Last Night on Earth is a zombie themed board game that pits a small collection of ragtag small-town heroes versus mindless flesh eating legions of the undead. It was released in 2007 by Flying Frog Productions and game designing brothers Jason and Jack Hill. The game was nominated for various awards the following year for best artwork and best party game. Last Night on Earth is a survival game that relies on chance for various factors like movement and combat but players are able to manage much of the game by strategically using their respective power up cards and special abilities. It can be played with 2-6 players and gameplay usually lasts about 60-90 minutes. One great thing about the game is its high replay value generated through the possibility of several possible scenarios, characters and their various abilities, and even a changing game board.
Last Night on Earth features a modular game board so the game begins with the random selection of four game board pieces which adds new and exciting experiences to the game with every replay. There must always be four heroes on the board so the number of players determines how many characters are being controlled by one person. For instance, a game being played with five players would consist of four hopeful hero survivors and one player controlling the zombies. The game features multiple post-apocalyptic scenarios. The players can randomly select one of the scenarios or select their favorite among them so the goal and circumstance of each game changes depending on the scenario. Our example for this game uses the “Escape in the Truck” scenario in which heroes must search the board for keys and gasoline and then escape town alive in a beatdown pickup truck located in the center of town before the sun rises.
The zombie player begins their turn by drawing up to four zombie cards to hold in hand and adjusting the Sun Track dial that keeps track of the number of turns in the game and usually limits the amount of turns the heroes have to complete their goal. Next, the player would roll to see if new zombies can be spawned at the end of their turn. The player can spawn new zombies by rolling 2D6 higher than the number of zombies currently in play. Zombie characters can then move one space in any direction and through walls unlike the hero characters. If a zombie occupies any tiles with a hero after this phase then those characters enter the fighting stage. After fighting, the player rolls a D6 to determine the number of zombies that can be placed back on the board, assuming they already rolled high enough to successfully spawn new zombies.
The hero always goes second. Hero placement depends on each unique players starting position as well as which game board pieces are randomly selected for the game. Heroes elect to roll a D6 to move or if they are inside a building they can “search” (draw a card from the hero deck) to get various cards to fend off the zombie hoard or aid in their mission. For the “Escape in the Truck” scenario the hero player(s) must draw gasoline and keys and then survive two turns in the center of the board where the truck is located to escape before sunrise. After their move/ search action, heroes can exchange item cards with heroes in their same tile, shoot ranged weapons if they are equipped, and then enter their fighting stage. Any hero on the same tile as a zombie during this stage must fight. Combat under normal circumstances favors the heroes but zombies win on a tie. Heroes get to roll two 2D6 while zombies only get one. The hero “fends off” a zombie by rolling higher than the zombie. However, the zombie remains in its location on the board unless the hero is able to roll doubles to kill the zombie. Afterwards, the zombie player has his turn again and the Sun Track dial is moved down closer to sunrise.
For our game, there were only two players, so one player controlled up to 14 zombies and the other controlled 4 heroes. The zombie player began the game with a frightening 11 zombies by rolling 2D6. Sheriff Anderson, Jake Cartwright (the drifter), Jenny (the farmer’s daughter), and Johnny (the high school quarterback) were chosen as the heroes and spent many of their early moves moving about the board and taking advantage of ranged weapons as the zombies slowly creeped towards them from the edges of the board. With so many zombies in play early on, it was difficult for the heroes to settle into a building and search to find the much needed keys and gasoline. A stroke of bad luck kept Johnny from moving quickly enough to avoid being completely boxed in by the undead. Fortunately for this hero, his special ability allowed him to enter a zombie occupied tile, fight that zombie, and continue moving his remaining D6 movement roll.
The zombies were at a disadvantage after Johnny escaped since they could only move one space at a time. The heroes were able to convene in the opposite corner of the board in the farmhouse, where they were able to search the premises (draw hero cards) for several turns as the zombie hoard crawled in their direction. Jake’s special ability allowed him to draw two cards and discard one, which was a huge advantage when searching for the keys and gasoline. After two turns of searching, Jake drew a “Just What I Needed” card so he was allowed to search the deck for a card of his choosing which happened to be the gasoline card. The zombies were able to slowly relocate to the side of the board with the farmhouse in which the heroes had consolidated. However, as the zombies closed in on the house, they were shot by the heroes wielding ranged weapons like the “Revolver.” The typically slow movement of the zombies proved to be ineffective against this strategy of stay, search, and shoot as more ranged weapons were found and the hero player stockpiled combat weapons, various power ups, and eventually found the keys. As the Sun Track dial ticked on, the zombies changed their strategy of surrounding the heroes and opted to form a barrier around the truck. This strategy ensured that the heroes must face the zombies in combat in order to reach their goal. The heroes built up their arsenal and waited until the last possible turn to begin their trek towards the truck. Their ranged weapons were able to eliminate many zombies surrounding the truck, allowing them to move to the truck where more zombies laid just beyond the range of their weapons. The two heroes with the keys and gasoline were Sheriff Anderson and Jake. Both characters would have to reach the truck and spend more than one turn there in order to escape. Waiting until the very last two possible turns as indicated by the Sun Track dial, both characters reached the truck. The only thing that stood between the heroes and a last second victory was a five zombie blitz. Unfortunately for the zombies, their bad luck in combat continued and were unable to kill the heroes in the final showdown. The heroes were able to kill all five zombies without suffering a single wound and finally escape in the truck.
By: Addison Daniel and Dustin Barnett