January Assault on Tompson Mall

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Introduction

As 2006 comes to Malton, Lockettside played host to a major Zombie attack. Tompson Mall was attacked by a Zombie Horde rumoured to be from The Undying Scourge, Shambling Seagulls, Minions of the Apocalypse, and Da Shamblin' WAAAGH.

Chronicles of Events

03 Jan 2006

Acting as a distraction point for the mall defenders, Da Shamblin' WAAAGH launched an attack at The 'Sards headquarters located at Frossard Place Police Department. The attack was successful in that it caused many survivors to focus their attention onto defending the small police department instead of the mall.

04 Jan 2006

An initial wave of Zombies was spotted moving through northeastern Ruddlebank towards Lockettside. Many resource buildings such as Suter Boulevard PD were overran.

The Minions of the Apocalypse start their assault upon Marven Mall effectively splitting the Malton Confederancy (The supposed protectorate) into 3 reducing, their efficency in combating the zombie hordes.

05 Jan 2006

A direct attack on St John's Hospital breached the barricades and the Zombies got in; the subsequent evacuation was fairly straight forward as the hospital was right next to the mall and easily accessible.

Also, there appeared to be a breach in the Mall itself, but this breach was small and the invading Zombies quickly driven out.

06 Jan 2006 to 09 Jan 2006

Zombie activities were low during this period. Zombies were seen massing near the mall -- the unfortunate placement of a revive point right next to the Mall probably wasn't the wisest thing under such circumstances -- but no major attack was forthcoming. Some buildings on the west side of Lockettside and the east side of Ruddlebank were overran but the extent of the loss of life is not known.

Also, during this time a persistant Zombie presences in the Necrotech building (Cheeke Building) contributed to the unrest felt by the residents of Tompson Mall.

The survivors abandon hope of holding Frossard Place Police Department and it becomes under control of Da Shamblin' WAAAGH.

In addition, there were apparently concerted assassinations of Confederacy leadership during this period. This would later prove critical as their absence meant a lack of rallying point for the Tompson Mall defenders.

10 Jan 2006

The first major Zombie attack came rolling in and hit the survivors from the east side of the Mall. Although the initial wave of Zombies were greatly reduced in numbers by concentrated firepower, the attack was successful in maintaining a foothold within the Mall itself.

The initial wave of Zombies were reduced to 26 Zombies (17:43), but grew to 69 (21:25). This would have reprucussion later,

11 Jan 2006

The Zombie horde exploited its foothold in the Mall and brought up reinforcements. At (01:45), there were 56 Zombies total in the Mall, and well over 400 Survivors. By (06:57), there are 129 Zombies vs. 78 Survivors. Most of the Survivors undoubtedly decided to evacuate rather than engage in combat.

As of (17:53), Hinckesman Bank SW of Tompson Mall was breached by 15 Zombies. This may signify a dispersion of the Zombie Horde currently holding Tompson Mall. With luck, Tompson Mall would be back in Survivor hands by the end of the week.

13 Jan 2006

At this point, Tompson Mall is too hot to approach directly. Some skirting around the Mall shows indications that the original horde which took down the Mall may be fragmenting into smaller (<10) hordes and attacking nearby buildings.

Also, telephony in Lockettside was restored briefly for about 8 hours. The very visible sign of "occupation" lured Zombies in and the generator was quickly destroyed, although there was no loss of life as the Mobile Phone Mast building was sensibly unoccupied at the time.

Frossard Place Police Department was reclaimed, after several guerilla strikes.

14 Jan 2006

Telephony had been restored to Lockettside. Also, while it may be too early to call it secured, the interior of Tompson Mall is currently (06:01) clear of Zombies.

15 Jan 2006

The suspicion with regards to the dispersion of the original Zombie horde proved to be somewhat accurate. The main horde has moved on, leaving a great number of smaller hordes scattered around West and Central Lockettside.

Survivors had retaken Tompson Mall in small numbers but persistent Zombie breaches are commonplace, especially in the SE corner of the mall, where the original Zombie Horde gained access. Despite attempts to reinforce the barricades there, the number of Zombies on the outside is greater than the number of volunteers who are willing to brave the risks to maintain the barricade there, and so breaches remain a sporadic occurance for the Survivors in the Mall.

Coverage of the situation from this point on is documented in the January Siege of Tompson Mall article.


Analysis & Opinion

Note: This section is definitely not NPOV. There are opinions here, so please adopt the right attitude towards this section. Some of the opinions are undoubtedly questionable, but it is only fair for contributors to respect each other's opinion... even if we think it came out from a horse's ass. :)

Given the heavy fighting that characterized previous Mall sieges, it is interesting to note that Tompson Mall did not really offer much resistance to the Zombie Hordes. There may be a few reasons, some of which are stated below:

Lack of Leadership

Undoubtedly a major factor is the lack of organized resistance; despite claims of being a protectorate of the Malton Confederacy, there were no visible evidence that the Malton Confederacy were present at the Mall in any significant capacity.

There was a remarkable lack of willingness to hold ground in the face of a Zombie assault without the aforementioned leadership. As no visible presence is seen by the Mall inhabitants, a good percentage decided to evacuate rather than stay and fight over ground which the Zombies are unlikely to occupy.

(NB: Please note that while the Malton Confederacy may indeed be present, there were simply no visible signs of their presence.)

According to FKruger, Between 06 Jan 2006 to 09 Jan 2006, known and suspected Confederacy leaders were systematically targetted by assassination attempts. These attempts were largely successful (to the point where some of these survivors were actually killed multiple times over the course of several days), and as such deprived the Mall of much needed leadership during the critical assault period. This led to a general failure in the mall's defenses which caused it's total collapse to occur within 24 hours.

Counterpoint

I would be the first to admit that we, the MC, weren't expecting the hordes to arrive when they did, nor the sheer number of them. It was a well planned siege, hats off to you. Taken by such surprise, it's much harder to organize resistance - yet not exactly from a lack of leadership. The MC got it together soon, and were instrumental in returning Lockettside to it's pre-siege state. The human population, overall, did not. Organizing all the humans in a mall is worse than herding cats, especially when forced to do less than glamorous tasks like barricade duty. Not every single person who was killed in Tompson Mall was a member of the MC. Most MC members are smarter than that. A great deal of the people camping in the mall were mindless sheep - they deserved to have their brains eaten if they won't use them, after being advised by MC members to evacuate.

In addition, current MC policy favors Distributed Defense when faced with overwelming numbers. A mall's just a mall, we don't need to live in it to use it. So when we couldn't hold it, we used our brains rather than let them get eaten - we hid in in unassuming locations, making barricade or healing runs and guerilla strikes. Our signs may not have been 'visible' to zombies, and that's because we weren't concentrating the majority our efforts on shooting them full of holes. Take the mall for a time; you'll move onto greener and more juicy pastures. We're survivors - our job is to survive and help other humans do so. --Aislinn Hanrahan 05:44, 16 Jan 2006 (GMT)

Effects of Game Balance Changes

It is interesting to note the effects of recent game balance changes on the attack.

The major changes that may have had an effect on this attack is as follows:

  • Removal of interior Mall walls
  • Headshot changes
  • Zombie Groans
  • 50-people Speech Limit

Removal of Interior Mall Walls

The removal of interior Mall walls had a major effect on gameplay. Zombies now can easily move reinforcements between Mall sectors, rendering each sectors' defenses to be significantly weaker. This (IMO) is a major contributing factor to the Zombies' successes within the Mall proper.

Headshot Changes

The removal of XP penalties in Headshot has an interesting effect; Survivors are less willing to stay and fight to make the Zombies lose XP, seeing the AP loss as trivial. As such, resistance to the Zombies is reduced, allowing Zombies to bring more mass to bear.

Zombie Groans

The effect of this is debatable, but it has been noted that Groans do result in more Zombies congregating within a sector. While not game-swinging in its own rights, it does add a good gameplay element for Zombies.

50-people Speech Limit

During the infamous player strike of December 2005, the unprecedented and conversational gathering in Whetcombe Park resulted in server load issues. To prevent recurrance, Kevan changed things such as when speaking, the words will only be audible to the "nearest" fifty players, meaning the fifty most recently active ones.

It is difficult to ascertain, but this may have, in some minor ways, prevented a leadership from gathering sufficient Survivor momentum in-game. Zombies can't communicate very well in-game anyway, so they rely on meta-communications; also, an attacking horde, by nature, would be better coordinated than a loose group of survivors with no visible leaders.

Overall, aside from the removal of the interior Mall walls, individual changes made by Kevan does not appear to have a major effect on gameplay. However, combined in a setting where Zombies are gathered in a horde in a 4-cell building, the game balance appears to have shifted significantly towards the Zombies.

Effects of Player-introduced Policies

There are also some.. interesting Player-introduced policies that may or may not have made a difference in this attack. Understandably, these policies are introduced with the best of intentions, so the opinions offered here may not be the most politically correct or take into account the whole picture.

Two player-introduced policies may have an impact on this event:

Siting of Revival Zone

Tompson Mall had the fortune of having a Necrotech building (Cheeke Building) right next to it. For convenience, a revival zone was set up (or may have just evolved) right in the wasteland next to the Mall.

Between 06 Jan 2006 and 09 Jan 2006, an abnormally large number of Zombies was observed to be congregating in this revival zone. However, most Survivors are hesitant to attack these Zombies for fear of Blue-on-Blue.

When the zone was finally shifted (on or around 09 Jan 2006), the momentum of the Zombie attack may have already been too great to turn back. Furthermore, there was only a verbal announcement (which went to the 50-nearest people), which may not have an effect.

It is recommended that Revival Zone setters may want to consider their criteria for siting. Too near a major resource building, and it becomes a Zombie Staging point with limited immunity.

The Uniform Barricading Policy

(To be fair, this author does have a small axe to grind against the UBP. Please read the discussion page on the UBP for more insight. Also, to some extent this section is speculative and "could-have-been". The author recognizes this and will attempt to keep things to more neutral discussions.)

The Uniform Barricading Policy, as discussed elsewhere, is a good defensive mechanism; however, it is the opinion of this author that it may have hindered anti-Zombie operations which may have reduced or lengthened the siege on Tompson Mall.

The Zombie Horde was spotted moving in Ruddlebank at least on 04 Jan 2006. Initial spoiling attacks attempted by this author ended up being constrainted by EH barricades as per recommended in the UBP; this author was only able to attack once before being forced to retreat at least 4 blocks away, to an underbarricaded building (!), which was subsequently assaulted and overran by Zombies (which may or may not have tracked this author back).

The inability for Survivors to conduct hit-and-run attacks due to the EH barricades hand the initiative over to the Zombies in a very subtle manner. Zombies need not hit-and-run; they cannot by nature, thus they assault en masse. The very inability of Survivors to run away after an attack constraints the Survivors to mostly frontal attacks and defenses -- which the Zombies excel at. It is hard to fight a war when your hands are half-tied behind your backs.

However, the experience in NE Ruddlebank may not be conclusive and the spoiling attacks may not have changed the outcome in this case.

It is hard to recommend changes to the UBP, which is a great defensive policy (and also because of this author's bias). However, it is recommended that at least a review of the UBP be done in the light of game-balance changes implemented by Kevan. As the game-balance moves more towards the Zombies, the Survivors must change certain ideas in order to remain effective.

Sources

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