TGN Review: Last Night on Earth from Flying Frog Productions
Flying Frog Productions makes board games based on various genres. In the latest issue of Ravage magazine I’ve got a review of Fortune & Glory, their pulp adventures game. At GenCon they handed me that one along with Last Night on Earth, their zombie horror game. I figured that today, of all days, would be the most appropriate for such a review.
So grab your baseball bat and aim for the head. It’s time for another TGN review. Bring your brains… as they are tasty with ketchup.
In Last Night on Earth, survivors fight against the ravenous hordes of the undead in a struggle to make it until dawn. Players either take the side of the heroes or the shambling zombies. The heroes must complete the scenario objectives while the zombie must turn as many heroes into zombies as possible, adding to their undying numbers.
The contents are much like I’ve come to expect from Flying Frog. That is to say, they’re of a high quality. The board consists of a square center piece and several L-shaped corner pieces that go around it. All of these are rather stout and will hold up well for repeated play. The token sheets are easy to punch and also nice and thick (much like Fantasy Flight Games’ token). There are plenty of tokens, including several extra tokens that don’t necessarily have a scenario associated with them yet. They were just included in case you want to come up with your own scenarios later or if they come out with some later, themselves. I honestly think it’s pretty cool and rather forward-thinking on their part.
The playing pieces include 14 zombies (7 of two different colors) and 8 unique heroes. The pieces are stout plastic. A little bendy, so they can be dropped without worrying about them breaking, they, like the rest, will do well over the long haul for gaming. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’d be great to paint up, but the detail on them could take paint rather well. They’re just maybe a bit small for that sort of thing.
Each Hero also has an oversized character sheet. These show the character’s special abilities, starting point on the map and how many wounds they can take until they die (soon to rise again, more than likely). There are also oversized scenario cards. These larger sizes make it easy for all gamers to see what the rules are that they’re working toward, no matter where the card sits in relation to them at the table.
Next we come to the Hero and Zombie cards. There are 40 of each, though they recommend you only use 20 each (those not listed as “Advanced Game”) in “beginning games.” This shows a bit of the expandability that Flying Frog tends to put in their games. They’ve got a “basic” version that’s streamlined and easy to learn the basics. Then there’s the “advanced” version where, once you know what you’re doing, you can add variety to the game and make it a fresh experience each time you play. Anyway, the cards are rather thick and almost have a waxy coating to them. The only downside with the cards is that they can generate static electricity easily and sometimes they like to stick together because of it. I’d recommend sleeving them, not just to protect them, but to also mitigate that static.
Finally there’s the soundtrack CD. This is also a hallmark of Flying Frog games. They like to include CDs with their games to add ambiance music. It’s certainly not necessary to play, but it adds atmosphere for your gaming session. I certainly appreciate its inclusion, anyway.
Game rounds are split into two turns: Zombies and then Heroes. Each has their own set of rules for what the players can do. Zombie turns are a little more straightforward, as would be expected of a zombie, while the players have a few more options open to them.
The zombie turn starts by moving the Sun Tracker which is basically the turn counter. Scenarios must be completed in a certain number of turns before the game ends. This helps keep the game moving along and come to an eventual conclusion of some kind. The zombie player(s) then draw from the Zombie deck up to their hand size of 4 (for 1 player) or 2 each (for 2 players). These cards are special events that can alter how the zombies move on the board, how many zombies are out on the board or a myriad of other things. Next they roll to see if new zombies will spawn at the end of the turn. To do so they roll 2d6 and check it versus the number of zombies already on the board. If the roll beats the number of zombies, then more will come out later. That means that if there are few zombies on the board, chances are more will be showing up soon. There is, however, a maximum of 14 zombies that will ever be on the board (in the box-set game, anyway). After that, zombies move. Generally they only go one space (these aren’t your Runner-style zombies). If they end their movement in the same space as a hero, well, it’s dinner time with the hero having to fight off the zombie throng. After all fights are finished (fights to be detailed further down the review), the new zombies that were rolled for earlier in the turn show up.
The Heroes, as mentioned, have a few more things they’re able to do on their turn than the Zombies. They also activate individually, rather than all at once. Heroes can choose who activates, but that hero will do their entire turn before moving on to the next. The four portions of a hero’s turn are: Move, Exchange, Ranged Attacks and Fight Zombies. Hero movement is more random than zombies. For a hero, they roll a d6 and can move that many spaces on the board. Or, instead of moving, they can choose to search if they’re in a building and no zombies are around. After moving, heroes in the same space can exchange any number of items they choose. After swapping gear (if they want), they can make a single ranged attack (if they’ve got a weapon with a range, that is). The target must be within line of sight and in range, of course. Other models do not block line of sight in this particular game, though obviously walls do. Finally, heroes fight all the zombies that are in the space with them.
Now, a bit more about those “fights” we’ve been hearing so much about. Fights are identical in both turns in terms of dice, but differ slightly in who fights whom. On the zombie turn, zombies are distributed evenly between all potential combatants. So if there are 2 zombies and 2 heroes in a space, each hero will fight 1 zombie. However, on the hero turn, that same set-up of 2 vs. 2 will become two 1 vs. 2 scenarios. Heroes can freely move away from zombies, so obviously it’s a pretty good idea to do so!
Fights are fairly simple to determine. Each hero gets two dice while each zombie gets one. Then, it’s simply a matter of rolling the dice and see who rolls higher (with zombies winning ties). If the zombie rolls higher (or ties for highest), then the hero takes a wound. If the hero rolls higher, but doesn’t roll doubles, then the zombie is simply fended off and the zombie remains. If the hero rolls doubles, then the zombie has been defeated and is removed from the board and back to the zombie pool, surely to come back later.
Play continues with each side taking their turns until either time runs out or the scenario objectives are completed. Then everybody cheers! Woo! The most basic scenario has the heroes having to kill 15 zombies before 2 heroes get killed and/or the 15-turn time limit runs out.
As mentioned before, there are several Advanced Elements that can be added to the game to help keep things fresh and interesting game after game. First is adding in those extra 20 cards to both the Zombie and Hero decks. Obviously that brings in more opportunities and dangers for both sets of players… things like explosives! This is also where Zombie Heroes come in. When a player’s hero is killed, the player isn’t necessarily out of the game. They can simply spawn a new one in a random spot on the board. However, their former hero isn’t necessarily done, either. They return as a Zombie Hero. Zombie Heroes move d3 spaces a turn and have as much health in death as they used to have in life. Beyond that, there are several more scenarios in the basic game box that you can try out, each with their own special rules and win conditions.
Even beyond all that, Last Night on Earth has had multiple expansions of various varieties. There are card decks you can add, extra heroes you can purchase, more zombies for the horde and even the deluxe expansion, Timber Peak. So there’s plenty of zombie-fighting fun to be had.
So there you have it, boys and ghouls. Be sure to check out Flying Frog’s current Kickstarter for Shadows of Brimstone, which is running now (and made over $500k when they were looking for $30k). Also take a look inside Ravage 10 for a review of Fortune & Glory, in stores now as well as available in digital format.