A Brief History Of Barhah

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The following image, in the style of a Minard chart, displays several kinds of information at once:

  • the most famous and infamous zombie campaigns, sieges, and survivor defenses
  • updates to game mechanics relevant to hordes, megahordes, and sieges
  • the decline in active players over time
  • the fluctuation in the survivor/zombie ratio

Please click to view it in full size.

Barhah.jpg

Analysis

Total Population

Following a marked decline throughout 2006, population was stable for about a year and a half. However, counting from the inception of other maps, Malton has lost 12,000 characters - about a third of its total population loss since the outbreak.

Zombie Dominance

Zombie Dominance closely tracks pro- and anti-zombie updates. However, over the past three years, zombie dominance has crashed during the winter, and experienced a bimodal peak during March-April and July-August. These seasonal trends are apparently strong enough to show up independent of any pro- or anti-zombie update. However, there was NO bounce during March-April of this year.

Updates

The syringe-nerfing, cade-blocking, ruin-introducing, and ruins-boosting updates were implemented during or immediately after some of the most notable and lengthy sieges in the game, perhaps indicating that Kevan pays attention to these in-game events.

Shacknews & The Fall Of Caiger

(full disclosure: the author is a former Shacknews member)

The chart correlates many (but not all) of the factors that brought Shacknews success at Caiger, where RRF and Mall Tour had failed:

  • total population was lower
  • the syringe nerf and ransack helped zombies
  • Shacknews was working in tandem with the Big Bash and with a more dominant feral horde, sapping survivor strength across the map
  • some survivors chose to go fight the Blackmore battle, thinking Caiger would not fall.
  • Shacknews was more coordinated (as survivors, they went on to hold off MT'07 at Stickling for a month).


Significant Zombie Organizations Post-Shacknews

Historically significant zombie groups fall into three categories:

  • Megahordes, groups that discover UD and use their out-of-game connections to metagame and coordinate.
    • Megahordes crack smaller targets like Necrotechs, Police Departments, and Malls with great efficiency. Megahordes have such a metagaming advantage that they can ransack multiple targets within hours. On the other hand, they have briefer lifespans than the other group types. Since Shacknews, no mall or suburb has withstood a united megahorde, although one mall withstood a portion of LUE's strength.
  • Tours, informally aligned coalitions of many hordes with an entourage of ferals.
    • Tours generally target a suburb and/or mall at a time. However, with so many ferals, this "grazing" or "foraging" technique can reduce entire suburbs to ruin. Tours are generally run on a seasonal basis, with the Mall Tour and Big Bash alternating. Since Shacknews, tours are also undefeated, despite the 2nd Big Bash facing a tough battle at Pitneybank.
  • Territorials, stationary hordes which aim to achieve dominance over a particular area for a long period of time.
    • Territorials are the longest-lived and most dedicated zombie groups. They have more structured leadership as well as involving a great number of experienced and high-level players. Territorials have had mixed results since Shacknews, including the Battles of Santlerville and Barhapolis as well as the Extinction campaigns.

LUE & The Dead

LUE and The Dead, the two most significant megahordes, naturally invite comparison with their predecessor Shacknews, the first megahorde to crack Caiger.

The other hordes have set their own records. LUE was the single longest-lived megahorde, with nearly a year of sustained mall touring and destruction. The Dead was the largest coordinated horde in Malton's history.

Just as Shacknews ran alongside the first Bash, LUE ran alongside the Second (and joined it for part of its tour) as well as the Extinction project. LUE operated during periods of low zombie dominance, but succeeded in turning large parts of the map red.

The Dead operated during the highest peak of zombie dominance in the entire game, turning all but the southern fringes of Malton bright red. However, the peak in zombie dominance cannot be attributed entirely to this horde. The Dead entered Malton during a period when zombies had just received one of their largest boosts ever, many survivors were leaving to play in Monroeville, and the Extinction project was entering its 2nd phase. The Dead faced next to no resistance at malls, partially because most malls had been ransacked 2 or even 3 times by LUE/BB2's year-long campaign of destruction. This left malls especially, and suburbs generally, at a historically low level of "target hardness," with some malls populated by mere dozens.

A Mall Tour in 2008 was rendered redundant by the combined efforts of LUE, BB2, and The Dead, and there was a dearth of megahordes and tours in late 2008, probably thanks to a lack of challenging targets.


Conclusions, from a zombie perspective

Since the fall of Caiger, the game has largely been unchallenging for megahordes and tours of comparable size/coordination, while remaining somewhat challenging for territorials and considerably challenging for ferals. This is thanks to the continued drop in population, plus two major updates (ruins and cade-blocking) that make campaigns and sieges much easier. At the same time, zombies remain outnumbered and, save during periods of megahorde activity, much of Malton is very safe.

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