17 October 2010

Last Night On Earth [Boardgame review]

Had my buddy Calle over today, initially we planned to do some Beta testing of some upcoming Incursion stuff, but we finished all that within a couple of hours and still had time to play through 2 more games. "Last Night on Earth" and "Conquest of the Empire". I took some pics of both games, but will only review LNoE for now as I had not played Conquest of the Empire for over a year and we pretty much had to learn the game all over again - not making it good enough "review material". I will include some pics of it at the very bottom of this post as a “teaser” for a future review.

Anyways, Last Night on Earth is a survival horror game where a gang of 4 survivors try to achieve one random mission on a randomly generated board while the zombie apocalypse is going on. The game design and mechanics are simple, but the quality of the contents and the fun-factor of the game itself is pretty amazing.

The box includes 1 “middle section” which is printed with a location on both sides, we then have 6 corner locations off which you pick 4 at random and add to the 4 corners of the middle section. This makes up the board.  The pieces will contain locations such as houses, schools, gunshops etc. All houses can be searched for items by survivors, some locations have special features – the gunshop will allow a player to pick any gun he wants from the “search deck” instead of picking a card at random.

The game also features 2 sets of decks, the Zombie deck and the Search Deck. The Search deck is only used by the “Survivors”. It contains weapons, allies, special encounters and such. When a player starts his turn inside a location he may “search” that location instead of moving or doing anything else for the remainder of that turn. The Zombie deck is only used by the Zombie player, it contains booster cards for the  unending zombie hordes, cards that will mess around with location, survivors and be generally bad for the human players.

The survivors, 8 characters (I will leave the “that person looks like a pornstar” jokes up to you) , are picked at random by 1-4 human players. There are always 4 survivors on play no matter how many players on the “human” side there are as this is a game for 2-5 players. 1 Player will always control the zombie horde. The zombies are represented by plastic miniatures, the different color does not mean anything.

The mechanism of zombie spawning is quite fun, you roll 2D6 and try to roll equal to or above the number of zombies you have on the board. If you succeed then you roll 1D6 and that will be the number of zombies spawned this turn. As you may understand, it gets increasingly hard to spawn zombies if you have a lot of zombies on the board already.

Zombies only ever move 1 square at a time. Survivor movement is 1D6. The zombies have an advantage as they may move into buildings freely, while the survivors may only ever enter through doors and large openings marked on the building outline.

Combat is also pretty simple, humans roll 2D6, zombies roll 1D6 if they end up in the same square. To kill a zombie you have to roll a double. To fend off a zombie and not take any wounds you have to at least roll higher than the zombie roll. Zombies inflict a wound on the survivor if they roll higher than the survivor does. Combat roll for either side may be enhanced through special events, allies or weapons – located on the cards in each deck.
The game has a timer, or “sun track” which shows the number of remaining turns. Each mission starts at a specific point, and the survivors have to complete their mission before time runs out in order to win. This can range from blowing up entry points from which the zombies enter to simply slaughtering enough zombies. The counter also shows “night”/”dawn”. Should a survivor be killed while the track is showing night time then the survivor turns into a “hero zombie” which gets as many wounds as the character turned zombie had from the start.

Many objects and weapons are also prone to either break or run out of ammunition. Some weapons or objects require combinations of items. If you want to blow up a tank of gasoline you need either a weapon to shoot at it with, or something to set it on wire like a lighter. Each weapon and object have a special rule which often describing what you have to roll to successfully slay a zombie/use the item and what result will break/make it run out of ammo. Weapons that are out of ammo can be saved for later should you or any other survivor find “ammunition” to reload it with.

It’s a quite fun and fastpaced game for 2-5 players. I think it gets more fun if you have the right mindset and don’t take it too seriously – see it as a George Romero zombie movie turned boardgame. You have a bunch of hillbilly characters trying to beat the odds – often having to complete a difficult mission. In the game I played today I played as the survivors and my buddy Calle played the zombies. I picked the mission where I had to kill 15 zombies within 15 turns. Starting out with 4 characters that had no weapons at all – and my opponent quickly used a Zombie card making me unable to enter the gunshop! My Nurse character quickly found a pump action shotgun – which ran out of ammo on the first attempt trying to kill a zombie, my drifter character launched an insane suicide charge with a chainsaw, taking down a few zombies before being killed. The jock character finally managed to enter the gunshop but spent too much time plundering for weapons and ammo that the zombie player finally used a special card which made a zombie appear in base contact with him and take his last wound. Leaving my schoolgirl character armed with a meat cleaver and my unarmed nurse to finish the job! LOL! The schoolgirl went apeshit crazy and hacked her way through the zombies like Rambo but was killed at the very end, leaving my nurse to whack the last zombie and achieving victory – making her the only survivor.

There are supposedly couple of expansions – Arkham Horror style, with some containing only new cards and heroes and some containing more board pieces. So if you are on the lookout for a easy to learn/grasp, fastpaced zombie survival game then check out Last Night On Earth.

And some promised pictures of Conquest of the Empire, which is a game for 2-6 players and is about Roman Empire civil war, with each player taking command of one “wannabe Caesar” who tries to become powerful enough to grasp power over the Roman empire. You build your armies, have this special combat system, inflation within the empire if too much money is earned making price increases on troops and buildings and game mechanics for voting in the senate and creating alliances with other players.

I will make a proper review of this game in the near future. It’s a pretty well made game with lots of game components and a totally awesome board which is HUGE and extremely well painted giving it great “ancient” feel to it.

 
 


You can get Last Night On Earth over at GameManiacs.

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