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Humans vs. Zombies, also called HvZ, or "Zomb" in some circles, is a modified game of tag that is played primarily on college campuses. It was developed in 2005 at Goucher College in Maryland, and has since spread to hundreds of schools across the United States and the world. The rules are simple: one player starts out as the "zombie," and he or she must infect others and turn them into zombies by tagging them. Humans are allowed to defend themselves with Nerf guns, socks and marshmallows, which stun zombies for fifteen minutes. The game is over when all the humans have been infected, or after all of the zombies have starved to death (if a zombie goes 48 hours without infecting someone, it dies). Three guesses as to who wins most games, and the first two don't count.

Stephen Colbert has declared the game to be the number one threat to America. The originators of the game have also made a documentary about it.


  • Axes At School: The main reason why the game is controversial; see Too Soon below. Melee friendly versions take this literally, with Nerf swords and Axes being used.
    • Literally banned by Goucher and several other schools for being too advantageous for the humans.
  • Band of Brothers: Human groups that make it to the final days.
  • BFS: Standard-issue for melee-focused humans. Most melee-oriented humans will use the Nerf Marauder (which is just shy of four and a half feet long), but some truly exceptional humans will build custom swords up to seven or eight feet long. Of course, bigger swords, despite being made of foam, can weigh quite a bit; your average human at a melee-permitted school will either run with a rifle and three-foot-long one-hander, or a five-foot-long two-hander like the Marauder and a pistol. Or, in extreme cases, just one really freaking massive sword that's taller than they are. It happens.
    • As mentioned above, though, swords are banned at many schools for overpowered-ness, and others ban swords in conjunction with guns; everyone seems to have their own opinion. It's inadvisable to mention this on the HvZ forums.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: The point of the game.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Some humans go down with a blaze of glory, using all the ammo they have, shooting zombie after zombie after zombie till one lucky one finally gets through. Expect to hear such quotes as You Shall Not Pass, or "You guys go, I'll hold em off."
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: What, did you think it was an exploration of the meaning of life?
  • Excuse Plot: You can start the game with a token storyline if you want to, but either way the result is going to be people chasing each other around with socks and Nerf guns.
  • Fragile Speedster: Basically any human, seeing how getting tagged once makes a human a zombie. To be more specific, anyone equipped with light weaponry and socks.
  • Guns in Church: Officially forbidden by the rules- not that players haven't found loopholes...
    • It says that you may not have nerf guns visible in classes, academic buildings, or at jobs. However, they didn't say that you can't have your guns, or that you can't bring melee weapons.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: So many humans have been killed, holding off the zombie horde with no chance of survival so the rest of the humans can survive.
  • I Don't Want to Die: This is generally the attitude that humans have, unless they've already had their moment of glory or prefer playing as zombies.
  • Jack of All Trades: Grenadiers can be seen as this, as they take aspects of the other three main "classes" (Scout, Heavy, and Ranger) and meld them together.
  • Job System: Well kinda. A human's class is based on their loadout. The four main are the Scout, the Heavy, the Ranger, and the Grenadier
  • Kill'Em All: The makers of the game have stated that they went out of their way to tip the odds in favor of the zombies. They say that this makes it so that, when the game ends, everyone is on the winning team. It is very rare (although not unheard of) for the humans to win the game.
  • Large Ham: All the time.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Tend to appear, on both sides.
  • Memetic Mutation: Several, most notably: "ZA RODINU!", "Thanks for the ammo.", "There are no Snipers in Nerf!", Humanity check!", and "All the way across campus".
  • More Dakka: By far the most viable strategy for anti-horde combat.
  • Nerf Brand: Nerf guns are the Weapon of Choice for most players.
  • Nigh Invulnerability: The only way for a zombie to truly die is to starve. Other than that, getting hit will only stun them for 15 minutes. Humans on the other hand...
  • Ninja: Sock ninjas. They carry the aforementioned socks to throw at zombies.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Humans can only get hit once, If they do get hit, they become zombies!
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They can run, think, speak and collaborate, they have to feed to stay "alive," and while they can't be killed, they can be stunned by Nerf darts, socks or marshmallows.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted- if your gun has been modified, you have to get it approved so that it isn't too powerful and you are not supposed to aim at the head.
  • Quieter Than Silence: At some point late in the game, between the last big clash between the zombies and the humans, and the inevitable Last Stand by the final survivors, there is normally a very quiet period during which the zombies hunt down the last humans.
  • Rules Lawyer: Why the admins exist, basically... especially when Zombies argue about whether you "stunned" them or not.
  • Too Soon: Many colleges cracked down on the game after the Virginia Tech massacre, often banning the game outright or banning the use of Nerf guns. Even several years later, some schools are still squeamish about letting students run around campus shooting at each other.
  • Versus Title
  • We Have Reserves: Zombies can easily get away with this mindset once they begin to heavily outnumber the humans.
    • Averted entirely by the humans, who are always subject to a permanently Dwindling Party.
  • The Wiki Rule: The HvZ Wiki. Needs more love.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Once tagged, you need to feed... and you still have all your (human) intelligence and speed, so...
  • Zerg Rush: With bonus points for the Zerglings being able to come back after getting shot.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Get a tight path between buildings and you have a great zombie filter.
  • Zombie Apocalypse
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