Monday, 18 March 2013

Grab your Nerf, Keep Calm and Aim for the Head!

When a Zombie apocalypse breaks - remember "Keep Calm and Aim for the Head!"
Anyone who follows me, will have learnt that i'm a major The Walking Dead fan. Now when you mix that with a healthy dosage of Nerf what do we get? Humans V Zombies :) And where else to find a pedigree of top notch organisations - down under in Oz!

There are several notable groups down under that pull this genre off so well, and i'm lucky enough to get some time-out with them! Without further ado, I give to you...

Get your M game on! Humans Vs Zombies  Melbourne
MyLastDart: Please can please introduce the team to Nerf fans that are not already aware of the awesome work you do?
Connor: Hi I'm Connor and welcome to Jacka-woops. Welcome to Humans Vs Zombies! We run a weeklong simulation of a Zombocalypse once a year, as well as monthly games as training. We're a Nerf group with four years of experience in running events and promotions.
Huw: Hey I'm Huw. I do what I can to keep people following the rules and chase zombies with my sword. Toby: Hi I am Tubsy, I mean Toby and I will some how get behind you when you are not looking.
Alex: I am the modder of blasters, the spammer of foam, in the language of my people I am known as Alex.
Ben: Hey, Ben here, certified ninja and purveyor of over-powered blasters!

MLD: How did you guys get in to Nerf and can you remember your very first blaster? Which blaster sits proudly on top of your fireplace?
Connor: I got into Zombie Slaying first and collecting Nerf later. Naturally, they go hand in hand, so I had plenty to learn. My finest blaster is a fully modded Stampede. It's so sexy...
Huw: I first got into Nerf about 5 years ago when a friend of mine told me about it. He showed me a video of a modified long shot and I fell in love with it. I got straight on eBay and bought one of my own.
Toby: my first Nerf was a Nitefinder but the one that would sit on my fireplace if I had one would be my Mav.
Alex: As a child I was forbidden to own a Nerf blaster, then 3 years ago I heard about HvZ. With childhood emotions in tow I bought a Vulcan and never looked back. Then without knowing anything about Nerf modding I proceeded to replace the motor, voltage mod it with a RC battery, and turn it into an arm mounted spammer of foam. Needless to say it did not work. The blaster I am most proud of is my minimized stampede, because it has a skull mounted to the front of it, and zombies would run from me instead of the other way around.
Ben: My first Nerf blaster was a Nitefinder that I got for the first Melbourne HVZ, favourite would be my drain-blaster-powered-longshot (definitely not HVZ friendly though)

MLD: What is Humans Vs Zombies Melbourne, and how did it come about?
Connor: Humans Vs Zombies Melbourne is a modified version of the US College game of HvZ. After years of changing it around, we've at last got a good formula to run games that last for an entire week, that can occur anywhere in the state. Due to the rules, players are easily able to adapt games to suit their local area, their university campus or even their street. We encourage everyone to play with their friends and peers; this game is not just about running around in the CBD!

MLD: What season (year) are you guys in so far? Is it open to anyone? Or is this only available through membership of a group? What is the best way for me to get in touch with you if I want to come a long for a game? Age restriction?
Connor: We're currently in our fifth year of planning, and fourth year of running events. The game is open to anyone within Victoria, and membership is not needed, we just require you read and understand the rules in their entirety, and use common sense while playing. If you want to come along for a game, the best person to contact would be your friends- the game is more fun when you've got more players. We don't have any age restrictions, however under 16's must have parental approval, and we feel far more comfortable if they have parental/guardian supervision. We've had mothers and toddlers playing (albeit not seriously); it's fun for everyone. If you need to know more, just email

MLD: How many members do you have to date? General turnout/game length? I noticed a lot more females playing Nerf/HvZ - what do you think is behind that shift? 
Connor: We don't officially have members, although our "regular" count (people who come to more than 3 games per year) is around 75. At monthly events, we usually get around 40 to 50 players, and run about five game styles. Most of them go for about an hour, although we have longer and shorter games. And yes, there are a lot more females playing HvZ and Nerf. I'm a girl myself (didn't see that coming with a name like Connor, did you?) and when I started this group, I had no idea about Nerf culture. Safe to say, I love it! I also think having a female admin within our group can be refreshing for some female players as they know they won't be the only girl. In general though, I think when one girl starts playing, it's easier for others to start- dulls the nerdy stigma just a little bit.

MLD: How do you help keep things fresh for both Human and Zombie players? I see you arrange a steady flow of games.
Connor: We have a new game type at least every second month. We don't just play survival, we play a whole range of games, especially at the monthlies. We've got Left 4 Dead style games, Capture the Flag, weaponless escort missions, and all sorts of games based upon objectives where Zombies aren't your only priority. We run around 4 different styles each month. A new one we've started playing is a IRL Slenderman type of game. We play at night and it's scary as hell.

RMIT students masquerading corner as Zombie!

MLD: I have heard about different themes of games - night time fright/24hour survival/story-driven/Regular blaster games - have you tried any of these?
Connor: Yup, we do all of those. Night time can be hard, just because we want to keep an eye on people, so we only do these at our monthly events so we can keep an eye on people. 24 hour survival is our specialty, and story driven games are our secret little passion; we love devising new ones. I personally love making life difficult for the humans... sending them out in groups of three with a maverick and three darts; having to shoot zombies to acquire items. So easy to make your own adventure. Do you abandon your teammates or work together?

MLD: What is your arsenal like? What happens if blasters kick the bucket at the zombie showdown? Do you have any resident in-house repair guys and do they charge by the dart?
Connor: My personal arsenal isn't NEARLY as impressive as some of the members I've seen. However, that said, some of their blasters have various mods and paint jobs, and do tend to jam often. That's just what you get for changing your gun around. If your gun carks it mid game, you better have your running legs on. As we try to mimic "the real thing", we're not going to stop the game for you. Get a squad to cover you back to base to get a new blaster if that's what's needed! And yup, we've got repair guys, and no, there's no charge. Unless the blaster requires a new piece, there won't be any charge other than materials.

MLD: How do you encourage new members? Is there a general cost to attend the games? What if they don't own a blaster?
Connor: We have a whole range of club weapons, and we churn out the darts. If you bring a friend and they don't have a blaster, they're more than welcome to borrow one of our club weapons. And no, there's no charge to play. We're determined to be free to members forever. We live off donations only.

MLD: Do you take any inspiration from TV shows for any story led or inspired missions? The Walking Dead? Horror flicks?
Connor: Of course! That's what this is all about - the fear you get when you watch those films. Seriously... why do they always run upstairs? Who locks all those doors? WHO DECIDED TO TRUST CAESER MARTINEZ? We try to re-create these situations for your amusement.

MLD: Can you give me a run down of a typical games rules - do you have game marshals? or players manage themselves? How do you best manage to avoid disputes?
Connor: We're quite similar to most HvsZ groups; tagging is a three second HOLD on the wrist and infection spreads within 2 minutes. Hits by dart stun zombies for 20 seconds where they cannot chase or tag. No melee weapons. We have a list of safe zones, and we always pause a game should something go wrong or somebody is injured. Because we work on an honour system, players manage themselves. This has actually worked fairly well (apart from only a very small handful of spoilsports) as players realise that when you act like a child, you not only ruin everyone elses fun but you ruin your own. As long as people remember this is a game, disputes are easy to avoid.

MLD: Is playing a Zombie as much fun as running around like a stealthy Rambo? What do you do to keep things fresh for Zombies as well as Humans?
Connor: YES! It's more fun. We've got some pretty loyal zom's who wouldn't even dream of being a human. "TEAM ZOMBIE FOR LIFE!"
People don't realise that being a zombie (especially early on in-game) requires just as much, if not more, tactical planning than being a human. When people realise this, that's when they enjoy being zombie. But even after this, getting people to play as zombie has been one of the hardest things we've had to conquer. We've tried a lot of things, but one of the main things we use is Special Infected; tanks, witches, etc.

MLD: Are all the rules set in stone or is there room for innovative ideas? Holy Water Super Soaker? Can I go full melee Dusk Till Dawn style?
Connor: The rules are set, but we are always open for hearing new game types at our monthly events. This is why, at the monthlies, we encourage people to bring their ideas, new blasters, water pistols, LARP approved weapons, and whatever else they want to try out. As the monthlies are a smaller group, we can see quickly what works and what doesn't, but at least we always give things a try if they're safe.

MLD: What is a good loadout for a HvZ game? Why in your opinion?
Connor: Personally, I carry as little as possible. My best Nerf moment was recently at Nerf Core (check them out, they run sick events!) and all I had was a whiteout maverick and cleavage full of darts (no pockets, sadface). I ended up winning a game, and damn did that feel good!
I say just carry as little as possible; your most reliable single clip/reloadable blaster, plenty of darts, and strap a single shot to yourself somewhere just in case. The guys who carry around big backs and 4 guns that require two arms to cock and shoot? Yeah, good luck.
Kicking back with a cuppa whilst there are Zombies at large..
not a good idea!

MLD: Is there anything that could make HvZ better in Australia? How could Hasbro support HvZ?
Connor: We can only dream of Hasbro supporting us. But I don't think they will as we modify their guns... heh. There's been quite a bit of controversy over Hasbro and the way they treat their supporters, (look up what they did to Yang from UrbanTaggers) so I think we're just going to have to pass and hope they can mature a little. Fancy that, us telling a major corporation to mature... heh heh.

MLD: How are your games/loadouts affected by the new Nerf blasters that come out?
Connor: We always have a few new players who come with the newest guns, and that's fine. We know that plenty of them (albeit OP) are too difficult to play with. Running around with a Hail Fire when 30 zombies are on your back is great fun, until a clip falls out and the thing jams. (Greatest quote I've heard recently: "You know, that gun that looks like a gazebo!"- Nerf fan on Hail Fire.) As a general rule, we know people who stick to their simpler, preferred blasters are going to do better in game. Not to mention, many of our games actually have blaster restrictions, so sometimes you won't even be able to use what you wanted until later on in the day/week.

MLD: Is modding a big importance to HvZ? Or can stock do just as well?
Connor: HvsZ Melbourne loves mods! That said, we do love SAFE mods... (you can show us your unsafe ones, but we won't let you use them, we just think they're cool) and we will test anything you modify before we allow you to use it. In regards to firepower, we will not allow any blaster that shoots over 27m angled. We love mods that condense big, ugly blasters (coughSWARMFIREcough) into cool looking smaller blasters with a personal twist. Paint mods are also very cool for a personal touch, we just need players to be aware that the orange tip has to stay.

MLD: What next gen blasters would you like to see - Hasbro said they take note and feedback when they can from HvZ communities.
Connor: I'd like to see some new simple blasters. I know that sounds lame, but even a maverick that comes already made with the spinning barrel mod! I think simple guns are the only way to go if you want to avoid jamming. But then again, on the Nerf sexiness scale, I'd love to see a slimline new sniper rifle; something with a nice sight and laser, and with less bulk and external ridges. Just something sleek.

MLD: Australian Toy Safety Regulation Law (compared to US blasters) is pretty strict - how does this affect your game ?
Connor: Not at all, we take everything apart anyway! Lawl. As long as it's not unsafe, we're happy for it to be used. We will test everything personally, so make sure you're being honest with us or we'll test it on you...

MLD: I once had the pleasure of Tim-Tam'ing with Natalie Imbruglia at a cafe in Melbourne - do you guys do it too?
Connor: I have no idea what that means, even after a thorough Google, but let me say that it sounds delicious and I think you should enlighten us. (MLD: it's when you drink tea through a chocolate biscuit)
Connor Who thought Tim tamming was such a simple concept! Hahaha. Yum. Some friends here in melbourne taught a French girl to drink baileys Irish creme through a Tim tam, she wasn't that impressed...

MLD: Where can I get a Tshirt that says "Bringin' my MvsZ game"
Connor: Unfortunately no, we don't have tshirt's as it breaches copyright of the American HvZ brand. But maybe one day we can sort that out.

MLD: What do you get out of playing Nerf?
Connor: I've made so many friends out of this, it's not even funny. I've made some great friends who I'll always know, and friends I know I can trust when the plague hits. Mostly though, I find it really rewarding. People actually have fun! Seeing people in fear, sweating, running... it fills me with joy, in some sort of sadistic, horrible way.

Quick-fire to the team:
Fav soft drink?
Connor: I'm a coke addict. Oh man, that doesn't sound good at all...
Toby: Creaming soda
Alex: Anything with copious amounts of caffeine, yep I do the Dew.
Ben: Irn Bru

Dialling a takeaway what's everyone choosing?
Chinese / Sushi / Pizza / Curry / Croc burger n fries

Connor: I will almost always order curry. There's a great place near Love sushi and Chinese too.
Huw: Pizza. Even when its bad its still pizza.
Toby: Sushi pizza.
Alex: Sushi, Sushi, and more Sushi.
Ben: Great little pizza place down the road from me, or Thai.

Rock, Paper, Scissor?
Connor: I don't want to answer first! Rock! I reckon rock will always win... in my heart.
Huw: Paper. Because rock needs a hug.
Toby: TNT
Alex: I think it is time we end this feud between minerals, tree based products, and man made blades.
Ben: Lizard, Spock

Slam-Fire, Flywheel or N-Force?
Connor: N-Force 100% of the way!
Huw: Slam-fire. If you know what you're doing you can shoot faster than a Stampede.
Toby: N-Force
Alex: Whatever I can get or mod into full auto, because if I cannot fire off a full 18 round clip in under 7 seconds, it is not worth it.
Ben: Squirt-gun...

Hahah, I have to say I had an absolute riot with these guys - thank you for your time! and hey, if you're curious and in need of popping some Zombies, or chasing down Humans in the Melbourne area - you know the site to hit!

Before I go, something to mark in diaries is:

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