Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Bored Gamer's Club

Connor, Joe Sharp and I had our first-ever meeting of the Bored Gamers Club on Columbus Day at Pulp Fiction in Lee's Summit. Although there were only three of us (we were expecting five) we still had a great time, and had the game room all to ourselves. We were going to play Arkham Horror, but were worried that we wouldn't have enough time for a full game. I brought Last Night on Earth, and I'm glad I did. We had a blast.

The game is very simple, and emphasizes cinematic zombie action. The Zombies move much more slowly than the Heroes, but they can move through walls and have virtually unlimited resources in the form of zombie cards they can use to screw over the heroes. The Heroes can move faster, are smarter, and have access to cards that allow them to use weapons like shotguns and gasoline. They don't have unlimited resources (cards), though, and they have to work together to defeat the zombies.

Game mechanics are easy; when fighting Zombies, Heroes roll 2d6 and Zombies roll 1d6. The highest individual die roll wins the combat - so Heroes have a better chance of getting a higher number. If the Hero wins the combat, he has fended off the Zombie, but it is not destroyed. If the Zombie wins the combat (they win ties), then the hero takes a wound. The Heroes can only kill Zombies by using certain weapons or by rolling not only higher than the Zombie, but also rolling doubles. So if a Zombie rolls one die and gets a 3, and the hero rolls two dice and gets a 1 and a 5, the player has fended off the zombie. If the player rolled a 5 and a 5, he would have killed the Zombie. Weapons increase the chance of a kill by adding more dice to the attack, or, in the case of guns, by using text like this: "Roll one die - on a 1, the revolver is out of ammo. On a 4, 5, or 6, the zombie is destroyed."

The game components are extremely well-done, featuring really creative and fun photographs of the characters in the game. The model who portrays "Jenny, the Farmer's Daughter" (pictured) does a lot of convention appearances now and is something of a geek pin-up girl. Unfortunately she did not show up in person at our game (and her character was eaten in the high school gym by zombies). But she represents the sort of small-town archetypes who are characters in the game: the Sheriff, the High-School Quarterback, the Drifter, etc.

The Hero and Zombie cards are where all the action is; Zombies can play cards on the heroes to hinder them (things like shutting off the lights in buildings and whatnot) and Heroes can "search" a building in lieu of moving, drawing a Hero card and hoping it's something good...

My favorite Zombie card has the same name as the game: "Last Night on Earth." If two Heroes are in the same space, you can play that card on them and they lose a turn while they make out (because, you know, it's the last night on earth). I played this on the priest and Jenny while they were in the church, and I had quite a giggle. While the card specifies that it be played on a male and female pair of characters, we have house-ruled that you can play it on any two characters (which resulted in the priest also making out with Johnny, the High School Quarterback).

There are many scenarios to play - in "Die Zombies Die," the Heroes just have to kill 15 Zombies by dawn (about 15 turns). In "Escape in the Truck" the Heroes have to search until they find the keys and gasoline, then make their way back to the truck and escape. In "Defend the Manor House" the Heroes all start in the house and their only goal is to keep the zombies out. There are lots of others.

The best thing about it the game is that it's just funny. Flat-out funny. I haven't laughed like that since I discovered Munchkin: it's a great party game!

Anyway, Last Night on Earth is great fun, and unlike most of the board games I own, it is easy to learn and set up. It plays in about an hour. It's not a new game, so it already has several expansions. I guess it sold well enough to justify those, and it doesn't surprise me: in the words of my son, "I could play this game every day."

The Bored Gamer's Club will meet again at Pulp Fiction in Lee's Summit from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., Monday, October 26. We hope to see more people there this time!

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