Sunday, 24 May 2015

Game Report 23/5/15

Another game with Equalz Dee Foam Arms.


HvZ - Humans try to survive against the zombie horde, and sometimes additional forces. Humans were limited in blasters and ammo, and got upgrades as they survived. Zombies also usually got upgrades as humans got upgrades for balance. Double tap rules were implemented for zombies - a first hit would stun the zombie and cause them to crouch for 3-5 seconds. A second hit during that stunned time would eliminate them. Bleed out rules were implemented for humans - if they are tagged they are stunned and crouch for 15-30 seconds. If a teammate touches their shoulder for 5 seconds before the time is up, the stunned human returns to play. If the time runs out, the human either is eliminated or becomes a zombie, depending on exact gamemode.
Zombie upgrades include vests (Mega and Vortex aren't insta-elims), swords (extra reach) and Pocket Howlers (ranged throw attack).
- Squad HvZ v1.1 - a small group of humans would try to defend an objective (an ammo box) against a larger group of zombies. Unlike the previous squad HvZ, the zombies do not respawn. If the humans eliminate all zombies, they win. If all humans are eliminated or a zombie touches the objective (ammo box), the zombies win.
- Supply Drop HvZ - similar to Recall HvZ as described in the previous game report, with some changes. Initially there may or may not be zombies depending on player count. Alongside zombies, the humans also have to fight scavengers, essentially a second mod-run human team. Instead of having one single safe point filled with ammo and blasters, supplies are "dropped" in certain locations by scavengers/mods, and their location is relayed to the humans via walkie talkie, which is kept with the humans. To receive extra blasters and ammo, the humans must eliminate all scavengers, who as the game progresses get more and more powerful blasters. To make matters worse for the humans, they are not safe from zombies while collecting their newly acquired gear, and furthermore they usually acquire only a little bit of ammo and a single blaster for the whole group.
Humans who are eliminated become zombies, although at mod's discretion they may join the scavengers instead if the scavs are not threatening enough to the humans.
Rush - conceptually a little similar to Siege the Fort, but functionally very different. It's basically Rush from Battlefield, except with just one objective instead of multiple sets. In Rush the defenders are defending an objective from attackers, who try to touch the objective. Defenders have infinite lives and respawn at fellow defenders or behind the objective, after a 5 second delay after elimination. Attackers are larger in number, respawn at a given location well away from the objective, and have a set amount of lives. If the attackers touch the objective, they win immediately. If all attackers run out of lives, the defenders win. Defenders are typically loaded up with larger Vortex and Mega blasters, while attackers get dart firing pistols.
Both sides receive a few additional pieces, in the form of a few shields, swords and other such gear.

Rebelle Sweet Revenges (modded) - my standard modded dual wield pistols. Due to blaster restrictions and classes they didn't get as much action, but they were still extremely effective.
Elite Roughcut - performed as usual, they were especially effective for double-tapping zombies.
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 usual, solid all round pistols that worked great with dual wielding.
Rebelle Secret Shot - despite its apparent impracticality, I won every Squad HvZ round I played when I used the SS. It also worked well enough for Supply Drop, being that I actually spent less time in combat and spent more time just carrying blasters. People just loved how fabulous it was, and it'll probably become a staple just for that.
Mega Thunderbow - fairly large, bulky and all round silly as usual, with its main advantages being ROF (surprisingly good once you get some practice), range (better than most other stock blasters) and the extra abilities of Mega darts, typically being an instant elimination, bypassing double tap.
ZS Flipfury - as before, basically a Strongarm with a second cylinder. Worked just as a Strongarm does, except with the extra capacity which is always helpful.
Elite Stryfe - rev up time was quite slow as it was stock, so often I would rev it up for too short a time resulting in a pathetic shot. Additionally the Stryfe would often jam or plop out the Elite knock-offs that were in the dart mix, resulting in pretty much guaranteed elimination. Nevertheless, the high capacity and superior rate of fire it had was a big advantage if used correctly.

Vortex Praxis - saw a little use in Rush alongside the Revonix. As standard for Vortex, superior range was its big selling point and gave it a significant advantage over most of the stock blasters. However the low velocity of Vortex discs meant that even at close range dodging the discs was not difficult.
Vortex Vigilon - this thing saw almost no use, however in the Supply Drop HvZ it was used in, it constantly jammed up with knock-off discs so it wasn't useful in any way.
Vortex Revonix 360 - the only entirely new blaster to see any significant use. Alongside the Praxis, it only saw use in Rush, so my assessment of it will not be the best. Nevertheless, against a larger number of lesser armed opponents it was able to put out a very effective spray of discs, and the reload-on-the-fly feature was also quite helpful to keep topped up in lulls in combat. The Vortex range as usual was good for keeping the attackers back and out of effective range. As with the Praxis though, dodging the discs was fairly easy even at close range.

We played in 3 distinct areas. The first was around a house, so primarily close quarters with a fair bit of cover. We played Rush in this area as it's too small to play anything else. The second was an oval, used for Squad HvZ, with no cover. The third was a local school, used for Supply Drop HvZ. It had reasonable cover in some areas, and had enough twists and turns to keep you on your guard.

Rush was played with 2 defenders and 3 attackers. It was reasonably balanced in the sense that the attackers lost half to two thirds of their lives, but managed to win. Unbalanced would be if the attackers got annihilated or lost very few lives in winning. The biggest problem with this gamemode was the choke point, just before the area the objective was in. It was practically impossible to hit any of the defenders without luck, as they were able to either duck completely behind cover or just use a shield to block. This stalemate was only broken through luck, not through any skill or tactics.
I personally dislike any gamemode or area that forces narrow choke point combat, especially when the teams are unbalanced blaster wise, as it reduces combat to just a spray/potshot/luck fest, giving the team with the higher capacity/higher ROF blasters the advantage.
I would have preferred a play area that had cover, but was fairly open so the numerically superior attackers could try to flank or otherwise outmaneuver the defenders, reducing the proliferation of luck-based combat and emphasising more tactical play.
That's part of the reason I like playing around playgrounds - you get generally fairly open areas but still get some good cover, making tactical play more important to break stalemates.

After Rush, one more person arrived so we switched over to Squad HvZ on the oval, with 4 zombies and 2 humans.
For this particular Squad HvZ, there were 5 human classes in play for some semblence of balance:
  • Dual Hammershots, with minimal spare ammo
  • Strongarm with lots of spare ammo and two small arm shields (that block all zombie attacks)
  • Stryfe with a single set of 18 jungle clips (mags) (no spare ammo)
  • Thunderbow with spare megas
  • Secret Shot with no spare ammo (Veteran mode)
The dual Hammershots were all round solid and effective, as expected. There's not really much more I could say about them considering I usually dual wield Sweet Revenges.
The Strongarm was pretty much never used, because although the shields did help to block zombie attacks, a Strongarm on its own offered few advantages and as it required two-hand priming, also hindered the use of the arm shields.
The Stryfe was very effective, however did have some jamming issues as mentioned earlier. Those jams did get me eliminated a few times, however once the knock-offs were culled from the clips (mags) the Stryfe performed admirably, effectively taking down several zombies with ease, with the only threat being zombies throwing Pocket Howlers. Zombies would be very afraid of approaching the Stryfe knowing they would get a face full of foam.
The Thunderbow had the advantage of insta-elimination against zombies where everything else had to double-tap. Its longer range was also helpful for keeping the horde at bay, however the low capacity often got its user nommed by zombies if they didn't keep it topped up. The vest zombie was the only zombie that the Thunderbow didn't insta-elim, requiring standard double-tap, and so the vest zombie was very effective for draining the Thunderbow's ammo.
The Secret Shot was there primarily to balance any human who was simply too good, however ironically in both rounds I used it in, the humans won without casualty. I was always paired with a Stryfe-wielding human though, so they usually put in the main hits and attack the zombies, and I would be there to finish off zombies and protect the objective. This worked very well as the Secret Shot had enough ammo to finish off two zombies and double tap a third if necessary.

By far the most threatening zombies were the ranged ones, as they were the only ones who were still a threat at range. All other zombies could be easily taken down and eliminated, as was the case if the humans were feeling aggressive enough. However the ranged zombies scored very few hits, probably due to poor throwing ability, so becoming regular zombies until they picked their Pocket Howler up again.
Besides the threat of ranged zombies, tunnel vision and running out of ammo were by far the biggest enemies of the humans. Running out of ammo naturally would get a human eliminated, with their partner or the objective falling shortly after. Most humans made sure to keep their ammo topped up so that was rarely a problem. Tunnel vision however was a problem that occurred frequently and caused a lot of humans to lose. Normally what would happen is the two humans would focus on 3 of the 4 zombies (an engagement heavily favouring the humans), but forget about the 4th zombie who would run up from behind and either tag a human or two, or take down the objective, resulting in a quick and humiliating human defeat.

Squad HvZ was a good way to get people moving (primarily as zombies), and also promote teamwork, as the zombies had little chance if they acted alone, and the humans had little chance if they didn't cover each other. A group of cooperating zombies versus a pair of cooperating humans would make for a pretty good game, though naturally that didn't quite happen in these games.
As the play area wasn't restricted to a small space, we didn't get the same issues as last time, however one problem was that if there was just one zombie left, they would just get chased away by a human. That could easily be fixed by implementing a timer or a zombie concede condition.
Squad HvZ was what we played most as it was easy to set up, worked well, and easy to pack up.

Lastly we played a round of Supply Drop HvZ. As we still only had 6 people we started off with one scavenger and 5 humans. This was perhaps a mistake, as for the first few supply drops we could casually walk up to the scavenger, eliminate him and receive our reward. This caused the mod to force one of us to become the first zombie, after which point the game really picked up. The constant threat of the zombie meant that the human group either had to keep moving or be prepared to stand and fight in an open area. In Supply Drop HvZ, if a zombie is eliminated they can immediately respawn out of sight of the humans, naturally meaning that the zombie would respawn behind trees or other obstacles as close to the humans as possible.
Having to fight the scavenger as well meant the humans had to effectively split into two groups - one to hold off the zombie and one to take out the scavenger. This tactic also worked well for picking up ammo just after a firefight and receiving and loading up the reward from every supply drop. Since the supply drop itself offered no protection from the zombie, the humans would always be in combat with the zombie.
Near the end of the game the human group tried to lose the zombie in the winding passages of the school (outside of buildings of course) and it worked for the most part, we didn't sight the zombie again until the final supply drop was radioed to us. The humans were eventually able to hold off the zombie long enough to receive the final supply drop and win.

One of the problems with the current iteration of Supply Drop is that there is no incentive to get rid of humans from the group, having more humans is pretty much entirely beneficial. As such, the humans willingly work together to fight all threats, making it very difficult for the zombie or scavenger to do any damage thanks to the bleed out mechanic. One proposed change is to make the supply drops more like Recall HvZ from last time, in which rewards are given out as humans are lost to the horde. Another is to make ammo very scarce, thus making fallen humans a valuable source of ammo. Nevertheless, the problem of humans being too valuable to sacrifice is one that needs to be solved for Supply Drop.
Supply Drop also benefits from having a larger player base so there can be an OZ, more scavengers and all round more danger to the humans. As it was, one zombie was easy to deal with and one scavenger was easily outgunned in a straight firefight, and at the start of the game there was no sense of urgency or threat as there were no OZs.
An awkward situation we ran into was the humans running into the scavenger before he got into position for the supply drop. Due to the size of the play area, we then knew roughly where the scav and supply drop would be. This would likely be avoided with slightly better organisation and a larger play area.
Also due to the size of the play area, the humans ended up just walking in circles waiting for the next supply drop. This would also likely be avoided with a larger play area.

With better organisation, more players and a larger play area Supply Drop could become quite a fun gamemode, though it would take a lot more effort to set up than Recall HvZ since the supply drops need to be put in certain locations at certain times, rather than everything being stashed in one location.

I personally feel that the previous school was a better play area, it felt larger and all round seemed to have better terrain. Runner HvZ would probably have worked quite well in this school, there were multiple paths between the two open ends of the school, and I think we had enough players to pull it off nicely.
I personally didn't enjoy Rush too much, primarily due to the narrow choke point turning the game into a luck-fest. Had it been played in a more open covered area I would have probably enjoyed it more.
Squad HvZ was significantly improved over its previous iteration, both humans and zombies won multiple games and there was a bigger teamwork aspect.
Supply Drop HvZ wasn't too well balanced, though as mentioned earlier that's probably due to a small player count. With a larger player count like the one we had in Recall HvZ last time it would probably be better, with combat being a little more of a challenge.


  1. WHAT are Equalz Dee Foam Arms?

    1. That's just the name of the group. It's not a formal group or anything, just a bunch of friends (with me tagging along [that pun tho]) having fun and blasting each other.

    2. Too bad I don't live in AUS