LAST NIGHT ON EARTH
For something a bit different this week, how many readers out there are fans of the campy horror movies based around zombies rising from the grave to plague some small town, with the residents having to battle the walking dead until the sun rises?
OK, so most of you wouldn't admit it in public, but considering Hollywood keeps producing movies of the genre, it's a sure bet there are a lot of fans out there.
If you're one of them, and you like boardgames, then check out Last Night On Earth (LNOE): The Zombie Game, a game released in 2007 from Flying Frog Production. The game's creator is Jason Hill.
Last Night is a game about, yep you guessed it, a plague of zombies in a small town. The game can be played by two, to four players.
In the two player version, one takes on the role of a marauding zombies, which of course just keep popping up. Kill one, and it simply comes back into play the next turn. The other player takes the role of four beleaguered townsfolk – chosen from a pool of possibilities -- all with the campy personalities you would expect; the drifter, sheriff, sexy nurse, high school quarterback etc..
With the four-player option two people split the four heroes, and the others split the zombie horde.
The actual player character pieces and zombies are small, well sculpted figurines, a real plus in terms of the game's feel and look.
The board, which is modular, depicts different areas of a town, from a nearby corn field, to the high school gymnasium, to a auto wrecking yard.
The game comes with a number of scenarios to help keep game play fresh, from simply surviving the night, to eliminating a set number of zombies, to defending the old mansion from the zombie horde.
Both players and zombies have a set movement and can head off across the board in any random direction they want. This is not a follow the little squares boardgame.
Along the way the heroes can carry out searches, drawing randomly from a set of cards, giving them neat things like dynamite, keys to the old truck, and a shotgun, all designed to help the scavengers knock off a few undead.
The zombies, to be fair, also get cards, which give them special powers, and opportunities to thwart the best laid plans of the living.
The game does seem to favour the undead a bit, which runs counter to the movie scripts which almost have at least one or two heroes watching the sun rise. It takes some careful planning, and a lot of luck for the heroes to survive here. Yes, there is a huge luck element because fights are determined by dice rolls, as are how far a hero can move, and if a hero's weapon breaks or runs out of ammo.
If you forget the luck, which I guess when you're battling undead would play a significant role, then this game is a rather light-hearted, campy little offering, that is a descent way to kill an evening knee dead in undead and mayhem.
And, yes the game has been a hit, spawning an expansion called Growing Hunger, with new town locations for the modular board, more hero sculpts, game scenarios, and hero and zombie cards.
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper June 18, 2008 - Yorkton, SK. Canada