Saturday, 11 April 2015

Nerf Game Report 9/4/15

I attended a small Nerf war today at a local primary school run by Equalz Dee Foam Arms. It was a lot of fun, and was very different from the games I normally play.

HvZ - depending on the play area, zombie hits were 5-10 second stuns or respawns from the ouside of the area. Humans were limited in blasters and ammo, and got upgrades as they survived. Zombies also got upgrades as humans got upgrades for balance. Double tap rules were also implemented in some games for zombies- a hit would result in a 5 second stun, a second hit an elimination with 10 second respawn out of sight of the humans.
- Squad HvZ - a small group of humans would try to survive for a set amount of time (a few minutes) against a larger group of zombies, usually respawning. Survivors remained human (to a limit of 3 times in a row) while the fallen humans would turn into zombies, and the next players in line would become human.
- Runner HvZ - humans would try to run back and forth between two safe zones, with only a short time in those safe zones to reload and rest. The winner would be the final survivor, who would try to make one last run between safe zones for an "extraction" win, while getting tagged on the final run would result in a regular win (extraction win having more prestige).
- Recall HvZ - the closest to large scale HvZ we played. Humans start with a large number, small blasters and low ammo. Every time a human is zombified, an upgrade is available to the humans and also given to one zombie. The humans cam return to the designated safe upgrade area, and are still vulnerable while outside that area. Once most of the humans are present, they are given an upgrade (increase in ammo and blaster size/quantity), while the most recently turned zombie would receive an upgrade of some kind (for instance extra reach [sword] or shield). Humans who do not return to the area in time do not get that upgrade until the next human is zombified and the upgrade zone reopens. Humans are given a short head start from the upgrade zone at the start and at the end of every upgrade session. Once one human is left, they win if they reach the upgrade area (again like an "extraction" win).
Capture the Box/VIP - one player would dress up in partial cardboard armour, with a cardboard body and two cardboard shields, and would be limited to walking. Teams would try to capture the box man by tagging them in exposed area (ie legs and arms, no headshots) and protecting them for as long as possible. Once tagged, the box man would follow the orders of the tagging team. The team who holds the box man for the longest after a set amount of time wins. As the box man can try to run away from players, if the box man remains untagged for the entire time limit, they alone win. Player hits are one-hit respawns, with respawns simply being 10 seconds out of sight.

Rebelle Sweet Revenges (modded) - my standard modded dual wield pistols. Worked excellently as usual, and won me a couple of rounds.
Elite Roughcut - performed as per usual.
Elite Strongarm - performed as usual.
Elite Alpha Trooper (OMW 5kg spring, AR removed) - insanely overpowered compared to the stock and near stock stuff that was there, was instantly relegated to show-off only duty.
ZS Hammershots - same as before, much the same as SRs with less range due to being stock. I maintain that they're superior to Strongarms, almost purely because of the hammer prime, but both were still excellent choices for most games.

ZS Slingfire - performed ok, its main advantage was capacity due to being clip (mag) system. Range was quite meh, no official numbers but it's certainly not over 12m, though the darts were worn and used Kooshes and Elites. Accuracy wasn't impressive either. Honestly the Slingfire seemed (performance wise) pretty boring, though I didn't see a whole lot of action from it. From what I did see of it, it performed well enough to survive, but did nothing notable.
Mega Thunderbow - a very silly but quite fun blaster, like the Slingfire range and accuracy were nothing special (though range was decent being a Mega blaster). What the Thunderbow did have was intimidation factor due to being huge and having larger ammo. In double tap HvZ the Thunderbow did have the advantage of one-shot elimination due to its use of mega darts but 5 shots for its amount of bulk is really not worth itin most cases. The scarcity of Megas also reduces its viability for scavenging and survival.
Rebelle Secret Shot - another fun and silly blaster, the Secret Shot had surprising range but had the same unreliable accuracy as everything else. It didn't get much action being a 4-shot pump action, but it was fun and fabulous to deploy and use.
N-Strike Stampede - it did what it advertised, that is spray darts all over the place. Being an older N-Strike blaster, range was abysmal, as was accuracy. Paired up with a 35 drum the Stampede could put down some serious suppressive fire, however its low range, poor accuracy and huge bulk made it quite impractical, as a Stryfe could do the same job in a much smaller package with better range.
Vortex Praxis - it did the standard Vortex job of high range, and besides that did not perform notably well or poorly. As with Mega, Vortex is a one-shot elim with double tap zombies, however the slow disc speed made it easily dodgeable. Disc scarcity also made scavenging extremely difficult. The Praxis didn't see much action, and honestly probably was not particularly worth using over a regular dart blaster.
Elite Demolisher (2x14500 IMR) - not as overpowered or scary as the EAT, but still made a huge mark and was banned after one round of use. Performed basically the same as a similar spec Stryfe, that is to say, quite well. With superior range to everything else (besides the EAT of course), high capacity and great spammability due to being semi auto, the Demolisher was extremely dominant on the field and pretty much single-handedly won the one round it was used in before being banned. It made the round it was used in almost uncompetitive.
ZS Flipfury - basically a Strongarm with an extra cylinder, the Flipfury performed extremely well. It solved one of the Strongarm's biggest weaknesses, capacity, and in most rounds performed as well as, if not better than, Strongarms and Roughcuts. For the sorts of games we played, the Flipfury is definitely a solid purchase. I personally still prefer dual Sweet Revenges, but if the Strongarm is more your style, you'll probably like the Flipfury a lot.
Elite Retaliator (US-spec spring, AR removed) -  performed much like the Slingfire, except with pretty good range and better ROF (due to stock springs). I didn't see it used much, but it was used in several rounds and seemingly performed quite well.
Vortex Vigilon - the Vigilon is to Vortex much like what the Strongarm is to Elite, in that it's a solid pistol(ish) blaster with usable capacity and solid performance. As with the Praxis, the Vortex buff did give the user a better survival chance in HvZ if threatened by several zombies, but again the slowness and scarcity of Vortex discs were big issues. Ultimately like the Praxis the Vigilon was dumped for dart blasters.
Elite Stryfe -  unlike the Stryfe I have/use, this one was stock. It performed much like the Demolisher, except with stock ranges, and so was fairly balanced. It was a pretty solid all round blaster.

Due to having an odd number of players for much of the day, we were forced to play mainly HvZ based games, though they flowed quite well and were a lot of fun.

Instead of the usually fairly open fields or playgrounds, we switched play area a lot, using some open areas, some areas with lots of buildings and some playgrounds. The variety made the games more interesting, though of course required the use of a school outside of school hours. The areas with buildings made HvZ very interesting, as you would have to be wary of every corner lest you be ambushed and turned or stunned, but also meant that if you were particularly agile, you could lose less agile pursuers (or catch up to less agile prey) in the narrow corridors and around corners.

Squad HvZ was a little weird, and IMO didn't work out particularly well. Because zombies start of with superior numbers and have short respawns/stuns, the humans are always under a lot of pressure. Add on to that that most of the arenas were quite small areas, and more often than not the humans would all be tagged within 90 seconds. One time we did play in a larger area, however due to miscommunication the zombies forgot about one human and he ended up winning.
Usually as soon as one human fell, the others would too in quick succession, however I managed to survive solo longer than most solo humans did, but still not long enough to win.
A surviving human was meant to receive an upgrade, with a zombie also receiving an upgrade for every human upgrade, but as we only had one human survive twice, not much upgrading was done.
Some of the zombie wins were due to skill and human incompetence, however some arenas I felt were too small for such a gametype.
The Flipfury came into its own in Squad HvZ as we were limited to a single sidearm blaster, and has by far the highest capacity of any blaster considered a sidearm. Since Squad HvZ gives little time to reload, especially when only one human is left, the Flipfury's huge capacity allowed the user to survive significantly longer than if they were using for instance a Strongarm.
The key to surviving Squad HvZ is being able to reload on the run. If you can't, you'll empty your initial load of darts and then just be run down and munched by the zombies. 

Runner HvZ was much better and worked very well to prevent human camping. After being given time to reload humans would have one minute to leave the safe zone, or else they would automatically be zombified. This forced the humans to keep moving pretty much all the time, and because a new run only started after every surviving human was accounted for in the safe zone, any humans who tried to hide would normally end up being zombified.
There was something to be said for stealth though. As the two safe zones were on opposite sides of the building occupied area, in earlier runs it would be fairly easy to pick a longer, less exposed route to jog and still arrive safely with the other runners taking more staightforward routes. Obviously in later runs with more zombies and less humans, stealth was near impossible, as all the zombies would start around the safe zone, and so stunning and/or outrunning were your only options.
In the Runner HvZ we played, I was the final survivor. This wasn't due to my blaster choice at all, I'd chosen the Secret Shot and fired it only 5-6 times maybe, in the final 3 or so runs, the last of which I was tagged in. Instead my tactic was to let one or two other humans divert at least half of the zombies, after which I would simply outrun the rest and stun one or two if needed. Since humans would often run in groups, I would simply go with the groups and get ahead, and of course to survive all you need to do is be faster than the slowest member. By repeating this tactic several times, I would get through all the rounds unscathed and practically unnoticed, until the end of course.
The key to Survivor was being particularly good at either blasting or outrunning the zombies (or both, which is even better). Because of what I described just above, being good at just one of those will give you a solid chance of being the last survivor, provided you get to the safe zone before the last human. If you are the last human to the safe zone, you'll have to contend with the entire zombie group foxguarding the small safe zone, which though easy early on, is very difficult when the horde builds up.
Runner HvZ is a pretty good fast HvZ variant for smaller groups, as it keeps people moving and promotes both teamwork and solo play in different ways. It could probably work with larger groups with tweaked rules for the zombies. I personally enjoyed Runner quite a bit, and would certainly recommend it as a fairly short and fast HvZ gametype.

Recall HvZ is a much longer lasting HvZ, designed for larger areas and more players. Since it starts with only a few zombies and mostly humans, early on is quite relaxed for the human players, while the zombies have to try and ambush humans to have any hope of a tag. Since the original zombies (OZs) are desparate for a tag, they will very quickly gang up on anyone not in a group to get the early tag. The main group remains relatively safe, although checking corners around buildings is always nerve-racking.
The double tap rule implemented also made it very dangerous for loners, as they would have to use at least two darts for any significant reprieve against even just a lone zombie, and would have to use a significant portion of ammo to escape just 2 zombies. Often humans would just get the stun, and use the 5 seconds to run as far as possible, which more often than not worked against solo zombies, but returns diminished quickly against multiple zombies.
The upgrade feature made things very interesting for humans near other humans in distress. Because remaining humans receive an upgrade for every fallen human, a selfish human could potentially let others become zombie food to get access to a superior loadout more quickly to improve their solo chance of survival (and also accelerate the game to get closer to victory). This of course is balanced by well organised human groups being significantly more effective against zombie groups than individual humans.
We had 10 players in total, starting with 2 OZs.
Early on the OZs had a very low chance of a successful charge against the main group of humans because of the volume of fire that the group could put out compared to the zombie numbers. They would be forced to prey on either the frontrunner, the lagger or any loners. The main group of humans typically stayed close together and covered one another, making frontrunner/lagger option mostly unviable (unless the group was non-vigilant checking corners), forcing the zombies to resort to looking for loners. This would usually be achieved by charging at the group from close by, causing some humans to panic and split away from the group (despite the zombies usually getting eliminated), making them much easier prey.
The game would proceed in this manner for about 2 tags, up until the point where the zombies had significant numbers. At this point the zombies would start becoming much more aggressive, persistently pursuing the main human group while chasing down (and usually tagging) any stragglers. It was at this point that the upgrades given to humans began to be properly useful, as the increased ammo cap and better blasters gave the now smaller human group still a solid chance of survival, provided they worked together. Nevertheless the relentlessness of the pursuit would produce some mistakes from a few humans, allowing the zombies to get the upper hand and tag them.
Once the zombies outnumbered the humans, the real chase began. Earlier in the game the human group would typically just walk or jog as any zombie who got too close would be hosed down with darts, and so running was unnecessary. However with now inferior numbers, the humans would be easily overwhelmed if they didn't keep moving, and so the humans resorted to running to some area they could defend for a short while, turning around and stunning nearby zombies, then quickly running off again. Naturally this would become very taxing on the humans, and the more tired/less combat effective humans would fall behind, become vulnerable and get nommed.
Myself and a Stampede wielder were two of the last few humans left. After being separated from the other humans following another upgrade, we snuck up behind the zombie horde to try and get back into the upgrade zone, however ended up having to run from the horde, which now consisted of every other player. The other human fell behind and was eventually tagged, leaving me alone to face the horde. Knowing I had little energy left, instead of staying away from the horde to try and last them out, I simply went straight for the upgrade zone after evading one of the faster zombies. I managed to stun the 3 defending zombies and made it into the upgrade zone before the rest of the horde returned, achieving an "extraction" win.

The main reason for the loss of the humans late in the game was due to the humans splitting up. Lone humans were easy prey for a horde of any reasonable size, and even pairs or triples of humans had to be careful as a well planned zombie ambush and/or some bad decisions could easily lead to the humans being tagged.
The easiest ways for a human to survive are to either be fitter and faster than everyone else (which of course is not a solution viable for everyone), or to stick in a solid, cohesive group (which requires cooperation and communication from all humans). A group's firepower is significantly greater than any single human's, and a well communicating and organised group can combat just about any threat, even superior zombie numbers. Humans have the easiest job in early game, and the hardest job late in the game, due to the growth of the horde and the diminishing survivor numbers.
The easiest way for zombies to get early tags are to of course target the stragglers and loners, who are easily snuck up or ganged up on. Later tags can be achieved by slowly picking off group outliers, as a charge with a decent zombie number should be able to survive long enough to get a tag or two, or at least split some humans from the main group. Once the zombies have superior numbers they can simply chase down and surround the humans, and one by one take them down. Conversely to humans, zombies have the hardest job early in the game, and the easiest job in late game.

OZ choice was incredibly important for Recall HvZ, as if the OZs are not very good at being zombies, the humans could keep their numbers up for a very long time. In comparison, in Squad HvZ the zombies start with higher numbers in close quarters so they're practically guaranteed the tags within a few minutes, and with Runner HvZ the humans are bound to get tired so the slower ones become easy prey, and after that so do the loners. In Recall HvZ however, since the zombie respawn is specified as "out of sight", the many humans have plenty of time after taking out a zombie to pick up the used ammo, and so are unlikely to run out of ammo in the early stages, making easy pickings for zombies quite rare.
Communication was also an issue in Recall HvZ. There were no walkie talkies used, so even if a human was tagged, there was no way of knowing for the other humans unless they saw it or heard it from other players. This helped to reduce the viability of human camping, as humans would have to periodically check the upgrade zone to see if an upgrade was available, and this often meant running the gauntlet of zombie infested area.
Despite these potential flaws, Recall HvZ was quite fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Capture the Box/VIP was again different to the games I'm used to, being another longer, slower game than the fast paced games I normally play. In this gamemode you would attempt to maintain control of a person in cardboard armour, by tagging them in exposed areas to take control. This game worked in a similar fashion to Recall HvZ, except with symmetrical teams instead of the human-zombie assymetry. Teamwork was paramount, as taking on enemies while protecting and ordering around a person who can only walk is quite difficult, and having inferior numbers in such an engagement would usually result in defeat.
A more risky tactic would be to use the box man as mobile cover, as the cardboard armour blocks darts. This would give you and your teammates the ability to fire at will at enemies, however if the enemy tagged the box man, you would have to waste time and darts retagging them to maintain your cover. Furthermore, if you and your teammates were eliminated, you would have to go through the tedious process of hunting down and tagging the box man. 
In this particular game I used my Demolisher, which was perhaps a mistake. While not signficantly modded by most modder's standards, compared to the stock blasters used it was insanely effective and quite overpowered. Being pretty much totally superior to just about every blaster there, I was able to hold the box man on my own, with enemies being incapable of getting within range without being sprayed down. While my teammates did help to ward off and distract enemies, at no point was I in any significant danger from being overwhelmed, and throughout the ~12 minute game I was only hit once.
Communication was a major issue. As there were only two walkie talkies, and they were used only to coordinate the start of the game, unless you got information directly from players who were recently near the box man (or saw the box man yourself), you had no way of knowing which team had the box, or where the box was. This resulted in several players spending several minutes simply wandering around, looking for any sign of combat or the box. As the box defender, I spent several minutes wandering around with the box looking for teammates who had split off earlier on after a skirmish with the other team.
We played with 2 teams of 3 players, and in the the play area used I feel that larger teams would have made the game more interesting, as there would have been a lot more skirmishes. As it played out in this particular game, 3v3 made it surprisingly difficult to find anyone else. Had I used more balanced blasters (such as perhaps my Sweet Revenges) perhaps there would have been more combat, because the enemy players were too afraid to attack me for fear of being hosed down by the Demolisher.
I feel that this sort of game benefits greatly from communication devices like walkie talkies, and would certainly benefit from either more players or a smaller play area. 


  1. Nice review, glad to see you enjoyed it and the feedback should be very useful.
    - EqualzDee (the head admin)

  2. And the name of the group is Equalz Dee Foam Arms, if you were wondering.

  3. Sounds like this group is off to a good start.
    I am surprised that the 5kg EAT and a simple entry level electric mod got banned. I run those and a bit more at my events indoors with kids 10 and up with no problems. I would look at an FPS limit. 100 is very safe. We also have a ban on any dart over 1.2g at some systems here, basically it's elite or Koosh.

    1. The main reason that my modded stuff was banned is because everything else was bone stock, so compared to those blasters with even basic mods are overpowered to some extent. If everything else was modded to some decent extent the Demo wouldn't have been banned.
      My Sweet Revenges are quite overpowered as is, perhaps the only reason they didn't get banned is because their power is not as overwhelming like the Demo.