Do you like zombie movies where the survivors must face impossible odds against an undead horde heading relentlessly towards them? Does the narrow escapes of scattered protagonists make your day? Then you just might like Last Night on Earth by Flying Frog Productions. Full Disclaimer: I love zombie movies and games of just about every stripe. I played the original Resident Evil so much that I’m surprised I didn’t melt the disc.
Set in the fictional town of Woodinvale, the story of LNoE follows eight heroes and their struggles against the zombie hoard. Up to two zombie players square off against up to four hero players in a variety of scenarios where the heroes must complete certain objectives before time runs out or the zombie turn them into their undead brethren.
Gameplay heavily weights towards the zombie advantage with the heroes only having the advantage of better movement: the zombies, generally, move one space at a time while the heroes can move however many spaces they roll on a D6. Without weapons, the zombies have a distinct combat advantage and even with weapons the heroes will find it difficult to take down the hoard. The second advantage heroes have over their living challenged pursuers are special abilities – one per hero – that grant a wide variety of useful talents.
As mentioned, gameplay consists of rounds divided by zombies and heroes. Zombies go first and at the start of every round after the first, they move the sun tracker down a notch. Each scenario provided says how many rounds (moves on the suntracker) the heroes have to complete their tasks. Inside buildings, heroes search for useful items or event cards by drawing from the hero deck, but be careful, zombie players have a deck as well that allows them to draw a set number of cards each round that they can use to foil the heroes plan.
Playing a “Light’s Out” card prevents heroes from effectively moving through buildings or searching. A “My God, They’ve Taken the…” card means that a building will be completely inaccessible to the heroes. In return the heroes might get guns (the most effective weapons in the game), items that will allow them to heal, or event cards that they can use in a variety of ways.
The first few playthroughs of Last Night on Earth may take more than a couple of hours to complete. The game is expansive and you probably won’t experience all of the elements of the game in a single sitting. I’ve played it four times now and while it remains just as fun as the first, I still ran into pieces of the game in the fourth game that I had not in the previous three.
The true thrill of LNoE, for me, was the scenario cards. The game comes with four unique setups that include a simple zombie killing spree, defend a house, fill up your escape truck, and an onslaught on the zombie spawners. Each one will feel familiar to a fan of zombie movies as will many of the hero characters.
- Definitely a game made for those who love zombie movies.
- Immersive play for both heroes and zombies.
- High replayability: with the different scenarios and the ability to design your own once you get the hang of the game mechanics, the options for customization are limitless.
- If you don’t like zombies and zombies movies, this game has nothing to offer.
- A few sessions will be needed to get the hang of the rules and gameplay.
- Playtime can be frustrating for hero characters if their initial searches don’t yield much needed weapons. Note, zombie players may feel the opposite.
- Some of the cards and their effects are not clear and will require some table discussion.
Dame K’s recommendations:
- The rule book recommends starting with the scenario “Die Zombies, Die!” and so do I. Mechanics wise, it’s the simplest and with the most clear cut objective. Although, since the heroes have to kill fifteen zombies while losing no more than one hero, it can be a challenge.
- Though the rules state that heroes should be chosen at random, selecting them the first few playthroughs will help. I specifically recommend Sheriff Anderson because he starts with a pistol and can take three wounds before dying and Jake Cartwright for his ability to draw two cards upon every search and keep the one you like the best. Jake also has three potential wounds. Becky the Nurse seems like a good choice with her three wound circles and ability to heal one wound per turn on another hero in the same space. However, they have to be in the same space which can be risky proposition.
- For “My God, They’ve Taken the ….” card in the zombie deck, I have a couple of suggestions. The cards states that zombies from the available zombie must be placed in each empty space of the building. The card doesn’t say what to do if there aren’t enough zombies to fill the building. If the zombie player(s) do not have enough zombies to fill the building:
- Zombies cannot take over the building.
- State the building will only be overrun by the number of turns equal to the number of zombies they do have.
- Allow the take over anyway.
- Per the book rules, heroes cannot gang up on a single zombie in hand to hand combat. Here is an alternative:
- Let the second hero roll a die with standard fight rules: zombies win a tie and a hero must roll higher and roll doubles to kill the zombie.
That’s it for now! I hope you found this review useful and give Last Night on Earth a try (if you like zombies, that is). Let me know your thoughts down below and don’t forget to follow Dames & Dice on twitter for all content updates! Check out the game on Amazon here.