I’ve had a passing interest in board games for a long time now, although never going as far as full-blown pen & paper dice games a la Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve caught myself loitering on BoardGameGeek far more than I probably ought to, trying to understand the differences between the bewildering amount of games out there once you get past the likes of Scrabble and Monopoly. I’m getting there now, I know my Eurogame from my Gateway, and it’s seeming very easy to get sucked in.
My first dip into ‘something-you-don’t-see-in-town’ territory was the very excellent Last Night on Earth. I wasn’t sure what to expect, despite having read a ton of reviews, but I was really pleased with what turned up in the big box. Everything’s really high-quality and well made, and the artwork and presentation is awesome. There’s even a CD included with mood music! Saying that, I should probably explain what kind of mood, I’ve not said what the game’s about.
As the more astute of you might have guessed, Last Night on Earth is a Zombie game. It’s set in the same sort of scenario as dozens of films before it; zombies are taking over, the apocalypse is coming, and one hardy group of meatbags (humans) are trying to survive. The players take the roles of heroes or in control of teams of zombies, the heroes attempting to complete the scenarios on offer (there are quite a few to keep the game fresh), the zombies just trying to stop them by any means necessary (usually eating their brains). I really like the way the heroes aren’t just differentiated by having different shaped models; they all have individual statistics, traits and abilities, it feels more like playing a video game than a board one. The rules are a bit heavy-going at first, but it’s worth persevering with. Actually no, that’s not true, the rules themselves aren’t that difficult really, it’s more a case of remembering what you can do on every turn, and what order you have to do it in.
I played a game with my other half and two of our friends, and it was a hoot. Get some drinks involved, snacks on the table and a lot of ‘discussion’ along the lines of ‘you can’t do that! – consult the rules!’ and despite the game taking a couple of hours to finish, it’s really good fun . I’m already eyeing up the expansions which add a whole host of new map tiles, scenarios, heroes and event cards – these event cards are what drive the majority of actions and decisions in the game. Flying Frog have done an excellent job in creating something atmospheric and enjoyable, and the reference wiki on their website is awesome. Any time you’re unsure on any part of the rules, or how any of the cards work, you’ll find the answer there.
The world of the board game geek is a really unique sub-culture, and one I don’t think most people would ever really stumble on without knowing someone already in it, but I’ve got to say I’m hooked. I’ve started choosing my next potential purchases, and at the moment (this can and does change almost daily) I’m looking at Arkham Horror and Descent. The only thing I’ve got to be careful of is making sure I don’t get too carried away, I could easily spend a lot more on this than on my other games habits!