Monthly March game with MHvZ. I had to leave a little earlier than usual but saw more than enough action.
- 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.
- 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 turn into a regular zombie. Additionally, if a human hits another human, the hit human is stunned for 25 seconds. If the humans protect the VIP for a given period of time (we used 15 minutes), the humans win. If the zombies successfully tag the VIP, the zombies win. Zombie upgrades are unlocked on a timer like Survival, something along the lines of 3 minutes for Infectors, 6 minutes for Tanks and 10 minutes for Husk (I don’t think we used those exact numbers).
- 6 Round Pair Sweep – Each player is given 6 darts to start with, and may take any number of blasters or a single melee weapon. Humans have 3 respawns at the nearest tree, and go to respawn when they are hit. A melee hit or a zombie tag immediately turns a human into a zombie. Humans try to deposit as many darts to a dart collector as possible and are safe during the depositing, and can no longer deposit darts as a zombie. The only change is that humans now work in pairs instead alone. Once all humans have been turned, the game ends and the winner is the pair who deposited the most darts as humans.
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 with 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 ranged attack, in this case a handbag full of throwable rubber hands and feet. A ranged Husk attack counts as a regular tag. Husk ammo can be picked up by any zombie, but can only be used by the Husk naturally.
Zombie upgrades can be stacked in some games, so for instance a player could take both a pool noodle and a shield.
If in play, grenades can stun a zombie with a hit to any equipment, including swords and shields, and can be reused at will, though in some gametypes special grenade replenishing rules are in place.
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.
Rebelle Sweet Revenge (light mods) – my standard dual pistols, worked well when I went to them against several zombies, but easily overwhelmed by more than ~4.
Star Wars Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster (upgrade spring) – with the FVJ fix I implemented before the previous MLF, it worked excellently. Switching to 12 clips (mags) helped substantially, as did switching stocks to the shorter one that comes with the blaster. It’s replaced the EAT as my main springer as it feels more solid to me and I think looks far cooler.
Elite Rapidstrike (various motors, LiPos) – as usual, the best close quarters point defence blaster around. Somewhat poor accuracy compared to most other things makes them rather ineffective at long range, but raw dart output allows tearing apart hordes at close range.
ZS Slingfire (upgrade spring) – a few internal issues greatly inhibited its abilities, and it would have worked decently well if not for that. The upgrade spring would give it pretty good range, and although one-hand priming is substantially harder. Not as good overall as say an EAT, but quite fun to use and more than good enough for casual HvZ-ing.
Elite Alpha Trooper/Rampage (unknown mods, assumed spring) – standard all round blasters that make for excellent entry level blasters. Pump action allows for decent ROF – nowhere near a flywheeler but more than enough for a newbie against a couple of zombies. Decent power is more than usable in a HvZ game.
Elite Stryfe (various motors, LiPos) – effectively mini-Rapidstrikes with a slightly lower ROF. Accuracy seems to be better with them, but I have no actual evidence to back that up. The significantly smaller size and lower weight makes them a lot easier to handle, and the lower ROF is generally not an issue for more experienced users.
Rival Zeus (stock) – was nice to finally see a Rival blaster in person. Since this is my first experience with a Zeus, I thought I’d put a few notes on what I thought of it. It handles decently well, decent handle and stock length along with most of the weight in the rear make it relatively easy to point and turn. The reload is ridiculously awkward and annoying, it would take a lot of practice to get used to, and even then it’s a very poor reload. In terms of actual firing, the Zeus does well, very good maximum range and good initial velocity. However, because it fires spinning balls, the velocity drops massively after about 10m, so for the rest of the range (which is probably a good 20m or more), the ball pretty much floats and is super easy to dodge. Accuracy is excellent even at full range, but the very low velocity at that range makes it irrelevant. I also had issues trying to rapid fire it. The balls were smaller than I expected, but felt about what I thought they would.
Overall while the Zeus does get very good ranges for a stock blaster, you just can’t hit anyone who’s even the slightest bit aware at that range. In the ranges in which a stock Zeus is effective, you might as well just use a standard modded dart blaster like an EAT, and that will give you better capacity, reloading, ROF and ammo compatability.
Modulus Recon MkII (AR removed) – worked as you would expect a stock Retal pistol to work, nothing special or interesting really. I just included it here because it’s the first time I’ve seen one in action, and I thought it looked quite cool. I wasn’t interested in one before, but I might pick one up now.
Same play area as with all MHvZs, a reasonably large triangular area that’s mostly open. Weather wasn’t an issue, temperature was around 25 degrees C with cloud cover. Player count was a little lower than usual, peaking just below 20 I think. More than enough for some good games, but HvZ is always more fun with more people. A number of today’s players seemed to be inexperienced with HvZ, it certainly seemed like more newbies today than usual.
We started off with a Survival round as per usual. It went pretty much as expected up until the zombies had tagged about 3 humans. The bulk of the newbie humans stuck together and generally kept movement to a minimum, combating zombies in one particular area in the far north of the area. While this meant that one side was automatically covered by the northern border of the play area, they became surrounded by zombies on all other sides. Eventually some of the humans (including me) split off from the group to escape the ever closing box of zombies, and the subsequent poor human coordination resulted in several humans getting tagged.
While the humans generally tried to stay around the higher up north end, the number of zombies made defending an area pretty much unfeasible. Unlike the previous event, I didn’t really stick with any particular human group, and overall the humans didn’t work all that well together. As a result, the Survival round ended rather quickly, and I was the last survivor.
The lack of human coordination was easily the biggest weakness later in the game. A lot of humans panicked when getting charged by zombies, and generally poor awareness let zombies occasionally pick off a few humans before being noticed. Some humans were lost to non-Tanks, with Tanks either nowhere near or stunned – this is not typical behaviour as a group of well coordinated and sufficiently armed humans should be able to take down even a fairly large (10+ in this context) horde of non-Tanks/Husks. A lone human with a decent blaster (and experience with said blaster) should be able to fend off around 4 regular/Infector zombies without too much trouble.
One possible contributor to the unusually fast downfall of the humans was the different Husk. Usually the Husk is armed with a Titan with a single rocket – a ranged attack that is very easy to dodge, very easy to see and extremely slow firing. In this event, the Husk is armed with throwable hands and feet. Although they have awful aerodynamics and thus have worse consistency and accuracy than a good rocket, the ability to rapidly throw many hands and feet is massive. In HvZ, most humans generally don’t bother firing at zombies unless they’re 10 metres away or closer. At this range, humans are completely safe from regular/Infector zombies, and although the Husk can reach them, having only a single shot (and having a very long time between shots) makes them mostly a non-threat. The Husk being armed with hands and feet can constantly attack the humans from ~10m away – they’re close enough that thrown hands and feet can easily reach the humans, and the ability to keep throwing means the humans have to be constantly watching the husk, ready to dodge. This naturally makes the humans far more vulnerable to zombie charges, especially Tanks.
Conversely, any zombie charges are made far more threatening from the fact that they can distract human attention away from the Husk, who can then throw at will with a much lower chance of humans dodging. In most events, the Husk usually gets very few tags, and often those tags could have been achieved by an ordinary zombie a couple seconds later. In this event, I saw a lot of Husk tags (by a lot, I mean at least 3, which is a lot for a Husk in a single round), and they were often tags on humans who were in combat with, but otherwise would likely have fended off, several other zombies. Furthermore, the Husk would on occasion achieve multiple tags in quick succession – something that a Titan Husk could not do.
This hands and feet Husk is far more dangerous than a Titan Husk, and in my opinion substantially changes the human-zombie dynamic. Previously, Tanks were the only zombie who could threaten a lone human in small zombie numbers – regular, Infectors and the Titan Husk are basically useless alone or even in a small group against an experienced, well armed human. A hands and feet Husk backed up by even a few non-Tanks is far more effective than usual because the Husk can repeatedly pelt away at the human while the other zombies charge/distract/get stunned/whatever.
We played a number of Secret VIP rounds, I think around 4. Overall I think they worked quite well as a secondary gametype.
The first round ended very early by complete chance. The Traitor revealed themselves early, stunning nearby humans and then using their Traitor tag on the nearest human – who turned out to be the VIP! There was nothing that the humans could have done really, and it’s highly unlikely that a Traitor would get tag VIP through pure luck. We all had a good laugh about the situation, then went to play another round.
The second and third rounds lasted nearly the full time limit, with the zombies usually being able to pick off a few humans, but typically not make significant progress until the Traitor revealed themselves and attacked. In both of these rounds, the Traitor usually opened fire on the humans but didn’t use their Traitor tag. While they may not have been able to get the VIP themselves, the distraction and overall chaos introduced by the Traitor allowed the zombies to pick off the VIP somewhere. In both cases I was usually nowhere near the Traitor, and didn’t see the VIP get tagged either time. After one of the rounds I asked another player who the VIP was, and was answered with “I don’t know, but he’s dead”. Since the VIP and Traitor are picked by an admin who does not participate in the game, the admin will declare when the game is over if the VIP does not, so I ended up not knowing who the VIP was half the time.
In the final round, I was the Traitor. For the most part, the humans performed very well – they were always alert and lost very few of their number. I had a suspicion of who the VIP was, but chose instead to just take the General. This was perhaps a huge mistake, but it was a good experience as I hadn’t played a round of VIP where the Traitor had taken the General before. I also chose not to fire at the humans and risk not being able to use my tag. This was perhaps also a mistake as the zombies were never able to make any serious inroads into the human defences at any point, even with Tanks and the Husk. In previous rounds, the Traitor often plays a key role in breaking the human defences when they are at their most distracted. I am an especially poor Traitor, I don’t like turning on the human group and firing on them, and I’m very poor at recognising the best situations to do so.
Taking the General allows everyone to know who the VIP is – the General tells the zombies, while the VIP is free to reveal themself to ensure protection. This takes away one of the only advantages the zombies have, in that the humans are now free to trust one another and no longer need to keep an eye on other shifty humans. In all honesty, revealing the VIP’s identity to everyone is not particularly beneficial to the zombies (unless the Traitor is still in the human group of course), as the zombies will take any humans they can tag, and any humans they do get will just make getting the VIP easier.
Another possible contributor to my hesitance was the introduction of new grenade rules. In the final round, the grenade was reintroduced as a human weapon that turns a human into a zombie (on top of regular anti-zombie abilities). The grenade is the counter to the Traitor, as without the grenade, the threat of the Traitor is not neutralised until they tag someone – a Traitor could choose to stay as a turncoat human and just keep blasting the other humans, and there’s no way to permanently stop them. The grenade allows forcing the Traitor into a zombie without the Traitor tagging someone. The grenade starts with the General, the only completely trustworthy human.
The overall combination of better human defence, me being an awful Traitor and the new grenade in play allowed the humans to win quite easily – something very rare for Secret VIP.
Something else to note is that the shields that the Tanks used were substantially smaller than usual – they covered the entire torso and arms, but left the legs exposed. These Tanks are far, far less intimidating to go up against, and are far easier to deal with in 1v1. As a human, all you need to do is go for the legs – even if you don’t hit them, they’re forced to dodge or block, both of which force them onto the defensive and stop them from charging. With the full body shields that are normally used, a lone human has almost no chance against a Tank.
The last round I played was a 6 Round Pair Sweep, and I think it worked very well. In regular 6 Round Sweep, the humans trying to pick up darts tend to avoid each other, and this tends to leave around darts that people didn’t notice as they were too worried about survival. Additionally, everyone is on edge and always looking around in case someone is trying to sneak up on them, thus reducing their dart pickup effectiveness. Having a partner not only doubles your maximum dart retrieval speed, but also allows one partner to focus purely on picking up darts without worrying about getting snuck up on. This results in a much faster and much more efficient dart pickup overall – I think we picked up more darts in about 2/3rds of the time compared to regular 6 Round Sweep.
Pair Sweep also makes it harder for those humans who just like to attack other humans, as they now have to contend with two humans instead of just one. This helps the dart pickup aspect of the game a lot, as there have been times in regular 6 Round Sweep where I have had to abandon a patch of darts due to attacking humans who I don’t want to engage.
I would like to see more Secret VIP games with the anti-Traitor grenade in play where I am not the Traitor – thus far the humans have lost the majority of rounds, often due to the Traitor being unstoppable, and only stunnable. I think 6 Round Pair Sweep works far better than regular 6 Round Sweep as a pickup game, and would like to see Pair Sweep as the default pickup game.
A link to the same post on my own blog: link