May
4

Review: Last Night on Earth – A great intro to Ameritrash.

Prologue

Photo by Jason Hill

My first experience with Flying Frog games came after picking up A Touch of Evil (AToE) over a year ago. I was looking for something in the horror realm, but simple enough to be able able to play with my, then, girlfriend. Unfortunately after a few solo plays and a couple plays with my other gaming partner, I realized that it just wasn’t the experience I was looking for.

At this point you might be asking yourself “Then why did you pick up Last Night on Earth?” OK, maybe you’re not asking yourself that, but it would be a valid question if you were! During one of our game nights, the subject of Last Night on Earth (LNoE) type games came up and I mentioned that I really didn’t enjoy AToE, although maybe I was just missing something or needed to play more of the advanced scenarios. To my surprise I was told that they are two very different games and I should get LNoE a try.

Conclusion spoiler (For those who like to get right to the point)

As long as you’re able to concede that the dice always have the upper hand, the game is very fun. Love the detail on the minis, but wish they were labeled (or numbered). Heroes seem to have more decisions to make in the easier scenarios. Might benefit from the Growing Hunger scenario.

Brief rundown of the rules (Skip if you know how to play)

This rundown will only cover a basic game, with 2 players, using the Die, Zombies, Die! scenario.

Setup

First, place the middle square on the board and select 4 of the 6 “L” shaped pieces to be positioned around the center.

The hero player selects 4 hero characters, places each on their starting location and supplies them with any starting objects specified on their character sheet. He’ll shuffle the Hero cards and put the scenario sheet next to the characters, to keep track of how many zombies were killed during the game.

The zombie player takes all 14 zombie models and places them near the board. They’ll roll 2D6 to determine how many zombies can be placed on the board to start the game. Take that number of zombies and distribute them evenly over the available spawn points.

Zombie turn

Photo by Steve Holden

  1. Move the sun tracker down.
  2. Draw up to up to 4 zombie cards, play any that say “Play Immediately”.
  3. Roll 2D6, if greater than the number of zombies on the board, more zombies will spawn at the end of the turn.
  4. Move zombies: 1 space, any direction. Zombie cannot move if starting in a space with a hero. If moved 1 space adjacent to a hero, automatically move into the hero’s space.
  5. Fight! Zombie rolls 1 die, hero rolls 2. If the zombie die is higher than the highest hero die, the hero takes 1 wound. If hero rolls doubles and the highest die value is higher than the zombie’s highest, zombie dies. If the highest hero die is larger than the highest zombie die, nothing happens. Zombies win on ties.
  6. Roll 1D6 for the amount of zombies to spawn.

Hero turn (complete full turn for each hero)

  1. Either roll to move or stay and search (draw a card from the hero deck).
  2. Trade/swap objects with other heroes in the same space.
  3. Fire any ranged weapons.
  4. Fight with zombies in same space. Fighting is the same as when the zombie fights: Zombie rolls 1 die, hero rolls 2.

At face value the rules are very simple and can be taught in a manner of minutes. Once you start playing, however, you’ll definitely see where there are a few holes in the system. The first few games we had to refer back to the rulebook quite a few times, but most of the questions came from unclear wording on the cards. All in all it wasn’t that big a deal, though.

Impressions after first few plays

Going into our first LNoE game, I tried to keep my expectations pretty low considering the uninspiring experience I had with Flying Frog’s other game. Let’s just roll some dice, kill some zombies and have a good time. Granted, we have noticed that the zombie player does not have as many interesting decisions as the heroes, but we didn’t see that as that big of an issue, since there are many more zombies on the board to control. During our first couple of games the hero player underestimated the danger in fighting zombies hand to hand. Unfortunately this meant that 2 heroes were killed by the 5th turn, thus completing the scenario requirements for the zombie player and ending the game. As initially discouraging as this was, we found, with a little research online, that we basically violated the “spirit” of the game. Humans would never run up to 1 or 2 zombies and try to attack them with bare fists. The next play through was, I’m sure, closer to what the designers intended. Hero players running around the town, searching for weapons whenever possible, firing long range weapons with the hope of taking out multiple zombies in one shot, etc. The game really opened up at that point. Even though the heroes still came up short, they were much more in the game and appeared to have a much better chance to rid the town of the zombie plague!

Yes, this game is filled with luck, but that just means that it is a great challenge to minimize the luck with acquiring as many weapons and special events as possible and then knowing when to best use them. So that means we think we might actually break through and win with the heroes one day. After that we’ll look forward to moving onto the more advanced rules and scenarios very soon along with exploring the Growing Hunger expansion.

I can recommend Last Night on Earth to couples or gaming groups that are able to focus on the lighter side of boardgaming and won’t let a few bad rolls get in the way of having a good time. This is definitely the next progression for people who want to move up from the traditional party style games and start adding more strategy to their game nights.

Photo by Daniel Cedro Gomes

If you’re interested in picking up a Last Night on Earth, our friends at FunAgain.com have plenty in stock, along with many of the expansions. So go grab yourself a copy!

3 Comments to “Review: Last Night on Earth – A great intro to Ameritrash.”

  • Chris K. May 4, 2011 at 11:04 am

    If you haven’t played with the “Get to the Truck” scenario, you need to. It is the best one in the box, hands down. So tight and suspenseful, filled with tons of opportunity for great zombie movie situations. You also need to get this to the table with multiple players, maybe as part of a theme night. So much fun.

    Growing Hunger adds quite a bit to the experience, but it’s not worth picking up until you’ve played the base game a few times.

    • ianoble May 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

      I’m trying to get Lisa away from the base scenario, but she keeps saying that we have to play until the heroes win. lol

      We’ll jump to “Get to the Truck” next, though. I read the details of that one and it looks pretty cool.

  • Daisy May 16, 2011 at 5:57 am

    I’m a fan of LNOE personally, to me it always feels like a zombie movie, with characters doing unexpectedly heroic or unheroic things, sometimes people have a bit of a breakdown, sometimes you’re following one teenage boy’s journey to save the town, etc etc The real fun for me with this game is the way the theme works so well.

    I’ve got every single expansion that’s been produced for LNOE and I highly recommend getting Growing Hunger – the new heroes that it adds are great and the greater variety of game boards is a real winner. There are a few web scenarios you can download as well, pick them up on board game geek.

    One thing I will say if you choose to pick up any expansions like Growing Hunger, is that the deck sizes get a lot bigger then. That’s great for adding variety to the cards you’re pulling out, but if you’re playing a scenario where, for example, the heroes need to find 3 gas cans and 3 fire items, the bigger deck is a major hindrance in finding specific cards. If a scenario like that is chosen, I recommend stripping the deck back to the case deck for both the heroes and the zombies.

    if you do pick up Growing Hunger and you’re finding that with a few more plays the zombie player just isn’t getting an interesting enough time, the Grave Weapons expansion can make things a lot more fun for the zombie player so I’d recommend getting that one next.

    Also, in response to a comment in your review, I also found it annoying that the miniatures aren’t labelled in any way and you can spend ages finding the right mini (bear in mind I have all the heroes available as well!) so I’ve written the names of the heroes on the base of the mini so I recommend doing that, makes things a lot easier when you’re setting up. (I had to do the same for Descent or it takes way too long to find the minis).

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