Guides:Pillaging

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Zombie Tactics
The information on this page or section discusses a zombie strategy.

This guide is intended for zombie players who want to attack barricaded buildings and kill the humans inside.

Barricades

Attacking a barricade is a bit different from attacking a character. Firstly, your chance to hit is cut in half, unless you are a survivor using a crowbar. Secondly, the amount of damage your attack does makes no difference- any hit (at the modified rate) removes one level of construction (but may not change the level name). A miss produces no effect, or makes the barricades "creak"- which has no documented effect aside from flavor.

Also, certain types of attack simply do not affect barricades, ever. Zombie Bite attacks (and certain survivor attacks) against barricades have no effect, but the game won't tell you this directly. Don't waste AP on them.

Here's a list of the best attacks for zombies to use against barricades, given various skills, and the chances of success:

Zombie with crowbar or melee weapon, regardless of skill: don't bother - you can do better with claws
Zombie, no skill, no equipment: use your claws (12.5% effect ~ 5 in 40)
Zombie, Vigor Mortis: use your claws (17.5% effect ~ 7 in 40)
Zombie, Vigor Mortis and Death Grip: use your claws (25% effect ~ 10 in 40)
Zombie maxed out on all skills, carrying every weapon in game: use your claws (25% effect ~ 10 in 40)

So obviously, if you want your zombie to pull down barricades, having Vigor Mortis and Death Grip is not only a good idea, but it is all you will ever need to be optimized for that task. As such, they should likely be among the first skills any zombie player buys, and should be your zombies first two combat skills if you wish to do any work on tearing down barricades.

The table on the Barricades page indicates the number of constructions needed to produce barricades of any strength. These values are also the number of collapses needed to destroy the barricades, so you can roughly estimate the AP needed to breach a given building by multiplying the upper limit in the Constructions column by 4, 6, or 8 (depending on skill level).

An evident point here is that even in the best cases, Extremely Heavy Barricades will generally require at least 68 APs worth of attacks to open up. You need to get some help- one zombie alone can't do the job, because any survivor inside can re-build before you will finish the job. Indeed, anything past "Very Strongly Barricaded" is pretty likely to stop a solo zombie, even if your only goal is to open the building, go inside, and maybe groan to attract others before becoming a swaying target.

Coordination

Coordination is the key to maximizing kills (and XP return) when attacking buildings. The high AP cost of barricade destruction makes it risky and inefficient for lone zombies to attack buildings. For example, a lone zombie with maxed claws will on average require 40 AP (10 x 4) to breach a VS barricade, plus one to enter the building, leaving few AP for attacking. To be successful, loners should find a Very Strong or weaker (hopefully much weaker) barricade on a building that probably only contains two or three survivors. Once inside, it may be hours before any of them wake up, so it will often be possible to smash the barricade at night, infect the people inside, and attack whoever's left in the morning.

The first step towards a coordinated attack is getting some zombies to attack at the same place and time. Two zombies with maxed claws can spend 20 AP each against the barricade, and still have up to 30 each for attacking. Three zombies will on average breach the barricade spending only 13 AP each, and so on. Strategies to achieve this step are suggested in the Zombie Metagame guide.

Secrecy. Once a time and place are selected, you should weigh the relative advantages of keeping them secret versus publicizing your plan. Secrecy can reduce the chances of active defenders (building barricades as you try to tear them down), who greatly increase the cost of getting into a safehouse. Other survivors will simply leave if they know you're coming. Publicity may help to draw in feral zombies and maximize the size of your strike group. Relatively safe forms of publicity include:

  • Communicating only the time or location publicly. For example, the Mall Tour '07 doesn't make much secret of where they will attack, but uses secret strike times. X:00 tactics offer the potential to go the opposite route, by having a publicly announced attack time, but depending on more private methods (direct zombie-to-zombie communication within the game, or metagaming) to co-ordinate a strike location.
  • Organizing publicly announced strike times during a mall siege. This may succeed through sheer size of the attacking force, and by leaving defenders weaker against subsequent unpublicized strikes.

The second key aspect of coordination is what to do once the barricades are down. Real time communication during the attack is critical at this point. http://www.chatzy.com provides a convenient, accessible way to instantly create secure chatrooms using only a web browser, though it is sometimes laggy. IRC clients or other dedicated chat applications perform better but may not be familiar to all players.

Target Choice

Thanks to the Uniform Barricading Policy, there are humans behind VS 'cades in nearly every suburb. But very often you won't be able to finish all of the humans during your initial attack, so try to situate yourself where your Groans will be heard. The Suburbs page is helpful in this regard.

Consider not only barricade level (discussed below), but the likely HP of the survivors inside. Hospitals are guaranteed to have people inside, but they're very likely to be at full health. PDs and fire stations are better targets in this regard. Buildings close to major revivification points, and close to major zombie infestations, are also more likely to have wounded (though take care in the former case not to get revived against your will!).

If you're less concerned with XP than with the larger zombie/human conflict, NT buildings should be a high priority.

Scouting

Zombie hit squads can gain enormous advantage if a member with Free Running scouts potential targets for wounded survivors. Some players will complain that this is cheating, but no game rules are broken so long as the player controlling the scout isn't controlling a separate zombie character as part of the hit squad. In other words, it's perfectly legal for survivors to aid zombies. It is NOT legal for one player's survivor character to aid that player's zombie character.

Scouting is made more convenient by careless technicians who practice random revives or combat revives. Characters played primarily as zombies often have survivor skills, and can Free Run through some potential targets before rejoining the horde.

Eating the Brains

Ah, the good stuff. You know how to get in, where to go, and now its time to chow down. But wait- there's still a few things to remember before and after you begin to feed.

First, Let the elders take down the barricade. Squads will ideally have enough high level zombies that those characters can remove the barricades, letting the junior zombies save their efforts for earning maximum experience with their limited AP, ideally by scoring kills on injured humans. Zombies without maxed claws should attack barricades only as a last resort.

Prioritize your targets. Don't attack indiscriminately as soon as the barricade falls! If a manageable number of humans are inside, check their profiles. If possible, a squad member with Scent Blood or Diagnosis should copy the list of humans and their HP and paste it to the chat area. Weakened survivors are obviously easier to kill. Also, there is little strategic benefit to simply wounding a number of survivors without killing them; they will all be healed ( a rare exception to this rule is during a mall siege-if a character has the infection skill-this will force the survivors inside to waste precious first aid kits and AP to rid themselves of infections. This holds especially true if the hospitals in the surrounding area have been neutralized). So be sure to actually KILL as many as possible, and leave as few merely wounded as you can. This also maximizes the XP gains for your squad.

If any zombie in the group needs XP, targets should be attacked in ascending order of remaining HP to maximize kill bonuses. High level zombies should leave victims with only a few HP. Low level zombies should keep a reserve of AP to take advantage of the bonuses.

If XP are no longer needed, or if all targets are unwounded (or equally wounded), humans with Lab Experience, Construction, and/or Diagnosis and First Aid should receive priority (during a mall siege survivors with large amounts of human AND zombie skills should be targeted first, as they make potent allies and enemies). Survivors with Headshot may seem an appealing target, but it is such a common skill that targeting them really offers little benefit. Survivors with Brain Rot should most likely be left for last or avoided entirely; in many cases they are zombies searching for flak jackets.

Feeding Groan

Groan the moment it becomes clear that you won't be able to kill all of the humans. This will maximize the time that zombies hearing the groans have to respond and arrive while the barricades are still down.

If you're confident you can kill every survivor, don't groan. You'll waste not only your single AP, but the AP of the unknown number of zombies who may follow your groan only to find an empty building.

If you have doubts, be sure to groan before the human population falls below 6. A groan in the presence of only 5 humans will reach 48 fewer city blocks.

Repeated groans in a short time span waste AP. A single recent groan message will likely bring a response, and many old ones will not. Additionally, a large number of groans from a given location imply a large zombie horde, meaning all the brains will be eaten quickly. Ironically more groaning may therefore bring in FEWER hungry allies.

A wise rule of thumb is to groan once when entering the building, then again when the building population hits 6, and then to send a final groan when the group has spent all available AP.

Squatting

Cleared buildings should be Ransacked and squatted by at least those squad members with Ankle Grab. Humans will put a high priority on gunning you down and clearing you out, which is precisely the point. With no true death for the characters on either side, the human/zombie conflict is better viewed in terms of AP balance. As odd as it sounds, the relative AP costs of killing zombies greatly favours the zombie side.

If you have a choice of buildings to squat, prioritize Tactical Resource Points, and especially Necrotech Buildings, as per the Salt the Land policy. These buildings are a very high priority for survivor players to clear out, further increasing all the advantages of squatting. There is also a higher chance that you will be combat revived inside an NT building, which can be useful if you want to do some scouting the next day.

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