Last Night on Earth: the ultimate in zombie gaming

When I first rebooted my blog back in January, I intended to include the occasional tabletop gaming review. I'm an avid tabletop gamer, enjoying everything from pen-and-paper role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and Savage Worlds, to boardgames like BattleLore, Arkham Horror and Descent. So, without further ado, my thoughts on Flying Frog Productions' freshman effort: Last Night on Earth.

Last Night On Earth (from here on out abbreviated as LNoE) drops gamers into the ultra-violent, blood-and-gore-soaked world of horror B-movies -- more specifically, the zombie film. The game carries this cinematic feel throughout it contents, including the miniatures, gameplay, boards and cards. Hell, it even comes with a soundtrack of cheesy synth music to complete the mood. For fans of the horror genre, this is a must-play.

A couple of heroes square off against a horde of zombies.

LNoE is the first product to come out of Kirkland's Flying Frog Productions. For any company, let alone a fledgling one, this game is a superior effort. Some might call it overproduced -- I call it quality. The cards and boards are all thick, high-gloss cardstock. They don't feel as though they're going to be bending or fraying anytime soon.

The miniatures (there are 22; 14 zombies and 8 heroes) are some of the most detailed I've seen in any boardgame and are made of soft, flexible plastic that retains its shape perfectly even after bending. To open a game and not have the miniatures bent, warped and misshapen is a refreshing twist. With their first game, Flying Frog has met and nearly surpassed the better efforts put forth by Fantasy Flight and Days of Wonder. I can't wait to see what else comes out of this new player on the field of gaming.

The heroes' side of the board.

The game mechanics are simple enough, and LNoE runs fluidly once players get the hang of it. There are two sides: the heroes and the zombies. Up to two players can control the zombies, while up to four can play as the heroes. Zombies shamble about, biting chunks out of the heroes, gaining bonuses through cards dealt out by the zombie player. The hordes are also endless, too, as the zombies are constantly respawning with a simple roll of a couple d6s (that's a standard, six-sided die, non-nerds).

Some zombie cards, printed on that beautiful, high-gloss cardstock.

The heroes' mission is a bit more difficult. Depending on the scenario, heroes might be collecting items, protecting a specific building, saving townsfolk, or just surviving. Each hero has special abilities he can use to best the zombies, and items like chainsaws, pump shotguns and dynamite help a bit too. Ranged weapons can be used to tag zombies from afar, while melee weapons add bonuses to close-quarters combat.

A scenario card. In this one, the object is kill 15 zombies in 15 turns.

The gameboard consists of one square central piece and up to six possible l-shaped surrounding boards. Before each game, the board is randomly created, making for a different situation every time you sit down to play. Combat is fast and simple -- the zombie rolls one die, the hero rolls two (note that both of these rolls can be modified by cards). The higher roll wins, zombies win ties. If the hero rolls doubles, they succeed in killing the zombie. Otherwise, the zombie is simply "fended off" and the hero survives to fight another turn.

The board from afar.

The appeal of LNoE lies in its accessibility, ease-of-play, cinematic feel, and fast-moving game mechanics. It is a fun, fluxing game of strategy, teamwork, and awesome moments of bravado. Some have complained about the balance between heroes and zombies, but I have not yet encountered this supposed problem in my six or eight times playing. I would definitely recommend it to gaming groups as well as a good standby for gaming families with older kids. It's also a great "entry-level" game for people not used to tabletop gaming.


  1. I totally agree. This game is so creative and fun. It's something more than the move around a board repeatedly a million times, it allows the gamer a level of freedom and the outcome can (and usually is) different every time. It's not like any game I've played previously, and I'm not just trying to sound like Larry King.

    Anyways, I really liked the visual elements with this post. They and their captions really added to the review and the overall appearance of the post.

    Great stuff.

  2. LNoE is not my *favorite* game, that's Diplomacy. It is, however, by far my favorite Zombie game. Zombies! is fairly mediocre, although even easier to introduce to non-gamers, but frustrating, Mall of Horror is too encouraging of antagonism amongst all the players, I much prefer the competitive nature of LNoE. No other Zombie game is really worth mentioning, honestly. It is also my favorite "horror" game, narrowly beating out Arkham Horror, although we'll see if Kingsport Horror changes that.

    This is primarily because of length of play. It is possible to get in 2, 3 or even more games of LNoE in before you could finish even a single game of AH. On a single game level, I greatly enjoy AH more than any non-Diplo game, but when length of play is considered, I would say that LNoE is my second-favorite boardgame to date. Being able to get in multiple plays matters.

  3. Jess: I agree. The variables within simply creating the gameboard allow for different gaming experiences every time. Thanks for the comment!

    Jeff: I agree that LNoE captures the feel of zombies better than any game previously. And I had NO idea that LNoE beat out Arkham Horror as your favorite horror game. That was quite surprising to me. And yeah, multiple plays is a must.


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