the earlier stuns.

CTF games were not as smooth though. Because of the low muzzle velocity of the blasters used, once a person took the flag and got a few metres away, they would be very hard to hit while running. This would result in CTF coming down to one person being fed up with the standoff and rushing the flag. This meant that it was very difficult to retrieve your flag once it was taken.
In one particular game of CTF, both teams had flag runners rush at the same team, resulting in a flag swap. This happened twice, ending finally when one team successfully rushed unopposed to capture both flags.
I personally felt that this took away part of the fun of CTF, as you have very little chance of retrieving your own flag to keep the game going. The only way you maintained a chance of winning was if you rushed the opponent's flag when they rushed yours, so as to prevent them from capturing your flag. In the FPS games I play that have decent CTF (UT2004, Battlefront 2), half the fun would be taking down the enemy who was carrying your flag, and this was very difficult in our situation.
I'm not sure how this could be fixed though, given our limited space and resources, the need for team balance and the lack of video game idealness.

We also ran CTF with instant respawns. This meant that you basically had 10 seconds at very most to capitalise on tagging an opponent and push with superior numbers. Which naturally is greatly reduced when you are close to the enemy flag. I feel that this makes capturing the flag through a push very difficult, forcing the sprint-for-the-flag tactic to be the only viable tactic.

It was because of these issues with CTF that I personally preferred playing HvZ, but the game was fun nonetheless.

Another key issue, particularly for CTF, was the lack of cover. We played in the usual tambarked area with a couple of trees and benches quite a few metres apart. Because of how spaced out the trees are it's very difficult to get a relatively flat shot from tree to tree with a relatively stock blaster. This forces you out of cover if you want to push and advance. When out of cover, your only way to avoid being tagged is to dodge, and so often the confrontation would turn into a dodging contest.
I would often stand out in the open to bait shots from the opponent and dodge them. In these confrontations I would rarely fire shots unless they were actually threatening in some way, or I wanted to move up.

While I think it is fine to have dodging in a Nerf war, I don't thinking dodging should be a prominent feature of confrontations as they don't seem as fun as cover-to-cover combat. In particular, I play some indoors very-close-quarters games with some of my friends. The primary play area is often no larger than 10m long, and the games are often short but fun. Having sufficient cover introduces a need for strategy, as you can't just rely on luck or your opponent running out of ammo. Cover also helps to slow down flag runners, making them more vulnerable.

All in all, it was a fun game with a few more apparent flaws than before. We're currently looking at making some portable cover, as well as looking for a different location for some variety.