Connor's guide to Zombiedom
Or how I learned to give up on living and love brains.
This guide written by Connor McCann who runs the
Foam Action Network
You didn't think it would happen. The scene is set: you're playing HvZ, prowling with your team, keeping a semi tight formation, when a zombie spots your group and starts screaming bloody murder. You turn around to spot the source of noise... and someone runs up behind you, laying down the two handed touch of death which means your end. You throw down your blaster and curse your teammates, removing your bandana from your arm and wrapping it, in disgust, around your forehead. For all intents and purposes, the game is officially over.
To this I ask a single question: is the game really over?
Perhaps it has just begun.
Before saying anything else about zombie strategy, tactics or anything else related to being a Z, there is one facet of Zombiedom in HvZ that in my mind matters more than any other:
You don't have to get kills to have an effect on the game.
True, within a circle of players (however large the circle may be), there will be some Humans that assume leadership roles, act as strategists, have powerful weapons or are good fighters. It will always be very beneficial and you will indeed have a great impact on the game if you kill these players.
For example, if you are a runner, latch onto a Human group and follow them everywhere they go. You don't even have to run most of the time. Simply walk behind or in front of them, no matter where they're going and give them an occasional, unpredictable charge to flanks. After a round or two, you will have a group of very demoralised humans, who will think of nothing more than getting rid of you, even above their own personal safety.
Same goes with shouting, banging on walls and in general making sudden, loud noises from behind cover. Its preferable to do this when everyone is looking in the opposite direction, so keep a close eye on where people are directing their attention. Feel free to be a little obnoxious, though make your obnoxiousness general: if you are going to talk about a specific player, keep it to Nerf. Don't talk about their lazy eye, ugly mama, dumb kid or anything else you feel you can point out about them.
If you stick to these rules and combine these two elements together, your presence as a Zombie will be noted everywhere you go and people will get tired of seeing you fast. They will make mistakes dealing with you and end up dead. In short, by just being a constant, obnoxious presence, you're influencing how people think, feel, act and die. You're having a real time effect on how they play the game and this will be the same if you kill 1 player or 10.
This aside, there is another general aspect of Zombiedom that is worth pointing out and acknowledging before we talk tactics. That is, being a Zombie is an incredibly liberating experience. Jump inside the minds of the Humans for a moment: your opposition's single point of focus is staying alive. This can be a demoralising train of thought when you watch your group of survivors dwindle every round.
With Zombies, this is not the case, as you cannot kill that which is already dead. Since at worst, you'll drop to a knee and count for some seconds, you have the freedom to do (within the ruleset of course) pretty much whatever you want. Do you sit at home, or at work thinking of cool stuff to do doing during games? Are you sure that stuff, come game time, will absolutely get you killed if you try it? Still want to do it? Sounds like you're ready to Z.
Now that you've come to accept your Zombiehood and are ready to explore its possibilities, the time has come to talk about bringing pain to the Hs. A Zombie will be effective if they combine:
- If you can maneuver around the Humans without them knowing you're there, you'll rack up the bodies. Stealthy Zs use travel between shadows, cover and ambush locations, moving silently in the process.
- There will be moments when opportunities for quick, deadly strikes will present themselves. You will be all the more effective if you can capitalize on them.
- Even if you're not stealthy, if you chase a group everywhere they go, eventually some members will tire out, fall by the wayside and make easy targets.
- Its pretty demoralising for tired Humans to see the Zombie that’s been hounding them looking fresh as a daisy.
- The Human team you are hunting will grow paranoid and potentially reckless if you keep popping up behind them, in front of them, on the flanks or plain out of nowhere.
- Killer Instinct
- You have to be constantly scanning over the group of humans, watching their emotions and movements, how they are communicating with their team and most importantly, how much attention each individual Human is paying. You have to be able to recognize when one of the cattle has strayed from the herd, however briefly, and be ready to strike them as it happens.
One can say being seasoned in psychological warfare is effective as well. They would be right. As stated above, you can scream, shout, bother, harass and do all number of things to a group of Humans. However, if you play with a combination of some of the above listed traits, you will produce a heavy psychological effect just the same, even if you are entirely silent or non demonstrative.
CONNOR'S GREATEST HITS
Generally speaking, I like to glow with the flow of the game when I'm a zombie. I let the Humans set the pace for the time being, watching them, gauging their general demeanor and looking for possibilities. That said, there are a couple of tactics I like to employ from time to time during games.
I like to run in circles around a group of humans. It prevents them from moving any faster then I want them to, makes them expend darts and energy, setting in motion the above stated paranoia I talked about.
This involves charging a group of humans, but stopping right before I reach their line. I will then run away from them, usually taking cover somewhere. I'll wait a second or two and come back to their group the exact way I just left. They don't expect to see me there and it can mean an easy kill if nobody is watching the spot.
HARRYING THE REAR GUARD
For this, you don't have to charge, attempt to flank or even run at them. The most effective thing to do is walk, very slowly, but all the while closing the distance with the rear guard of a Human group. One of the first things I'll do is inform them that they have been rear-guarded: that is, the people in the front have left them behind to die. Once I'm in striking distance, I'll move unpredictably around this group, making them waste darts and get frustrated in the process. Person by person, as the front group separates, whether by my hand or otherwise, the rear guard dwindles.
TEARS FOR FEARS
Shout, shout, let it all out. If you have something to say to the Humans, just scream it at them, whenever you feel it necessary.
LAYING IN WAIT
Ambushing at corners is my prefered mode of ambush. I usually wait for the first couple of players in the group to pass by, striking near the middle. Even if its not a deadly strike, it will scare the crap out of the group just the same.
This is most effective when your Zombie stun time is low, somewhere from 10-15 seconds. You charge at the head of a group, get stunned and take a knee. You count down your seconds, but remain silent and crouched afterwards. When someone has their back to you, spring on them.
I've listed maybe 1/100th of the cool things about being a Zombie. It is such a broad experience, with tons of different levels that are equally enjoyable. So enjoyable, that one shouldn't be discouraged when the experience is upon them. If anything else, as a Zombie you'll be better able to study the Humans so that at the next game you wont make the same mistakes.