So you’ve decided to dive headfirst into a game of Humans Vs Zombies (HvZ). While we will congratulate you for your bravery, remember HvZ is not simply a NERF war, it is a full-on campaign!!
So before you start out, make sure you get to grips with the rules, but more important the tactics and strategies, which, quite coincidentally, you will find right here….fortuitous eh!
An Overview of HvZ
Humans vs Zombies is a live action role-playing game where players are split up into two camps, the humans and the zombies. While most participants will be designated as humans, you can choose to enter a raffle to be selected as one of the original zombies (OZs).
HvZ is a long game, often running days into weeks and occasionally even longer. It originated in US college campuses and is still most often played on university campuses between classes. Usually, it will last for a school week (5 days) and is played 24/7.
There are some places where HvZ may not be played, such as in bathrooms, doctors’ offices, and during class. However, outside of these few safe zones, once you’ve entered the game, you’ve committed yourself to a week of vigilance, hunting and being hunted.
How to play HvZ
The two teams will be differentiated by bandanas. Humans will wear them on their heads while zombies will wear them tied visibly around their arms for quick identification.
Humans are going to be the armed defenders during this came. Therefore, your accuracy with a weapon is very important when combating zombies, especially when you find yourself in the midst of a melee. Additionally, you should not only learn to be proficient with your larger, primary weapons, but you will also want to perfect your use of sidearms, which can be beneficial when you want to retain your speed and full range of movement during an HvZ battle.
Outside of weapons, it is also important to develop a tactical strategy with your teammates in order to survive zombie ambushes and complete your assigned missions.
Missions will be distributed by game masters who will reward and remove points based on your performance results.
Should you be tagged by a zombie, you will be out of play for 30 minutes during which time you cannot be tagged, but you also cannot do any damage. When the 30 minutes expire, you come back into the game as a zombie whereby you will have to relinquish your weapon for the remainder of the game.
Unlike humans, zombies are unarmed except for their bare hands. Knowing that zombies do well to cultivate a strong network of espionage. Learn to move stealthily and fluidly without being noticed. Wearing clothes that blend into the surroundings and allow for free movement are a good idea. However, you don’t need to go as far as camo or ski masks. All you need are black hoodies and khakis which are non-descript and comfortable to wear.
If you are upgraded as a zombie or allowed to use melee weapons (at the discretion of the game master), consider the following: PVC core pool noodles, NERF swords, NERF arrow maces (A NERF arrow stuck or glued to a hollow plastic shaft) and padded PVC weapons. In addition, remember that it is wise to travel in packs to overwhelm small groups of humans. As zombies can only be stunned for several seconds, should you be shot, your fellow zombies will be able to pick up an attack where you left off.
The amount of time that zombies are decommissioned for after being tagged is determined at the beginning of the game by the game master.
Be aware that zombies can change class based on awards and powers bestowed by the game master. Some super zombies that can make an appearance are:
- Wraith – zombie who wields sock whips
- Tank – can only be stunned with sock-based weapons.
- Asthenic – zombie who can immediately revive stunned zombies.
HvZ has become hugely popular and, because many of the people that enjoy it are also pretty tech-savvy, there have also sprung up a lot of useful resources.
The first place to drop in on for more info is the official HvZ site. Here you will get an overview of the game, wiki, the history, and the ethos.
There are other useful bits and pieces to make the gameplay easier such as human/zombie bandanas and a guide to running a game as a moderator.
Finally there is the excellent HvZ Source where you can find a game to join and a load of tools to help you run a game effectively….and it is all free!!
Without a doubt, the single most important thing you can do while playing HvZ is to remain alert. Whether you are in a danger zone or in a seemingly safe designated playable area, you should never let down your guard. This suggestion is most applicable to humans because once you are tagged, you will become a zombie for the duration of the game. While this may not seem like the end of the world to some, for many who have invested hours of their time into preparation and loadout, an early tag can be devastating.
Zombies, however, don’t need to maintain the same level of awareness as humans. As they cannot be eliminated, being hit by a dart will not be such a hindrance to their game.
Outside of Missions
Even if you are not actively on a mission, it does not mean that you can decrease your environmental awareness. If you live on campus, travel in squads to all your classes and activities to help protect each other. Additionally, vary your routes and don’t follow the same daily pattern. It is even recommended that you arrive to class slightly early and leave a few minutes before you normally would. Although it is not always possible to do so, try to as often as you can.
If you are in a class with known zombies, sit as close to the back as possible to keep at least one point of yourself covered. As well, be very cautious while exiting the building and be extra certain about avoiding corners and potential ambush areas. If there is a fellow human in your class, use them as a second set of eyes.
Coordinate a buddy system early in the game. You are going to want a wingman to help escort you from class to class especially if you must cross known areas of combat. The best guards will be humans with free time. Ideally, they should take it upon themselves to organize security squads and help their fellow soldiers rather than hiding out in their place of residence.
While playing, stopping to chat with friends and losing your line of concentration on the outside world is perilous as you can quickly lose your human status. Each time you step out of a safety zone, you (and your escort) should have a crystal-clear idea of your destination and focus on reaching it. Don’t lose yourself in your train of thoughts. Constantly keep your attention on your surroundings.
Also, it is wise to avoid crowded areas as they are optimal targets for ambushes. Avoid narrow pathways, alleys, blind corners, etc. Always plan your route in your mind’s eye so that you can select the safest path. Even if you are confident in the safety of your route, continually scan your surroundings and periodically glance behind you. Give wide berth to trees, shrubbery, and corners that look like they could be a potential location for a zombie ambush. If you have to take corners, take them wide. Similarly, be wary of opening doors. Try to push them open quickly as you step back so that a zombie cannot take you by surprise. Scan openings from side to side before you approach in order to avoid a surprise attack.
Important: Experienced zombie leaders will target VIPs. Therefore, make it your priority to protect skilled and well-armed players on your team first and foremost.
Vigilance may be the single most important skill you can cultivate as a human. But remember, it isn’t just about staying alert. It is also about working together as a squadron that protects one another at all costs.
Fully trained military forces struggle with cohesion. Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect full-time civilians to step into an HvZ game and be primed to function as a cohesive military unit.
It takes a lot of training to be able to work together and execute a variety of maneuvers under stress. So don’t hope that a group of NERF enthusiasts will follow leadership’s every command at the drop of a hat. After all, it is human nature to be an individual. However, you can reduce the friction associated with following orders by maintaining a small size of 3 to 6 members of an individual unit. Not only will it increase teamwork, but the soldiers will be easier to command.
Furthermore, it is advantageous to break down teams by assigning positions and leadership within the groups.
Roles are assigned to individuals so that as soldiers, players can exercise their particular talents in combat as well as be aware of their duties within their battalions. While in reality, anyone could fill any role, it is an advantage to gauge your soldiers’ abilities and place them in a class that will exercise fortes to help your squadron advance through the game.
In general, players will fit into six main categories:
- Squad Leader (SL)
- Fire Team Leader (FTL)
- Heavy Gunner
Squad Leader (SL)
Squad leaders will be commanding between 2 and 4 Fire Teams. It is their duty to issue mission orders and general commands to those in their ranks. Although they are the commanding officer, they are riflemen before all else, and they should always strive to lead by example.
Fire Team Leader (FTL)
A Fire Team Leader is the point person for each battalion. They are the conduit between the soldiers and the Squad Leaders and disseminate information effectively to ensure that orders from higher-ups are executed effectively.
Rather than calling the Riflemen the grunts of the army, they should be viewed at the MacGyvers. They are versatile additions to the Fire Teams who are able to kick down doors, fight off zombies, and keep their team advancing.
Like the name suggests, heavy gunners are usually armed heavily and serve as both offense and defense depending on the needs of the team. As HvZ teams tend to run small, it is beneficial to have your heavy artillery at the front of the group.
It only makes sense that a Grenadier is in charge of grenades, and for the purpose of HvZ, those grenades will be socks.
While the missions that Grenadiers will perform will vary greatly, they will continually be utilizing their Sock Ninja speed and agility to blast holes into the enemy. Other acceptable weapons for this position are the NERF rockets (Demolisher, etc). Marshmallows are not considered an appropriate weapon for Grenadiers.
Your Scouts are your spies. They should be fast and travel light, which means that they are normally armed with a small blaster, a belt full of socks, and a small melee weapon.
These masters of stealth are tasked with quietly moving into enemy territory to gather intelligence and map out the field for their fellows. Like all other humans, scouts should avoid operating alone and should always work in pairs. Most often, one scout will focus on targets and gathering intelligence while the other will act security for the spy mission.
Rounding corners can be a delicate task. Normally, your instinct encourages you to cut a corner as close possible to reduce your walking time to a destination. However, while playing HvZ, it is highly recommended that go against the grain and take your corners wide. Zombies could be lying in wait to ambush you at any point, and dark corners are ideal hiding places. Therefore, take corners as wide as you are safely able to.
The Buddy System
Use your teammates to your advantage. They can be the eyes in the back of your head that you wish you had. When traveling, have one person covering your retreating end at all times while you cover your front field of vision.
Check Your 6
This is as simple as it sounds. While crossing campus and going about your daily business, make sure to look behind yourself regularly. You never know who is going to come up behind you when you’re alone and oblivious.
Favoring Open Areas
Though it may seem counterintuitive, humans will do best when they stick to open areas that have a good field of vision. This will allow you to easily see zombies approaching and prepare to react. Remaining as far away from ambush zones as possible will also help you draw zombies out into combat.
When you can set the rules of combat, you will be able to better strategize and have a better chance of successfully defending your squad in the event of a skirmish.
The ultimate goal of the zombies is to destroy humanity. With this in mind, know that zombies will typically find the biggest group of humans they can and repeatedly harass and attack them. Even though this may seem ineffective at first, a determined horde will reduce the numbers and strength of a human cohort over time. Each time zombies attack, affected humans will be absorbed into the zombie ranks thereby increasing the horde’s power.
This strategy becomes extremely successful late in the game as human forces will not have sufficient numbers to challenge the zombies head-on. So instead of engaging in attrition warfare, human leaders should theorize other paths to victory. A good approach is to go on the offensive. Remember zombies are not often strong in their defense as they do not usually expect humans to attack. When humans do choose to strike directly, many zombies are unsure how to react in the face of surprise. As a result, zombies become relatively easy to tag out.
Weapons Load Outs
As a human, weapons are the most important thing that you can get your hands on. Literally. So make sure you choose them wisely. Some good options are:
· Rapid Fire AS-20
· Dart Tag Swarmfire
· Rebelle Blaster
Just make sure that you are properly stocked up on ammo for your NERF arsenal. Always keep around 100 extra darts on you either in pre-loaded magazines or in an easily accessible pouch.
Also, your choice of weapon will depend on how early in the week it is. At the beginning of the game, you will not require as much firepower or ammo. But as the week progresses and the number of undead grows, you may find it easier to switch to multiple loaded backup weapons rather than relying on a single pistol blaster.
No matter what your strategy, don’t forget the goal of this game. It is not how many tags you get or how long you survive. It is about developing your camaraderie. After all, most NERFers who play HvZ don’t play just one. Therefore, you want to develop a strong base of players and strategies that you can carry forward as you improve and play more games with increasingly involved missions. But, most of all, when it comes to playing HvZ: happy hunting.