Sunday, 9 August 2015

Game Report 8/8/15 - MHvZ

Another game at Melbourne HvZ. More pictures (not taken by me) can be found here

Again, every game has a zombie element so I'll go through those here.
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 25 seconds. A human can also stun a zombie with melee, but only a direct hit to the back.
There are 3 standard zombie upgrades/mutations/perks: 
Infector - zombie(s) 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 - zombie(s) get to use shields, which block darts. The shields cannot be used to tag humans, presumably as a precaution against shieldbashing which could certainly cause injury.
Husk - zombie gets to use a Titan firing rockets. The rocket counts as a regular zombie tag. There is usually only one Titan and one rocket on the field at any time. Other zombies can pick up and return the rocket to the Husk.
Zombie upgrades can be stacked in most games, so for instance a player could take both a pool noodle and a shield.

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, for instance Infectors at 5 minutes, Tanks at 10 minutes and Husk at 13 minutes.
Three Squares (made up name) - The three zombie upgrades of Infector, Tank and Husk are placed in the centre of three spread out squares, about 2-3m wide. Zombies can pick up the upgrades if they touch the upgrades in the middle of the squares. If a zombie is stunned within a square, they must move outside of the square before counting down their stun. The humans try to survive as long as possible (I believe there could have been a time limit, not sure). In this particular round, zombies were only allowed one upgrade at any one time.
Blind Bomber - One human is designated as the Blind Bomber and is blinded (in our case with blacked out safety goggles). They cannot be zombified, and so are invincible. They are given a "bomb" (just a timer), which has two time settings - in our case 3 minutes and 5 minutes. The objective for the humans is to get the bomb to the first location, "assemble" the bomb for 3 minutes, move the bomb to the second location and "detonate" the bomb for 5 minutes. If the bomb survives the 5 minute timer, it "detonates", eliminating/curing all zombies and thus giving the humans the win. However the Blind Bomber is the only human able to touch and move the bomb. If zombies tag the Blind Bomber, they must drop the bomb for two seconds, and then can pick it up again. Zombies can move the bomb, and if they get the bomb outside of the play area before the bomb "detonates", the zombies win.
6 Round Sweep (non team) - Each player is only allowed to carry 6 darts with any number of blasters and clips (mags) or a single melee weapon (with no blasters or clips [mags]) into the play area (darts are left on the ground from previous rounds). In the middle of the play area is a collector, who collects the darts from each person. The person who delivers the most darts to the collector wins. Each player has 3 lives, with each hit from a dart taking one life and requiring a respawn at any tree. A melee hit depletes all lives. Once a player is out of lives, they become a zombie and drop all their darts. A single zombie tag immediately turns humans into zombies, regardless of life count. Players are safe while depositing darts, but only during the time that they're depositing darts (and maybe a second or two to pick up their blaster again).

Zombie King - A small number of humans would attempt to destroy the zombie king, who is protected by a large number of zombies. Standard zombie stuns apply, and zombies start off with all upgrades if so desired. The king cannot run and has no upgrades, but takes 15 hits to eliminate (and doesn't get stunned) and can still tag humans. Unlike other HvZs, a zombie tag on a human causes them to lose a life, and they must go and respawn. Once a human is out of lives (starting with 4) they are eliminated. The humans are also working against a time limit, which was set at 15 minutes.

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.
Rebelle Sweet Revenges - My standard modded dual wield pistols. After emptying all my clips (mags) for my Rapidstrike or a jam of some kind (or for pistol rounds), they were extremely effective for scavenge-based survival, and held off a number of zombies very well.
Pump Action Elite Retaliator (various internal kits, often fully tac-ed up) - Saw a lot of these in action once again. They are very comfortable and extremely smooth to use, and seem to be quite accurate and fairly powerful, however against multiple zombies the user would have very little room for error, as a single miss would likely get the human tagged by one of the zombies. Retals were the favoured blaster for longer ranged potshots thanks to their above average accuracy and were quite solid all round.
Elite Rapidstrike (various motors, LiPos) - The highest ROF blaster present, the Rapidstrike was excellent for overwhelming zombies and point defence, since the high ROF made them practically impossible to dodge. It was also good for Zombie King, since the Rapidstrike could dump its entire 18 clip (mag) into the king within 2 seconds, resulting in an almost instant elimination and a human victory.
I used my Blade'd Rapidstrike as my primary for the whole event, and it worked extremely well. The ability to fire almost instantly allowed me to get a few crucial stuns that helped save humans (and myself), and the ROF was very useful for ensuring hits on fast moving zombies and tanks. The only issues I ran into were running out of ammo (which is expected in HvZ) and ammo-related jams, which once realised were quickly eliminated by being a little more picky about not using certain dart types.
Rebelle Rapid Red (Banshee motors, 2S LiPo) - I didn't use it, it was loaned to another player, who came back to me with very positive feedback. They described it as very powerful, quite accurate, and very easy to use. The main trigger was also described as very smooth. I watched a little of him using it (and was a target of it a little in Zombie King), and it did indeed appear very effective.
N-Strike Raider (unknown mods) - the most significant thing the Raiders did was jam. "Oh so you really need to take out this zombie? Let me jam right now and get you nommed," is basically the most accurate description of how the Raider performed. Highly unrecommended, I would rather run a single Sweet Revenge than a Raider.

Mega Rotofury (added Magnus spring, rebarreled for Elite-sized darts, stock attachment point and stock) - even with the relatively low spring load of stock + stock Magnus, it packed a huge punch. It completely outclassed just about everything else there range wise, and was let down more by the inaccurate and unstable ammo used. The stock also made it extremely comfortable to handle, as the Rotofury is pretty hefty. Nerf seriously, a blaster this big and you don't give it a proper stock? For intimidation and longer ranged engagements, the Rotofury was excellent, especially with the ability to reload on the fly.
Ultra Tek 8/Champion (added spring) - wasn't used by me, rather it was used by some other players, who had some praise for it. The incredibly comfortable handle was a big plus point brought up, as well as its ease of use thanks to the well designed slide. Power wise the UT8 wasn't quite up to par with the other main things like the Retals, but it held its own well enough especially compared to the Raiders.

We played in the same area as previously, a large triangular grassed area with a couple of trees and a central tambarked area with some particularly large trees.
Player count peaked probably around 20-25, close to the lunch break time of 2:30. Interestingly, many of the "regular" players were absent this time around, and we had a lot of new players who had never been to HvZ, and some who didn't even have blasters.

Survival was the standard HvZ gametype and worked well as usual. In the very first Survival, I went through all of the clips (mags) I had for my Rapidstrike, and so subsequently dumped the Rapidstrike and switched to Sweet Revenges. I was in fact able to survive on my own just scavenging with the SRs so long that the admin decided to end the game so as to allow the playing of other games.
This seems somewhat counterintuitive, considering that at the end of the game the zombies vastly outnumber the remaining humans. The core of this situation occurs exactly because this is at the end of the game. At that point, a number of the zombies who had done the main running earlier in the game will now be tired and will likely not participate in the chase significantly. Likewise recently turned zombies may be too tired from running from their now-comrades to participate in the chase, leaving a small fraction of the horde for the final chase. Considering the limitations of the human body, I doubt this can be changed significantly.

After the first Survival round, the humans were given a bit of a boost, in the form of a couple of grenades (usually Nerf Mini Howlers or similar), which can stun tanks even with a shield hit and of course can be picked up and thrown repeatedly. This allows select humans to deal with tanks very easily even in one-on-one, though the grenade's power is often used so as to not have to flank a threatening tank if there are other nearby zombies.
In the second Survival round at the end of the day, once tanks came onto the field the humans began to split up so as to not present one large target. However this plan seemed to backfire, as the smaller groups of humans were much easier prey for the zombies, especially tanks. The humans fell much faster in this round than the first round. While I would agree that a well cooperating smaller group of humans would probably outlast a larger incohesive group, the smaller groups didn't work together too well either, and the tank was usually able to get at least one human, or at least distract them long enough for another zombie to get the tag.

Three Squares is a way of making the zombie upgrades objectives rather than just timed events. As such, early combat is clustered around the squares, usually the one with the least human defenders. However Three Squares this time around started with a little twist: instead of the husk missiles being with the Titan in the husk square, the two missiles would be held by humans, and the missiles would only be usable by the husk once the humans had dropped the missiles (which occures from it touching the ground or the human holding it getting tagged). This made the husk square largely a non-target early on, so the humans spent little effort defending it.
The majority of the humans defended the tank shields, by far the most dangerous upgrade as it lets zombies take down humans one-on-one very easily (assuming they don't have grenades). The infector upgrades, while very useful for the zombies, do not increase a zombie's one-on-one chance against a human too significantly, unless that human is running melee. I joined the smaller group defending the infector swords, and we were able to hold them off for a reasonable time, though naturally eventually they started to get through, and so got the infector upgrades necessary to assault the tank square. My group hung back to ward off any flanking zombies, however as HvZ always goes the zombies were able to creep close enough to the shields to eventually grab them in one of their many charges, effectively turning the game into another round of Survival. Since the humans were quite tightly clumped in defending the tank square, if any zombies got through they would usually end up with several tags instead of just one.
Compared to the last event's Three Squares, this time around felt more balanced and competitive and the Hand of Freedom in the previous game greatly reduced the safety of the squares, and the flag bearer actually didn't do much especially with the Hand in play. I didn't miss the flag bearer too much, if at all, because the humans were able to defend just as effectively without them, and honestly a group of humans standing behind the square had much the same effect as the flag bearer standing within the square. It's possible that the competitivity came from superior human tactics as they were able to protect the upgrades for quite a while before eventually losing ground.

Blind Bomber had a few alterations made to it, and overall I feel that it went much better than the Blind Bomber rounds last event. The addition of the grenades into the game made it much harder to tanks to creep through to the bomber during the timed sections, which greatly reduced what I felt was a big flaw in the previous event's rounds. A slight change was implemented to the grenades, in that after each throw the grenade must be tapped on the bomber to be used again. The second timed event was staged in the middle of the tambark area, and when stunned zombies would have to leave the tambark area first.
This time around Blind Bomber was very competitive and worked out much better for the humans, with the bomb making it to the second location. The humans much more successfully defended the bomber in the first segments of the journey, with the tanks being held off much more effectively thanks to the grenades (and probably improved tactics as well).
As the bomber was escorted towards the second location, humans started to get lost in significant numbers to tanks and other zombies, resulting in the final stand consisting of only a small group of 8 or so humans. Due to the zombies having to leave the tambark when stunned, the humans got a fairly large breathing space and had ample time to reload between each charge. However in the chaos of the final stand, the furthest out humans started to get picked off by zombies, eventually resulting in the bomb being stolen by a zombie and taken out of the play area only around 10 seconds before it would have detonated.
I think the Blind Bomber balance with the grenades and tambark semi-safe zone is excellent, and would happily play a few more rounds of it as is.

6 Round Sweep is a pretty basic mid-event sweep to make dart sweeping a little more fun and competitive. Besides just picking up darts, you have to watch for fellow scavengers also looking for as many darts as possible, and later in the game zombies (though they don't normally show up until several minutes in). Seeing as its primary purpose is to collect most of the darts on the field and its secondary purpose is a gamemode, there's not much for me to say about its game dynamics.

Zombie King was the new gamemode introduced this event, and I think it's quite interesting. It reverses the roles of the two sides, with the humans now being the attackers and the zombies being a little more defensive. Since the zombies far outnumber the humans, and zombies get access to all upgrades, usually one of the tanks and a few infectors would stay with the king, while the rest try to deplete or stall out the humans. Since the humans are running on a time limit and have limited lives, they have to run very offensively to be able to break through the zombie lines and get at the king. So as to prevent spawn-camping, the humans had a safe zone of the central tambark area from which they also respawned.
For most of the game, the humans were having a fair bit of trouble. They were largely unable to get close enough to the king to start getting hits, and also lost a lot of their lives. Much of this was due to the king moving back and forth quite far away from the tambark, and the consistent pressure and numbers of the horde also reducing the chance of any flanking maneuvers working. The sheer number of zombies was too much for anything but the entire human force to push through, and even then any tanks were quite a threat if the humans were close together. I feel like the king's constant movement was a a factor in the humans not being able to get close enough, as he generally stayed in areas far behind the bulk of the horde, and was constantly moving behind areas where humans were just recently tagged. As such and also thanks to the chaos of the game, it was harder for the humans to pinpoint the king at any one time.
However late in the game, with the humans low on lives and the king untouched, the admin implemented a restriction for the king, forcing him to stay near a specific tree. While this contributed somewhat to his demise, I feel that a change in zombie tactics was the ultimate reason that the king fell.
When the humans grouped up and rallied for another offensive, the zombies spread out quite wide around the tambark area, and as such were very easily picked off by the combined firepower of the humans. Tanks were still a threat, but teamwork, firepower and grenades were enough to take care of them. With most of the horde stunned or otherwise distracted, a few of the humans were able to rush straight to the king, eliminate his royal guard tank, and dump clips (mags) into him with Rapidstrikes, thus immediately ending the game in the humans' favour.
Had the king retained his ability to move about the battlefield, I think he would have survived a little longer, but it wouldn't have changed the game's result. Since he can only walk he can't straight outrun the humans, and without any upgrades is largely non-threatening and must rely on his minions, especially tanks, for defence. Before the king was restricted in movement, the horde was split in a roughly 2:1 ratio of offensive and defensive zombies respectively, and the offensive zombies tended towards relatively large groups, making them difficult for the humans to completely stun. Even if a human was able to get past the main horde, the defensive zombies were usually enough in number to take the human down before they got too close to the king, or at least hold them off until horde reinforcements arrived. However after the king's tree restriction, the horde split into more of a (3-4):1 ratio, leaving very few zombies on defensive, and the spread out of the main horde made the zombies very vulnerable as a whole, resulting in the aforementioned situation of the zombies getting annihilated.
Zombie King is a fairly decent game that's different from the regular HvZ games, had it not been for the very poor zombie tactics at the end I think it would have ended much more competitively.

This event was pretty fun, I'd say a little more fun than the previous round as I had a better understanding of what was going on, and the Blind Bomber and Three Squares games ran much more competitively, which always makes games more enjoyable.

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