Last Night On Earth
I’ve played a lot of video games that involved zombies (Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, etc.), but I never actually played a zombie themed board game until a few nights ago. This was actually one of the first board games that I ever purchased online, which led me to a lot of others that I didn’t even know existed. Chalk one up for Amazon’s “Customers who bought this also bought” section…it’s how I found out about new games (in regards to what I’ve heard of) before I discovered Board Game Geek.
“Last Night On Earth” is a humans (called heroes) versus zombies game that pits players against each other via scenarios. Both sides will be trying to complete their goals and likewise, prevent the other team from doing so. There is one scenario that is designed around the basic rules and four scenarios that use advanced rules. For the purposes of this review, I’ll be referencing the scenario that utilizes the basic rule set, “Die Zombies, Die!”
Playing Boards – There is one town center board that is square-shaped and six “L” shaped boards that are designed to fit around it. The “L” shaped boards are all unique in that they feature different buildings and layouts.
Figures – There are eight, white figures that each represent a particular hero, and fourteen zombie figures. Each hero figure has their own Character Sheet, which helps players keep track of character traits, special abilities, and wounds.
Decks – There is a zombie deck and a hero deck, complete with cards that help both sides accomplish their goals.
Scenario Cards – One of these five scenario cards will be chosen before the game begins. Scenario cards are designed to help players keep track of their side’s objectives. They are roughly the size of character sheets. The Sun Tracker has turn numbers listed on it from top to bottom in descending order, which tells the heroes how many turns they have left until the game is over.
There are some other tokens and tidbits found in the box…including a CD formated soundtrack of all things. I’ll also be opting not to cover the full set of rules so as to keep the review flowing. For a full listing of components and rules, check out the manual here: Last Night On Earth Manual.
As I mentioned earlier, I will be referencing the basic scenario called, “Die Zombie, Die!” I’ll also be assuming that one player is controlling all of the zombies, rather than the zombies be split among two players. Please keep this in mind when following along with the below as the rules are slightly modified based on the scenario and the number of zombie players.
Game setup will begin by choosing four “L” shaped boards at random and placing them around the square board. Four heroes are chosen at random via their character sheets and distributed among the hero players. Their figures are placed on the starting location indicated on their character sheet…if the building is not present, they start in the center square but get to draw a hero card.
The zombie player will roll two dice. The resulting sum represents the number of zombies that spawn before the game starts. Place the appropriate amount of zombies equally on the red “X” squares, which are scattered around the board.
Each deck is shuffled separately and the advanced cards are removed from both decks. Make sure that all game tokens, along with the decks, are within easy reach of players.
The heroes and zombies will each be taking turns. At the beginning of each zombie turn, the sun track counter will move down a number, indicating that the game’s end is getting closer each time. In “Die Zombies, Die!”, the heroes will have fifteen turns to kill fifteen zombies. If they don’t, or if they lose two heroes along the way, then they lose.
The zombies always start first. On their turn, they perform the following:
1. Adjust the sun tracker – Move the marker on the sun tracker down by one turn. If it is the first turn, place the marker on the number next to the corresponding scenario name…in this case…fifteen.
2. Draw new zombie cards – The zombie player draws up to a full hand of four cards. They can also discard a card if they want before they draw up to their maximum hand size.
3. Roll to spawn zombies – This is only a roll check to see if you can spawn zombies at the end of your turn…you will not be placing any on this step. Roll two D6′s…if the sum is higher than the number of zombies you currently have on the board, then the roll check succeeds and you get to spawn zombies later on.
4. Move zombies – They can move one space in any direction, even diagonal, and must move onto a hero space if conditions allow them to.
5. Fight – Any zombies on the same space as a hero will result in a fight. I’ll cover combat in a little bit.
6. Spawn new zombies – If the roll check on step three succeeded, roll a D6 and place the number shown equally on the X’s that are scattered around the board.
Each hero / character will be doing the following on their turn:
1. Move or search – Players can either roll a D6 and move (in any direction) or give up moving to search if they are in a building. By default, searching allows that player to draw the top card of the hero deck. If the building references a specific weapon, the player can look through the discard pile ONLY and pull out that weapon card to equip it.
2. Exchange – If they are on a space occupied by another hero, they can exchange items.
3. Ranged Attack – If the hero has a ranged weapon and is in range of a zombie, they can follow the directions on the weapon card and resolve it.
4. Fight – If the hero is on the same space as a zombie, they must fight. I’ll address combat in a little bit.
In regards to fights, the zombie player will roll one die and the hero will roll two, unless abilities or cards state otherwise. They then pick the highest die rolled and compare. If the zombie is tied or higher, they wound the hero and a wound marker is placed on the appropriate character sheet. If the hero is higher but didn’t roll doubles, they fend off the zombie and the figures stay as is. If the hero is higher but did roll doubles, the zombie is defeated and removed from the board.
That is a brief overview of the rules and gameplay. If you are interested in seeing more of the rules, please utilize the link I provided above.
It’s easy to see that a lot of time and effort was put into making the components. The pictures on the cards and character sheets are thematic and highly detailed. I’m not an expert on production and special effects, but it looks like actors got dressed up to take these pictures…whether this is or isn’t the case, it still looks impressive. I’ve also never had a board game come with an official soundtrack before, which admittedly, I have yet to listen to.
Playing as the zombie player, I often found myself just going through the motions without having to think about it. Since I only moved one space per zombie, the only real strategy I had to consider was which card to play when and deciding whether or not I wanted to discard a card.
The heroes on the other hand, had a lot more to think about. Vinnie Jr. and Anthony Jr. were careful about their movement, trying to land on spaces away from the zombies but just within the range of their current ranged weapons. To use a gaming term, they were “kiting”, which takes a bit of thought. They also had to consider what cards they had in their hand and what items they were currently carrying. In the scenario we were playing, “Die Zombies, Die!”, they were racing against the clock to find enough weapons to dispose of fifteen zombies before sundown. Interaction between the two was a lot more involved, I felt, though I could see where two zombie players would need to coordinate their card plays.
Since I was in the position to control the difficulty level, I found myself in the role of dungeon / game master once more. I like being able to hold back or play aggressively as I need to so that the kids have a positive gaming experience. The game ended in the kids’ favor on track turn three (starting from fifteen going down). I managed to wound their characters a total of three or four times, but they healed themselves straight away. I imagine that in order for the zombies to win, you have to be able to surround them en masse…which makes sense.
Based on what we’ve played so far, the boys and I had a lot of fun, though all of us were biased from the start as we enjoy a good zombie movie / game. I imagine that this game would appeal to other zombie fans as well. We have yet to try the other scenarios, but I’m sure we’ll get around to it. I also own the expansion which I will probably cover sometime down the line, so keep an eye out!
Final Verdict: 7/10