Mall Offense Manifesto

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

(This was originally posted on the Gore Corps boards by IAmRisen. It is now available for all the world to see.)

Intro

With the fall of Caiger at the hands of the Shackhorde, there is absolutely no square left on the board where survivors' safety is guaranteed. Shacknews proved what McTrout, in his venerable Mall Defense Manifesto, asserted so long ago: no mall can stand forever. Any mall can fall.

The intention of this guide is to show you how it can be done.

The Goal

One word: ransack. With the Ransack change, individual squares can stay fully in zombie hands, unbarricaded and unsearchable. Distributed Defense is dead when it comes to mall defense; once there are no more humans holding down a square, they will not, for all intents and purposes, be able to take it back until the zombies leave. The goal, then, is to render your target mall absolutely useless to survivors by ransacking it. In order to do that, there must be no standing survivors left anywhere in the mall.

The good news is that malls effectively die when a single corner is ransacked; such an occurrence leaves the entire interior of the mall unprotected, as zombies pour in and do as they wish. So any horde hitting a mall really only needs to take down one corner. The rest of the mall will crumble after that point.

The Opposition

Assume that the mall's defenders have read, are familiar with, and do obey the dictates of the Mall Defense Manifesto. As stated earlier, it is an excellent piece of strategic writing, and as such, has been adopted as standard operating procedure by every survivor group dedicated to the defense of any mall in Malton.

The good news is that while a Mall's defenders generally know what they're doing when it comes to throwing their AP around, they tend to be laughably cowardly when it comes to putting their own HP on the line. Expect, therefore, to see some corners of the Mall extremely overpopulated, the survivors in those corners thinking "safety in numbers," while others are sparsely populated, their defenders (rightly) thinking that by holding down that weak corner, they're doing their best to reinforce the weak point in the Mall's defenses.

Recruiting

Got a mall in your cross hairs? If so, I hope you're either part of a decent zombie group or the leader of one. The defenders have an individual per-AP advantage when it comes to destroying barricades versus building them, and it's very likely that they will outnumber any horde that comes their way. So you're gonna need a lot of zombies.

Here's where being popular becomes very, very valuable. Upon deciding to take down any given mall, the first order of business should be a recruiting drive to get some more weight behind the assault. Go to other zombie groups' message boards, wiki pages, IRC channels, whatever, and get them in your corner. Diplomacy is important here; don't just copy-paste some propaganda. Make each group you're recruiting know that you need THEIR group, THEIR skills, THEIR style of play, and THEIR support.

"Hey, Silent Storm, what's up! We're looking to take down X mall soon, and we're sure that there are going to be loads of chatty survivors there spamming up the frequencies. We know that you all are the go-to guys when it comes to breaking communications, and we need your anti-materiel skills to get this job done. Whaddya say, wanna crack the harmanz' command and control system?"

Chat with the leaders and the rank-and-file. Each one of them needs to know that they count, because they do. Treat them as such.

If you're on the other side of that recruiting drive, make sure you aren't wasting your time with whatever crusader is knocking on your door asking for a handout. If you think that your crew can do more damage elsewhere, tell him thanks but no thanks. Be polite about this; you never know when you might need their help. Hell, send them a contingent of alts as a token of good faith.

But if you've got a horde known for its ruthless effectiveness asking for your help, pack your bags and roll. And leave your ego at home; if you're submitting your resources to a group known for its ass-kicking capabilities and good tactics, submit to their command. Do not second-guess the targets you're handed, the attack times, nothing. There isn't a damn thing that can destroy a horde from within like bickering among the leadership. Even if you think a decision is lousy, take it up with the leadership, PRIVATELY. Elite zombie disunity emboldens survivors and disenchants zombies. It makes the zombies want to leave. And have a look at the Defense Manifesto for what that means to the siege.

Okay, so you've got some hardcore groups in your pocket. You aren't done yet. You need to recruit the ferals.

Don't believe me? Ask any of the former Shacknews generals. Most of the zombies in Malton (a clear majority, in fact) are not part of any organized group. That's a lot of manpower. If organized, it can do some amazing things. And it has. In every mall siege Shacknews spearheaded after they made a name for themselves, it was the ferals that were the bulk of the fighting force. Realizing that they had become part of something much, much bigger than themselves, the ferals fought with a ferocity and relentlessness unmatched. They were finally smashing cades in pursuit of a clear and obtainable goal, not just knocking some junkyard from EHB to QSB before logging off to get headshot.

Ferals don't metagame. You need to make them. Get one of your killers revived and have him search up a truckload of spraypaint. Tag the outside of every building around your target with a tinyurl link to a page with information for the ferals, including who is leading the assault, who's in it, where it is, and when to strike. Shout the damn URL to standing zombies out in the open. And fire off a few feeding groans to grab anyone you missed.

When you're logged off

Okay, so you're ready to start the siege. Before you even start thinking about target selection and attack times, you need to think about where your zombies should be standing when they aren't active and killing. Think about it: any given Urban Dead player is actually spending AP for only twenty to thirty minutes a day. The rest of the time, you're swaying wherever you logged off. What's the best place to spend that twenty-three and a half hours?

There are only three places you should bother with: revive points, ransacked NT buildings, and ransacked Mall squares.

Well, let me be a bit more specific: camp the revive point if you've got either Free Running or Brain Rot. If you have the latter, you'll suck up needles like an evil needle-sucking machine. If you have the former, you can do some serious damage to the mall; more, in fact, than you could if you were rotted.

So check the wiki, find the public revive point (a revive point is pretty useless if no one knows about it, amirite?) and camp that sucka. Best case scenario, only your evil PKers and GKers will get revives while the actual defenders keep on a-swayin'. Worst-case scenario, the defenders will organize their revive system to the point where only known defenders are revived, "feral" defenders are left out to dry, and "life cultists" will spend AP that would have gone toward cading and searching clawing your rotters down. You win no matter what; it's only a question of how much you win.

If your siege strategy involves sacking an NT before hitting the mall itself, get off the revive point and maintain the ransack in the NT. You spent God-knows-how-long taking it; no reason to give it back.

Once you sack a mall corner, rejoice! The siege is, for all intents and purposes, over. Keep that hole open so the ferals can pour in and do what they do best.

Target selection

Okay, so many buildings, which one to hit? The mall has up to four squares, but there are other buildings too...

Let's see here: McTrout recommends defending only the Mall itself and a nearby NT. And maybe a hospital too. Well, that must mean that those buildings are important to the harmanz. So those are the only ones you should even think about bothering with.

How about sacking a Hospital first? To answer this question, I pose another question: what's the point? Survivors can still get FAKs, and at a higher search rate, in the Mall. Blah blah Surgery whatever. If survivors are actually moving to the Hospital to get patched up, then they're logged off and not part of the bodycade in the Mall itself. Let 'em have their hospital.

That leaves NTs and the Mall. Let's talk about the Mall first. As Ron Burgundy so accurately stated after the fall of Caiger Mall, a zombie horde sieging a mall is really only fighting against the survivors in the least populated corner, because once THAT corner goes down, it takes the rest of the mall with it. So find out which corner has the fewest bodies and hit it hard. Yes, you may have to change corners if the defenders grow a collective pair and move to wherever you're hitting. And bear in mind that you don't need to attack survivors in the corner with the hole in it; you can mall-walk to a different corner than the one you came in through. This will cause mass confusion in the mall and keep your point of entry unpredictable, rendering the defenders unable to prepare for your entry.

If you find yourself stalled, you may have to switch targets. As we all know, survivors can get right back up and get back to cading once they get a needle upside the head. But what if they didn't have needles? Sacking nearby NT buildings will make each revive significantly more costly. That means that fewer survivors will take off their trenchcoats and spend their AP on it, and the ones that do will be producing fewer and farther-between revives. Net result? More of the defenders you kill will stay dead. Thin out their numbers!

The most important thing to remember when picking your target, though, is unpredictability. If the defenders know where you're going to be, then they can prepare for your assault and act against it. So don't take anything in this section as an absolute rule; we don't want to get predictable now. But seriously; hitting anything other than the Mall itself or the closest NTs is a waste of time. Yes, that includes buildings that produce gennies and fuel. As you'll see later, keeping those in operation will drain so much AP from the survivors that they'll be likely to abandon them on their own, if they know what's good for them.

Execution

You've got a strike force of hungry zombies camping a revive point. You notice that they're all staring at their watches. When should they attack?

It goes without saying that a whole ton of zombies all attacking at once is more effective than a whole ton of zombies all attacking at different times. With everyone hitting at once, the cades come down faster than the defenders can realize what's happening and get them back up again, and more zombies can pour through the breach if they're all logged on at once. You want to get the most out of the doors-open time window. So when should the hit come?

Honestly, before you decide when the organized zombies should hit, you should decide when the ferals should hit. Since they aren't plugged in to the metagame as well, you'll want to keep this as simple as possible: same time every day, same target every day (unless you really want to change it for some reason; do not do this lightly). 8pm EST has been the standard for Shacknews (plus extra times for players around the world), but you can change this up; I once suggested letting the ferals attack whenever they want, as many times a day as they want, but always at the top of the hour; or maybe 8pm in your home time zone. Take your pick. Just use a time when you figure a lot of those ferals are going to be logged on.

As for your own gang, this can change literally every day... but you're going to want to put it close to the ferals' time for maximum concentration of force. You can put it fifteen minutes after so that the defenders are AP'd out when the organized zombies hit, fifteen minutes before so that you can sneak in under the radar, right on top of the ferals' time for maximum concentration... whatever you want. Just make sure that the survivors don't see it coming.

No matter what, synchronize your watches. Use time.gov to make sure that everyone knows what time it is.

Once you're in

Okay, so you've got your target selected and all y'boys know what time to rush the cades, blitzkrieg-style. What exactly are they supposed to be doing?

  • First, they should be clawing cades, duh.
  • Down to a closed door? Get your ass in!
  • Now: if there is a generator or radio on the square that you came in through, destroy that bad boy first.
  • If you hit a mall, and one of the other squares is lit, get over there and power it down second. If a square isn't lit, don't worry about running over to see if there's a fuel-less genny; if there isn't, you just wasted two AP moving, and you aren't taking out as big an investment as a fueled generator.

Why the focus on taking out generators? Because they are very expensive to replace and very easy to destroy. You kill something like 50 defender AP every time you waste a fueled genny. So do it.

Once the mall is blacked out, start killing defenders. Specifically, defenders in the least-populated corner. Remember, you're going for a ransack here.

Here's how you do it: pick a random survivor from the beginning or middle of the list and claw him until he's dead. Do not switch targets. And for crying out loud, do not bother with infections. If you're in a mall, FAKs are plentiful even sans generators, and the survivor you just infected will likely get FAK'd before your infection even does a single point of damage; that means that you just got sub-optimal, effectively infection-less damage from a bite. 'course, if you're one of those newly-created zombies who decided to get Neck Lurch before picking up the claw skills, go ahead and bite, because it's the best you can do.

Once you take down a survivor, you'll probably be kind of low on AP. What you should do at this point is look through the survivor list and find someone who's on his last legs, then try to claw the last of his HP out of him.

Once you're down to one AP left, save it. Do not spend that last AP just yet. Instead, type http://www.urbandead.com/map.cgi?rise into your browser bar. Now reload the page about once every thirty seconds to see if you're being attacked. If you are, make it once every ten seconds. Once you get down to less than 20 HP, start spamming it (the F5 key is good for this). What the hell are you doing? You're spamming the Stand Up command. Once that survivor headshots you, you'll stand up virtually immediately... hopefully before he dumps you. Now he'll have to kill you all over again. HA!

That's a truckload of AP in shooting, loading, and searching, all down the drain. That's AP that would have otherwise gone to cading, healing, reviving, or (more likely, if you've got a trenchie on your hands), killing a different zombie. When you add up searching and loading costs, booting a Body Built, jacketed zombie out of a building once costs about 60 AP. Using the ?rise command doubles that.

Okay, so now you're down to -5 AP. Maybe you stood up before he dumped you, maybe you didn't. If you did, you're going to get headshot again before you can log back in, and you're going to get dumped this time. So save up enough AP to stand up and move back to the designated swaying area. This will be at least 12 AP; five to overcome the debt from the first headshot, six to stand up again, one to move, which you'll be able to do about six hours after the attack. If this is too late or something, just do it the next day. You've done enough, soldier.

In case of revive

I've got a whole 'nother article on this one: the Siege PKer Guide. All I'll say here is this: there are some who oppose PKing, GKing, and zombie spying. Most of these are filthy harmanz, but some of them are zombie fundamentalists. I say that these people are deliberately robbing themselves of an important tool that can be used against the survivors. Warfare (which Urban Dead is) has only two virtues: force and fraud. The only unvirtuous thing that one can do in combat is to insufficiently apply either. There is no honor in battle, only winners and losers.

Don't be a scrub.[1]

Think about it: without PKing, combat reviving becomes very, very cost-effective. Survivors no longer have to search for guns or ammunition. Booting a zombie costs a fraction of what it once did. PKers maintain game balance! Give those survivors a reason not to spike you. Of course, you *could* buy Brain Rot, which keeps you on the zombie side. If you like playing a zombie to the point where you're willing to stay one permanently, I'm not going to stop you. But don't do it out of some misguided, survivor-invented sense of "fairness." There is but one person who makes the rules in Urban Dead, and that's Kevan. And he doesn't seem to have a problem with PKing.

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