Two of the purposes of this article are to make the zombie strategies discussed by the legendary commander Chev more readily available and to make mention of certain aspects of Zombie strategy here at OSU that Chev was not familiar with. My main hope, however, is that zombie leaders both past and future (not just Commanders) will use this page as a hub of zombie tactics and knowledge so that the Horde is constantly improving. Also, I want players both human and zombie who read this to really pay attention to what Chev says about becoming a zombie: the game does not end once you are tagged. That is probably the most important thing to take away from this and I hope recently tagged humans remember this so they can start nomming brains as quickly as possible :).
II. Zombie Basics
A. Being Stunned
C. The Approach
D. The Lunge
E. Further Points on Hunting
F. The Human Arsenal
a. The Maverick
b. The Recon
c. The Nitefinder
d. The Spectre
e. The Barricade
a. The Longshot
b. The Raider
c. The Alpha Trooper
d. The Firefly
e. The Furyfire
f. The Longstrike
a. The Rapidfire 20
b. The Magstrike
c. The Vulcan
d. The Stampede
b. Socks : (
III. Small Group Tactics
A. The Charge
B. The Encirclement
C. The Ambush
D. The Siege
IV. The Horde
A. Organizing the Horde
B. Leading the Horde
C. Horde Strategy
D. Horde Weaknesses
V. Stories and examples
A. Fall ‘08
B. Spring ‘09
C. Fall ‘09
D. Spring ‘10
E. Fall ‘10
VI. Ohio State Variations
A. A Note on Columns
B. Brood Mothers
INTRODUCTION: SO, YOU WANNA BE A ZOMBIE?
Zombies are, sadly, a rare breed here on the forums. The Equipment and Arms section is the most active board by far. Guides and tips on how to stay alive abound, but the fine art of stalking armed and paranoid humans has sadly been neglected. Oh, sure, there’s the occasional brief collection of tips, there’s Prez’s excellent Art of Zombie Warfare (a fine manual on how to ideally organize a horde). But there is a shortage of practical guides based on experience dedicated to teaching you everything about being a zombie – from the lowliest cannonfodder to the Overmind of the entire horde. In this modest little work I have attempted to rectify it.
“Ah, but Chev, who are we to listen to you?” you are probably asking. Perfectly fair. So, a bit about myself to establish my credentials. I am the Chevalier Mal Fet, the Ill-Made Knight in English. I have played in five full games at Truman State University, one Invitational at Ball State, and innumerable little abridged games and skirmishes. And, more than anything else, the tactical side of the game has fascinated me the most, especially the hard-hitting, aggressive style of the zombies. What started as a few minor strategic suggestions in my freshmen days led to me largely leading Truman’s horde by my third game, which position I have held until the present day. But we must all move on, and much as I enjoy the art and joy of directing zombies into battle, the time has come for me to leave the Horde to itself. But this first is my legacy to them, an attempt to create a horde of scary zombies in my wake, so that humanity will know its proper place: being ground beneath the booted heal of the undead horde.
My approach has been to base this guide as much on my own experience as possible. Any tactic or strategy I advocate has been tested in the field and has worked. All my basic day-to-day zombie tips may not make on the best zombie, but they will make you a competent one. They were learned through hard experience in the mud and rain of Truman’s campus. Wherever I have wandered into theory or speculation, I’ve done my best to tell you so and so remember to take my advice with a grain of salt.
And finally, remember: If you’re not bleeding, you’re not trying hard enough.
Let’s begin, shall we?
Post Merge: March 18, 2011, 03:10:53 am
The game does not end when you die. That was important, so I’ll repeat it: The game does not end when you die. This is perhaps the biggest problem afflicting the zombie side: players who get turned, realize that they’re not the badass protagonists single-handedly shooting their way through a zombie movie, and take their NERF and go home. Don’t do that. That’s bad.
Indeed, for many players (myself included), the zombie side is the truly fun side of the game. Nothing beats those heady first days, with scared freshmen walking around, so many juicy targets bumbling across the campus. The feeling of exultation you get as you make a glorious lunge straight into an unsuspecting human is unmatched by any pathetic zombie stun you may have gotten whilst still on the brainy side.
Now, for most of you, this won’t be a problem. You’re on the forums, after all, you’re probably a pretty enthusiastic player. But it is important that you spread the word and make it known to less hardcore players: Being a zombie is not bad! Yes, it means you’re not the hero. Deal with it. Become the villain instead. The best way to truly epic games is high participation, and that means we can’t have players quitting halfway through the damned thing because they’re upset that they “lost.” Giving up and going home is the only way to truly lose. Cheesy? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
Is that settled? Righto, let’s plunge into how to be a zombie. The first, and most important skill any zombie can have, is this: Knowing how to be stunned.
All right, all right, I can hear you now: “But Chev! Being stunned is bad! I want to avoid being stunned whenever possible! Being stunned is like the zombie version of being killed!” My response? False. Being stunned is a nonevent. It is nothing. Never keep track of how often you’ve been stunned, because it simply does not matter. Stop worrying about it. If you’re stunned 10 times for every kill you make (and this is an optimistic scenario), guess what? You still come out ahead.
That said, being stunned is everything. You should be concerned about being stunned. In fact, it is one of the most important things in the game. What I mean by this is: you must not fear being stunned. Instead, embrace it. Learn to live and breathe with it. Being stunned is, in fact, good.
“Now, wait just a minute, good sir!” you will no doubt reply. “To be stunned is to have failed! To be stunned means a human has escaped the munching due for him!” False. The second part of your statement does not proceed from the first: Just because you are stunned does not mean your target has escaped. In fact, more times than not, you being stunned may have ensured the target did not escape.
How can this be? By the simple fact that the zombie side has two, and only two, advantages over the human side:
1. Zombies cannot be killed. Only stunned.
2. There are, to use the technical phrase, a shitton of zombies.
The combination of these two advantages are the reason for almost every single kill any zombie ever makes. They’re overwhelming enough that the zombies eventually win the game. The second you all know how to exploit: Having more dudes on your side than the other guy is about as basic as it gets. But I have found that zombies often refuse to exploit their first advantage: being stunned instead of kills. And if you want to be a kickass ninja zombie, it is crucial that you take every advantage of this. Thus, it follows that any good zombie will create as many opportunities for himself to be stunned as possible.
And now I shall explain how this works.
Humans find it hard to multitask. And no matter how bigass their blaster is, no matter how many insane mods it has, no matter the fact that it’s capable of stunning zombies out to a range of approximately the entire western hemisphere, unless that bastard has found some way of crafting a NERF grenade launcher it’s still only capable of stunning one zombie at a time.
Thus, two of you, against one human, armed with a Maverick. About as simple as it gets. If you fear getting stunned, imagine how this plays out: You both dance on the edge of her range, daring her to shoot a dart so you can dodge. You harass and feint and harass, but never actually charge because, oh no, if you do, she will shoot you and stun you. And so the dance continues until she either reaches a safe zone, gets buddies to come along, or stuns each of you separately.
NOW, consider if you embrace the stun: You both charge her. She fires. You are stunned. Your partner, who was similarly fearless, slips past you and noms her before she recocks, or, far, far, far more likely, after her stupid Maverick jams. Really, two zombies beat a Maverick every time.
The key to this scenario is in the fact that you were willing to be stunned. You have to have that willingness in order to make an effective zombie. And so why I insist that being stunned does not mean you have lost! Being stunned is not bad! Being stunned is the greatest advantage you have as a zombie, and you must exploit it to the fullest to be most effective! DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TAKE STUNS.
Why do I emphasize this so much? Why have I spent more than a page drilling the need to take stuns into you? Because far, far too often, I see the opposite: Zombies who are scared to be stunned. This fear holds them back, keeps them from charging as often as they might. For example, during the Ball State Invitational, myself and a large force of humans were tasked with defending a node for something like half an hour. We were faced by a zombie force perhaps a third to half our size – certainly not capable of wiping us, but large enough to be dangerous. Furthermore, these zombies had something like two minute respawn timers.
Do the math. We should have been charged at least ten times in that half hour, full on horde rushes. We stun every zombie, so damn what? In two minutes everyone is back.
We were charged twice.
Twice. In half an hour.
The zombies were so damn afraid of being stunned that they kept trying to fall back out of range, dancing around, waiting for an opportunity. They waited for so long that we escaped without loss (although narrowly so, in my case. I was somehow tackled BOTH times. My Firefly broke after the second time. ;_;). In the entire retreat back to the assembly point, we were stalked by the entire horde – often just us in the tiny rearguard, perhaps ten at most, facing twenty or more zombies, who just plain didn’t charge.
Thus, the key difference between lame cannon fodder zombies and decent zombies is the willingness to be stunned, again, and again, and again, knowing that eventually you or someone else will get a kill from it. This is the most important trait in a zombie: Do not fear getting stunned.
Is that settled? All right then. Now let’s get to the fun stuff. Let’s find out how to kill humans!
Welcome to the Zombiehood
The basic concept of hunting is simple for anyone to grasp. Your objective is to find and preferably kill humans. If you can’t kill ‘em, then simply hampering their movements and annoying them is an acceptable fallback. It’s 90% of what you do as a zombie, so it pays to be good at it. SO! How does one become good at hunting?
There are a few simple principles. The humans are a cunning foe – they will wait around if they see any movement outside, they will take sneaky and surreptitious routes, they will move in large, impossible-to-assail packs. Your job is to be sneakier and cleverer.
The most important principle is time. You’re not going to walk out within an hour of being turned and nab six or seven humans (unless you are very, very, very lucky. No, you’re going to have to invest a lot of time to rack up those brains. For example, I will often have lucky schedules that have almost no classes on Friday. Thus, I’ll spend almost all day Friday outside, hunting. This is the way to get kills! You won’t be winning the war sitting cooped up in your dorm room, waiting for a mission email – get out there and play! Hours of wandering in circles around the campus may not sound like much fun – but you’d be surprised. Your undead buddies provide a great source of entertainment, as you bond with your horde. And there is nothing like the thrill of a sweet, successful kill after a long, slow, patient stalk. But none of that will happen if you do not invest time in being a zombie. Be out at all hours. Be out when you think no one else is out – because I guarantee you the humans think the same thing. Be a nasty surprise in the darkness for them.
If the first important principle is knowing when to hunt (namely, all the time), the second important principle is to know where to hunt. Campuses will often have high –traffic areas for humans, places where their movement is restricted to a specific location, narrow chokepoints on the routes between buildings. Know them! It may be a courtyard between two big academic buildings – most smart humans will avoid that like horrendously clichéd analogies, but you’d be surprised how many dumb humans there are – it may be a bridge connecting two halves of campus, it may be an isolated academic building with only a narrow route. Haunt these areas at key moments, such as immediately before and after passing periods (when most humans make their move). The meat will be plentiful.
The final principle in good hunting is numbers. A lone zombie is almost worthless except as a source of intelligence. Any human worth killing will easily stun it. Now, three or four zombies is a tough obstacle to any player. A pack of ten can lock down any location to all human movement except for big escort groups – and it will threaten even them.
Don’t be a loner – no, not even if you’re setting up an ambush. An ambush with multiple zombies coming in from different angles has a far better chance to succeed than one zombie bursting from cover. One zombie may nab a human or two. Multiple zombies can scoop up the whole group.
So work with your allies, listen to your leaders, and be cooperative and willing to share the glory. Always remember it does not matter if you specifically get the kills – as long as the Horde grows your objective is achieved, and rest assured, people will not forget your contribution. One of the most beloved zombies at Truman has only ever registered one kill herself, but she has been an amazing distraction zombie in numberless ambushes and skirmishes. There is no shame in being a distraction zombie. Numbers kill humans. Be willing to give up some of the glory and work with your allies and you will be a much more effective zombie.
So you’ve found the unfortunate souls that are destined to be your dinner. Now you need to get close. But how? The approach is perhaps the most basic of all the skills you’ll need to practice as a zombie, but it is nevertheless crucial, for it will precede almost all your kills.
Your objective during your approach is to get as close as possible to your mark without being stunned, close enough to kill. It’s that simple, but it is by no means easy.
The overriding concern is to not be hit by the oncoming fire. There are essentially three ways you can achieve this. What are they?
The first is an approach by stealth. If the humans don’t see you, they can’t stun you. Now, there are in essence two ways to make a stealthy approach. You can move in concealment and silence towards the humans, hoping to spring upon them before they notice you. This is the more difficult of the two. Slightly easier is to scout a good hiding spot ahead of their route and wait for them to come to you. When they pass within lunge range, you burst out and gobble ‘em up. Good hiding spots include the inside of doors (many of my favorite kills have come by bursting out of doors at surprised humans who thought they were home free), out of trees, from behind bushes, walls, parked cars, and even crowds of nonplayers. Do exercise discretion and keep in mind the rules of the game at your school, but rest assured – no matter how restrictive your ruleset there’s always some good hiding spots scattered around.
If you attempt the moving stealth approach, it is imperative that you move quietly. The best zombies can move in almost a full sprint without making a sound. Wait for a distraction, then go, without hesitation. Commit to the charge – a second’s delay will betray you. This type of approach needs split-second timing to work.
But let us suppose the prey has spotted you. A stealthy approach is out. You might resort to the second way – the dodge. Dodge, duck, dip, dive, or dodge – it doesn’t matter. In this method all that matters is avoiding the dart.
Come at the humans at full speed. Give them only a few seconds to shoot at you. If they’re clever, they’ll hold their shots to the last second, almost guaranteeing a hit. There’s not much you can do about that, but you can try to improve your odds – a slide-tackle, for example, over those last crucial meters makes you incredibly more difficult to hit and keeps your forward momentum towards your target. A dive achieves almost the same effect, but is slightly easier to pull off. I even know of some zombies who have pulled complete forward flips in front of their meals, vaulting over the shocked humans’ futile shots to come down into a delicious brain munching mess.
The dodge is probably the most difficult approach to pull off, and is certainly the least successful. You’ll get stunned, and often, but sometimes it’s your only option. It works best if the human is being chased by zombies behind them towards you – then your dodge is often all it takes to carry them right into your waiting undead arms.
The mention of other zombies brings us to the final, and most common, method of approach: Numbers. In this approach either you or other zombie serve as cover for zombies behind. The humans know the zombies are coming, so stealth is out – but the meatshields in front obviate the need for dodging on the part of the zombies in back. This is also the most common method for approaching large groups of humans (indeed, it is almost the only effective way to do it. But we’ll get to that).
Now, the way the multiple zombie approach works is that it makes it impossible for the humans to target you. Obviously. But there are more ways than one to do that. A favorite way is a pincer strike – one zombie from each direction means he can only blast one of you at a time. If the meat is smart at all he’ll rush one of you to stun you before your buddy gets him from behind – which is when you break out that dodge you’ve been working on.
Only three basic approaches may seem like too few, but there are infinite adaptations and variations for you to try. But almost all break down into one of those three fundamental categories. Pick one and master it, and you’ll already be well on your way to becoming a scary zombie.
This is it. The moment of truth. Everything prior to this has been nothing more to build up to this point, the end-all and be-all of a zombie: Your lunge and the hoped-for death of the human on the other end of it.
Honestly, after all the build-up, the lunge really is surprisingly simple. If you have managed to make it to this point without being stunned, the human’s chances of survival are at best 50%. But, as always, there are ways to improve those odds.
If you’ve reached the point where you lunge, your target is in deep shit. He has at best one shot to stun you, then you’re nomming him. Your task is thus to make sure that that one shot misses while you still tag him (I have dodged socks before only to have my dodge carry me out of reach of the meat, which subsequently escaped).
Really, the best thing you can do at this point is pick a direction: left, right, up, or down. Dodge in that direction and hope the human picked a different one to shoot at. The odds are in your favor that he’ll guess wrong. Any left or right dodge is in essence a simple sidestep. It’s difficult to get a large enough dodge in this direction while still remaining in reach of the human and keeping your forward momentum. Some zombies can pull it off, but not I.
My favorite direction is down: the classic zombie dive. As you close within ten feet or so of your prey, you dip your head and catapult yourself forward at the hapless human. Three out of four times their final panicked shot will sail harmlessly over your head while you take ‘em out at the knees. Nommed. It’s the easiest maneuver to pull while still keeping your forward momentum, and even if you’re stunned, often times that momentum will still lead to the death of a human – I’ve been stunned in mid-dive on numerous occasions and, unable to stop, been carried into the knees of the human who was subsequently nommed, horribly. BUT – this is important, listen up – never, ever, deliberately trip a human after you’ve been stunned. That’s a dick move and almost certainly cheating. The beauty of the dive is, provided you initiate it before the stun, you have no choice but to carry it through.
And that’s really it. If you can find your prey, get close to them without being stunned, then chances are your lunge will be successful. You’ll still be stunned more often than not, but remember, being stunned is a good thing! And the simple number of lunges you’ll be making ensures that double digit kills are an easily attainable possibility.
Further Points on Hunting
Just a few more minor points need to be made regarding hunting.
When roving around campus looking for trouble: If humans see you outside, it is highly unlikely that they will come out to play. The stinking cowards are far more likely to seek another door, or, even more likely, just stay inside for a few hours (unless they have no choice). Often times it’s useless to waste your time on a siege during hunting – while you’re pinned down in one place humans are moving in other locations! Go find them. Kill them. Eat them.
Rather, it’s usually a much better use of your time to roam around constantly. Only haunt specific locales during particular high-traffic periods, like a much-crossed courtyard during passing period. Otherwise, wander (or “zomble,” the proper verb for such activity) around. Chances are more than likely you’ll stumble across some unfortunate souls in the open.
Balance your aggression and your timidity. While it’s never kosher to let humans have a free pass,that does not mean that it’s always best to charge right away. Learn to pick your moment, when not to approach. Perhaps more zombies are around the corner. Perhaps the targets will walk through a zone good for ambushing if you just hold off for a few minutes. Perhaps making a useless charge here will leave you stunned for another encounter that would take place in 8 minutes. Becoming a truly great zombie depends on learning to recognize the moments when it’s right not to charge and act accordingly.
Know Thine Enemy: the Human Arsenal
If you think of Humans vs. Zombies as a video game, imagine the Maverick to be your basic, starter enemy: You’ll see it earliest, and in the greatest numbers, but it’s also embarrassingly easy to beat.
The Maverick is cheap and offers a good amount of shots without reloading. As such, it’s a favorite weapon of newbie humans. However, it has an unfortunate tendency to jam when mishandled, as newbies are wont to do, and thus it is also a favorite weapon of newbie zombies.
If there’s two or more of you, easy. The first one in takes the shot and the follow-up zombie kills the human when it inevitably jams. If you’re by yourself, still pretty straightforward. Rush them, get them to panic, dodge the first shot, and then nom them when the blaster inevitably jams. Mavericks are easy. I love Mavericks. 100% of the humans I ran into who were carrying Mavericks died. Horribly.
The Recon is your other basic starting blaster. While common, it is not nearly so widespread as the Maverick. This is a good thing, because the Recon is a better blaster in almost every way. Using a clip-fed rather than a rotating barrel system, it offers six shots and a quick reload to its wielder. That means you’re unlikely to be able to depend on them running out ammo. It does jam on occasion, but far less often than the Maverick. It’s also fairly accurate and with a decent rate of fire.
That said, it’s still fairly easy to beat. The blaster cannot be slam fired and so you won’t have an insurmountable volume of darts coming at you. If you can get close enough, after you dodge the first shot you’ll likely have a decent chance to score a tag. This blaster can be tackled by a single zombie.
Of all the pistols, one of the most formidable, but also highly specialized, the Nitefinder is the closest NERF comes to a sniper rifle. When modded it can get insane ranges, and the darts move fast. The biggest weakness is its single-shot, muzzle-loading mechanism; two zombies have an easier time with this blaster than almost any other. However, it can be modded into a speed-loading pistol, removing even that weakness.
With the Nitefinder, speed is especially important. If you can dodge that first shot – the most important part of any kill – you need to get within range, fast. A useful technique is to try to tempt the human into taking his shot from farther off than he should – the added range and accuracy of the Nitefinder will give him rightly more confidence that this is a viable option. The farther out he takes his shot, the easier it will be to dodge – but correspondingly you’ll need more time to rush up to him before he reloads. You know your own individual skills, find a good balance between the two.
I hate Nitefinders.
I haven’t actually faced this blaster in the field much, but it certainly sounds intimidating. One less shot than a Maverick is more than made up for by the Spectre’s massively increased reliability. No depending on jams from this blaster – you’ll have to be good with your dodges to get past it. It may be similar to a Recon in performance, considering the number of shots it can fire without reloading, yet plenty of people run with Recons as their primaries whilst this blaster is almost always a secondary. Nevertheless, I would likely come at it the same way I would a Recon. A weakness it has that the Recon does not is the barrel-loading mechanism – if you can tempt 5 shots out of the human your job will become much easier.
Another blaster I’ve never faced in the field, the Barricade looks intimidating on paper. Semi-automatic ten-shot pistol? That’s a lot of darts in a small space of time, allowing the human to throw up a veritable wall of foam against any individual attempts at killing him. But always remember: You’re playing against the player, not the blaster. His massive firepower will likely render him overconfident, more cocky than he otherwise would have been – that’s your best bet. Take him by surprise, lure him into a dangerous situation, get him from behind – all these methods will be slightly easier with him confident in that shiny big pistol on his hip, and they’re certainly preferable to a frontal assault in this instance.
That said, you could just mob him and bet that he doesn’t keep count of his shots in the intensity, then nom him when his ammo clicks dry. Lots of zombies are preferable for this blaster.
We’re now moving into the realm of primaries, the blasters people like to tote with them on missions and other larger-scale encounters. Nevertheless, my advice will still be geared towards individual skirmishes, since in a group charge the blasters don’t matter – you’re going to charge charge charge anyways.
Now, the Longshot is probably the most common primary out there, and it certainly deserves it. Using the same clip-system as the Recon, it fires six darts quite accurately and powerfully at any zeds that get close. No good depending on jams – not nearly common enough for you to reliably get kills off of them. No, the Longshot’s biggest weakness is its awkward cocking mechanism, a bolt on the side of the blaster that must be pulled back and forth to prime another shot. That’s your window of opportunity – dodge the first shot (as always) and then go for it. The length of the blaster is also handy for gun tags, if your school allows those.
A single zombie can beat this blaster.
After the Longshot and the Recon, this is one of the most widely-used primaries, and it’s not hard to see way. Boasting a 35-shot drum barrel and a slam-fire mechanism, the Raider, while prone to jams and misfires, nevertheless spews out more darts in less time than any other blaster. The wielder of a Raider can blanket any area in front of him with an undodgeable wall of foam. As an individual zombie, it’ll probably be your most hated blaster.
Your best bet is numbers – it’s virtually impossible for one zombie to dodge 35 slam-fired shots at close range. Swarm him and come at him from multiple directions – every Raider user I’ve killed has been looking another direction. They can only shoot one way at once, after all. Fighting one by yourself is very difficult. Stay at the edge of his range and slowly tempt the shots out of him, where you can dodge them. If you see a distraction, any opportunity, go for it. It’s probably the best chance you’ll get.
Obviously multiple zombies are preferable.
Similar to the Raider, although it only has an 18-shot drum, the Alpha Trooper has better ranges and reliability than the Raider, making it extremely annoying. Use the same tactics as you would a Raider: Numbers and multiple angles. Everyone charging in a straight line at a kiting human WILL be stunned if you don’t come in from multiple sides – I’ve seen 30 zombies go down to a single human this way. Don’t be that stupid.
The Firefly is what the Maverick should have been. A compact blaster firing 8 darts out of a rotating barrel, it does not jam and its range is excellent. While not commonly used as a primary, the Firefly is one of the best close-quarters blasters around: its power means it is extremely difficult to dodge at close range, the 8 shots are more than enough for most individual encounters, and you can’t rely on it jamming.
Its biggest weakness is its small ammo supply. 8 shots is enough for a small skirmish, but in any larger encounters it will swiftly run dry (the Firefly is my primary; most of my deaths have come in missions when I ran out of ammo during a group charge. I still swear by it, though). Since dodging is difficult, it’s best to try and take this one from behind. One zombie can beat this blaster, but it’s tough – better to have a group.
Another souped-up Maverick, the Furyfire is small, concealable, and boasts 10 shots in a barrel turret with a shotgun-priming mechanism. It’s annoying, but out of the box its range is very weak. Furthermore, the mechanism of turret rotation often leads to darts slightly falling out of the barrels – not enough to drop them entirely, but enough for them to jam the rotation. While in the hands of a skilled user the Furyfire can be dangerous, its weaknesses make it easy for a skilled zombie to defeat: Provoke panic in the human and dodge the weakly-fired darts, then nom them as they either miss or jam, if you’re lucky. One zombie can take this one.
I haven’t seen this blaster used often in the field, but I believe it’s simply a reskinned Longshot, correct? If so, then come at it like you would a Longshot and you’ll be fine.
The first of the automatic blasters, the Rapidfire-20 is a decent enough weapon. While a bit unwieldy, the ability to shoot 20 darts without reloading or indeed recocking is a tremendous boon. Now, the darts come out at varying speeds, meaning some are easier to dodge than others. If the human is dumb, you may be able to tempt him into blowing his load all at once, leaving him weak and vulnerable as you swoop in for the kill. Smarter ones will pick their shots, leaving you no gaps to try to lunge into.
While tricky, it’s certainly still manageable. Even so, more zombies are better on this one.
Not nearly as common as the Rapidfire-20, at least ‘round these parts, the Magstrike’s smaller magazine and similar performance characteristics make this blaster similar to the RF20 but easier to defeat: Only half has many darts to dodge. Still want lots of zombies, though.
When the Vulcan came out, all zombies everywhere were intimidated. They really oughtn’t to have been; the Vulcan is good only for repulsing group charges and it’s very rare that the humans actually have it in an ideal position for such work. Even then, your charge ought to be overwhelming enough that an extra automatic blaster won’t make any difference. Raiders are your enemy, Vulcans are gigantic “FREE DINNER” signs.
In an individual skirmish, the Vulcan has a number of weaknesses. A)It needs to be turned on. It’s entirely possible that your prey will have forgotten to do this (true story). B)It’s awkward and unwieldy, making it difficult to turn quickly. Come at him from two sides and he’ll not have a chance. C)The darts come out at a highly predictable rate and speed. This blaster and the Stampede are pathetically easy to dodge – I’ve never been hit by a Vulcan.
The Vulcan, if used properly, can be intimidating, but it almost never is. The Vulcans you see the happier you should be.
Essentially the Vulcan in assault rifle form rather than an LMG, the Stampede has most of the same weaknesses. It’s easier to maneuver, which is annoying, but it has the same easily dodgeable firing rate as the Vulcan. It’s slightly more difficult to approach but still nothing to be afraid of – in fact, people wielding these blasters are easier to kill, since their fancy-schamcy automaticness breeds overconfidence. This is another blaster that makes me happy.
NOTE: The Stampede’s darts are very, very weak coming out of the variable. It’s entirely possible you could be hit half a dozen times and never feel it in the adrenaline. Such has happened to me before. If you’re facing a human with this blaster, it’s best to take them at their word that they hit you. Don’t be a dick.
Fuck blowguns. If humans are engaging you from that far away you’re doing it wrong. Besides, they’re not allowed at this school so I have literally no experience in how to deal with one, and as this guide is meant to be a practical one based on experience I’ll not get into fancy theorizing.
Socks are terrifying. They never jam. They never run out of ammo. They can go in any direction. And they are almost impossible to dodge at the ranges they’re thrown at. A sock ninja is almost invincible – he has to be either really unlucky or really stupid to get killed.
A good human who knows how to handle his socks is very, very difficult to kill. He’ll be fast – only a few zombies can get close to him. He’ll be good with his socks – otherwise he’d be using a blaster. That means those few are very likely to be stunned. If he’s smart, he’ll never get pinned down or surrounded. Your only hope is numbers, overwhelming numbers and hope to trap him against a wall somewhere. His speed is his life. Remove his advantage of speed and you’ve killed him. This is exceedingly difficult to do.
A bad human who has no idea what he’s doing dies easily. You don’t need my help with him.
Hunting and Killing Summed Up:
Know where to find your targets. Be cunning in how you approach them, and be sure to have mastered a good zombie lunge. Know what type of blaster you’re facing and adapt accordingly. Each encounter is different, and you are at a disadvantage as a zombie. Adjust it so that you pit your strengths against their weaknesses, keep at it, and eventually those kills will add up.
Post Merge: March 18, 2011, 03:11:17 am
HORDE RUSH KEKEKE: Small Group Tactics
So with any luck by now you are a competent and effective zombie. A good zombie is not afraid to take stuns, knows where and when to hunt for humans, is clever in his approach, and is capable of intimidating zombie dives and dodges. Preferably every zombie should master these skills, but that is a pipe dream, alas. Still, if even 1 in 10 zombies are capable of these things, your horde will be a thing to be feared. Now let’s learn what to do with the other 9 zombies hanging out with you.
The charge is the most basic of all zombie tactics, and, along with the encirclement, will form the basis of most maneuvers you can attempt. Most zombie squads, however, never even master this simplest of attacks.
In essence, a charge is hurling yourself, along with your undead brethren, full tilt at the human ranks. The idea is to cross the distance as quickly as possible to minimize their time to blast you before rampaging around in close quarters. It sounds simple, but in practice it turns out to be anything but. Zombies don’t want to be in front, where they’re almost certain to be stunned (hopefully we’ve cured that). They shy away from darts, breaking their momentum, hampering their fellows. They won’t all charge at once, but go in piecemeal, easily picked off. Nothing is more frustrating than watching a poorly-executed charge. They’re heartbreaking missed opportunities.
A proper charge is simple. Just make sure everyone understands these key principles: Do not stop. Do not hesitate. Do not break your forward momentum. Every step must carry you closer to the humans, or your charge will fail.
A well-executed zombie charge picks out one section of the human line – not the center, not spread out all over the line, but one section – and hammers it. All the zombies SHOULD be stunned, but in the confusion the humans at the point of impact will almost all be nommed. Failed charges often dissipate their strength attempting to target all points along a human line, or with zombies shying away from darts and getting in each other’s way, making them linger in the killzone and preventing kills. You need to be a shock force. A zombie charge batters its way into human lines, you don’t finesse or dodge your way there.
Once your group has mastered the basic charge, you’ll be a threat to all human groups your size or smaller. With improved tactics and timing, you can be dangerous even to much larger groups. At Truman 15 zombies once charged twice their number of humans – good, experienced, tough humans – and managed to pick off two or three, when every zombie should have easily been stunned miles short of their goal. Such is the power of a well-executed charge.
At its most primitive, the charge takes the form of a zombie column. Favored in the earliest days of the Horde, the zombies would line up in a column three or four zombies wide at the most, then hurl themselves at the humans like a battering ram. Now, in those days humans had the natural tendency to bunch up when threatened, getting as close to their fellows as possible. Nowhere was this more pronounced than at the point the column was threatening. Thus, the front few layers of zombies would be peeled away by volleys of socks and darts, and then the survivors would burst onto the human line and much noms would be had by all.
These tactics did not last long, for the humans soon got smart. They would yield the ground to the horde, dispersing away from the point of impact. The flanks of the column would be sprayed with darts while the socks rained on the center. Soon column charges would gain no kills at all.
The key problem is clear: The composition of the zombie charge needs to soak up as much human fire as possible, while still conveying the maximum number of zombies into tagging range of the humans as possible. Thus, ideally, you need a small number of zombies to absorb a maximum number of shots.
The method favored at Truman now is the two-wave charge. In essence, the first wave acts as a wall of mobile cover, moving as close to the humans as possible before they are stunned. This wave’s purpose is to draw out as much fire as possible, and so they need to make the humans scared. Yell, scream, dress up like a Celtic warrior, anything, so long as they masturbate all their Alpha Troopers’ darts into your horde. ‘coz it’s not you that’s gonna kill ‘em – it’s the second wave.
The second wave starts running mere heartbeats behind the first – no more than five seconds, maximum. They are a much more traditional column, in that they are focused: the second wave, unlike the first, is not dispersed all over the human line but homes in on one section of it. Thus, while the first wave is charged, suddenly one small group in the human line finds itself swarmed by zombies up close. Many times this method will result in the destruction of that entire section of the line, and unstunned zombies swarm up and down it in both directions, sowing havoc and panic.
And so, when you prepare your zombies for a charge, split them into two groups. The first wave is the more important one and needs the most zombies – if you don’t have enough zombies in the first wave to cover the second the entire affair becomes pointless, while even 1 zombie in the second wave is enough to net some kills. Your bigger players, your scarier players, and your slower players all should fill the ranks of this. Then, for the second, place all your small, light, and fast people, ones who can run almost silently, ones who have masterful dives. These are your killers, pick one section of the human line – the extreme right flank, the center, the entire left, it doesn’t matter, so long as all the zombies are homing in on that point. Unlike a column charge, their flanks are protected by the zombies in front. Be sure to vary the point of impact each time, assuming your first charge doesn’t break the humans (as has often happened), so as to keep them guessing.
The frontal charge is a good start, but whenever possible you should naturally attack from multiple directions. A frontal distraction charge, while the true killing charge springs from around a corner or out of a building to the rear nets the most kills. Whenever engaged with a human force, your charges are your primary attacks, which you should use to pin the humans in place (by threatening to charge) while you maneuver on their flanks with secondary groups, led by trusted zombies in radio communication.
The charge is a low-risk, low-reward strategy. If properly executed, it’s almost certain to net at least a few kills. However, it’s also easy for the humans to stop before they take too many losses. The charge will most likely be the bread and butter of your tactics, upon which all other more fancy maneuvers are built.
Encircling a human group is perhaps the best thing the Horde can ever achieve. It virtually ensures the death of all but a handful of humans in the encirclement. Naturally it is therefore one of the most difficult things for a horde to pull off.
To successfully encircle a group of humans, you’re gonna need walls. Now, walls don’t necessarily have to be things of brick and mortar. Perhaps you’ll have them completely trapped in a ring of zombies. Perhaps they’re backed into the corner of two buildings and you have zombies on the third side. Maybe they’re against a wide creek without a bridge: Regardless of how you do it, there are more ways than one to encircle a group of humans.
Now, once you have them encircled, how do you proceed? That depends on the situation, of course. When you’ve got a group of humans pinned and you’re debating the right time to attack (because of course you WILL attack), ask yourself a series of questions. What is holding the humans there? If it’s only your horde and no other reason, it may be good to hold back and wait for reinforcements, or to force the humans to attack (always easier to charge humans in motion than humans in place). If they’re where they are because they’re defending an objective, well, then you can be aggressive. Attack them again and again, get your kills while you can, ‘coz they won’t be going anywhere while you’re stunned. It depends on the situation.
When pursuing humans, even if they outnumber you, you should always try to encircle them, or at the very least send out fast zombies on the flanks. Those zombies put incredible pressure on the human rearguard, as they try to keep up with those in front while still keeping the horde back. Those in front, meanwhile, will feel the zombies nipping at their heels and will keep trying to move faster. And all the while your zombies on the sides will be harassing the humans, just looking for a gap to open up. It’s one of the most nerve-wracking situations to be in as a human, and as such you should try to create it as a zombie as often as zombiely possible.
That is the true power of the encirclement: Not against static groups, who aren’t going anywhere in any case (in those situations it’s better to have all the zombies on one side so’s they can cover each other, rather than all dispersed out), but against groups in motion, when they can slow them and harass them and maybe provoke a rout. That’s when lots and lots of humans die. Horribly.
Encirclements are medium-risk operations. Humans can often be surrounded easily enough, but you run the risk of them breaking a weak section of the ring. Often it’s better to concentrate your forces into a massive fist for charging one or two sides rather than trying to cover all the sides. Still, a successful encirclement nets a good handful of kills more than a charge, at times even wiping out human forces.
To be honest, I make little use of ambushes. They’re difficult to set up, they take a lot of discipline, and they have a spotty success rate. That said, a well-executed ambush is probably the surest way to ensure the utter annihilation of a human force. Swarmed from directions they never expected, by numbers they never planned to deal with, with zombies already in their ranks, often the humans will break and run immediately. If they run, you chase them and they die. If they stand and fight, you already have the upper hand and humans die. Never neglect the opportunity for an ambush.
So how do you tell when you have the opportunity for an ambush? Two things are necessary: A sure route the humans will likely take, and a place to hide your ambushers.
Of the two, the first is often the more difficult. Ambushes on missions are especially challenging. There are a variety of ways to ensure that the humans will walk past your favored ambush site. If there is an escort mission, or some other mission requiring a fixed path, your job just got a lot easier. Find a suitable spot along the humans’ forward path and set up. Wait for them to get fully into the killzone and then spring your trap.
Often you’re not this lucky. Hell, most of the time you’re not this lucky. Alternatively, you can try to lure the humans into your ambush with bait. This has been done with great success at Truman on occasion, but it requires ballsy humans willing to chase zombies. Your bait races through the kill zone, and the hidden zombies fall on the pursuers and turn the tables. This can be greatly effective, but requires the humans’ cooperation. Never plan on the humans cooperating.
One final way is to let someone blunder into your ambush, what I call a random ambush. A few zombies may set up on a high-traffic area and simply wait for humans to stumble by. This requires patience, but the rewards can be great. Change your spot from time to time, as the humans will eventually learn of your presence and take alternate routes. A random ambush, as opposed to a mission ambush, is more easily set up but yields consequently fewer kills.
Let’s say you’ve learned where the humans will be passing through. Now you need to find a place to hit them. You need a place to hide. It needs to be narrow, with only a few paths in or out. There needs to be plenty of concealment for your zombies – the ambush’s power is in its surprise, after all. Be creative. This could be the interior of a building, shrubbery, around a corner, behind rubbish bins, amongst parked cars – anything that covers you from the humans’ view. Many successful ambushes at Truman have involved fleeing zombies luring humans behind a building, where a full horde springs upon them.
Having concealed yourselves, you need to set up your ambush. A nice charge from every direction (a ring ambush) is most ideal, obviously, and so will naturally almost never happen. Instead, encircle as many sides as you safely can while still remaining hidden. The simplest type is what is known as an L-shaped ambush. A group of zombies waits at the edge of the killzone to stop the humans advancing out of it, whilst the larger group sets up along the flank of their intended route. When the human point reaches the edge of the killzone, with the rest strung out inside it behind them, the ambush is sprung. U shaped ambushes are even more effective and naturally even more difficult to pull off.
Ambushes are high-risk, high-reward strategies. They may yield a score of kills, or no kills. It depends on your skill in anticipating where the humans are going, in hiding your zombies, and in springing the trap once they arrive. Use them with caution, but never underestimate the utility of this maneuver.
Sieges are rarely worth it. I usually only bother with a siege if there’s a significant (10 or more) human force trapped inside a hall that they WILL have to vacate eventually, and that hall is guardable. 8 guys trapped in a dorm hall with 8 exits are not worth your time. 2 people in a science building with a dozen different doors on every side are not worth your time. 20 humans trapped in a building with only two doors that’s closing within 4 hours are worth waiting on.
The dilemma of sieges is this: To cover all the exits, you need to spread out your zombies. Trouble is, that weakens you and leaves the small groups vulnerable to all the humans rushing out at them. If you contract your forces to keep a strong horde, you leave an exit uncovered and the humans simply sneak out. Finding a balance between these two extremes is your challenge as siege commander.
My favored solution is to identify the places around the building that humans will have to pass through to reach another safe zone – perhaps 3 different doors all merely access this path over this bridge. Perhaps all the doors on this side force you to cross this parking lot. There are often no more than 4 different locations like this, a far easier proposition to guard. An added advantage of this strategy over maintaining a guard at the doors is that it encourages the humans to come outside. You need them to come out, and to get a significant space away from the doors, in order to attack. Anything else will simply chase them right back inside.
Split your forces into roughly equal groups and assign one to each location. Or, better yet, if two key points are accessible from one central area, keep most of your zombies there, in one big horde! Stick scouts on the doors, and if the humans try to sneak out, wait for them to reach the key point before descending on them like the fist of an angry god.
By concentrating your zombies at a few key points that the humans have to pass through, you achieve several things. You keep your forces from dispersing and your numerical advantage from dissipating. You encourage the humans to come outside, since it seems the zombies are some distance away. You buy yourself time to react to human moves – time to move to intercept them, for example, while if you were right up against the building they would have already blown past you. It strikes an admirable compromise between the problems of cover and dispersion.
Once you’re set up, your only task now is to keep your zombies occupied while you wait. Most sieges fail not because clever humans slip or bust out, but because bored zombies drift away. Organize games of Human-Human-OZ. Bring out hot cocoa or cider if it’s a cold night. Start up a zombie singalong. Anything, so long as it keeps your zombies from thinking about how cold they are, about how pointless this is, about how much they’d rather be inside, warm…Make a social event of the siege, make it as fun as possible, so that zombies WANT to be there, simply to hang out. That will keep your numbers up and ensure that you can outwait the humans.
Sieges: Make sure it’s a building that the humans will come out of. Make sure that the number of humans is worth waiting hours for, because sieges suck up a lot of zombies for a long time. Make sure it’s a guardable building, because otherwise you’re wasting your time. Spread out around the building, but focus your defense at key points the humans must pass through to escape, rather than on the exits specifically. Finally, keep your zombies entertained, because desertion is the primary reason sieges fail.
Physical attacks are all well and good, but moral ones are even better: If you can force a group of terrified humans to break and run away, the battle is as a good as won. This has given the horde victory in a number of missions previously (Mission 2, Fall ’08, Mission 3, Spring ’09, Mission 3, spring ’10, Mission 5, spring ’10, Mission 1, Fall ’10).
The best part about breaking morale is, you are attacking the weakest members of the human pack: the scared newbies. You don’t need to scare the veterans into running, just the newbies. When a handful of them panic, the rout will often spread to the others, until in a heartbeat all the freshmen are beating feet for safety. The veterans will either be caught up in the rout, or try to make a stand against now overwhelming numbers of zombies. Either way, you win.
Attacking morale is simple: be scary, in as large a number as you can. Think up terrifying war chants for your zombies as you speed to the charge. Being loud is the best thing you can do – drum beats, stomps, Zulu war cries, just a simple roar – whatever, it doesn’t matter. A loud noise sends a shock through the human body – no matter how brave, everyone gets a jolt when 140 screaming people charge them. Make that strong enough and you can make even the most veterans’ human flight instinct overwhelm their fight instinct.
Looking intimidating helps to, but lacks the raw power that sound does. Your best bet with looking scary is with shock: Come out of nowhere (I like to hide my hordes behind buildings until they’re ready to charge) and hit the humans without giving them even a moment to process what’s coming at them. Often they’ll panic and run without even realizing you only had a paltry 1/3 of their numbers (yes, that happened).
Psychologically, you can increase the pressure on the humans to run, as well. A nearby safe zone, especially one with some friends already inside, exerts a huge pull on humans. If they are entering a safe zone, that’s even better. Those at the front will not wish to stop and help their comrades behind – they think only of getting safely inside. Those at the rear will dread being abandoned by their teammates, but also have to keep turning to face you. Human retreats into safe zones thus are their most dangerous times. Strike then and you will be sure to kill some when they run. During one night mission, we only had 10 zombies to throw at 20-30 humans. By holding our charge until half were inside a door, we provoked the other half into running. The brave few who did not were devoured. 3 humans died – a stunning loss at the end of a night mission against a tiny zombie force. How did we do it? By specifically attacking the humans’ morale.
Suddenness, surprise, and shock: these will break humans’ morale and net you scores of easy kills.
Missions are where these tactics come together. You’ll be mixing and matching them in all sorts of combinations depending on the situation. The important thing to remember is to always stay flexible, and to exploit your strengths. Don’t attack the humans at a narrow chokepoint when you can charge them in a more open area by waiting a few minutes. If you have a significant edge in numbers, don’t just rush headlong into a charge, but instead try and spread out and contain them and let none escape. Don’t waste yourself in fruitless attacks on a human column when they may pass through a good ambush spot in a little while, where you can spring on them unawares.
Be creative. There are dozens upon dozens of sneaky little tricks you can throw at them, from two or even three-wave charges to surprise rear attacks, feigned retreats to entice them to chase you, pummeling one group and one group alone to break their morale – the possibilities are endless, limited mostly by your zombies’ imagination. Also common sense. And physical limitations apply as well. Okay, not endless, but pretty extensive.
In short, missions are the art of determining which tactic to use in which situation. There’s no guide for this – you have to read the ground and the forces involved as best you can. Keep in mind things like morale – are the humans close to breaking? Perhaps one good charge from behind while another force distracts in front will be enough to rout them. Are they holding strong? Maybe you should wait for them to be vulnerable on the march or similar. Is there a cadre of human leadership providing backbone to the newbies? Throw a few charges at them and wipe out who you can. There could be an infinite number of situations. The key is to stay flexible and to pit your strengths against their weaknesses.
Small Group Tactics Summed Up
As a zombie you have a number of tools in your arsenal, but tools are only as effective as their wielder. Your job as zombie leader is to recognize which tool is suited for which job. You won’t win all the time. Hell, you probably won’t even win most of the time. I certainly don’t – at times I call it a successful mission if we managed to pick off only 2 or 3 missions. A lot depends on having the numbers to overcome humans’ firepower advantage. But don’t be discouraged – you are invincible, and you are more frightening to the humans than they are to you. Persevere, keep the pressure on, and eventually they will crack and you taste the sweet, sweet nectar of victory. Also brains.
Spawn More Overlords: The Horde
This is it. The big one. You’ve proven yourself a skilled and dangerous individual zombie, fearlessly taking stuns, swarming your foes unawares, dodging and rolling past darts and socks like an undead Jedi. You and your zombie squad are fearsome in the charge, cunning in the ambush, relentless in the pursuit. You can lock a building down, pummel a human squad until they curl up crying in their dorm rooms, and still look damn fine doing it. Now you’re ready to lead all the zombies, at once, during the most crucial times of combat: the missions. It’s time to lead the Horde.
Organizing the Horde
The Horde is the basic unit of the zombie forces during a mission. It concentrates all your strength, all your ferocity, all your killing power into a massive sledgehammer capable of sweeping all before it. All it needs to be fearsomely effective is your brain, directing it to where it needs to go. And for that, it needs to be properly organized.
You must understand, The Horde as a unit is different from the horde as a representation of all the zombies. The horde is a loose collection of individuals. The Horde is a living, breathing, thing, a massive engine of death and mayhem. It doesn’t just happen. You have to build it.
The nerves of the Horde are in communications. Without good, reliable communications, you’re a bunch of idiots blundering around blind. Truman builds its units around walky-talkies. Every set of walky-talkies becomes a limb of the Horde. Oftentimes our total number of units is limited by our total number of radios. It’s the radios that keep the disparate parts of the Horde acting as one; the radios that lend it its frightening intelligence, as zombies in one part of campus react to events on the far side. Cell phones are only barely adequate, and should be used only for non-essential or time-critical communication. Runners are a good substitute if not enough radios are available, or a squad has dropped out of radio contact. But nothing can beat a good walky-talky.
The eyes and ears of the Horde are zombie scout groups. These are absolutely essential, for without them, even with all the radios in the world you’re still blundering around in the dark, hoping to stumble onto a human group or an objective to attack. These should be small, and swift, composed of good, reliable zombies. Operating at least in pairs, they should endeavor never to be stunned, striking only at targets of opportunity like undefended nodes or flags. Their job is to find objectives and humans, and keep track of both. These scouts are critical to giving you a clear picture of the campus battlefield, allowing the Horde to react intelligently to human moves. Give all praise and glory to your scouts, and ensure they are fed, as they won’t be getting many kills but will be doing the Horde invaluable service.
The final essential component of the Horde is its limbs, the striking fists and feet of zombie death. These “fists,” as I think of them, can be as numerous in number as you like, though we’ve rarely gone higher than two. The fist is nothing more than a massive block of zombies designed for annihilating the humans the scouts have found, for storming critical objectives, and generally putting the smack onto the humans wherever and whenever they can. These are your legionaires, your mounted knights, your heavy cavalry, your armored tanks. These are the striking power of the Horde and they should be used as offensively as possible. The basic Horde (at least as it was first created at Truman) consists of 3 scout groups and 1 fist.
I said that the fist was the last component of the Horde. I lied. There is one more ingredient: Every body needs a head. That’s you.
Leading the Horde
As Horde leader, you have a number of responsibilities. Remember, most of the zombies are depending on you for kills. Incompetent or indecisive leadership will lead to an ineffective Horde and a human walkover. For the love of undeath, don’t let that happen. Make your zombies something whispered of in fear, not something to be taunted and mocked.
Apart from correctly deciding on tactics (which actually can be left to subordinate commanders in charge of individual fists), your most important duty is to keep the zombies motivated and eager for brains. Keep them happy and they will keep you happy. Praise good performance whenever you can, particularly among new players. You want them to be happy in the zombie side of things – we are the neglected faction, after all. Give credit where credit is due – a good idea is a good idea regardless of who it comes from. Reward people for speaking their minds, since they’re going to do it anyways and it encourages more discussion and more ideas, which is always good.
As zombie leader, your job is to set an example. Other zombies, particularly new zombies, will correctly assume that since you’re the leader you know what you’re doing. That means you must demonstrate how to be a good zombie. That means that all the tempting bad zombie habits – lurking at the back of a charge to get kills, fearing stuns, not aggressively attacking humans whenever possible – have to be shunned by you at all costs. That means, for every zombie charge, you must be at the front, leading it. Those behind will see your example and be encouraged that the kills are theirs for the taking. Further, it demonstrates that you really have the interests of the horde placed ahead of your own, as you are stunned many, many, many times over the course of a mission.
You will not get many kills as horde commander. If your objective is to be top of the kill count, find another role. This is not a job you want.
The only times you should avoid being stunned and “lead from the rear” as it were are when you are the only zombie on a walky-talky trying to coordinate other zombie groups to the area. Never let the radio go dark and leave your teammates blind. Always try to stay unstunned so you can keep updating them on the situation and bring in reinforcements. Once there’s no need for you to blather away on the radio, though, it’s time to go to the front and lead the charge.
Your final example to set is one of attitude. As often as humanly possible, you should be cheerful, open, and honest. No one likes an asshole, and everyone especially hates asshole players. You need to encourage players to be good sports, to accept their stuns with good cheer, and not to be total douches to the other side. After all, you were on their side once, and they’ll be coming to join you soon enough. Maintaining a positive attitude and hoping it rubs off on the zombies led by you is perhaps the most valuable contribution you can make to the game.
The strategy to follow as the Horde is governed by one overriding principle: Concentration of force. It’s quite simple: Identify the key objective – be it a particular VIP, the main human group, a collection of MacGuffins, whatever – and throw everything you have at it. Zombies’ greatest advantage is their numbers. The principle of concentration of force maximizes that strength. Your first task and most important task, during any mission briefing, is to identify the key to the mission – taking X nodes, killing Y scientist, capturing Z MacGuffins, whatever –and then figuring out how you are going to throw as many zombies as possible at the objective to overwhelm the humans, destroy their troops, seize the objective, and hear the lamentations of their women.
That said, concentration of force does not mean the exclusion of all secondary objectives, merely that the secondary objectives do not threaten your ability to accomplish the main task. Thus, if you have a fist of 100 zombies ready to attack the central node held by 40 humans, you needn’t keep 50 more zombies with you, but can rather send them after mobile nodes, another defensive point, in a flanking attack, or any of a myriad of other objectives. The counterpart to concentration of force, this is economy of force: Don’t devote more strength to the mission than you need to ascertain its completion. That wastes your precious strength just as much as diversions to side quests do.
The final important concern for Horde strategy is speed. Time is your most precious resource during the mission. You have an hour or so to rack up as many kills as possible before the humans disperse and you lose your opportunity until the next mission. Thus, you need to move and react as fast as possible. By all means, take the time to study the situation, or to wait for reinforcements or a more favorable situation – but at the same time don’t let those concerns jeopardize your ability to hammer the humans as many times as possible. A dawdling Horde is a more ineffective Horde. When in doubt, you can never go too far wrong by simply attacking.
Really, that’s all you need to formulate an effective strategy, especially with the Horde, which was designed as a flexible way to throw a lot of zombies around quickly. Decide what the most important objective is. Dedicate as many forces to it as you think necessary to achieve it. Give any leftovers secondary objectives designed to help you accomplish the main goal. Then go after your goals as fast as you can.
I can’t be more specific than that, because strategy, like tactics, is dependent on the individual situation. It’s up to you to determine what that situation is, and how best to respond to it. That’s why warfare is an art, and not a science.
Against big human mobs willing to come out and fight in the open, the Horde excels. It allows you to throw the maximum strength you can against the humans, again and again and again. Indeed, the only mission where the humans have been able to meet and defeat our Horde in the field has been the first one of each game, when Horde numbers are still too small to achieve very much. Sometimes on Day Two, and always by the end of Day Three, the Horde achieves total battlefield dominance, utterly destroying the humans whenever they bother to stand and fight long enough.
That said, the Horde is very very weak against small, skirmishing human guerilla groups. Our unwillingness to engage in sieges (why bother, when we’ll simply kill them all at the next mission?) has led to humans camping in buildings and waiting for the Horde to seek other prey, before striking out again for the objective. It’s quite possible for the Horde to lurch from near miss to near miss in these situations, never really coming to grips with the humans.
The best counter I can think of to this unhappy situation is multiplying the number of fists in the Horde and abandoning the notion of central control. Where before one fist (and later in the game, two) was enough, now you may want as many as 3 or 4 separate groups running around, each with their own scouts attached. Your numbers are dispersed, it is true, but so are the humans. The greater number of roving mobs increases the chances that one fist or another will stumble into humans in the open, and their smaller numbers will encourage the living to stand and fight for once.
The downside to this strategy is that it forces you to give up control of the mission. No longer are the zombies a unified force responding to a central command. They’re more flexible, but almost totally headless – almost 4 separate forces acting independently. The mission will seem very chaotic, and no one will have a clear picture of what is happening, but trust your subordinate commanders and you’ll achieve the kills soon enough.
The other potential counter is to camp the objectives and force the humans to come out and fight for them or lose the mission. Unfortunately, if anything, our Horde has been too good at this. At first it worked – the humans came at us, and we destroyed them, getting our open field fight – but the humans soon learned that they could come out, fight, and still lose the mission, but dying in the process. The later missions at Truman since Fall ’09 (when the Horde first appeared) have been long processes of humans camping in buildings until either suiciding or, more commonly, giving up and going home (Mission 4, ’09, Missions 4 & 5, Spring ’10, Missions 2, 4, and 5, Fall ’10). The Horde wins, sure enough, but with very few kills and a long boring afternoon for all involved. The multiple-horde strategy is an attempt to encourage the humans to come out and play.
The Horde Summed Up
At the moment, the Horde is the highest evolution of zombie organization at Truman. A cohesive, responsive entity, it excels at finding large groups of humans and destroying them, ensuring utter domination of outdoor missions. It falters, however, when faced with small, fast human forces. Camp places they have to attack to force them to fight you or lose the mission, or break your horde up into smaller units to try and provoke skirmishes. As zombie leader, it’s your job not only to decide on tactics and strategy but to set an example as well. Be sure to make it a good one.
Screenshot or It Didn’t Happen: Mission History at Truman State
Below I plan to write out summaries and tactical descriptions of missions I have been present in during my 5 games here at Truman. I may even point out particular tactics and lessons if I’m feeling generous.
I hope to have this written up before our Invitational in two weeks, but no guarantees.
Ultimately, no guide or collection of tips and strategies can make you a truly fearsome zombie. That has to come from your own talent. This is an art, not a science. Situations are unique to each campus, and it’s up to you to adapt to them as best you can. That’s the key to being an effective player, no matter what game you’re playing: Flexibility. Be flexible, and respond to each individual situation as it deserves to be dealt with.
Finally, above all else, remember: This. Is. A. Game. It’s meant to be fun. Zombies are not soldiers, and they never will be. I have tried to keep my tactics simple and easily taught, my formations easily organized. No group of college students can ever resemble a trained and disciplined military force. Don’t expect them to. Relax. Loosen up. Have fun. If you stop having fun, then you are no longer winning at this game.
- A Note on Columns
Chev mentioned numerous times the popular Zombie strategy of concentrating the mass of the horde onto a single target. More importantly, he talked about the column, which has been the main mode of attacking during missions for zombies since Fall 2010.
As he mentioned, columns are very effective at distracting humans so that more zombies (oftentimes in a column themselves) can hit the humans from another angle while they’re turned away, wreaking havoc on the group. This has usually been utilized as an end-move by zombie leaders. If done right, a column ambush (that is silent) from behind can splinter a large, unsuspecting human group into tinier pieces, which are much easier to devour.
It is recommended that zombie leaders plan column charges in areas where there is not a lot of ground to cover, where your zombies are shielded from blow gunners (mentioned in later section), and where ambush columns can be hidden and strike from with ease. As one might expect, areas such as these are very hard to come by, so try to focus on the first category: not a lot of ground to cover. While running does indeed suck, a focus on this is advised because charging a column over a long distance can spread the column out and weaken its impact when it contacts the human group. Also, longer distances give the humans a longer period of time to analyze the situation and start backing up into horseshoe shape to try and surround a column and thus pick off zombies in the column’s center. Of course, humans in a horseshoe shape are ripe for ambush, so, as Chev mentioned, leave a reserve column to accomplish this if it becomes clear the horseshoe strategy is a human group’s main modus operandi.
One of the most dangerous dart-based type of weapons in HvZ due to its massive range and accuracy. As Chev mentioned, he hasn’t had any experience with this, so this section is here because zombies need to know about this weapon’s impact and how it can be mitigated.
Blow gunners can literally break up a charge. This is done via the popular human strategy of “skirmishing”, which is mentioned in the Human Strategy Guide. Basically, blow gunners run up in front of the main human group and pelt zombies from afar as they desperately try to form a charge. A decent skirmish will cost the Horde ten or eleven zombies before the charge finally commences. If elite blow gunners are involved, such as the famous Brood Mother hunter Evan, as many as twenty zombies can be felled.
Let’s imagine a worst case scenario (which is always nice to do): You and your thirty zombies encounter a human group of about forty or so marching up through a narrow walkway. There’s no real opportunity for ambush, but a column charge aimed at a single point of the bottle-nosed humans’ center, as Chev discussed, should garner at least five tags. The humans spot you and a small cohort of them armed with long white poles suddenly emerge from within. They jog forward a few yards. You ignore them and continue preparing the column. The humans are starting to slow and mill about. The noobs among them are beginning to panic, in other words. Without warning, darts start raining down upon you. Zombies left and right are hit while the humans with white poles start letting loose cries of “Dead!” and “Headband down!”. They’re blow gunners. Within five minutes you’re horde’s been cut by half and the humans are moving out. With morale low and your horde beginning to waver in both number and resolve, you’ll have no opportunity to attack the humans again until your zombies are un-stunned. And then they’ll be re-stunned by blow gunners again and again and again.
This actually happened to me in Fall 2011 while we were hunting a human group on North Campus. The humans kept going down through these really open spaces or long corridors where there was no opportunity for ambush and they could see us clearly. I tried to set up column charges just like my zombie handbook said, but blow gunners would dissipate the horde before anything could be done. Anything. You can see why Chev says “Fuck blowguns.” Of course, he also says being that far away means you’re doing it wrong. To that, I say “Yes indeed, sir.”
Yep. The best way to combat blow gunners is to bring the fight to them. If I’d been doing anything remotely correct that night, I would have set up ambushes well before the humans had reached those horrible positions and I would have kept doing it as opposed to hoping a column charge or two might sneak through. Don’t give the humans a chance to use their range, which is by far one of their greatest weapons. In situations like that mentioned above, the best strategies I’ve seen have attacks that are fast and silent, striking only when an opportunity presents itself. As a zombie, better to be a ninja than a soldier.
So what should I have done when the humans had spotted us and were marching down the corridor? Moved. You are the attackers, the predators. You make the battles whenever you please. Don’t let the humans determine the battle ground. Conserve your zombies and set up ambushes in areas beneficial to you while you use scouts to monitor the humans’ route. If the blow gunners can’t see you, then you can run quick charges before they have a chance to pick your zombies off.
Brood Mothers first came into being in Fall 2010. They are the wonderful, loving caretakers of the Horde and exist only to make sure zombies revive in a prompt and timely manner so as to facilitate the downfall of humanity. As such, they are to be PROTECTED AT ALL COSTS :).
Remember what Chev said about how getting stunned can actually make or break a kill? Same philosophy applies here. The Horde is able to manage and produce massive numbers of charges because of the Brood Mother. They are the ones who can bring a horde back to life after their commander fucked up and got them all stunned. She (or he) allows one to pump out zombies at an insanely fast rate, which in turn hastens the tiring of the humans. As a result, Humans often organize Brood Mother hunting groups to remove this threat. Blow gunners are perfect for this and will often try to snipe the Mother. This where you getting stunned comes in. If you are already stunned, kneel down in front of the Brood and stay out of the way. If you’re live, however, then feel free to take a hit for your Mother. There is absolutely nothing in the rules that prevent zombies from protecting one another. So if Evan and Co. are trying to kill the Mother, form a defensive ring around her (or him). The Brood will make you live again in moments anyway so no harm done really ;).
Placement of the Brood Mother is also critical. As you might expect, keeping them out of the way is an excellent idea, though it is rather wonderful if she’s nearby and you can rush your horde over to her to get revived for the next charge.
A note: Most Brood Mothers used timed revives. For example, a Brood Mother may revive all stunned zombies in the nearby vicinity every three minutes. These timers are usually continuous (i.e. the Brood Mother sends out her “reviving beam” every three minutes regardless of whether or not zombies are around), so leaders should consider timing charges to match up with the Brood Mother’s timer. As an example, suppose a Brood Mother has a three minute timer and her timer just started over. If you run your ambush or charge in, say, two minutes and thirty seconds, any zombies who were stunned during your ambush/charge have thirty seconds to run back to her and be live again as if they’d never been out in the first place. This is why it’s sometimes beneficial to keep a Brood close by.
Chev's guide is the most complete and well-rounded zombie strategy I've ever read. However, new variations to the game breed new strategies that need to be documented for future zombies. Blowguns and Brood Mothers, two very new variations, are immensely important to our game, yet Chev wasn't able to provide any insight into how to utilize/approach them simply because he hadn't had any experience with them. It is extremely likely (read: certain) that there will be new modifications in the future that I won't be familiar with at all. As I mentioned earlier, this guide is meant to be a hub for zombie strategy and tactics. Zombie leaders both future and past, feel free to add your own strategies to this list or correct any mistakes you've found in mine. It would be awesome if we could get a discussion board going in these forums to discuss these ideas. Most importantly, however, we need to make sure we aren't just talking theory. The zombies need to be able to quickly evaluate a situation, even more quickly choose the appropriate response (or create a situation of their own :]), and then follow through with it.