Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game – Experience the Horror of a Zombie Apocalypse
With Halloween right around the corner and The Walking Dead scheduled to return to our living rooms Sunday, October 11, Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game shambled into my brain as a good choice for a review this month.
Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game is a semi-cooperative board game of Zombies versus a bunch of B-movie Hero characters, including the high school sweetheart, football hero, farmer’s daughter, town sheriff, hospital nurse, man of the cloth, and a stranger in town. He must have brought the plague! We didn’t have zombies ’til he came to town!
Depending on the number playing, one or two players run the horde of zombies and the rest run away from the zombies while attempting to achieve the objective in the chosen scenario. Scenarios range from simply surviving until dawn (Defend the Manor House), to Save the Townsfolk, to finding the gas & keys so you can Escape in the Truck!
Play is simple and alternates between the horde of Zombies and the Heroes taking turns. The Zombie Master goes first: moving the Sun Track marker, drawing new Zombie Cards, and rolling to possibly spawn new zombies (he won’t get to place them until the end of his turn, though). The zombie master then moves his zombies. Because zombies have an unquenchable appetite for human flesh, any zombies already in the same space as a hero, will stay there and try to eat the tasty hero. Any zombies adjacent to a hero will move into the hero’s space, also with the intent of sating their hunger. Otherwise, the zombie master is free to move the rest of the zombies however he chooses, even through walls. Yeah, buildings don’t offer much protection at all. Unlike vampires, zombies don’t need an invitation to enter your house. But I digress. Once the zombie master has arranged the zombies to his satisfaction, the Fight begins.
To Fight, the affected hero player and zombie master roll a number of Fight Dice, using their highest roll to determine who wins. Other players can play cards or use abilities to assist the fighting players. The fight is resolved when all players decide not to use any more cards or abilities. If the zombie has the highest roll or ties, the hero takes a wound – too many wounds and you die or become a zombie (depends on the scenario). If the hero’s roll is highest, she successfully fended off the zombie; if her roll is higher and she rolled doubles, she kills the zombie. Fighting continues until all hero and zombie encounters are resolved. Then the zombie master deploys his newly-spawned zombies and his turn is over.
Now it’s the Heroes turn. The heroes take their turns in whatever order they choose. They can even change the order each round. On her turn a hero player can either Move or Search her current location. Searching allows her to take a card from the Hero Deck. She can then exchange items with another hero (if they’re next to each other) and make a ranged attack (assuming she has a ranged weapon). If a hero ends her turn in the same space as one or more zombies, she must fight them – each and every zombie in her space, as described above. Fighting zombies at close range is dangerous, so you’ll probably want to avoid this whenever possible.
Play continues, alternating between zombie and hero turns, until one side completes its objective (as listed on the Scenario card). The zombies can also win by killing four heroes or using a zombie card to discard the last Hero Card in the deck. So don’t waste time completing your objective. Get it done and try not to get killed in the process. If you do get killed, don’t worry, you’re not out of the game for good. You can bring in a new character. Zombies love fresh meat.
Playing Last Night on Earth feels like you’re in a zombie movie. The chosen Scenario determines the overall plot while the Zombie and Hero cards build the story scene by scene as they’re played. With cards like, “There’s Too Many!”, “This Could Be Our Last Night on Earth”, Haunted By The Past, Loss of Faith, Lights Out, “My God, They’ve Taken the…”, and I Feel Kinda Strange, at his disposal, the Zombie Master can deal out death and create mayhem, making the Heroes’ lives a living hell. Of course the Heroes have their own resources in the Hero deck. Items like Dynamite, Pump Shotgun, First Aid Kit, Faith and Old Betsy and Townfolk allies like Principal Gomez, Mr. Hyde the Shop Teacher and Jeb the Grease Monkey will assist them in their struggles with the zombie horde. Heroes can also play Event cards that will allow them to Escape Through the Windows, get Just What I Needed, prevent a wound (Just a Scratch) or fight a little harder (Heroic Resolve).
The high-quality components and graphics enhance the theme and play. Miniatures are provided for all of the heroes and the zombies, too. You might want to paint them, but they work ok as is. The rulebook provides a little back story for each of the heroes to help you get into character quickly. The Character, Scenario and game boards are made of thick glossy cardboard. Photographs of the characters in appropriate costumes and settings illustrate the Hero and Zombie cards, the Character and Scenario boards and even the box. The designers have even included a CD soundtrack to provide mood music.
Last Night on Earth‘s replayability is excellent. The board is modular so the town layout varies, each Hero has his own strengths and weaknesses, and Scenarios change the objectives and winning conditions for both sides of each game. When you’re ready for more, several expansions are available to add modular board pieces, new Heroes and Zombies, more game Scenarios, Hero cards and Zombie cards, as well as, other challenges and enhancements to play.
Growing Hunger is one of the most popular expansions for Last Night on Earth as well as the biggest. It introduces new game mechanics, three new Scenarios, four new Heroes, seven Red Zombies that can be Plague Carriers or Grave Dead, more modular game board sections with unique buildings like the Supermarket and Library, 50 new game cards, and a two-player mini-game. With the Growing Hunger expansion, it’s much less likely the zombies will win by running out the Hero deck. Smaller expansions available include: Hero Pack One with four new Hero characters and Survival of the Fittest which adds new scenarios, Unique Items and Survival Tactics for the Heroes, and Grave Weapons for the Zombies.
There are two spin-off games that you can play stand-alone or combine with Last Night on Earth for an even bigger challenge. One of my favorites is Invasion From Outer Space: The Martian Game in which you play Carnie Folk fighting Martians under the Big Top. Characters include the Firebreather, Strongman, Contortionist and Jo Jo the Dancing Bear. Last Night on Earth: Timber Peak introduces the brand new town of Timber Peak with a full set of game boards, new heroes, zombies, cards and scenarios. Timber Peak also introduces rules for fire breaking out and spreading and a full Experience System for both Heroes and the Zombie horde to gain upgrades within the course of each game.
Last Night on Earth: Blood in the Forest is the latest expansion for Last Night on Earth also works with Timber Peak. Blood in the Forest adds a whole new set of boards, including a reversible airfield/forest center board, new L-boards, a bunch of rectangular boards so you can surround the town with forest and remote locations to which the heroes can flee, two new characters, new scenarios, new cards, and other new stuff. It expands on the theme and the Experience System introduced in Timber Peak. Blood in the Forest also introduces two new kinds of zombies: Feral Zombies that are particularly hungry from wandering the forest, also faster and more vicious, and the Zombie Behemoth, a giant lumberjack zombie determined to wreak havoc on the heroes and make tonight their Last Night on Earth.
Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game supports two to six players ages 12 and up with a playing time of an hour to an hour and a half. Here Be Books & Games has a copy of it and the Growing Hunger Expansion in their Demo Game Library, as well as, my personal copy of Invasion From Outer Space: The Martian Game, so we can teach you how to play.
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