|The information on this page or section discusses a survivor strategy.|
A distributed defense, commonly known as Sutherland's Defence for its early use by the Malton Confederacy, is a type of defense strategy based on the premise that reducing the effectiveness of attacks on resource buildings will frustrate attacking zombies. Based in theory off the concepts of guerrilla warfare, it uses scattered defenders staging counter-strikes against an offensive force as a way of making it potentially more beneficial for attackers to leave an area than spend the time and energy to fully secure it.
Due to the integration of exceptionally large and effective offenses into the game, an alternate defense (to the pre-existing defense of resting in and barricading resource buildings) was conceptualized and tested.
The central premise is that resource buildings (NecroTech Buildings, Police Departments, or Malls) are obvious targets, and thus sub-optimal safehouses. The best tactic for defense is thus to disperse among less high priority targets and only visit resource buildings while actively playing. This makes assaults on resource building less fruitful for any attacking zombies, and frustrates them by reducing the numbers of casualties they can inflict in the assault of a single building. The goal of distributed defense is to force zombies to spend more AP per damage inflicted on survivors. One easy way to ensure this is through dummy barricading. Because there is no certain way to tell whether there are people inside any given building without actually entering it, zombies who tear down the barricades on an empty building will find no humans inside, and will have wasted a large amount of AP to discover this.
That means that, for an effective offensive to be carried out, the attacker would have to use massive amounts of time and energy tearing down the defenses of buildings while not being guaranteed more than a few (if any) survivors for that effort. The associated lack of efficiently-obtained prey would therefore deter attack in favor of "softer" targets.
If an attack does occur, any given attacking force will nevertheless have spent the better part of their AP tearing down barricades - leaving most of the survivors alive in those buildings which were not targetted for the lack of sufficient time. It would then be very easy for these survivors to run back and re-barricade the fallen buildings, while players with the headshot ability could strike hard and fast against the enemy hordes.
The goal isn't a decisive "victory"; rather, it is to be such a thorn in the side of the enemy that any attacking force will retreat or withdraw from the area rather than be forced to spend the energy necessary to fully-secure the area.
While this form of defense is hypothetically effective, it can be difficult to implement. Unless a more sophisticated method of communication than graffiti (probably meaning metagaming) is used, it is difficult to inform unaware survivors of what "distributed defense" is. Even such tactics as using tagging to link to explanations of the tactic can be lost on inexperienced or simply apathetic players. This defence, however, was effectively used in the defence of various malls by the Malton Confederacy who utilised a common forum for communication.
Other criticisms include the fact that the tactic is rendered useless in the face of an opponent using spies, which can pinpoint survivor positions and that it abandons the buildings needed to sustain resistance to the enemy almost immediately.
This is not, however, as big a handicap as it would seem. Though many individuals do not know the technical name, the tactic seems to occur to most survivors after a while without being informed - likely due to its basis in preexisting, real-world combat strategies. It is also relatively easy to explain with only a few AP of speech to crowds in active safehouses. While this is a proactive approach and thus requires diligence, it is not impossible or overwhelmingly difficult to set up a defense of this manner involving unassociated players in safehouses who do not use metagame contact.
History and Related Concepts
The first example of this type of behavior by survivors was seen at the Oram Walk Police Department Safehouse, after the end of The Second Siege of Fort Perryn. Survivors scattered from the PD, leaving it empty, on hearing of the impending approach of the horde. When the horde later attacked, they found only a few inactive survivors remaining - as opposed to the sixty-plus formerly residing in the building.
This tactic was formally developed by the Tompson Mall Irregulars within the Malton Confederacy under the name "Sutherland's Defence", many other organized groups have since implemented this tactic to stave off horde attacks. As it is seen as one of the most effective ways to deal with organized assaults with the minimum amount of effort on the defenders' part, its use has become an integral tactic for many groups claiming a specific suburb or location as their own.
The Siege of Caiger Mall also saw extensive use of this technique, in part due to the fact that many of Caiger Mall's players were active members on the Malton Confederacy forums, run by 'Brian Sutherland'. Many individuals have credited this tactic with helping break the zombie assault by denying them as many 'kills per break in'. It is also theorized that it helped make their attacks on individual buildings around the area less effective toward the end of the siege.
Notably, the widely-utilized Uniform Barricading Policy shares many similarities with the Distributed Defense concept and could be considered as a wide-scope application of the usually smaller-focus defensive method. As the idea and those concepts that build off it filter through the city of Malton, and the reverberations of the Caiger Mall Siege continue to be felt, it is likely that the Distributed Defense system will begin to see wider implementation within the game.