Guides:Guide to Forming Groups

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You want to start a group in UD. You want strength in numbers. You want a community, your own group of badasses to fight off the hordes of zombies, band survivors together and have fun and camaraderie together. It's an admirable goal that many strive for, but few manage to reach and keep.

Well...let me help you with that.

This information is drawn from my lengthy experience leading, coordinating and recruiting for the Anti-Zombie Squad, having an alt in Team Xtreme and co-leading the New Malton Colossus. I have seen dozens of new groups, though enthusiastic at first, crash and burn in months, and I have met dozens of groups with "staying power", who refused to crash and burn and ended up thriving, even still years later, as a result. I have seen what makes the differences between the former and the latter. I know what works. I know what doesn't. And I will share with you this information so that your group will join the ranks of the latter and too be kicking ass in style even years later.

This guide is written primarily for pro-survivors, but there is plenty of general advice that applies to everyone. This information is not limited to beginners either. Even experienced group leaders may pick something up from it. This is a long and detailed guide, being both "In-Depth" and inclusive to several gameplay styles. Not everything will apply to your group, so read whatever you think is interesting. You don't have to read all of this guide.

I appreciate you allowing me to share with you what I have learned, and strongly believe to be true, about starting, maintaining and improving your group. I hope you benefit from and enjoy these lessons as much as I have.

General Advice

Advice that every prospective group leader should know. Most of these are common sense, but it still helps to keep them in writing.

The Basic Attitude for Success

You should have the right mindset if you want to stay successful.

  1. Fight for what you want. Hundreds of members, a bustling UD forum and a badass reputation will not spontaneously fall into anyone's lap, including yours. Earn it. Set aside time and AP daily to manage, recruit, chat, fulfill goals, etc. An hour to ten minutes a day at minimum. Effort is not a guarantee of success, but a lack of effort is a guarantee of failure.
  2. There will be bad times. Do not give up. What most often separates a good from a bad group is the ability to weather storms. Bad luck is inevitable unless you happen to be the g**damn luckiest group in UD (in which case I salute you, you little bastards). For the rest of us, members will desert, recruitment will shrivel, you will lose fights and drama will happen. It happens to even the best. What I say is, persist and turn things around. That's easier said than done, but this is what separates today's big players from yesterday's dead groups.
  3. Know everyone's strengths and weakness. Get a feel for your members' capabilities as well as your enemies'. Keep a keen awareness of what's at your disposal and what isn't- members' hidden talents, group specialties, etc. It will give your group a special edge over others and make full use of your resources.
  4. Respect begets Respect. This is another big one. You will eventually run into someone you dislike. Other groups or other individuals will irritate or simply piss you off. It's okay to express dislike of someone, but don't be an asshole, even to your enemies. Why? Why should you stay respectful, even though you may be angry, and they might have a cussing out coming to them? Because- how you respond reflects on you and your reputation. Plus, anger often will do things you will regret. So, stay cool. It's smart to. Avoid drama and make only the enemies you want to make.
  5. A good leader also follows. Bossiness can strangle a group. You rely on your members as much they rely on you, so listen and remember to talk with them, not to them. Your subordinates form a contract of sorts with you. You lead them to glory, they carry you there. "A good leader also follows", because some things can be better solved through cooperation than feudalism. Teamwork kicks ass.
  6. Pay Attention to Others You should know how other groups work. Have an alt join them, form a close alliance with them, talk with them often or observe them on the battlefield. "Compare notes." See what works for them and what doesn't work, and learn from their mistakes. It's a lot easier than learning from your own.
  7. Work Smarter, Not Harder. You can only benefit from learning and knowing more. There are multiple ways a group can get more powerful over time and knowledge is one of them. "Knowing is half the battle", especially in UD, where sheer muscle and numbers are often defeated by coordination and good tactics.
  8. Tedium is your enemy. Simply- when UD becomes more of a chore than a playtime, people, including your members, quit. Avoid letting your group turn boring and routine. Mix it up now and then. (there's a section for this below)
  9. The Power of Friendship. Make buddies in game- among your members, your allies, and even some enemies. Part of the advantage groups have over individuals is a community that interacts, chats, plots, helps, axe-murders, and has fun together. Don't forget to attend to morale and camaraderie now and then, because it's what holds your group together.
  10. Lighten up. This is a game. That's it. Your family, your house, your money, the fate of the Earth is not at stake. The most you have to lose is pride and some spare time. If you feel UD is making you stressed or obsessed, step back and find something else to occupy yourself, then come back when you feel better. You should not be playing a game that causes you more stress and hate than good feelings. That defeats the purpose of a game. So, remember, lighten up and don't take Urban Dead too seriously. :)

There. The cheesy motivational talk is over. These things are important to remember, so please go back and re-read if necessary.

A Good Start

Skip this section until "Things to Avoid" if you have already created your group and don't want to restart it.

You

That's right, you. Yourself.
You, yourself, will need credibility and knowledge if you want to attract members. Credibility consists of your character's level (indicative of how much you have been playing UD), experience and various achievements. People will trust a level 10 character who's only just learned how to play less, much less, as a leader, than a level 40+ who's seen dozens of fiery battles. Your level should at least be level 20-ish, to demonstrate that you are, at the least, not a noob.

It helps if you have previously been a member of another group, since that'll give you an idea of what a leader is supposed to do and how a group is supposed to work.

Charisma and "people skills" are important, some might say, the most important factor. These are not easy to control, unlike credibility, being determined a lot by personality and mood, but if you can help it, being charming and polite is obviously good for any leader.

Decent spelling and grammar are important to credibility. Assuming your group is based in English like most are, having at least high-school writing skills and not spraying around typos like machine gun fire is necessary if you want anyone to take you seriously. If you're naturally not too good at spelling, well, there's this thing called spellcheck...

Your Group Name

Not all names were created equal. Stuff like "Awesome Killers of Zombies", "sup3r-133t m0tH4f**kaz" or "Zombie-shooting survivors" are all going to fall flat. You want the name to be meaningful, respectable and memorable. You will find that just about every significant group on the game stats page, if you take a look, has a meaningful, respectable, and memorable name. The name does not have to be funny or strange, but that often helps get attention.

Remember that people will have to type your groups' name, and so it helps to have a convenient, and preferably unique, abbreviation or acronym for your name.

Your Location

Pick a good suburb, avoiding one already dominated by a bigger group (such as Ridleybank). Remember that you will have to compete with (for recruits) or fight with other groups in the area, so note who is active there. Don't get too attached to whatever suburb you pick- sometimes, your location will get "hot" and working conditions will become unsafe so you may have to move to another suburb temporarily.

Your Goals

Realistic goals. Baby steps. "Utterly take over the suburb in a week" is dooming yourself to failure. "Secure the X PD in our home suburb" is more like it- a manageable goal that you can feel good about when you accomplish it.

Work your way up as your group's development allows it.

Things to Avoid

There are a number of common mistakes a lot of people make.

A major one is designing your group so that it appeals to only a slim section of the UD community. For example, Broforce, a now-long-dead group that was based on, and relied on, a relatively obscure webcomic joke. Broforce limited its own appeal and so died swiftly. Make your appeal multi-pronged. Give people reasons to join besides "Hey, this group seems funny." Funny is good, but in itself, it's just not enough.

A big issue in Malton (to some people, anyway) is zerging- the violation of the only rule of Urban Dead. Here's the facts- zerging is dishonest, wastes your time, exposes you to Kevan's personal banning, and when you zerg, you *will* eventually be found out and crucified by the UD community. I've seen a successful group or two implode this way when they were outed as zergers. It doesn't help that most zergers have a reputation for low creativity and high asshole-ness. Don't fall to the temptation of having a few instant members. Keep your alts separate, smart and happy.

Another common mistake is the issue of power getting to you, both morally and mentally. Not naming names, but an ally of my group the AZS had drama about the leadership pursuing vendettas and being too indecisive. As a result, that group bitterly split and was weakened for a while. Be sure that you remain responsible, and if you feel the power is getting too much, delegate that power and share the load.

Not communicating enough is more or less going inactive and dying. If your group ceases to communicate with each other, the group is pretty much dead, since communication is necessary for any sort of team identity. Keep your forums/website/IRC/whatever alive. The exception is for highly informal, decentralized groups that don't need to communicate, which aren't relevant to this guide.

Biting off more than you can chew can be fatal for ambitious groups and leaders. For instance, pissing off too many Pkers or griefers at once might exceed your ability to cope with them. Challenging a group that outmatches you can get your ass kicked so hard that some of your group members will quit. The old, decent version of Dawn Patrol fell victim to this kind of thing and became the empty, crap-filled husk it is today. Don't follow that path- pick fights you can win or at least lose decently to.

Finally, quitting your group because you're not being super-ultra successful with it (or some other stupid reason). Biggest mistake you can make. Period!

Dealing with Crises

This is how I deal with various crises that will beset most groups at one point or another. My advice here might not be the best way to handle each situation, but it works well enough for me.

Drama

"To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?"

UD is not a soap opera, but it can feel like it at times. Drama, AKA squabbling, is bad but all too common. It ties up time and effort, and causes quite a bit of stress and damage to morale. Avoid it when possible. Drama can come from between members of your own group, from other groups, both allied and hostile, and from the ever-present trolls and griefers of Malton.

Much of your ability to prevent and handle drama is linked to your people skills and the nature of your group. How to deal with it is situational and should be done according to you. Whatever you do, however do your best to avoid throwing insults, arguing over small things and trying to get "revenge", because those things waste time for little or no gain.

The way I like to deal with drama involves an acronym called A.R.S.E.! - Apologize (if someone feels wronged), Retract (if you said/did something considered hurtful), Sympathize (you'd be surprised how much simple venting can calm someone) and Exit (because some things are better ignored). For drama that only involves other people, generally only the S and E will suffice. So, if you like my approach, then show drama your A.R.S.E.!

I'd like to bring special attention to the E of A.R.S.E., Exit, which should be a part of everyone's strategy. When you're in a dispute that just can't be resolved, then leave the discussion. Simple as that. Cut off communications, don't interact in-game, don't even mention them to others. This both non-verbally bitch-slaps the other side good and it ends further drama for you. If they continue to hound you, ignore them and continue your business, and they'll be the bad guys to whoever is watching. Be the bigger man/woman/zombie.

Now, dealing with drama from trolls/griefers, those who seek drama for fun, is a special case and requires a careful approach. There are many bad ways of dealing with them. These include killing, dissing, fleeing, or banning them- unfortunately, that encourages trolls/griefers by showing how pissed off you are, and they will find a way to continue to get you. The only good solutions are completely ignoring them (don't half-ass it- be stone silent), or, if you have the heart for it- play along with their little games. Who knows? You might end up making a friend, or you might end up discouraging them by showing the opposite reaction from what they wanted. Both methods are much easier said than done, but dealing with trolls and griefers is never easy. And especially remember #s 4 and 10 on the "attitude list"- don't flip out, and lighten up.

Another special case of drama is when your group will be accused of wrongdoings such as PKing/trenching/zerging. The appropriate response, depends on you. But, the important things to remember are- let accused and accusers speak and be heard, demand concrete evidence (i.e. screenshots) before taking claims seriously, and Don't. Talk. Shit! Last one is important since you'll only hurt your credibility and likability by responding with insults where logic and reasonable debate should be, and it will only inflame the drama.

Usually such accusations can be chalked up to a misunderstanding or honest mistake and then be easily taken care of. However, should the accused be proven or shown very likely to be guilty... even if it's you who is accused, own up and punish the guilty party accordingly. You only screw yourself if you try to cover up or distract the accusers, because even if you don't get caught, you will bring attention- and thus more drama- when the debate is prolonged and escalated. Listen and be honest.

Running out of Steam

Hey, it happens. You might just lose time or interest, your members might start falling off (no, silly, not those members, I mean the people in your group,), or even despite your hardest attempts, you can't seem to get anything done.

If you personally are running out of free time, you have three options. First, Delegate leadership to other members, either by wholesale appointing/electing another leader or by handing out various responsibilities. Second, spend less time on your group, but try to get more done during that time. Third leave the group, either temporarily or permanently. It really depends. #1 may result in sub-par leadership if you hand it to the wrong people. #2 will reduce your group's activeness. #3 will hit morale pretty bad and also may result in sub-par leadership, but may be necessary in desperate situations.
Now, if you lose interest in UD, I strongly recommend doing number 1 and then number 3. Come back if Urban Dead interests you again. A reluctant leader is likely going to end up a bad leader. Spare your group.

What if you can't seem to score any victories against enemies, I find it often helps to 1) Recruit aggressively 2) Pick on less powerful groups 3) get some more battlefield experience elsewhere and 4) bring allies (lots of allies!), etc., in order to get the strength to start winning again. If you find that doesn't help, maybe it's time to pick more manageable goals.

If you are running out of members, look at the Recruitment section below. Analyze the various types of appeal and publicity your group uses and tweak appropriately.

Gimmicks That Work, Gimmicks That Don't

Various themes that others tend to go for and why they work or don't work.

  • Humor- Clearly works. Making funnies tends to attract and give your group a better personality. I recommend it. The AZS is a good example. The C4NT is an even better example.
  • Dark Humor- Red Rum and the RRF, though not pro-survivors, are great examples. Basically, dark humor is making light of violence in an ironic and mocking way, e.g. "liberating those poor brains from harmanz" or "scratching trenchies' heads." Such morbid humor works well for anti-survivor groups and is common to most of the popular ones. It may not work so well for pro-survivor groups, which are not as rebellious and focused on violence.
  • Non-ironic Politics/Race/Religion etc- No. Stop. Don't. You limit your appeal by focusing on controversial topics, you will become a troll magnet and you will take this game too seriously, setting yourself up for unhappiness.
  • Ironic Politics/Race/Religion etc- Excellent. See also Barhah and Cult of the Crocodile. Irony is good. Many Urban Dead players like irony. Not very vulnerable to trolls, either, since these don't take themselves seriously.
  • Lots of super special squads- Bad idea. You should only have as many sub-divisions of your group as you have major tasks that require separate attention.
An example: a large survivor group I worked closely with. It had six sections with only twenty or so active members. Not much got done, since so few people were divided over so many commands/jurisdictions. Some squads were in practice empty, with the leader as sole member. When drama ensued, the group broke apart. Long story short, many of the sections merged or split off, and a lot more got done since only two sets of orders had to be made and everyone could act in unison.
  • In-jokes- You can have in-jokes, but don't rely on them. There's not much point in sharing them with everyone if almost no one gets it.
  • Pop-culture references- Neither good nor bad. Take a look at the game stats page. Most groups don't have pop culture refs in their name, those that do are neither better nor worse off for it.
  • Dedicated training schools- These are a lot of work, and require spare manpower set aside as trainers, but can be very worth it if many of your recruits are newbies. It's boring, micromanaging and monitoring noobs so that they don't die or waste time, but it pays off with well-trained and satisfied recruits if done right.
Do note that having separate alts for training, even if isolated from your main group, is still zerging by Kevan's definition.
  • Nomadism (traveling around often)- Depends on you, but it definitely works for the AZS, SDN, KT and the NMC, as well as the majority of large zombie groups, the MOB being most notable. You get to see new people, attend big parties and avoid being stuck in boring places, but this is at the cost of having to pick the next location, pack up, leave and adjust to the new location. It's not for everyone, but once your group has been established in your suburb, try experimenting with a mobile sub-group. You might like it.
  • RaDIkul NaMeZ or 1337sp34kz- A wonderful idea if you don't mind being cliched, ostracized and never, ever taken seriously.
  • Trenchcoating- Don't. Everyone with an IQ of over 80 will hate your guts. Except for other trenchies, who aren't too helpful as allies. And by "too", I mean "at all".

Moar Peoples!

You must expand if you want your group to be influential and active. Your members are the lifeblood of your group, both its muscles and its brains. More members does not automatically lead to success, but it is a good factor in success.

Theoretically, it's easy to get new members.

You have methods of getting attention- Spraying, broadcasting or speaking ads about your group, posting ads on various forums, using your members' profiles as billboards, and using this wiki's Recruitment page.. Once convinced, players will sign up and you let them in. Pretty easy, right? Even if only, say, 5-10% of the group-less players that encounter your ads sign up, you should have forty-ish members after a month of aggressive recruiting, right?

It's not that easy. (you knew I was gonna say that :P)

There are many complications. This is why your initial recruiting efforts will end up less than stellar:

A good number of group-less players are simply not interested in any group. There are plenty of zombies who self-identify as "ferals", those who wander around independently. A good number of survivors are also this way, independent and determined to stay so.

Some potential recruits simply will miss your ads. It's easy to overlook graffiti and broadcasts in the game, especially if you are in a hurry. They naturally won't be joining your group either.

In addition, competition. Many group-seeking players, rather than joining the first they see, will look at a variety of groups. They will "shop around" to see which group looks best and join that one. Not all players "shop around", but to attract those who do, you have to either be more persuasive than others or carve out a special niche that no one has occupied yet. If you can't, you lose those players.

And finally, what about the people you do get? A lot are unreliable. They will sign up and, if let in, will just disappear without a trace any time from immediately to months later. This type of unreliable recruit cannot be counted on to do much, and as such, will not be strengthening your group.

So, how do we deal with these complications? There's no special tricks to it. You have to appeal more, reach more people, and just look good in general. That's it.

Appeal

There are several forms of appeal- logic, emotion, credibility (AKA logos, pathos and ethos) and distance. It's best if you use as many as possible to appeal to the most people.

Logic refers to how people will analyze the pros and cons of your group. It's about objective facts, like "What do I gain or lose by joining this group?" To appeal to logic, you must emphasize the advantages of your group. Advantages could be fast revives, close teamwork, up-to-date intelligence, unique tactics, general competence, or something else. You need logical, factual reasons to join your group.

Emotion refers to how people feel about your group. Is this an awesome group, complete with kickass, amazing tales of badassness and good art/music/video to go with it? Or is it dull and quiet and has the personality of a lobotomized brick? How exactly you should appeal to emotion is up to your judgement, but some things, like humor, originality and sounding important, if not overdone, can't hurt. The point is to make sure that your group appeals to emotion and looks fun and awesome.

Credibility refers to concrete evidence. Do you have anything that backs up what you say? Any past victories? Any crowning moments of awesome you can cite? Any people or groups who will vouch for you? A long history to show that your group is firmly established and has "staying power"? The important thing is show, not tell. Any claims made for logical or emotional appeal will be stronger if you back up what you say.

Distance is part of logical appeal, but needs special mention. All else being equal, you'd much rather join a group closer to you in Malton than a group further away. Distance matters. You will be getting most of your recruits from suburbs you are in or have been in partially for this reason. All I can say about this is- hang around active suburbs. You won't have distance-based appeal in a ghost town because there will be no one there to say "Hey a group nearby! It's convenient to join them because they're so close!". Fairly obvious.

Now, how to reach people?

Publicity

To reach people, you must communicate in-game, or outside of the game AKA "meta-game". The initial contact with recruits must provide a link , either to further information about your group (i.e. wiki group page or a special recruiting page/image) or directly to your group (usually a forum). It helps if the initial contact also intrigues them enough to follow up on the link.

Personalized, in-game communication is specifically speaking to a small number of players to get them to join. Saying something along the lines of, "Hey X, you want to want to join my group?" and tailoring your message to them. It can be powerful if the ad is given after doing something impressive or helpful, (reviving, healing, saving them from an enemy, etc), because then, you will have credibility appeal right away to back up your recruitment message.

The downside to personal communication that it is fairly AP-inefficient per player reached, but if it's done effectively, becomes more efficient per player successfully recruited. (small tip: You have 256 characters to use per talking AP, so to save AP, make the most out of every click of the talk button!)

Now, in-game mass communication is the opposite. You mass communicate when you send a generic message to a large number of people. Trading quality for quantity. Broadcasting, graffiti'ing, or shouting in a crowded square.

Broadcasting is very efficient if done on popular frequencies in an active, safe suburb, but broadcasts are easy to ignore unless you put special effort into making them un-ignorable. Broadcasts are and should stay a situational and supplemental tool in your propaganda arsenal.

Graffiti is very effective, but you must maintain spray cans and can only spray in certain areas. Spraying outdoors is often futile due to the zombies defiling graffiti, spraying over friendly groups or public service announcements (such as "Keep at VSB++") pisses people off, and TRPs are very popular graffiti spots, so expect your graffiti there to be sprayed over quickly. Although you can get around this by spamming graffiti where you can, this may make you unpopular as well. In short, graffiti can be powerful, and can reach a lot of people, but it requires some strategy and caution to work well.

Public speaking in-game, while it has less coverage than broadcasting or graffiti, is much more visible to your audience. Of course, this is only worth it if done in places where the survivors are concentrated (usually malls and TRPs). It allows you to say a lot, with 256 characters per AP instead of 50 per AP for graffiti/broadcasting, so you can elaborate a bit on why recruits should join. Not many groups choose to do this, because it is quite a bit of effort, but it's an equally valid alternative to graffiti and broadcasts.

Paying for login/out-of-AP-screen ad banners not only can expose your group to hundreds or thousands of players without spending any AP, it will also financially support Urban Dead as a free game. This is only an option if you have enough money and are willing to spend it, and if you don't, that's fine. If you do, consider designing and submitting a paid ad.

These are all ways to recruit people in-game. You are, of course, not limited to what you can do in-game. There are various "meta-game" methods to get the word out.

Real life recruiting, through word of mouth. You and your members recommend friends and family to this game and to your group. This is a decent, if limited, method. However, when letting in your members' associates, beware of shared IPs. If two of your members are friends or family who constantly share an IP address, either keep them away from each other in Malton or don't let them share that IP in the first place, because it will cause you massive trouble if they work together in-game and get accused of zerging.

Having a presence on other forums will have varied results. On UD forums, recruiting mostly works for soliciting allies, not members, since most people on UD-based forums already have committed to a group/lack of a group, and, while those people can still have their alts join you, the odds of that are fairly low. A more effective approach is plugging on non-UD forums you are already involved in, since the people there will be more available to your group.

The wiki is quite useful because a lot of people look at the Recruitment page (remember to follow the guidelines!) and because you can create your own group ad on a wiki page and use it for a variety of other recruitment methods as well. I recommend putting something up on the Recruitment page if you have the time.

Now, in the war for peoples' attention, we can consider personal communication as bullets, broadcasts as artillery, graffiti as landmines, public speaking as grenades, paid ads as cluster bombs, word-of-mouth recruiting as sniping, forum ads as airstrikes, and wiki recruitment as tanks, all in terms of volume vs. individual efficiency. So... is there a nuke equivalent?

Public Events

Urban Dead events. Hosting an Urban Dead event, once you have established connections in UD, is an excellent idea.

Now, there are two kinds of events, public and private. Private events are simply joint operations between allies. Public events are large parties announced to all of Malton that almost anyone can get in on. I am focusing on public events here, as private events bring little publicity.

My group, the AZS, has hosted only one event, the Ridleybank Reclamation Army, an event to charge into Ridleybank and parody/annoy the RRF for fun (note that there is a fine line between griefing and annoying). While the event was a military failure for us, it was great fun for everyone involved, and it brought a lot of unexpected publicity, disproportionate to the effort we put into the event. Our recruitment rate tripled during and following the RRA, and we also were contacted by PKers and wannabe spies. Bottom line- event equals attention, both positive and negative.

Some groups, notably the New Malton Colossus, RRF and The Fortress host public events all the time, and arguably are better off for it. Attending another groups' public event, while it won't get you particularly much publicity, can be fun, and you will better know how to make your own once you do.

Keep in mind that you need three basic components to throw a good party/event and get publicity and attention.

  • Connections. The stronger the reputation and more influence you have, the more likely other groups and individuals will respond to the party, just like in real life.
  • An interesting event description. Your event needs to sound fun and distinctive if you want people to attend.
  • Announcements. You need to spread the word enough to reach a critical threshold of people interested, and then let word-of-mouth do the rest . Meta-game communication channels are your best bet. These include Major Urban Dead forums, the Current events and Community Portal bulletin board pages and other groups' forums or wiki talk pages.

Other good factors for keeping a party enjoyable once it's started:

  • Planning/coordination. Fairly obvious- avoid unpleasant surprises. If the event has a specific goal, you need everyone on your side to be on the same page to avoid confusion and duplication of effort. This is harder than it sounds. Having diplomats from allies on your forums is a way to privately coordinate and using the event's wiki page (you should have one) is for public coordination/order-giving.
  • Security. Again, you can get negative attention from any event, in the form of spies trying to get into your group, PKers and zombies trying to crash your party, or survivor groups you don't like wanting to attend. You should judge others carefully and be mindful of who you tell about the event if you wish to minimize the side-effects of having a big party.
  • Follow-through. Also important. You don't want your party to drop dead halfway through, because then you won't gain as much fun and attention as you could from keeping it up. You want to milk your event for all it's worth, throwing it away only when it's impractical to continue or you feel it has gone on long enough.

Common examples of events include reclaiming/defending a suburb, beating up on an enemy group, or temporary metagroups.

Events. When you have the time, make one.

Examples

Now, I'm going to provide two examples of wiki pages, contrasting my group, the Anti-Zombie Squad, and The Crabapple Estate.

ANTI-ZOMBIE SQUAD
Logical: Provides quite a few reasons to join- it coordinates reasonably well, revives members, trains and protects recruits, travels around a lot, has decent group numbers and shares camaraderie together. All clearly stated on the wiki page and in ads.
Emotional: The writing style is humorous and colorful. In addition to the information on the group, there are various non-essential "fun" parts to spice up the page and entertain readers, such as a rant on anti-zombie pie, a short story in the "history" section, a separate page with achievements medals, various quotes by AZS haters AZS fans etc. Lots of pictures add aesthetic appeal and breaks up otherwise monotonous text.
Credibility: Has an active history of decent duration, has more than a few allies, and has gotten anti-zombie action in many many suburbs. Fairly credible.
Distance: Moves around fairly often, often in the center of the map, and thus gets a lot of exposure to potential recruits.

CRABAPPLE ESTATE
Logical: None provided. There are no real benefits listed, nor any clear reasons to be involved.
Emotional: Boring. Painfully boring- despite a few weak attempts at dry humor at the beginning, most of the page is condescending, bland droning on about irrelevant and uninteresting role-playing minutiae. The later sections mostly comprise throwing off insults and bad-mouthing tons of people, which doesn't help.
Credibility: Exactly what have these guys gotten done? If you look carefully, nothing. A lot of talk about fighting off PKers and zombies, but that's purely in self-defense, not actually for helping the survivor cause or for fun. Whole page is basically maintained by one dude and the group happens to be all his shamelessly zerging alts, and they/he have/has no allies whatsoever to back them up. No credibility here.
Distance: Located only in West Boundwood, on the fringes of Malton. Relatively isolated. Not as many people around to recruit.

In the end, the difference between success and failure is how much you care about other people. The AZS works on its image and on entertaining wiki readers and looks decent as a result. The Crapabble Estate doesn't do anything about it and looks rather unsatisfactory as a result. Publicity without appeal is basically spam. Know that.

Other examples of good wiki pages include the RRF, C4NT, Red Rum and Team Xtreme, to name a few stand-outs.

As for advertisements, your ads won't get you anything unless you link them to your group website or info about your group (such as the wiki page). Be sure that your ad interests or teases peoples' curiosity enough to make them click that link.

I recommend using Tinyurl, Bit.ly or TinyCC if you need your links shorter to save space for in-game ads. However, it is not unknown for griefers to use these to conceal links to malware and shock sites (sites with very disturbing images), and many UD players thus don't like to follow these links, so don't rely too much on them.

Beating Up Bad Guys

So, now you have enough survivors. Or you don't. Either way, if you're like most survivor groups, you'll want to start taking down bad guys, or at least defending yourself when necessary. Victory lies in the real-life military concept of Force multipliers. Force multipliers are advantages that enhance the effectiveness of your group's numbers. Force multipliers can make up for inferior numbers to some extent, and can make superior numbers positively overwhelming

Force Multipliers in UD, for both you and your enemies, include:

  • Real-time coordinated attacks/defense. This advantage applies more to zombies than survivors, since zombies have more numerous and permanent targets to strike (barricaded buildings). Still, every group benefits from pooling members' APs together, because then they can quickly spend several hundred AP attacking or counterattacking at once before the enemy has a chance to react.
  • Stealth. If you are on the offensive, the element of surprise is your best buddy. When you catch your enemies with their pants down , you gain a foothold and demoralize your foes when they realize they've been had.
  • A well-thought out plan beyond "let's kill bad guys". Self-explanatory. Don't forget, you will have to improvise and change your plan as conditions change.
  • Supplies. Also obvious. Healthy survivors behind barricades, loaded with syringes, ammo and FAKs, are much more dangerous than battered survivors in ruins who are down to melee weapons and helpless against infection and zombification.
  • Proper division of labor. Don't fall to the temptation of having all your members be one-task assembly line machines, or having everyone try to do a little bit of everything. It's important to strike a balance. The assembly line, while very efficient, will be inflexible in situations that urgently require that specialist 1 do specialist 2's job. On the other hand, the jack-of-all-trades group will waste AP and attention switching between tasks. Don't be either one- have your survivors specialized within reason.
  • Morale. A happy, motivated fighting force is more effective than an unhappy, unmotivated one. Know that your troops' mood will affect performance. For zombies, morale is the only limiting factor during a siege and thus zombie morale is especially important for zeds to keep up and you to keep down. A morale advantage can do wonderful things.
  • Maneuvering. If you can have most of your members moved from A to B within hours, that's a massive advantage, since you can hit where a slower-to-mobilize opponent isn't and poke open the weak spots in his defenses while he's still figuring out where you went.
  • Location, location, location. One of the biggest factors in UD is Malton's geography and your awareness of this geography. Some areas are inherently easier to defend or attack than others. Consider the distance and status of TRPs (both important zombie foci and survivor supply dumps), free running routes, good hiding spots, revive points, etc. Many suburb wiki pages have pretty good analyses of the suburb's geographical advantages and disadvantages. You would be well advised to read those.
  • Allies. Allies technically aren't a force multiplier, being simply a force, but having buddies by your side will boost your morale and allow for better coordination than without them.
  • Unity. Splitting your group in two places can get two separate tasks done, but for big confrontations, a united front stands strongest.
  • Battlefield Intel. If you have a firm grasp of what's happening or is about to happen, you will naturally have a better ability to manipulate it.
  • Enemy intel. . Every single group has a S.O.P. a standard operating procedure, and you gain by knowing what your enemy's S.O.P. is. Quoting Sun Tzu's Art of War: "# It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."
  • Metagaming resources. By "metagaming resources, I refer to both information in this wiki and to various websites or add-ons you can find here. Many of them will allow you to micromanage your game, save time, and coordinate better with allies and teammates. Especially of use are the fire-fox add-ons or Greasemonkey scripts (a lot are obsolete, but there's still lots of good stuff).

So, whatever strategy you adopt, the premise should be fairly simple- get as many of these as you can, and deny as many of these to the enemy as you can. Consider- in the unlikely case that you have all of these things, where applicable, and your enemies have none of them, you'll likely be crushing even enemies who outnumber you five to one, driving them before you, and hearing the lamentation of their women. That's what force multipliers do.

Your Forums

Having a good forum website for your group is crucial if you want any manner of coordination for your group. I'll leave the details of getting forum hosting up to you. This is about forum management.

First, I recommend registering on and looking at another group's forums if you haven't already. Any major group will do. You'll get an idea of what an Urban Dead forum should look like.

At minimum, you need a public area for non-members (such as allies, enemies and recruits) to talk to you, a private area for strategizing, an off-topic area for small talk and a private area for announcements to your members. In addition, an IRC channel, a type of private chatroom, for group bonding, fast exchange of information, and real-time raids. I use Mibbit, but any IRC client will do. Similarly, Chatboxes, such as ChatanGo, can be used like easy-access bulletin boards.

Having a good-looking forum helps. Select an appropriate skin/theme for your forum and cut down on any unused, decaying forum areas.

Spambots on your forum will more likely than not menace you. I've seen them swallow up a good ally before and it can be ugly, both what it will do your morale and in itself. If you have spambots on your forum, you can a) change the security/privacy settings on your forum so that they have to confirm their email addresses before posting (gets rid of most of them) b) limit the forum areas that are open to non-members c) IP-ban confirmed spambots d) get a better, more secure forum, and/or e) consult an anti-spam forum (I personally like StopForumSpam). If it's not a problem for you, be prepared in case it does.

Don't be disappointed if your forum isn't active at first. It takes quite a few dedicated people to make a forum seem active. However, if once your group's been around a while, your forum becomes less active, that might be an indicator of your group slowing down. You might need to re-energize the group by changing things up in-game, creating a forum event or just "bumping" topics here and there.

In the end, it's your business what you do with and to your forums. If you only remember two things from this, they should be: take a look at how other groups handle their forums, and remember that your forum affects your group and vice versa, so treat it properly.

HardCore Advice/Analysis

This is for if you are planning to go the extra mile to make your group successful and if you want some serious micromanaging. Skip this if you aren't into micromanaging or if you want to just do whatever you feel like, which is perfectly fine.

If you are interested in hardcore micromanaging, it boils down to knowing 1) how you, as a leader, affect your group, 2)knowing how your groups' characteristics will affect your performance and 3) knowing how to appeal to different demographics of recruits.

Some of the traits listed below are basically a sliding scale between two extremes (e.g. strict vs. relaxed). Note that in some of these traits, different extremes are trade-offs with different advantages, and in other traits, both extremes are simply bad and moderation is best.

Know Yourself

A leader defines his or her group. Ask yourself where you lie regarding each of these, and consider if you should change your ways (if possible).

  • Commitment to your group- This is important. A strongly committed leader is a good leader, since a committed leader will put in the time and effort a group needs, but too strongly committed equals obsessed. And obsessed means taking the game too seriously. That's bad for everyone, as said earlier. Know that how dedicated you are to your group will make it barely active and lax (not committed), fairly active (healthily committed), or chokingly overactive and serious (too committed).
  • Standards for others- How much do you expect and want out of your members? If you demand more, you could be in for disappointment if you don't get what you want and you may push members too hard. If you demand too little, you will not motivating or stimulating members enough and you may end up getting nowhere. Maintain a fine balance.
  • Standards for self- How much do you expect out of yourself? The same as standards for others applies here. Expect too much of yourself, you're going to disappoint yourself sometime and stress out. Expect too little, and you're going be less effective than you could easily be. Be reasonable with yourself, and consider your resources and circumstance before determining if X action you did was a success or failure.
  • Initiative/Ambition- Do you get out and do things in Malton? Or do you want to take it slow, one step at a time. Of course, if you're starting a group in the first place, you have more than a little initiative. This is also an area where moderation is good. Too fast is getting ahead of yourself and doing to much or leaving your members in the dust. Too slow is going nowhere and boring your members to death. Check your ambitions as necessary to avoid either.
  • Personality- Big one here. It affects your leadership style, how much people like you, how well you handle good and bad news, etc. There's no exact "perfect leader" template, but more influential leaders, from what I have seen, tend to be more colorful (personality-wise), more eloquent, more extroverted, more intelligent, less controlling, more organized, more persistent, and more relaxed. That doesn't mean if you lack some of those things, you're doomed for failure. Just know that if you behave this way, you'll benefit, and if you behave the other way, you may not benefit as much.

Know Your Group

It is important that you determine what shape your group will take on, so that you can steer your members and structure your policies towards that goal. Different group traits will affect your recruitment, and future your success in battle.

  • Discipline/Strictness. Does everyone have to move in lock-step and report in at X-o-clock sharp for the daily strike? Or does each person do their own thing and everyone gets together now and then for a raid or something?

Your group's strictness is mainly a matter of efficiency vs. effort required.
-A stricter group will make better use of AP and appeal more to hardcore UD players, but takes far more effort to manage and can become tedious/restrictive for players if not well-managed.
-A more relaxed group will be less effective in battle, will appeal to casual UD players more, and takes much less effort to maintain, but can become boring/futile for players if not well-managed.

  • Inclusion/Selectivity. Is membership strictly for a select few who make it past your selection criteria? Or can absolutely anybody sign up and be a member?

This is mostly a matter of your personal taste regarding how many people you want in and what quality of people. Of course, there are advantages to each.
-A less inclusive, more selective group will naturally have "better" and more active people who you like more, but obviously that comes with having less people, which may backfire in the long run, as anonymous large groups can outdo well-picked small groups. And if you're lucky, you may be considered "elite" due to your selectivity and have that special elite reputation for your appeal, but don't count on that happening.
-A more inclusive, less selective group will have more people, as well as more diverse people, overall. However, too inclusive means that there are no standards- so you may have to deal with members who other groups would filter out. Be careful if you have high standards for others.

  • Hierarchy. Is there a strict chain of command, with successive ranks in power? Or is it an alliance among equals, with ranks mostly a formality?

-It takes more time to manage a chain of command, and too many ranks don't do anything than confuse people. While ranks can be a good thing, operating as incentives and making it easier to lead groups and delegate responsibility, too much is simply too much. Too many ranks puts undue stress on people who have to remember which is which and for those who have to constantly promote others through rank after rank after rank... just don't do it. Just three or four levels of rank should suffice if you are into it. Plenty of groups get along with no ranks besides "Leader" and "Non-leader", so too few ranks isn't a concern.

  • Mobility.

-Your groups' mobility can range between never ever venturing outside your suburb to always moving everywhere in Malton. Generally, being more mobile improves your ability to avoid trouble, seize opportunities, and see new places, but weakens the abilities of familiarity and establishment on a home territory. Generally, the stronger your group becomes, the more you can afford to drop the latter and the more you can benefit from the former. Your group's mobility should be whatever you want it to be, but be aware that how much you waltz around the zombie city strongly affects your group.
-An option is to be both non-mobile and mobile, by having a mobile half of your group move around, while having a home half plant itself in your home suburb, giving your group the advantages of both. A lot of groups, such as the popular RRF and Knights Templar operate this way. However, this requires that you already have enough members to staff both halves, and the necessary leadership or leaders (if you wisely delegated responsibility) to manage both sections and coordinate them.

  • Involvement in the UD community. Does your group mingle and talk with many, many other groups regularly and participate in inter-group events often? Or do you go about doing your own thing, creating allies or attending "parties" now and then?

-Your involvement. Too little involvement is bad, since allies and game events can really spice up your groups' UD experience, not to mention that allies always can help out in a fight. It is possible to be too involved as well, as being indiscriminate in your allies (often picking bad ones) or endlessly attending UD events may tire out your group. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and do your own groups' thing for a while to get ahead in the game.

  • Aggression- How aggressive is your group? Are you always in the heat of sweet battle and viciously tangling with your worst enemies? Or do you chill out mostly, and only open up some whup-ass when someone else starts trouble? A more aggressive group will have less time for recruitment, being too busy fighting, but will be much more engaging (read: fun) for your more combat-oriented members.

Know Your Demographics

Who do you want on your team? Appeal to different people as you see fit. Your group will affect your recruits, and your recruits will affect your group.

Most of the time, you can get away with "marketing" to everyone, but sometimes, you will have to make a choice...

  • Hardcore vs. Casual- People will naturally vary in commitment levels. Some players quickly give UD a few minutes every other day. They are the casual players, and are attracted to more relaxed and flexible groups. Some players will immerse themselves deeply in the game- its strategy, its mechanics. They are the hardcore players, and they want a group that gives them plenty to do and the capabilities to really get things done in UD. While hardcore players are more of an asset, they are also harder to please, and are the minority among UD players. Be sure that you include both groups.
  • Newbs vs. Veterans- Simply put, group-less UD veterans, although more valuable, are harder to get than newbs. Many of them have gotten used to being without a group and so don't know what they're missing, and unlike newbs, don't need a shoulder to lean on. Those who are interested in a group will likely have higher standards. Newbs, on the other hand, tend to quit a lot, and of course, are less effective initially and will want and need your attention, but if you manage to train some newbs to a good level, they can prove loyal and effective members of your group. And newbs are easier to get ahold of in the first place. Don't miss out on either demographic- you'll want to take what you can get for a good group.
  • Roleplaying vs. Non-roleplaying- Roleplayers, who act like their character in-game via speech and various "emoting" actions, usually join similiarly roleplaying groups. They are the minority in UD, but they are a fairly dedicated, if non-goal-oriented, bunch. If you choose to include them, you will have to modify your group to sound like roleplayers. Keep in mind any roleplaying limited to your forums don't count- this is about roleplaying in-game.
  • Age- Younger people are most attracted by the promise of action, ambition, and "epicness", or how grandiose and powerful your group seems. With older people, it's hard to say what they want, and so are hard to get, but they usually will not join what they perceive to be immature or unintelligent groups. Also, keep in mind younger players are often more aggressive and eager, but in turn often less competent or patient than older players, so the ages of your members may affect your groups' capabilities.
  • Seriousness vs. Silliness- Simple- more serious people will look for a tough, dedicated, and serious group, and less serious people will spring for a funnier, quirkier and more laid-back group. Your form of emotional appeal, as mentioned above, will determine which of these people you will get more of.
  • Types of Survivors- Another obvious one. There are a large varieties of survivors. Bounty hunters, PKers, past PKers, revivers, barricaders, zombie hunters, GKers, trenchcoaters, former zombies and many combinations of the previous. What kinds of survivors you'll attract depends on what kinds of behavior your group allows and what your group does.
  • Related interests- Some people might be interested in some aspect of your group unrelated to UD and will have common interests with your group. For example, The Kilt Store will attract Scottish people, or at least people interested in Scottish traditional clothing. The Knights Templar will attract medieval nuts. Et cetera.

Example Analysis

Me, Penguinpyro:

  • Commitment: Fairly highly committed
  • Initiative: Moderate initiative
  • Standards for myself: Moderate
  • Standards for others: Fairly high

I am a fairly balanced person in terms of these traits. I don't have any glaring weak spots (that I can see from this analysis) in my leadership. I could lower my standards of others, as sometimes I may expect too much, but it's not a fatal flaw or anything.

My (penguinpyro's) group, the Anti-Zombie Squad:

  • Strictness: Moderately strict
  • Selectivity: Not very selective
  • Hierarchy: Moderately hierarchical. Four ranks- Recruits, Regulars, Veterans and Leaders.
  • Mobility: Very mobile
  • Community involvement: Decent
  • Seriousness: Not too serious
  • Aggression: Moderately aggressive

The AZS is moderate, balanced in most regards, except for mobility and selectivity. This means that we have more opportunities to do fun stuff and avoid trouble, but sometimes need time to familiarize ourselves with a suburb's layout. Relatively low selectivity means we get our share of not-too-great recruits, but we do let in a lot of good ones as well. Otherwise, we'll have fairly average-seeming results as a result of avoiding extremes in any other traits.

Our demographics:

  • More casual than hardcore
  • Equal newbs and veterans
  • Definitely non-roleplaying
  • Slightly more younger than older.
  • Both serious and silly
  • Types of survivors include revivers, zombie hunters, barricaders, some past PKers, former zombies, and bounty hunters.

The AZS is generally diverse in terms of the people we attract and get, although we tend towards casual and younger. This may because we're fairly relaxed or "chill" as a group, and also because younger people are simply more common on UD.

Combat Micromanagement

Now, for most groups in combat, simply working on numbers or force multipliers and countering enemy tactics as you see them is enough. But, for those of you who want to go above and beyond and squeeze the most out of every asset you have, you'll also need to think about the following:

  • Your enemy's numbers and locations. Be careful- your enemy is not just "zombies" or "enemy PKer groups." When you fight a specific zombie group, the grouped zombies will be deadlier due to coordination and being higher-level. Put those zombies on your groups' contacts lists so that you will recognize the more dangerous zombies and will know what they are up to. Especially because you will know what they are up to. If you are fighting PKers, know that many PKer groups have members with no or low bounties or allies outside of their groups, so be careful who you shoot and don't shoot.
  • Exactly what supplies does each member have at the moment. Ask them to list or screenshot what they currently have. That way, if you have a shortage of needed supplies, you can fix it or alter your plans accordingly.
  • Free Running corridors. Analyzing free running corridors in and around the suburb is useful for figuring where is easiest to defend, where is easiest to travel through and which places are out of the way and thus easier to hide in.
  • Who is doing what. Know that your group members will all pick different tasks if left to their own devices, and some tasks are more important than others. If say, the local revive points are clogging up, ask your troops to focus on reviving more. If there are zombies not being taken care of fast enough, tell everyone to focus on shooting zombies. If everyone in important buildings are infected, ask people to gather and use FAKs liberally. And if all of these things happen at once, you're probably outmatched and should retreat ;)

Keep in mind that not all groups should go this far in micromanagement. It's a lot of work, and it may or may not provide enough advantage to be worth the hassle, depending on the nature of your group and your preferences.

Tl;dr(Addendum)

Damn, I was tedious back then. A summary of most of this guide:

  • Most importantly, establish your character's street cred and see how a decent group is managed by spending time in an existing one before starting your own.
  • Hubris will kill you. Don't think you're hot shit unless EVERYONE says so. Maybe not even then.
  • Mix things up if the game is getting boring.
  • Start with small, realistic goals and always consider your ability to chew what you bite off.
  • Your group will start off weak, boring and rough, things will go wrong, and you WILL have to put time into your group before it's not total shit. Leadership's not an easy or instantly rewarding job, or else half of Malton would be leading groups.
  • Zerging is for fuck-ups who can't win fairly. Be better than that.
  • Being an asshole = trouble. Handle drama maturely and don't piss off others more than you need to.
  • It's a ton of work hosting big events and being constantly mobile, but it's worth it if you have enough numbers.
  • Mass recruitment is king. Pimp your group en-masse in-game and out, because 99% of survivors won't respond.
  • Chucking AP at enemies will probably get you killed. Smart tactics, good planning, picking fights well and simply having underlings with their shit together is the key.

See Also

Starting a New Group - A much more concise version of this guide.

Grims Guide to Staying Alive - A pragmatic guide about individual survivor self-defense.

Hiding in Plain Sight and the Mall Defense Manifesto - Some awesome advice for surviving in intense situations. Just because.


--Penguinpyro 03:40, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

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