Going down to Zedtown

(Disclaimer: the following is written entirely from my point of view. Any and all inaccuracies, misconceptions and typos are mine.)

Rumours swirl of dark events in the city. The CDCP have set up quarantine zones throughout the area, but are denying anything is wrong. Whispers speak of the walking dead and other, darker, creatures. The Apocalypse has come, but will you survive the night? Gather your comrades and load your weapons amigo, and welcome to Zedtown.

Zedtown is an 850 player zombie apocalypse Nerf war that ran at Sydney Olympic Park last Sunday. Basically, it’s a giant game of tag played by adults with toy dart blasters. The basics are as follows: if you shoot a zombie, they have to return to re-spawn. If a zombie tags you, you become one of them. Simple. That’s really all you need to know, though being able to engage the following helps:

  1. Your inner 10 year old.
  2. Your inner paranoid maniac.
  3. The feeling of machismo you get when sugared up and watching 80’s action movies.

At the start of the game, the humans are split into 3 factions (Red, Yellow and Blue), with a small number of zombies released about 20 minutes in.There’s also 3 special zombies, known as Original Zombies, or OZ for short. The OZ’s are special in that they’re in disguise, resembling normal human survivors, and from 5 minutes in can start tagging them and turning them into zombies. This results in Cold War levels of paranoia, with a frantic race to try to identify them being one of the few things that the factions will work together as one to complete. The squad I’d joined up with (Not knowing any other players in my faction) kept weapons trained on me for most of the opening hour (To be honest, I can’t blame them), with a joke from another player almost leading to shots being fired. Nerves were starting to fray early. This event had introduced survivor vs survivor fire, which seemed to work well, despite some complaints leading up to it. (Basically, if you got shot by another human, you had to go back to your faction’s base to respawn.) It added an extra element of ‘Humans are dicks and will fuck each other over happily!’ when the sensible response is to combine forces and fight as one. Maybe next event…

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The pre game briefing, shortly before all hell broke loose.

I’m now horribly tempted to sign up as an OZ for a future event and keep myself hidden until about an hour to go. Rest assured I’m not actually going to, cause that shit takes effort and I have a horrible poker face (Seriously, I’m an awful gambler – even in video games). But the looks on people’s faces if you could pull that off would be magnificent.)

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Who else would you trust to save the planet?

Other random moments of awesome: Incredibly Shouty Guy and his slightly quieter counterpart, Slightly Less Shouty Guy Who’d Lost His Voice. The incredibly efficient Russians and Red Berets. Walking with a horde of zombiers to the last enclave of survivors chanting “ONE OF US!” The observation from a squad member that the factional conflict is showing us how racism works (We hadn’t met them and already hated Blue and Yellow) and discussing whether hiking up my kilt at zombies would break the rules (Yes, I was wearing underpants. I don’t kilt up without them, no matter how much my wife complains) The Holly Jolly Christmas Squad (Who attended the previous game dressed as the Brides from Mad Max: Fury Road), and the dancing zombie with a speaker on his back (I’m guessing in homage to Doof Zombie from the last event who apparently had thrown his back out and couldn’t attend). Escorting a zombie close to our base who claimed to want to talk peace. It was an interesting idea (Leaving aside the whole ‘zombies wanting peace thing’ which was pretty bloody weird), but an NPC corporate exec shot him, so that idea went down the gurgler pretty quick. And at some point I’ll make it out to investigate the bar that’s hidden somewhere in the play area.

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Survivors, strut!

FUN FACT: We also discovered that yelling “WOAH” repeatedly and randomly pointing guns at people is an impressive distraction tactic.

At first, the zombies are seen in small groups, and a group of survivors who don’t panic can deal with them without too much trouble. There’s also the Witch, a fearsome creature considered unkillable (Rumours persisted she could be pacified with sugar, with our faction being issued with fun size Snickers bars just in case). Initially restrained by the CDCP (You could go visit the cage she was in!), she broke free about halfway through the day and roamed the grounds, a terrifying scream announcing her presence. She swiftly became an object of such fear that large groups of players would simply run rather than confront her, which worked wonderfully. Case in point: late in the game (After I’d become a zombie) we were pursuing a large group of players who’d formed a defensive line. It was Mexican standoff time and all we needed was the guy who’d been whistling the theme to ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ to turn up to help soundtrack things. Then one of our group screamed and the players (Who had been looking rather cocky up till that point) broke and ran immediately. Causing fear is a wonderful thing.

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The CDCP and their… creation.

It’s when the numbers start getting higher (And they do) that things start to tip in the zombies favour. Watching the survivor count, or the faces of other players, drop when the count is announced get’s tense.  In fact, it’s remarkable easy to buy into the whole experience – at a certain point it stops being a game and turns into a desperate life or death struggle, albeit one that we all survive. And that’s even before it got dark, which amped up the paranoia even further. Walking through the stadium watching over the group planting beacons, then hearing the zombies scream over the other side was a real “oh, bugger” moment. It was shortly after that when I got tagged, while hiding behind a fence. I was a bit miffed, but I’d laster till nightfall, much farther than I’d expected to get, so I was well chuffed.

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In all fairness, if you thought she was coming round the corner, you’d run too.

FUN FACT: Cowardice and unfitness is a remarkably useful survival strategy! Not a good or efficient one, but it worked well for me.

From 850 survivors at the start, only 13 brave and lucky souls made it out to be evacuated. A mere 13. Around 48 made it out of the last event, and that only had 700 players. The Blue and Yellow bases both fell relatively early (I believe it was still light – I didn’t spend much time at Blue), and there seemed to be a last stand late at the Red base, but I was walking back to the re-spawn area and missed it. It was a glorious day, albeit one that my legs are still complaining about.

Looking to survive the next event? Here’s some tips that may help you!*

  1. Comfortable footwear. I can’t stress this enough. Comfy shoes are a must, even before weapons. You can make it through the day with minimal firepower, but you still need to be able to move.
  2. Bathrooms. Shelter is useful, as are comrades who’ll watch your back. But knowing a safe spot to pee is incredibly useful. Even more so when you badly need to and realize the closest toilet is in enemy territory.
  3. Comfortable costume. It will be hot, you will be running. Being decked out in masses of camo gear may feel awesome, but there’s no point in wearing it if you’re going to melt. I can’t throw stones though, as I (For reasons unknown but I’m claiming awesome) decided to wear a kilt. Why? Breeze. Breeze is good.
  4. Stake out sources of water and food. Ideally, you’ll have a bottle of water (Which you’ll need) and some snacks in a back pack, but more never hurts. Don’t forget though: the zombies also know this.

As for weapons, there’s two main schools of thought on this. The first is pack a pistol, maybe a small rifle and go lightly armed, relying on stealth, speed and cunning. The second is to tool up with the largest most intimidating blaster you can find, carry enough ammo to last you through a small war (Or a Schwarzenegger film) and spend the day quoting Jesse Ventura from Predator. Both schools of thought have their adherents and it’s not up to me to pass judgement. I prefer to run lightly armed myself, mainly because I’m lazy and unfit and prefer to have less stuff to carry to and from the event. Whatever works for you and, more importantly, let’s you feel like the lead in your own action movie.

There’s no word on the next event, but I’m itching for it. One of the housemates and I are planning to costume like we’re in a spaghetti western. Between us we should be able to handle a fistful of zombies…

NOTE: All photos were taken from the Zedtown Facebook page.

*Tips may not actually help. I claim no responsibility if my advice get’s you tagged in the first 30 minutes.

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