A player’s perspective


Zedtown at Sydney Uni is over for another year and the war stories are already beginning to circulate. Kieran Boyd won his tickets to the Wasteland while attending Dragon Friends. Hear his account of the madness below…

It was a hot day for a zombie invasion. The heat bore down upon us like a disease, growing slowly and then simmering amongst us, sweltering with an unwelcome intensity. That said, I couldn’t say what made me sweat more – the intense temperature, or the fear of impending doom in this deathly wasteland.

Some of us were dressed in bizarre attires, indicators of previous professions and lives. Here a man in hospital scrubs, now torn and certainly de-sterilised. There a group of gymnasts, stretching in the early afternoon sun, preparing for the chase. There were obvious military types with uniforms and berets, mechanics covered in oil, scavengers in scraps and colourful costumes. I even spotted a man dressed as Santa Claus, a sad symbol of hope and joy from a world long lost – perhaps he had already fallen to the madness. But then again, there were many dressed in unassuming clothing, commoners, everyday people who had banded together in desperation.

And almost everyone bore arms, brightly-coloured weaponry for protection, or perhaps offence. From whence these guns had been sourced, I cannot say. I myself had scavenged a nearby shopping centre mere days beforehand, desperately seeking some kind of defence. Gun laws had once kept our land peaceful, but now, with these outbreaks, a couple of pistols and a bandolier of socks were all that stood between you and them, the diseased.

We fell together as a team, a caucus, a faction of survivors. The Water Eaters, we were called. Considering my measly supply of liquids in my backpack, I couldn’t help but chuckle internally. But this group were no laughing manner. There was a clear structure here – we were governed, or guided rather, by a trio of beauties. Sisters apparently, named ‘the Furies’, each with eyes of white and flowing dresses that were reminiscent of the waters that they worshipped. They spoke to us proudly of our plight, and outlined our mission. Go forth, they called, seek out fuel to replenish the shield that protected our stronghold from invaders. Work together, they said, and identifying your fellow water-loving comrades with a secret hand sign. I found myself in an impromptu group of misfits yielding from afar, who had travelled down the coast following a promise of safety and to seek refuge.

The Wasteland: A Player's PerspectiveThe Furies (photo by: Jeremy Yao)

Just as we were beginning to feel hope, the Furies told us that already one amongst us had been infected, a traitor in our midst. Immediately our new-found friends became suspicious, but there was no time to deliberate – already the faction was dispersing, sprawling from our central area even as our cries of unity rang out against the nearby buildings. We picked a path and ran blindly.

The chase had begun.

At first, we wandered almost directionless through the area. We knew the general layout of the area that had been sanctioned by the authorities, but were unsure of the locations of the other bases and, more urgently, where we might find that precious fuel. Sometimes it felt like the only people looking out for us, the only source of direction in this wasteland, were those brave men broadcasting news and updates on the radio. I could see people huddled around their receivers, or with permanent headphones, listening out for reports of fresh supplies or nearby activities.

The day became a blur of events that all intermingle.

I was careless, this I confess. Too many times I was brash, and turned a corner with a confidence that would have seen me taken, were it not for my trigger-happy fingers and my trusty pistols. The liked to lurk behind walls, hiding and waiting until a hapless survivor (such as myself) happened to pass their position, and then jump out. I saw one fellow Water Eater converted that way, the look of terror and defeat in his eyes as he was devoured, and we knew for sure his gruesome fate.

A truce was quickly called between the Water Eaters and the Golden Sands, as the beautiful Furies and the glorious golden leaders sought allegiance and unity. The ‘Beach’ Alliance, I heard one yellow-coloured survivor say, and I laughed at this jot of humour in an otherwise tragic day. Once word of this political advancement became known, passed from group to group, it became a relief as a Water Eater to be able to fall in with these yellow-costumed folk, sharing advice and updates without fear.

And yet this pairing of factions seemed to further encourage a fear and even hate for the menacing Red Raiders. We had discovered their base of operations earlier, defended by a line of fearsome female warriors. Now, a group of representatives from the Golden Sands had made their way over in the enemy’s grounds to seek a peace treaty of some sort. I witnessed this meeting from beyond the range of fire, and just as well. Although I could not hear all that was said, I could sense the tension and unease. The fearsome red Damascus X (whose frightful appearance had turned even his hair white) had concluded the negotiations when the red lieutenant shouted “Fire!” and suddenly all formalities were lost. I saw humans turn on humans, darts and the clicking of rifles filling the air as red and yellow representatives fell to their knees. I could only spare a second to mourn the sad state of affairs before rushing forward to restock on darts.

One of the most peculiar encounters of the day occurred a few hours into the afternoon. I was scouting with my reliable crew of Water Eaters, the mighty Dirty Birds, when we followed a pathway into a small courtyard. There, incredibly intact and functioning despite the danger just beyond the surrounding walls, was a bar manned by two burly proprietors. We were relieved as we approached the Wombat’s bar to receive shouts of salutation and offers of refreshing beverages in exchange for news from the outside world. We praised the barkeeps, these stalwart heroes for their unexpected but very welcome service. What I would do now to return there, to that concrete oasis, where I might find refuge and seek rest.

We made sure to check in at the Water Eaters base when we were able, to share stories and warnings with our watery brethren, and to ensure that our stronghold was kept safe. One particular time, I was scouting out the area around the base when I managed to spy a whole horde of zombies at the top of some stairs, lying in wait to descend upon our humble home. I fired two shots into the mass of undead, hitting one of them, and they seemed to retreat, before finding courage again and swarming down the steps towards me. I reloaded and fired a couple more rounds into the group, but knew I needed to get away. Just as I began to move left, a single zombie appeared from the brush, face dripping with molten skin and oozing from green gashes, and gnarled arms held aloft in an attempt to grab at me. I lurched sidewards, arcing to avoid its grasp, and then stumbled blindly towards my fellow Water Eaters. “Zombies!” I cried, and thus alerted to the approaching horde my ever-reliable blue allies turned and dealt a punishing blow to this mob of shambling walkers, who were pushed back and away from our precious base.

These zombies were smarter than normal. I’ve encountered the undead before, from my experiences further afield. Most of these monsters are unshakeable and fearless in their attacks, launching blindly towards their prey without any thought of the consequences. But these zombies were more tactful – they moved in packs and seemed to be able to communicate with each other. Often time, I found that moving in a group of my own was sufficient to prevent attacks. We, the survivors, might not have outnumbered our undead aggressors, but both sides recognised the risks and often no casualties were witnessed. It was a queer sight, these bloodless skirmishes that were more like chess manoeuvres than the kinds of thoughtless clashes I’d seen before.

But not all zombies were so easily deterred. Such encounters relied on the vulnerabilities of both humans and zombies, but as I learned eventually, this wasn’t always the case. I heard from friends and passers-by of the results of some horrible mutation – Witches. The reports of these apparently unkillable creatures were varied. “Witches can’t be killed!” “Witches won’t attack you if you’re quiet! Shhh!” To be honest, I didn’t want to wait around to find out. Whenever I heard their terrible shrieks, I joined the masses of the living as we fled these mystical creatures of death.

And there was another zombie that was particularly notable. I had seen him at the beginning of the day, a stocky fellow, dressed in a simple grey shirt and sporting a standard rifle. But these mundane features were secondary to the much more obvious speaker strapped to his back, blaring tunes for all the world to hear. Poor man, I thought, he won’t hide for long. And so it was, that before long I saw him converted, his face a grisly texture, but still blasting tunes. The Doof Warrior, they called him, the most menacing of these Witches, his rambling figure with his musical payload. His music brought dread to the ears and hearts of all survivors.

The Wasteland: A Player's PerspectiveThe Doof Zombie (photo by: Jeremy Yao)

There were others in the middle of this chaos, humans that were aligned to no faction, and instead followed their own agendas. Notably, I was among many survivors to encounter a crazed man who called himself King Baby. Wearing only diapers for clothing and as headwear, he was all but naked, relying on only his good humour for protection. He challenged all that looked upon him to a test of strength, vowing to distribute a prize to any that bested him. He was undoubtedly a scrawny fellow, a single bouncing boy of a man, and it is beyond my comprehension why he would set such a physical challenge, or how he had come to be here in the wasteland. Yet, true to his warbling words, the King is kind, and he rewarded those that grappled his wiry frame to the ground, and then moved on, a bubble of curious joy passing through the fray.

More curious still were the members of the mysterious Corporation. I found a pair of agents sheltered in the shade of a building, and they called me over. In strangely British accents they told me of a hidden stash of fuel that they were willing to share, with the proviso that they be escorted to this secret spot. Eager to strengthen our stronghold’s shield, I quickly attracted the attention of some nearby Water Eaters, calling them to aid this mission with our private hand signal. Soon our group had grown to ten, almost a dozen wary warriors flanking these Corporation types as we moved towards the promised bounty. Around a building we moved, and then more dangerously down a narrow alleyway, on high alert now in case a zombie ambush were to befall us. Around the final corner, and I see two survivors there, hiding against a wall. They look back at our group, fear in their eyes, and shush us quickly, but it is too late. The horrible sound of the Doof Warrior blared to life not 10 metres from us, and suddenly it was fight or flight. I chose the former, darting forwards despite the danger ahead, and scooped up the two fuel rods laying on the floor. I turned back to request cover, but already my group had disbanded, terrified of the Witch’s immortality and power. I joined the agents as we raced back down the alleyway to relative safety, my treasure clasped in my hands. As we stopped to recover, I went to pass one of the fuel rods to the Corporation member, as per the agreement, but he declined the offer. “There’ll be more,” he said, “you need them more than we do. Good work.” And so I scampered away to return the loot to my base, alert and panting heavily but still alive.

But the opportunity for such bravado soon passed. I heard tales that, despite my best efforts and those of my fellow watery fighters, that the Water Eater base had fallen, and our proud leaders now turned to Witches. Homeless, I drifted between groups, seeking friendship and providing assistance with whomever I encountered. The times for tactical missions and political in-fighting were over, and now it was simply survival for all. I lost contact with the Dirty Birds, and shamefully do not know of their fate. I pray that they too have not been converted. I am all alone now, hiding and writing and waiting for this horror to all be over.

These are my last words, a testament to the efforts made today. We have banded together, we last few survivors. The divisions between factions fell as we became a single force, simply humans versus zombies. This is what has stuck with me the most – the moments of trust and friendship demonstrated over these last few hours. Even in the face of adversity, with horde after horde of undead pouring down the hill upon us, I have witnessed many a time humans supporting each other, rallying against these monsters.

But alas, I fear my time is almost come. My hiding location is a crude option, I admit, but we all know that saying about begging and choosing. It won’t be long now until they find me, hidden away like a coward, clinging to these final moments. I wonder if it will hurt, whether I will scream as I have seen others done, as the zombies bore down upon my fellow survivors.

My only hope is that there might be a few of us humans who might survive the day, and that they are evacuated safely.

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Wasteland Final Briefing

Rules for Zedtown 2015 will be given out on the day as a small handbook. You can also download the 2015 Rules Handbook yourself.

Just a precious few sleeps until Zedtown: The Wasteland. Here’s everything you need to know and bring on Saturday – all the better to play your part as the world burns.


At the bare minimum, you’ll need to bring the following:

  • Some kind of foam dart blaster, or some rolled-up socks.
  • A good pair of running shoes.

We recommend you bring the following to fully enjoy Zedtown:

  • Water and snacks to help last out the day.
  • A smartphone to access our dedicated web app. A battery extender is also a good idea. More on the app below.
  • Extra ammo for your blaster. We provide some ammo drops, and there’s often lots to scavange but preparation aids survival!
  • Some money to buy t-shirts, stickers, patches and food. We don’t take credit cards.
  • Costumes are fun! Have a thought about how you’d like to dress for the wasteland. There are prizes for best costumes!
  • Anything else you think would be fun! We’ve had people bring extra zombie make-up, secondary zombie costumes, walkie talkies, automated turret blasters, banners for forts. Use your imagination!


Remember as always the University Quadrangle is off limits. Please stay out if you are noticeably costumed or carrying nerf blasters.


Meet for induction at Holme Courtyard. Minigames will be running from approximately 10:15 on the university front lawns. Feel free to take part, or head off to get some lunch ahead of the game’s briefing in the courtyard at 12:50.

(Please note, faction strongholds are not listed on the map. This is intentional. We’ll be pushing the location of individual strongholds to each faction member via our web app when the game begins. Its up to you to find the others!)


St Johns Ambulance is on site and will be set up next at the Zombie Hub at Holme Courtyard. If you need medical assistance please come to Hermanns Bar or directly to the Zombie Hub.

(Also, this is a good time to remember that part of the terms of our ticket sales is that we all play at our own risk, so try not to do something crazy that will get yourself hurt!)


Our players are generally so good at cleaning up after themselves, please keep it up. Trashing the uni is going to be one of the quickest ways we get kicked off campus and we have to stop holding these events.

Also, our game should end just after 7:00pm. We’ll be asking all players to do a dart sweep of the campus to look for stray darts – you get to keep what you find, and it’s important for us for making sure the campus looks as neat as possible Monday morning.


We’ve spoken about this at length on the blog, in the rules and on facebook but as a final remember performance-enhancing modifications are not allowed at Zedtown. Only purely cosmetic non-mechanical/non-internal mods are allowed. If you’re concerned your blaster may not pass this ruleset talk to a mod and bring a stock out-of-box blaster as a backup.

More on the 2015 rules on modifications can be found in our 2015 Rules Update.


We have a great last-minute surprise for this year’s game – a new web app to drive the game. This is a big investment for us and allows us to offer a whole slew of new features to players, including:

  • Receive custom messages depending on your faction
  • Track your progress on missions assigned by NPCs
  • Earn achievements as a survivor or zombie
  • Track your global ranking as a zombie and even gain XP and levels.

The app is easy to use but takes a little set up. Be on the lookout for an email from Zedtown in the next few days with a unique password and login link. You’ll need to log in some time before the game to add a photo of yourself, assign yourself a username and choose a new password (should you want one).

Once you’re set up, on Saturday log in using the mobile device of your choice and enter the ID on the dog tag you received at induction. You’re ready to go!

Dress for the Wasteland


The Wasteland is no place for the unprepared. Whether you’re planning to live free or die historic on the fury road, you’ll want to look and dress the part. It’s up to you how much or how little you want to dress for the theme of this year’s Zedtown, but there are some great prizes available for best survivor and zombie outfits!


Post-apocalyptic chic has been around for a while now. Survivors in Zedtown: The Wasteland have had to contend with not just zombies but an unforgiving world as well. For ideas and inspiration in how to dress have a look at some of the following great series & franchises:


We have prizes for the best survivor and zombie costumes this year. We’ll be giving them away just before and right after the game respectively – so if cosplay’s your thing, make sure you show us what you’ve got!


Every player in Zedtown: The Wasteland begins the game with membership to a specific faction. Each faction is a tribe, gang, community all rolled into one.

We’re looking into printing embroidered patches for each faction. If you’re interested in getting a custom iron-on patch with your faction’s colours and artworks, let us know here.

Faction sigil artwork by: Matt Roden

A player’s perspective


So this year, on Saturday the 11th of October, I once again made the trip to Zedtown: where a section of Sydney University was converted into a pseudo world on the brink of collapse, following a virus outbreak which marks the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Armed with Nerf guns, balled up socks and a healthy dose of fear and anxiety, we are thrust out into Zedtown, where the government has abandoned us, everyone looks like an enemy and ultimately, we are all merely prolonging the inevitable. Some unfortunate folk had already been infected – called Original Zombies, or OZs, and they were hidden among us, waiting for the opportune moment to reveal themselves, infect others and begin humanity’s slippery slope down into zombieland.

This was my third time stepping foot in Zedtown, so I’ve been a player since it’s inception. It’s the largest game of it’s kind in Australia, and quite frankly, once a year just ain’t enough! What could possibly NOT be fun about a bunch of adults running around in silly costumes, shooting foam darts and throwing socks at each other?

The game essentially boils down to a giant game of tag. Everyone starts out as survivors, with a few OZs among us. Once you are firmly tapped on the body or on your gear by a zombie, you convert into a zombie. Yay! Survivors can stun incoming zombies with their nerf guns, and also with balled up socks. Throughout the game, there are also NPCs – Non-Playable Characters, who are allowed to spread info but do not partake in the game. Some will offer missions, which will grant survivors things like information about the OZs, and funnily enough this year, lamington cake. Additionally, there are super crazy ‘boss’ zombies – zombies which have special powers or immunity to things. Like the witch. The….the witch. That makes my spine tingle. Rumors spread about her being unable to run, or that she could be stunned by socks. All. Lies. She runs, she screams, she’s invincible and this year, she had a posse of zombies armed with GUNS, THAT COULD STUN YOU. Just, just run. Freaking, run.

I personally love how immersive the game is. There’s a dedicated radio station on the day, spreading intel, rumors, outright lies and keeping everyone on their toes. Social media was similarly used to communicate, and if you encountered a stranger with tidbits of info – you politely, but firmly, tell them to stay at a distance as you converse. The witch scared the living daylights out of every single survivor by a simple scream, the most terrifying scream of all the land…..with ‘boss’ zombies kindly revealing to you they are invincible coming a close second. There were moments throughout the day, where genuine fear was a factor in my survival. I had allowed myself to get so into the game that I trusted no-one, and the sound of zombies proclaiming ‘ONE OF US’ made my adrenaline pump faster.

This year, I landed myself a new record. I survived the longest I had ever in the game – 20mins until evacuation. The game began this year at 4pm, and evacuation was at 9:30. Considering previous years it took only a mere hour or so, that was pretty damned good. So I think I might have some handy tips on how to go about surviving in Zedtown, and the game in general:


Seriously, absolutely no-one. Except for your group mates, as long as they ticked the ‘Not OZ’ box when buying their tickets. Last year, we were swiftly and quietly picked off by the OZ, simply because we let our guard down and allowed him within tagging distance. Since not all OZs are revealed at the same time, no-one knows who is being real, who is being deceptive and everyone will do well if they stay a tangible distance away from you and your group. I took this mentality with me all the way….I was eventually separated from my group, and even when they called asking where I was, I was wary about giving away my position. Hearing the sounds of my zombified friends saying they were coming for me as I ran like hell with a bunch of stranger-survivors was one of the creepiest things ever.

You probably don’t need that much ammo

I got through as long as I did with only a 25 dart barrel – and I only reloaded once. Though of course, this is dependent on your play style. Mine was very much run, run like bloody hell this year. So I had no real use for my gun until the final hurrah, where I was finally zombified. If you’re an avid zombie hunter, or plan on fortifying an area (which will inevitably attract the Horde) then ok, darts, all of the darts. Realistically though, if you’re a scaredy like me, you won’t need or use that much ammo.

Keep moving

I can see the benefit of combining groups of a tangible size, finding a spot and fortifying for the entire night. There can definitely be safety in numbers, but with the existence of boss and invincible zombies, you’d just become an easy target. Keep on your toes, and get ready to run. Fast.

On that note, pack light

You don’t want to weigh yourself down packing way too much. Some muesli bars, a small bottle of water and some space for extra clips of ammo should be sufficient. A bogan-esque bum bag is amazing for this. I bought a relatively cheap one from Paddy’s Market and haven’t gone back.

Find a spot to hide out for a while

I spent a good 30mins or so with a couple of other team mates hiding behind bushes, and we were never spotted. I daresay we could have stayed there for the rest of the night until evacuation if it weren’t for us getting restless sitting in the dirt in such a cramped space. Whilst hiding, the witch and the horde came by. Twice. And we remained unnoticed. One of the most tense moments of the game.

Don’t be a fool. Welcome the change.

With 500 players this year, the chance of survival are so very very slim. And even if one manages to survive until evacuation has been announced, there’s the perilous journey running towards the evacuation point, which will be swamped with zombies, guaranteed. To be completely honest, by the time I was separated from the rest of my original team mates and there was very little time left until evacuation, I was dead tired. GEDDIT? I welcomed becoming a zombie.

The game doesn’t end when you’ve been tagged!

You become a hungry hungry hippo! Wait….Zombie! A hungry hungry zombie, yay! I ran with renewed vigor after dumping my guns, and donning the green headband as a zombie. Go scare the heebie jeebies out of people and eat some humans! Nomnomnom. I missed out on noms since I died so late in the game, but next time…

Have fun

We’re a bunch of adults playing with toy guns and fake blood that tastes like chocolate. Chill.

Thank you to the Zedtown team – I have loved every game I ever played. I’m already planning a costume for next year. And considering bringing a GoPro….


This post originally appeared on Yvonne Lui’s blog

2014 Final briefing

Going to Zedtown: Darkness Falls this weekend? Here’s some final information you need to know about the game. Please make sure you read it all!


At a bare minimum you’ll need to bring the following things to play Zedtown.

  • Some kind of foam dart blaster and ammo, or a number of balled up socks.
  • A good pair of running shoes.

We recommend the following are very useful things to enhance your Zedtown experience:

  • A smart phone to listen in to Radio Zedtown. A battery extender is great too.
  • Snacks and water to help you survive on campus.
  • Cash if you want to buy merch. We don’t take EFTPOS.
  • Costumes are fun! Have a thought about how you’d like to dress. There are prizes for best costumes!
  • Anything else you think would be fun! We’ve had people bring extra zombie make-up, secondary zombie costumes, walkie talkies, automated turret blasters, banners for forts. Use your imagination!


There is no tent this year! Instead we are running registration on the lawns outside of Hermanns Bar (it’s marked on all maps as ‘ZOMBIE CENTRAL‘. Come here first to sign in. This is also where your zombie processing will happen in the game if you get tagged, so it’s a good place to remember if you’ve never been.

Zedtown map 2014


Just a reminder as the inevitable drop-outs and resales happen before the event: If you sell or buy a ticket make sure the new buyer:

  • Brings a print-out of the emailed receipt from the original buyer.
  • Quotes the original buyer’s name at registration.
  • Tells registration it’s a resold ticket so they can get correct info from them. If you bought an ACCESS ticket and you don’t have an ACCESS card you’ll be asked to pay the $10 difference so please bring correct change.

If you follow these rules you should have no problem using a resold ticket.


Try your best to leave the registration site. Go to Eastern Avenue and shoot your blaster! We’ll be running mini-games on the Eastern Avenue lawns which are a great opportunity to warm up and get some blaster experience. It’s also right next to the main stage where our 4:00PM game briefing will happen, so good to make sure you know where it is.

(Remember a BBQ will be provided at 3:00PM – this will either be at the Sunken Lawns (marked on your handbook maps) or right next to Eastern Avenue near the Chemistry Building – mods will advise on the day.)


St Johns Ambulance is on site and will be set up next to Hermanns. If you need medical assistance please come to Hermanns Bar or directly to St Johns. (Also, this is a good time to remember that part of the terms of our ticket sales is that we all play at our own risk, so try not to do something crazy that will get yourself hurt!)


There is one minor rules change in the rules that have been online for the last month. It is written correctly in the physical handbooks you’ll be given on the day. The rules for Stunning a Survivor (friendly fire) should read as follows:

Stunning a Survivor (friendly fire): Survivors may also be stunned by blaster fire. Stunned survivors may not move or fire their blasters at other survivors for a count of thirty seconds. If they are carrying a Mission Prop they must drop it or hand it over to the player who shot them, if requested. If they are in a base, they must evacuate the base for the player who shot them, if requested. Players never need to surrender any private equipment, ammo or blasters. Stunned survivors may blast zombies as normal. (amended, 9/11/14)


Be sunsafe: Temperature is predicted as partly cloudy with highs of 25 degrees. It’ll be hot, especially at registration and the minigames so make sure you are sunsafe. Wear a hat, bring sunscreen and drink lots of water. Nobody wants to get hit by sunstroke during the first hour and then miss the whole game.

Clean up after yourself: Our players are generally so good at cleaning up after themselves, please keep it up. Trashing the uni is going to be one of the quickest ways we get kicked off campus and we have to stop holding these events.

Also, there’s 30 minutes between the game end and the Zedtown formal beginning. We’ll be asking all players to do a dart sweep of the campus to look for stray darts – you get to keep what you find, and it’s important for us for making sure the campus looks as neat as possible Monday morning.

Stay out of the Quad: Last year we had a complaint from the uni about a lot of people in fake blood running through the quad to clean up in the toilets. A reminder the Quad is OFF LIMITS if you are visibly made up, wearing a blaster or otherwise look like you’ve just played Zedtown. The University is a great venue, they love the game and they have asked for just one thing – that we stay out of the Quadrangle, so please stay out!

If you need to use toilets there are toilets at Hermanns Bar (registration), Carslaw, a number of places. Please don’t use the Quad ones.

Remember it’s a game: This is the golden rule, everybody knows this now. Enjoy yourself but respect everybody’s right to a fun day. If you find yourself in an argument with another player you’re both taking it too seriously. Be generous, especially in death, and don’t take yourself too seriously. We’re all grown ups playing with toy guns. If we can remember that, we’ll have a great day.

A beginner’s guide

Zedtown: Beginner's Guide

Hi all,

My name is Joe and I’m a former [email protected] executive and current Canberra Dart Tag administrator. I’ve been both playing and running HvZ games since it first came to Australia back in 2009 and Dave asked me to put together a quick primer for those new to the world of HvZ, so enjoy! This isn’t going to talk about in game rules or specific tactics or anything like that, but rather what I believe to be an assortment of truths that many new comers don’t immediately pick up on. By all means, take this as an encouragement to get more involved in the game but also take it for what it is, general advice from someone is probably isn’t quite as good as he thinks he is.


1. You’re not as good as you think you are.

I mostly blame FPS video games for this (now there’s a soundbite and a half), but really video games in general could probably take a fair chunk of the credit. Call it an unfair stereotype it you must but a lot of the people who play with blasters also play a decent chunk of FPS’s. That in itself isn’t a bad thing and it makes a lot of sense; play with pretend guns in a virtual world, play with toys guns in real life. Instead, the problem stems from with it does to your ego.

In most FPS’s, you’re the protagonist; in real life, you’re not. Protagonists get all sorts of super magical powers even when they’re just a “normal” dude/dudette. They can run out in front of fifty henchmen all going nuts will full-auto guns, not get hit, and still take out all fifty bad guys with only twenty shots. Conversely, you are just a “normal dude/dudette”. As a zombie, when you run out in front of even five humans, you’ll probably just get shot.

Many people, particularly newcomers, get frustrated by this. They were all psyched up for their first game. They’ve read all about the rules online, they’ve already built themselves an uber-blaster, they’ve got this really cool idea of the mad ‘jump-dive-roll-shoot-ten-zombies-backflip-shoot-ten-more-zombies’TM sick moves they’re going to pull; then they turn up and get tagged in the first thirty seconds of their first encounter. This is devastating for them. They had visions of how awesome they’d be and their reality didn’t quite match up to that. Unfortunately  this then sours their experience of the whole day and hurts the chances that they’ll come back.

Instead, what people need to understand is that HvZ is quite similar to most other things on the planet; you don’t get good at it just by thinking about it, you have to practice. For HvZ this mostly means attending more and more games. Sure you’ll have skills that will transfer over from other things you’ve done before and there are some tips and tricks that you can pick up on, but unless you’re some kind of freak, you will get better the more you play.

Crux of the argument is that you’re not as good as you think you are, don’t expect to be the best person in the game on your first outing. Learn to walk before you try to run (metaphorically of course, running is quite a useful skill to have!) and you’ll be fine.

2. You’re (probably) part of a team, don’t try and be the hero.

The vast majority of games I’ve been involved in, I’ve been a part of a team. Sure there are the odd occasions where you’ll end up on your own, but they’re fairly few and far between. This then ties in fairly well with our first part in that unless you’re some kind of super human protagonist type (re-read the first point if you have to because you’re not), you will need the help of your teammates. Going it alone will only get you tagged/shot. Learn to work with the other members of your team and you’ll have a lot more fun.

3. You don’t need an uber-blaster.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say that they didn’t want to get involved because they didn’t have any really good modified blasters. Nuts to that. Turn up with what you’ve got and run with it. Sure you might not have the range or rate of fire of some of the other players, but you’ll still have fun. Take it as a learning experience; learn to play to your advantages and minimise your weaknesses. If you don’t have a massive range, learn to get up close and surprise people. Don’t have a high rate of fire, learn to make the shots you can take count. If you decide to later upgrade to a “better” blaster, all the skills you’ve picked up along the way will now be further amplified.

4. You don’t need 17 blasters.

Similar to the last point but albeit in a slightly different manner, don’t let your armoury stand in the way of you having a good time.  There will be people at your games who have three of every blaster ever released; you don’t need that, you can have fun with practically anything. A single Hornet or Magstrike might cause you some problems, but any clip based blaster should be fine.

The more you play, the more you’ll get a chance to observe other players and figure out which blasters best suit your playing style. Allowing you to purchase only the things that you need.

5. Carry what you can actually use.

I’ve brought this point up with many players in the past but for some reason, lots of people immediately think that they need to carry at least a primary and a secondary. They’ll turn up with a Magstrike strapped to their back, a NiteFinder in their pocket, a Longshot in their hands, and 48 clips spread around their person. How do you expect to be able to move? HvZ is often fast paced, you will be at a disadvantage if you can’t move freely and effectively. Also, how do you plan on using all of those? The Magstrike is often a single use blaster and the other two each take two hands to reload. The answer is often something along the lines of “I have this one as a backup” but really, how often do your blasters break mid game? Use one blaster to its potential, rather than using three half-assed.

On the darts front, it can be a little harder to know what you’ll need. For a short game I’ll run with either a single 35 drum or two 18 clips taped together and not carry any spares; if it’s an all day game, maybe a few spare clips. Again, carrying extra things will just make it harder to move and slow you down. Take only what you need.

6. Don’t be afraid of the other team.

Humans – Zombies have effectively zero range, they can’t tag you from 20m away. Don’t waste your darts, wait until they get close enough that you’re all-but guaranteed to hit. Also, don’t panic, you’ve got this. When you panic, you will make mistakes and that’s when people get turned.

Zombies – You will get stunned. Repeatedly. Don’t be overly concerned about getting shot; it doesn’t hurt and you can respawn, they can’t. You can take more risks than a human can so use this to your advantage. Any human worth their salt should be able to take down 3-5 zombies charging them with little concerns, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take even one-on-one opportunities when they present themselves. I’d probably be able to attribute as many tags to just straight up running at a human and their blaster jamming, as I could to every other sneaky or horrendously outnumbered tag I’ve ever gotten. Worst case scenario is their blaster functions as it should and you have to respawn, best case is you get a tag.

7. Don’t take it all to seriously, have fun and make friends!

HvZ makes for a pretty poor competitive sport as ‘winning’ is incredibly subjective. Maybe your ego is fragile and you’ve got it in your head that surviving right to very end is winning, or maybe you want the most tags as a zombie, or even the most stuns as a human. By all means try to achieve any or all of those things, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture of having fun. I know plenty of people who have played in games, didn’t reach their pre-determined metric of whatever it was they wanted to achieve, and didn’t have fun as a result. Nuts to that! Get out there, shoot some people with toy guns, take part in a giant game of tip, and have yourself a world of fun.

More generally though, want to know how you win at HvZ? Make friends. Back in our first game at ANU, I made more friends in those four days than I had in the previous three years of my degree. Personally, [email protected] was without a shadow of a doubt, the best experience of my time at university and probably the time of my life so far. I met so many people from such a wide range of backgrounds that I never would have encountered otherwise, all because we had these silly little foam dart blasters in common. I’ve since picked up blasters as a legitimate hobby and continue to play to this day, but I have many close friends who couldn’t care less about the blasters, yet still unconditionally love the game. Plenty of people met their now romantic partners through HvZ, while countless more made good honest friendships.

HvZ brings people together. It lets first year students interact with post grads, it provides a reason for Engineering students talk to Arts students, it gives ‘townies’ an excuse to get to know some of the ‘on campus’ folk; all without any form of prejudice. It instantly brakes down social barriers and certainly made my university a better place for it. So really, what are you waiting for? Get fired up for the opportunity that has landed at your university and make it awesome.

Joe is a Canberra Dart Tag admin and pretty great guy. You can read more of his stuff at his blog, Foam Dart Goodness.

Hunting the Living

Last year James Wilson was a devastatingly effective Original Zombie. He tagged something like 20 players in the first three hours and led the zombies to a total victory just before sundown. He’s put together a few tips for how to get around in the second half of Zedtown.

Zedtown: Hunt the living

So you’ve decided to prey/feast on the still living?

That’s great! This is a big undertaking that I’m sure will bring a lot of happiness to you, your friends and immediate family. Being a zombie is the biggest element of the game and one necrotic butt-tonne of fun, there is nothing more satisfying than taking a grown adult’s toy gun away and watching that little spark of hope die in their eyes. But there are a few tricks to being the best zombie killer you can be:

Stay quiet. Stalk your prey. Strike fast.

Zombies in films and literature are almost always depicted as shambling, moaning mounds, but I’ve always found the most terrifying zombies are the ones that appear suddenly and silently, just when you believe you’re safe. This is how I got most of my kills last year, I would stalk around uni staying hidden and listening for roving bands of humans and trying to ambush them. It’s the zompocalypse people, every corner should be full of terror.

Don’t be afraid to form hunting packs.

Any zombie can just charge unerringly at a human, but they’re often well prepared for this with a barrage of nerf. If you can, form several smaller groups and attack from multiple directions at once, spreading thin the human’s offensive field and picking off the weaker/less prepared members. Like the putrefying Lion you are!

Be prepared.

Last year was the most running I’ve ever done in 24 hours. By a massive margin. Bring a good pair of running shoes, even if they clash with your costume, trust me. Bring a water bottle and make sure that you’re staying hydrated all day, snacks as well; you’re going to need those carbs. Also a good idea is getting to know the uni grounds intimately before the date, start thinking like the ‘fleshies’ would. Where would they try and hold out? where can you ambush them?

Don’t be that guy or girl.

This is primarily a fun event for everyone, don’t do things that might ruin someone’s day; don’t climb things, don’t tag aggressively, don’t get carried away with the whole ‘killing’ thing. If you’re getting too serious about it all, it’s a bunch of legally adult-children shooting eachother with foam darts – You’re doing it wrong.

The main thing to remember is that time is on your side. Yes you’ll get shot, yes you will die again, but there are reinforcements coming. Be involved all day – This doesn’t end when your human character dies. (personally I think the best part has only just begun) This is a day long event and it only gets more and more fun as night falls. Happy hunting.

Survival Prep Checklist 2013

Top six things to do between now and Zed Day to maximise your game.


This is a game that features a lot of running. Some clothes are better for running than others. Consider this.

Also, the Bureau of Meteorology website is predicting temperatures of 13-20 with a low chance of rain in the morning. Pretty great zombie hunting weather! If you get cold easy (and you might get damp) it might be a good idea to bring some layers. Just remember you’ll need somewhere to stash them when things heat up!


This is a big one! Unfamiliar blasters jam suddenly and unforgivingly. Take your blaster out into the garden and shoot it a lot at things. Shoot it running, Shoot it from the hip, practice reloading it on the fly, practice clearing darts from the jam door. Learn the kinks of your blaster and how to deal with jams and problems. If your blaster is temperamental, consider bringing along another smaller blaster you can stash away for emergencies. Jolts, mavericks, speedfires and speedload 6′s are all good options here.


If possible you want to run light. Being covered in slings, holsters and combat webbing might look bad ass but the chances are you’ll tangle yourself up ten seconds in and be easy prey. Try and find ways to keep yourself free and mobile.

As a side point, consider integrating elements you need to cut down on the clutter. Gaffer-taping a torch to the side of a blaster keeps it where you need it without taking up precious access space. A backup blaster on a sling is useful – a one-shot backup blaster zip tied to your primary blaster can be that much better.


You all have the final map now. Go have a reccie! There are hiding places and bolt holes all over the uni. While designing missions Simon and I have found places on Camperdown campus we’d never seen before. Have a look around and work out where you’re going to go to ground at when things get hairy.


Be smart! There are other items and accessories that can be useful in this game beyond guns ‘n ammo. A device for internet radio and an earbud might help you tune into survivor FM at the right moment to get a crucial warning. Snacks and food will keep your energy up. Walkie talkies aren’t too pricey these days. A smart phone, iPad or other means to keep talking to other survivors online can only help you stay connected. Have a think about what else you might bring to the party.


Finally remember you probably won’t be a survivor all day. Think about the zombie afterlife. How will you spend yours? How will you stash your guns? Any extra costume stuff you want to bring? It’s always good to have a plan B.