Saving the World from the Undead Horde, One BB at a Time
Words: Jeremy Hendricks
Photos: Walter Sidas
You pull your magazine out of your pistol to check your ammo in the moonlight, and three rounds are all you see. You can hear them in the distance; shuffling footsteps, low moans and occasional gunfire usually punctuated with a scream, followed by silence. After checking your map, you know that the safe house is only a few hundred yards away, a 30-second sprint, if you don’t get slowed down. Thirty seconds…that’s all that separates you from your fellow survivors, more ammo and a place free from the shambling, undead horde, at least for a few moments.
You know that these creatures need three shots to be taken down, so your best hope is that you only run into one on the way to the safe house. From behind you, footsteps can be heard. Do they belong to a survivor or is it another zombie? The idea to call out towards them crosses your mind, but you decide it’s best to go it alone. You finally decide to make the sprint, and you shine your flashlight towards the welcoming lights of the safe house.
I’d love to say that you see a clear path towards your goal, but this is the zombie apocalypse, and nothing is easy for the survivors. No less than 20 sets of eyes turn to meet your flashlight’s beam and they all look hungry. Your fingers clutch your pistol a little tighter, and you run off towards almost certain death.
Each step is taking you closer to your goal, but also closer to the zombies that block your path. You’re nearly at the safe house, and you’ve somehow managed to avoid wasting your last few rounds. Somehow, you’ve managed to outmaneuver the horde and are just a few steps away from safety, and only a large bush is in your path. As you approach the bush, you are taken aback as it rises slowly, arms outstretched, a growl slipping past its lips. This is no bush, it’s another mutated zombie, and it has one thing on its mind! It lunges, pulling the flag from your belt as it whispers in a low growl, “You’re out.”
You almost survived your first zombie game. Almost!
Airsoft isn’t only about Milsim events; it’s really about whatever the players want it to be. Zombie games are an awesome alternative to the normal Milsim game-play that most airsoft players participate in, and they can be done very easily and for not too much money. In this article, we’ll give you a few pointers on how to organize, run and play your own zombie game.
Just like any other game, there are many ways to run a zombie game, and there is no one firm set of rules which you must follow. Different organizations and groups run games with very different rule sets, but here is one example of the rules that we use at Wasteland Airsoft in Salt Lake City, Utah.
GENERAL GAME PLAY RULES:
This game will be very different than your standard player vs. player match, in that there will be two very different sets of players with different objectives and loadouts. The two groups in play are zombies and survivors, and the ratio of zombies to survivors will be 3-1. The goal of the survivors will be to complete a series of tasks and reach certain objectives, and the zombies have one very simple goal: attack every survivor that they see.
Survivors are only to be armed with semi-automatic pistols or pump-action shotguns and ammunition will be limited, depending on the specific scenario. They may also use foam or rubber melee weapons, which are for contact kills against zombies. You may not reload your weapons in the field, only at “safe houses.”
Zombies are eliminated from the game by shooting them three times with a pistol, or once with a multi-shot shotgun. Zombies will be keeping track of their hit counts, and if a dispute comes up, bring it to a game controller for resolution. Headshots are not a goal here, body shots are the ones that count. A single tap with a melee weapon will also take out a zombie.
You may not shoot at zombies from closer than 10 feet away, as their blood is highly contagious and will turn you into a member of the horde. If a zombie breaches this distance, you must switch to your melee weapon or run away to build at least a 10 foot distance before firing.
Survivors are eliminated by having one of their two flags pulled off of their body. Upon elimination, survivors may either return to the staging area until the next match, or, if they would like, holster or sling their weapons and join the zombie horde.
Zombies are unarmed. If you are worried about getting shot, being a zombie is not for you, as you will be shot, repeatedly. If you’re okay with being a walking, groaning, brain-hungry BB magnet, you’ll be in good company. Zombies are not intelligent beings and are not capable of verbal communications. This means that you cannot speak with your fellow undead denizens of the Wasteland.
You are eliminated from the game if you are shot three times with a pistol, or once with a multi-shot shotgun. You will know the difference in how the shot feels and if you are in doubt about whether you’re out or not, just drop dead. Zombie respawn rules will vary depending on the individual scenario, but generally zombies are to drop where they are shot and may come back to life from that same location a few minutes later. This keeps the zombie supply fresh.
Eating, I mean, eliminating survivors is your one and only goal. You do this by removing one of the two flags from any survivor you can get your hands on. They cannot shoot you within 10 feet, so it is advised that you close the distance as quickly as possible.
Zombies can play the game almost any way they want, either slow, shambling walkers or “Left 4 Dead”-style sprinters. They can hide, sneak around the field or otherwise hunt the human prey however they deem appropriate. Costumes, props, make-up, and general zombie attitudes are all recommended. Full-face protection is necessary, as you will be getting shot at short ranges and accidents can happen.
When designing scenarios for a zombie game, it’s important to make sure that you are designing them with balance in mind. The zombies have the numbers on their side, as well as the fact that they are hard to kill; however the humans have the guns, organization and the ability to communicate. Design objectives that will play to both sides’ strengths and give either side a fighting chance at victory.
Survivors objectives should include rescuing other survivors, securing ammunition caches, medical supplies and ultimately, making it to a safe house. The safe house is a roped off area indicated on the map and lit with green glow sticks. When in the safe house, you are able to reload your weapons using the limited ammunition that you’ve retrieved in previous scenarios. When in the safe house, you cannot be attacked by zombies, nor can you fire on the zombies from the confines of the area. If you wish to leave the safe house to assist stranded survivors, you can do so, however, you must return before the scenario time runs out.
OPERATION: RETURN OF THE RESPAWNED DEAD
This event took place at Wasteland Airsoft in Utah, and the game used the following three scenario format. Each scenario had its own standalone objectives, however, success or failure of these objectives changed the overall story arc of the entire event.
SCENARIO 1: “IS THERE ANYONE ALIVE OUT THERE?”
SCENARIO LENGTH: 1 HOUR
LOCATION: WASTELAND NORTH
You have arrived in the Utah desert in search of The Outpost, one of the last points that humanity still holds against the zombie masses that have spread around the planet. Between you and safety lies The Wasteland, one of the earliest-known chemical testing sites in the U.S. The chemicals tested in this area over the last 70 years include Compound 9Z, long-believed to be the cause of the outbreak. As your ragtag team of survivors makes its way towards The Outpost, you spot a military helicopter on the horizon, smoke trailing behind as it erratically flies towards you. Right as you start to signal it with your lights, a small explosion is seen, and the chopper starts spiraling out of control. You see an explosion of dust in the hills as the Blackhawk crashes, but no fireball can be seen. The survivors take a vote and decide to investigate the crash site to look for survivors or supplies.
Make your way along the road towards the crash site located on your map. The crash site will be marked with a red glow stick. Investigate the site to look for any survivors or supplies. You have one hour to investigate the site and return to the safe house.
You are to remain within 10 feet of the crash site until rescue arrives. You will not be attacked by zombies until you are removed from the crash site. One of the pilots is injured and requires contact with another player to walk. Upon rescue, you must inform the survivors that you were carrying ammunition to The Outpost, but that you lost it during the crash. Show them the map in your envelope where the ammo cache might be located. Your objective is either to follow the survivors back to the safe house or to retrieve the ammo cache. Inform them that there will be no extra ammo at the safe house for the next scenario unless they retrieve the ammo cache.
Your goal is BRAINS…Survivors will be congregating around the two points marked on your map. You cannot attack the two survivors located near the red glow stick at point “A” until they are rescued by the other survivors. If you are eliminated, drop where you are shot and you may respawn in three minutes.
• Rescue one or both downed pilots and return them to the safe house. If this is done, the pilots will join your group as survivors.
• Retrieve the ammo cache. This will be your only extra ammunition for the next scenario.
• Any survivors killed or “turned” will revert back to survivors for the second scenario.
SCENARIO 2: COMPOUND 9Z
SCENARIO LENGTH: 45 MINUTES
LOCATION: WASTELAND SOUTH
After investigating the crash site, you discover a map showing that there is an old government storage bunker located in The Wasteland. The bunker is listed as holding the last remaining stores of Compound 9Z, the cause of this undead nightmare. If the scientists holed up at The Outpost can get their hands on a pure sample, they can start manufacturing a vaccine to prevent this from spreading more than it already has. You are the only chance at retrieving this compound before the whole area is overrun with zombies. This area has seen a lot of chemical testing, and there are worse things out here than just normal zombies. Keep an eye out for some of the worst The Wasteland can throw at you.
The 9Z is in a large, heavy container located at spot marked as “The Bunker” on your map. You will need at least two people to transport the case and due to the design of the case, it must be supported by the four straps at all times. This means that it can be carried by two people who cannot shoot while carrying the case, or by three or four people with one hand on each strap who can then shoot one-handed. Retrieve the case and return to the safe zone before time runs out. Warning: If you get wet, you are dead. The Wasteland has a lot of surprises.
You are somehow drawn to the location of the 9Z, the cause of your current condition. In the area near the bunker, there are strange creatures, even by your standards. Seen in the area are camouflaged bush zombies as well as a spitting zombie with a ranged poison-spray attack. If eliminated, drop where you are shot and you may respawn in three minutes.
You are the bush zombie as well as the spitting zombie. The bush zombie is camouflaged and nearly invisible in the desert scrub. You may hide anywhere you would like and use this ability to your advantage. The spitter has been issued a water gun which you can use for ranged attacks against survivors. If you get them wet, they are dead. You only get one tank full of water, use it wisely.
• Retrieve the case of 9Z and bring it back to the safe house.
• Have at least one survivor live through the scenario.
• Any survivors killed or “turned” during this scenario WILL NOT return as survivors. They will remain as zombies for the final scenario.
SCENARIO 3: THE LONG ROAD TO SAFETY
SCENARIO TIME: 1 HOUR
LOCATION: ENTIRE WASTELAND
You have successfully retrieved the case of Compound 9Z, and now you are within walking distance of The Outpost. Now is the time to evacuate the safe house and make the long trek to safety. Inside the case, you find a small amount of ammunition for reloading your weapons. You are passing through the most dangerous parts of The Wasteland, so be prepared for anything and everything. Along the way, there will be 10 glow stick “keys” clearly located on the road. These are the keys to The Outpost, and without them, survivors will be denied entry.
You must bring the case with you to the outpost, and the same carrying rules apply for this scenario. If held by two people, they are not able to shoot, but if held by more than two, anyone with a free hand can shoot one-handed. The special zombies seen in the last scenario are returning, so be on the lookout for spitters and bush zombies. Retrieve all 10 glowing markers and place them inside the case. If a survivor holding a “key” is killed, you must get that key back before the end of the scenario.
The survivors will have to traverse the entire length of the road marked on your map. Along the way, they will be searching for glow sticks, so you can expect them to congregate near them.
• Retrieve all 10 keys and carry the case to The Outpost before the time is elapsed.
That is just one multi-scenario, all-night event, and as long as there are creative airsofters out there, there are countless additional ways to run events like this. Some events allow the use of AEGs; however, I don’t use them in my events in order to level the playing field and to keep everything a little safer. Some events will let the zombies use guns, but I’ve had good experiences creating fun and balanced events even with unarmed zombies.
One of the best parts about zombie games is that they can be set up on a very tight budget. Since my rules only allow pistols and shotguns, guns like the Crosman Zombie Apocalypse line can work great for zombie hunters on a budget. The ZT32 Zombie Terminator is a single BB per shot shotgun, so with my rules, you would need to pop out three quick shots to take out your zombie target, however you would have a decent range advantage over most pistols on the field. Their pistol offerings in the Zombie line, including the Z11 and its tactical big brother, as well as the brand new Z357 Ztrom Revolver are great options for use by survivors. The fact that they are zombie-themed guns will help get you in the mood to hunt the undead!
So there you have it. Even if you are a hardcore Milsim player looking for something different than your normal “Multicam and M4” type of game, you should give zombie games a try. You can easily recruit non-airsoft players to come to your event due to the current popularity of zombies in the media. The low cost of zombie game-appropriate guns make this a great option for players on a budget, or for new players just getting their feet wet in airsoft. Everyone wants to get out there and play a live version of “Left 4 Dead” or “28 Days Later,” and by providing them with a nicely-themed, well produced event like this, you can be sure that they’ll keep coming back for more.