Second Siege of Ackland Mall

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Second Siege of Ackland Mall

Date: June 21st to 24th 2007
Place: Ackland Mall
Result: Zombie Victory

Survivor x Zombie

- Survivor :
- Zombie :

- Survivor : Atticus Rex (AMS Leader & Medic Corps) Jim Bim (Base Ops), Smithy Jones (Strike Team), Lt. Tarumigan Gistarai
- Zombie : Vito "Big V" Mortis

- Survivor : Over 200
- Zombie : Over 350

- Survivor : 50 (Estimated)
- Zombie : Very few

The Second Siege of Ackland Mall, also known as the Ackland Carnage, was the shortest mall siege in Malton's history up to that point. It was also the first siege in which the zombie horde LUE was involved.

Prior to the Attack

Approximately June 20th, 2007, a new zombie horde referring to itself as LUE began to appear in the suburbs of Malton and slowly shamble toward Havercroft to gather around the Ackland Mall. By June 21st, the sizable zombie horde had come upon Ackland Mall Security forces; however, those early hours remained a poor indication of how speedily the zombie horde would move when it attacked the mall. Ackland's security forces were not unaware of the sudden threat coming down on them. Indeed, on June 21st the alert was sounded on Ackland Mall Security's forum:

Ackland Mall is in a state of emergency. 40 zeds broke through the barricades this evening. Casualties are unknown....this is a coordinated attack. We must appreciate it as such. (Tarumigan).

Also at this time, the first mention of the possibility of evacuation was discussed on the same group's forum. AMS voted unanimously to hold the line, but the talk about evacuation foreshadowed the events to come within Ackland Mall.

The Attack Begins

On June 21st, the attack began. The zombies began hording around the northwestern corner of the mall. Survivors within the mall and AMS personnel began to hear rumors that the horde was calling itself LUE. This information was confirmed openly by Vito Mortis, the LUE commander, during the siege. A few survivors claimed that the zombies were low-level and therefore not very dangerous. Hindsight is, of course, 20/20, but it should be remembered this was on the heels of Yahoomas Day, and few would have foreseen what actually happened.

First Strike

The horde saved its energy for a single coordinated strike on the southwest corner. At approximately 9:00 in the evening, LUE's zombies executed a coordinated strike that brought 40 of them into the mall almost instantly. The sheer weight of their numbers overwhelmed any survivor effort to keep the barricades up. AMS personnel raised the alarm both on the radio and in the metagaming forums, and it was not long before an ad-hoc combination of AMS officers and general survivors began to push back against the horde. Notably, the M-BEK (Malton Bounty Emo Killers) PK group, which had fought a bloody war against AMS not more than a month before, contributed to the defense of the Mall and actually assisted AMS in restoring the barricades. This emphasizes the seriousness of the situation as it developed. Revive points were clogged with rotters and Ackland's distance from any NecroTech facilities made each survivor casualty quite costly to defenders. Despite this handicap, the survivors succeeded in repelling the first wave of zombies within a matter of hours. As of the writing of this article, this event represents the only known occasion on which LUE was actually forced out of a building after it has initiated assault operations.

The Second Strike

LUE's own forces, which continued to accumulate quickly, were aided by both members of the Ackland Abattoir and Lueshi's Undead, as well as a number of feral zombies. Despite the initial setback, LUE remained confident: the first attack had been executed by a vanguard force, not the entire horde. On June 22nd, LUE struck again, and in full force. Targeting the northeast corner of the mall, at least 90 zombies broke in again before AMS forces were able to contain the undead and rebuild barricades.

Yet unlike the first assault, this time AMS and the Ackland Defenders proved incapable of evicting the zombies already inside. Most of the survivor casualties were sustained at this time. Spent from the fighting and low on manpower from earlier casualties, the AMS were unable to repel this attack, even with the aid of M-BEK and unaffiliated survivors. The number of additional zombie groups in the area and LUE latecomers joined in the effort, and the horde was able to slowly pick off the remaining idle survivors and ransack the northeast corner of the mall. The end result was Ackland's inevitable fall into zombie hands as zombies poured into the rest of the mall through the open, ransacked corner. By late on June 22nd, it was clear to AMS Command that the collapse of the mall was imminent, and evacuation was ordered by radio.

By June 23rd, the battle for Ackland was over. AMS Forces stressed that the war was far from over and that they would reclaim Ackland Mall.

The Aftermath

While the siege itself concluded rapidly, zombie activity in Havercroft remained high as zombie forces rested and restored their energy inside the broken mall. LUE looked for other targets within the suburb after the mall's defeat, but due in large part to AMS efforts organizing evacuation, almost none were available. Indeed, Vito later stated that the withdrawal from Ackland was influenced in part by a lack of viable targets around the Mall's environs. Without food, the zombies had little reason to remain and occupy Ackland.

By June 27th, LUE had moved on to Nichols Mall in Stanbury Village and the AMS began its efforts to take back the mall. Meanwhile, numerous feral zombies and the Ackland Abbatoir remained in Havercroft and continued to attack the repopulated mall for several weeks afterward, but it stayed in survivor hands once the AMS reclaimed it. The attacks against the Mall finally petered out in late July.

Why did Ackland Mall fall so quickly?

Some have suggested that Ackland's speedy fall was the result of a lack of support from additional human groups, though in defense of the other survivor groups there was little time to coordinate a major response. AMS and its few allies inside the mall were forced to stand alone just weeks after settling other issues amongst the human populace. LUE also gathered around the mall within just a few days, catching the AMS completely off-guard. Before LUE attacked, Ackland Mall was very peaceful and no one was in danger. As such, many of the survivors were idling while LUE attacked. In the face of such a rapidly appearing horde, Ackland did the best that it could and fought bravely for its home.

In the proceeding weeks, it also became clear Ackland was not alone in its experience, and statements that it fell "so quickly" are very relative evaluations. Later in the week Nichols Mall fell in less than 30 hours, Tynte in only 11 hours. Indeed, as of July 26th, Ackland Mall is by far the longest time a LUE siege has taken and the only one to repel LUE from a building once the main horde had broken inside. LUE was certainly a much weaker horde then, both individually and numerically, but this is no small feat.

Several factors contributing to LUE's success were almost immediately identified by the AMS Strike Team leader Tarumigan Gistarai, most of them relating to Urban Dead metagaming. LUE, like Shacknews and The Many, arose from a large, established online community. This allows for a group to form quickly and grow much larger while retaining the organization and coordination of a typical strike team. Twenty zombies attacking barricades at once negates the survivor advantage in AP expenditure that normally exists in the relationship of raising/breaking down barricades. When there are sixty, a hundred or two hundred zombies attacking the barricades and entering a mall within a few minutes (or even seconds) of one another, there likely will not be enough active survivors to put the barricades back up and stem the tide of more zombies rushing in. In subsequent assaults, LUE demonstrated that even if active survivors are online at the time of the break-in, this does little to stop the horde; zombies still manage to break in. Since the rebuilding of a barricade now toggles a message indicating who is doing the building, zombies now have a name and a face to focus on. LUE has repeatedly slaughtered active caders within mere moments of seeing the message. Barricades, usually a survivor's primary weapon in the AP war with zombies, are essentially useless against such a horde when it can choose the time and location of conflict. When that location is a large building like a mall, this becomes even more pronounced because a defender's forces are spread more thinly, and any quadrant that falls dooms the rest. In the immortal words of the ever-classy Ron Burgundy:

"Any time a zombie group lays siege to a mall proper, they're really only fighting the survivors in the least-populated corner. The rest of the survivors are dessert." -Ron Burgundy

Another, by no means unimportant, factor is that the strategic leader of LUE understood all of this and (as survivor alt McTrout) literally wrote the rules of mall defense that most malls use today. This is not to say the tactics of mall defense are outdated, but it does mean that from the beginning, LUE had a strategic grasp of how to carry out a proper mall siege even as some individual members had a steep learning curve on what specific tactics to use to do it. LUE also had highly leveled allies in the form of the Ackland Abattoir, sister group LUEshi's Undead, and numerous ferals that counteracted some of the individual weakness of the horde at that time while the mall defenders, caught off guard, received no reinforcements of note. Despite this, human casualties were relatively light. It is believed that a majority of the mall denizens had time to flee once the LUE zombies exhausted their AP in the ransacked Quad.

Lastly, there was the numerical superiority of the zombies who, when they died, could quickly stand back up again the next day. For an NT-starved suburb like Havercroft, getting killed was a true casualty that took a defender out of the fight and the battle itself was over before he or she had a chance to get revived.