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Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game

Reviewed by: Chris Kovac

(Flying Frog Productions, 2 to 6 players, age 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $49.99)

lastnightonearth1If you like to watch The Walking Dead or like zombie horror as a whole, this zombie themed cooperative game for up to six people is for you. This game is by Jason C. Hill and produced by the quirky game company Flying Frog Productions. This game was released in a first edition in 2007 and as a second edition in 2012. The game has numerous expansions but I am reviewing the base game (1st edition) for four players though it can play up to six. The number of players affects how many players play zombies and heroes as well as how many zombies the zombie player starts with.

To start you choose one of the scenario cards. Each scenario will tell you how the heroes/zombies can win and how many turns the scenario lasts. Now you get out the appropriate markers and/or board pieces for the scenario. Next you set up the board.

The main board and the sub boards are all double sided with different buildings on them. You put the main board on the table, usually on the open space side unless playing the “mansion scenario” in which case you would play it with the mansion side up. You surround it with four sub boards randomly drawn and placed with one side or another. This forms the playing field.

Next, players choose two players to be zombies (one gets the brown set of zombies, the other the green) and two players play the heroes (each hero player gets two heroes chosen randomly). Each hero has a character card which tells you where the character starts (in the middle if the specified building is not shown), special abilities, keywords (affecting some of the action cards) and finally a wound track (when filled the character is eliminated).

Zombie players each roll a 1d6. This is how many zombies the zombie player starts with initially. Zombies start on the zombie pit spaces marked with an X and must be spread out among the pits on the board as evenly as possible. Finally you put the sun turn marker on the appropriate turn space (based on the scenario). Hero players can win by meeting the scenario winning conditions. Zombies win if the heroes cannot fulfill the scenario conditions, if the turns run out or the last action card in the hero deck is discarded. The game consists of alternating zombie and hero turns. (It should be noted at this point when I talk about action cards the zombie players will draw action cards from a zombie deck, the heroes from the hero deck.)

On a zombie first, the turn marker is moved down (except in the first turn). Then the zombie players draws up to two action cards apiece. If any action cards say “play immediately”, they must be played immediately, otherwise they can be played at the appropriate time based on the card text. The next phase of the zombie turn is the spawning phase.

In the spawning phase, the zombie players roll 1d6. If they roll higher than the current number of zombies they have on the board, additional zombies from the general stock are placed, the number equal to the difference between the die roll and the number in your active pool. Next is the moving phase. During the moving phase, zombies can move one space unless with a hero or if next to a hero when they must move onto the hero space. The next phase of the zombie turn is “attack” where the heroes and the zombie fight.

Zombies, unless helped by an action card, attack with 1d6, the heroes with 2d6. Whoever rolls higher wins the fight (zombies win ties). If a zombie wins, he inflicts one wound on a hero. If a hero wins, he just fends off the zombie unless he rolls doubles in which case he causes the zombie to take a hit and, in most cases, eliminates the zombie who goes back to the respective zombie player’s general zombie pool. The final phase of the zombie turn is rolling 1d3 (you use a conversion chart to change your 1d6 roll to a 1d3 roll) and this number of zombies in your active pool come onto the board. Now the hero players have their turn.

The first phase for the hero players is the move phase. The heroes either roll 1d6 and can move that many spaces or, if in a building, choose not to move and perform a search which allows them to take an action card from the action deck. Equipment cards must be assigned to a hero (maximum of four items per character) and “play immediately” cards must be played immediately. Other cards can be used at the appropriate time by the hero players depending again on the text of the action cards. In some buildings, they can get a specific equipment card if it can be found in the discards. After moving, if two players are in the same space, they can exchange equipment cards.

lastnight2

The next phase is “ranged attacks” when the hero player can fire ranged weapons at zombies. This involves rolling a certain number of dice based on the weapon’s card text and seeing if you roll high enough for a hit. After a weapon is fired, you usually must roll an “ammo roll” to see if the weapon is out of ammo. If the weapon breaks/runs out of ammo, you discard the weapon card.

The final phase is fight zombies. In this phase, heroes fight all zombies currently in their spaces. For every hit, the hero takes a wound marker to place on his wound track. If the track is filled, the character is removed and, in the advanced game, becomes a zombie hero which is stronger (two hits to kill) and moves faster (1d3). If both characters under a player’s control are killed, that player draws another random character who starts in the centre of the board on the next hero turn. The game continues alternating between zombie and hero turns until either side wins or the turns run out (in which case the zombie players win).

The strategy of Last Night on Earth for the zombie players is to overwhelm the heroes one by one or interfere with their ability to collect items. The heroes have to get together and then get some heroes fighting off the zombies while others search the buildings for needed items.

The components of the game are nicely made though the miniatures are unpainted and the cards tend to stick together for the first few games. I especially like the artwork on the cards and the hero cards which are actually photos of actors portraying the characters in various poses of peril rather than drawn art. This addd to the strong theme and helps the fun factor of the game. The rules, while OK, are a bit vague in spots and some of the cards and actions not clearly described. It is highly recommended, if you have the first edition, to download the FAQ either from Boardgamegeek or the Flying Frog Production website in order to clarify the rules One unusual bonus in the game is a professionally made album of Soundtrack music (personally I liked the Sheriff theme) which does add to the ambience of the game for those who like such things.

Overall Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game is a nicely themed and playable game with enough strategy to satisfy both the casual and advanced gamer.


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