Welcome to Table Top Terrors! In this monthly series, we’ll help you recreate some of the terror, tension, and fun of scary stories by examining what the world of tabletop gaming has to offer horror fans. We’ll look at board games, card games, pen and paper RPGs, and miniature war games. We’ll offer reviews, insights, and tips on how to create an immersive and awesome game night.
This month we’re celebrating a couple things at Nightmare on Film Street. The first is the “Sound of Screams!” The second is the coming of the spooky season; the time of the year when many of our non-horror friends and family want to get in on the creepy fun we’ve been having all year. So, for this month’s Table Top Terrors we’re going to examine a game that will allow you celebrate both things, Flying Frog Productions’ Last Night on Earth by Jason C. Hill. It fits our “Sound of Screams!” theme in that it’s all about the symphony of moans and terror shrieks you hear when zombies overrun a town. Plus, it even comes with its own soundtrack. On top of that, zombies are a wildly popular horror sub-genre even for non horror fans, and this game has easy to learn rules, and a number of fun mechanics.
We’ll take a look at the base game and the huge number of expansions, scenarios, and supplements available for it. We’ll also offer our usual suggestions of themed refreshments for hungry and thirsty zombies and humans, as well as some musical suggestions to help make everyone’s Last Night on Earth truly memorable.
Last Night on Earth is a game where one side plays the shambling undead horde besieging the small fictional town of Woodinvale and the others play a handful of living heroes trying to thin the zombies’ ranks and survive the night. The game is for 2-6 players and the number of people you have determines the human/zombie breakdown. In smaller games, human players will control multiple heroes, and in games with an odd number of players it’s always one zombie player versus several humans.
The first step of setting up Last Night on Earth is choosing a scenario that determines how many turns the game will last and the victory conditions for both human and zombie players. In the basic game, which is a perfect way to introduce newbies to horror games, there’s only one scenario, “Die Zombies, die!” In that one, the human players have to kill 15 zombies in 15 turns and the zombie players have to kill two human heroes or keep their horde going until time runs out.
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The next step adds a fun random element to the game because you’re going to set up the game board and create the town of Woodinvale. You do that by placing the square town center tile in the middle and randomly drawing four out of six L shaped tiles to add to the corners. These pieces have different buildings like a school, a church, a gun store, and a hospital. Each of those places has a specific ability that adds to and changes the feel of the game.
The next step involves shuffling the zombie and hero card decks, the zombie player setting up their pool of miniatures and placing their initial ones on the board, and the humans drawing four heroes. Each of these heroes have unique abilities, which also adds to Last Night on Earth‘s replayability. The base game includes such fun archetypes as the town sheriff, a high school jock, a nurse, a priest, and even a “drifter.”
The game then begins with the zombie player taking their turn first. They begin by moving the “Sun track” marker down one, which keeps track of the remaining turns in the game. Next, they draw cards from their zombie deck. These cards allow them to do a variety of effects from making their attacks more vicious, moving zombies faster, deploying a surprise zombie, or even over running a building with an undead horde to keep the humans from using it. After that, they roll to see if they can spawn more zombies, move, and then they fight. They conclude their turn by placing any newly spawned zombies.
Human players begin their turn by moving or searching. Search actions are done in buildings and allow heroes to draw from their decks and arm themselves with equipment and event cards that can be used for a variety of effects. Equipment varies from classic horror movie weapons like shotguns and chainsaws to life saving first aid kits. Event cards signify streaks of good look or an encounter with helpful allies like the high school shop teacher. After that, they can make ranged attacks with any firearms they’ve found. The human player’s turn concludes with a fight against any zombie that occupies their space.
The basic game then goes back and forth until one side is victorious. So, it’s a fun, quick, easy to learn game, with a bit of immersion. The advanced games though are where the immersive elements of Last Night on Earth really start to shine. Because there, victory conditions can include things like escaping in a gassed up truck, destroying zombie spawning grounds, or keeping a manor house from being over run. Plus, in the advanced game the zombie player has access to cards that can simulate the human drama of the best zombie films. They can do things like cause teen and adult characters to bicker, create an aura of suspicion around strangers, and set up two heroes for a romantic rendezvous.
The base game that I have comes with four advanced scenarios and Flying Frog has quite a bit more available for free on their Last Night on Earth website. Two of those scenarios are even Halloween themed!
On top of that, the game has a ton of expansions that add new content. I have the basic version of the game, but there’s also a deluxe 10th Anniversary edition that comes with some nice plastic components, some new scenarios, and new playable heroes. The “Growing Hunger” expansion introduces new rules and types of zombies, new playable heroes for the humans, and new sections of the town. The “Blood in the Forest” expansion takes the action into the woods and features a forest area game board, more new zombies, and more new heroes. There are also multiple “hero packs” and supplements that add new cards and scenarios to the game. All of these expansions and more are available directly from Flying Frog’s webstore.
Feeding on humans and fighting zombies is thirsty work and it can also make players a bit peckish. To satisfy the former, Donn Beach’s classic tiki cocktail, the Zombie, is thematically appropriate If you want a different thematic drink try this recipe for the vodka based Zombie Apocalypse cocktail courtesy of The Purple Pumpkin Blog. For thematic snacks, you can’t go wrong with this easy to make recipe for bloody, brain cupcake frosting from The Simple Sweet Life that can top most cupcakes, even store bought ones.
When it comes to music you’ve got a number of choices for Last Night on Earth. The base game actually comes with a soundtrack cd of score music. I didn’t really care for it though. The 10 year anniversary edition comes with a new soundtrack that I haven’t heard yet. You can also find your own music. Goblin’s score to George Romero’s classic 1978 film Dawn of the Dead is a great choice. It appears to be out of print and unavailable digitally, but you can find it on YouTube. If you’re looking for a more, fun, upbeat halloween party vibe check out this Spotify playlist I made of zombie themed rock, metal, punk, and psychobilly songs.