Last Days

Last Days: Skirmish in the Zombie Apocalypse

Last Days: Skirmish in the Zombie Apocalypse

This review of Last Days was done using a copy of the product supplied by the designer.

The prophecy of the Zombie Apocalypse has been in media a lot these days. The phenomenal success of franchises such as the Walking Dead has Zombies dripping and drooling and dragging their way right into our hearts, even though our brains are probably their true desire. While some of the initial fascinations may have waned, it still commands a strong following in modern media. Tabletop Gaming has been no exception to this fact. Games such as Zombicide, Zpocalypse, Zombies!!!, Dead of Winter, Dead Reign, and Last Night on Earth have us hacking zombie heads and headshotting with glee. Last Days brings this familiar franchise to miniature skirmish gaming.

A tiny tome of terror…

Last Days comes in a hardcover format and is 112 pages in length. The pages are nice full glossy color pages with some pretty outstanding art. The game itself evokes a feeling of the old days of wargaming/ RPGs. The author supplies you with all the information you need to run the game itself. In addition to this you will need the following:

  1. Models to represent your survivor group – Models should be between 28mm to 32mm in size.
  2. 20 Zombie Models – Models should be between 28mm to 32mm in size. (for both steps 1 and 2 I used the minis out of Zombies. Sure they are pretty formulaic but it works and it was relatively inexpensive. Pick up both products and go to town.
  3. Six sided dice
  4. Measuring tape or stick
  5. 3×5 cards to keep track of your survivors
  6. A 3 foot by 3-foot area in which to play as this is the size of the sandbox (Again Zombies!!! comes with tiles you can use to lay out a city scene or something else. I am not trying to push that product here it is just an incredibly cheap and easy way to get miniatures for a zombie skirmish game. At least a cost-effective way to try it out before you sink a lot of money into individual zombie apocalypse miniatures.
  7. (optional) You could design 3×3 squares on foam pretty easily, making different terrain skirmish areas (Okay! Fine playsets for your zombie slaughter). You can also repurpose bigger toy cars and other household toys into set pieces for the skirmish.

Simple Rules Fast Play

Last Days on its nose is a fairly rules-lite skirmish system. Its skeleton builds off of 5 rules at its core.

  1. The Roll Off – Roll a 6 sider to see who goes first. Reroll any ties. The high roll wins.
  2. Tests – Tests involve rolling a 6 sided dice and adding whatever characteristic corresponds to the test. All tests have a target number which the player must equal or exceed in order to earn a success. Some tests are opposed tests between players (this is a competitive game) In this case both players will roll a six-sided dice and add the characteristic to the total. The highest total wins.
  3. Measurements – All measurements are done in inches, and the measurement begins at the base edge of the miniature and extends to the base edge of the opposing miniature.
  4. Contact – Contact occurs whenever two models bases touch.
  5. Model’s Eye View – Simply put, you get down to eye level of the model and anything that you can see at least 1/4 of the body can be targetted.

A happy group of survivors fights for their lives! ©Ash Barker & Osprey Games

Your spunky survivors

It is really easy to get behind the mindset of survivors these days. Hollywood has preprogrammed us with expectations towards Zombie related themes. We know its not just the zombies. In fact, the one sure thing is, the other survivors are an equal if not a more significant threat. You will assemble a group, which will comprise a leader and a handful of followers. The Leader is important because they set the tone of the group. When the protagonist in Walking Dead gets in a bad mood, his followers tend to get downright deadly. He rules by fear over everyone in his group.

Players are given a pool of 100 scavenge points with which they are to build their survivor group. Leaders are chosen from this pool as well as followers so every point you spend counts. The author recommends purchasing your miniatures first and basing your group choices off what the miniatures look like they are holding. You will have to pay for your leader, and his survivor group and any weapons they need out of your 100 scavenge points. You also need to decide what their refuge will be. Refuges are used in between sessions and offer some perks to the survivor group. They also limit the size of your group and what resources they have available to them. Post-session you can assign your survivors to do work around the refuge offering new perks later on.

The right stuff

Since we are talking about the Survivors, it might be a good idea to discuss how each survivor is rated and how your limits when you pick survivors. First off all characters are defined by a set of characteristics. All characteristics are rated from 0 to 6, with 0 being no ability at all and 6 being the best there is.

  1. {AP} Action Points – each action point counts as 1 action. You can move 1 inch, reload a gun, open a door, each one costing a set amount of action points. Action points are the only category that can go beyond 6.
  2. {CQC} Close Quarters Combat – how well you fight in hand to hand combat
  3. {FA} Firearms – your skill with pistols, rifles etc
  4. {S} Strength – Ability to inflict melee damage and how much you can log around
  5. {E} Endurance – Your toughness, how you handle pain and your ability to soal or resist damage
  6. {DC} Damage Capacity – How many times you can take damage and still function
  7. {C/H} Courage/Horror – How well you cope with and or cause fear and terror. Two sides of the same coin.
  8. {I} Intelligence – How you well you deal with tough problems when Zombies are pounding down the door behind you

Initially, you have no control over these abilities. When you are purchasing your survivors they will come pre-generated with statistics that mirror what they do (or did prior to the ZA). When you level up your survivors you will be able to buy rolls on a characteristic table that randomly raises your survivor’s statistics. These characteristics define every action you will do in Last Days. They are what separate zombies from survivors.

There are 15 different types of survivors. They could have been firemen, police officers, gang members, survivalists etc. They will all have a personality types such as selfish, or selfless. Leaders are restricted to only choosing survivors that match the keyword in use for their personality. Which makes total sense, in that during times of stress people usually seek out folks that have qualities similar to their own.

You do not want to miss this bus! ©Ash Barker & Osprey Games

It’s time to kill some zombies!

The bulk of the game focuses on running various encounters. When gameplay starts, players will roll on the encounter table to see what kind of setup they will need to do. Each encounter type has its own setup, with its own win conditions and rewards for completing it. Nothing is safe in the world of Last Days so it is possible to even lose your refuge, uprooting your poor survivors and causing them to lose their scavenged goods and built up refuge perks. This can throw a real monkey wrench in your day as now your group has to seek another refuge, despite their injuries.

Each encounter has its own special rules as well, which helps to enforce specific environmental conditions. The in-game goal is, of course, the acquisition of scavenged supplies. Every encounter will have at least 5 supply tokens. Place one in the center and the disperse the others randomly around the 3×3 field of play. They cannot be within 6 inches of each other, nor can they be near a zone in point or near the edges of the map.

Encounters

The Menace Phase

This step resolves noise tokens, ammo tokens, and Zombie activation. You gain noise tokens whenever you fire a gun. Every round the character will count however many noise tokens they have accumulated, roll a 1d6 and add their token total to the roll. Over 7 makes another zombie enter the field attracted by the noise. Ammo Tokens are given to each player based on their rate of fire (different guns will fire more or fewer bullets) Starting with the player with the most ammo tokens, they roll 1d6 and add that number to the token count. If it is equal to or above the reload number of the weapon they have to spend an action point reloading.

The Action Phase

The Action Phase is where they begin to move and act. It starts off with determining initiative. Each player rolls a six-sider and adds his leader’s intelligence and courage score to the roll. The winner gets to decide if they are being offensive or defensive. The offensive player gets to activate and move a model first. Then it will switch to the defender, alternating back and forth until every model has moved, reloaded, opens doors or interacts with objects and all action points are used.

The Shooting Phase

The Defender goes first choosing a target their model has line of sight to. This could be another survivor or a zombie. They will then be able to fire as many shots as their weapons rate of fire allows. Then it will alternate back to the aggressor, similar to the action step above. They als0 accumulate ammo tokens equal to the rate of fire of their weapon. If the ammo tokens exceed their reload number on that weapon they need to reload. This phase is completed once all range models have resolved.

Close Quarters Combat Phase

The Aggressor goes first for melee, resolving any characters that are touching bases with another survivor or zombie. Play passes back and forth until all models to close for range combat have resolved their current situation.

End Phase

All good things must come to an end, and so does conflict within the Zombie Apocalypse. The players must now account for their wounds and damages. Starting with the aggressor the players must roll a 1d6 if they took a casualty to their group of survivors. They add the number of casualties taken to the die roll and if that total exceeds the combined total courage of the leader and the remaining survivors of that group they flee the battle. If not they stay and continue the fight. This step is done for both the defender and the aggressor.

Long-term play

Last Days is a fairly simple system on its nose. It does provide for more than just scenario skirmishes. Players can play a campaign, in which their survivors will gain experience, better characteristics, and upgrade their refuge. They may lose leaders or followers. Their refuge might get seized during a Bushwack encounter by the other player. Essentially, Last Days is a sort of Roleplay Lite skirmish game. In my playthrough, we did 11 encounters total, which took around 7 hours over the course of 3 days. It was quite enjoyable, and even playing the same encounter over more than once was still a lot of fun. Since terrain setup and arrangement is largely left to the players to decide, you can dramatically change the dynamic of each battle with little effort. Lots of replayability.

Should you buy it?

You get a lot of bang for your buck with Last Days. I have played 2 different Zombie RPG’s Dead Reign and Savage Worlds “War of the Dead” campaign. Despite being a skirmish miniatures game I think Last Days could honestly work just fine for the same crowd. The game itself is not without flaws. I highly suspect that it was rushed out before a proper editing could take place, as there were several typos and misplaced words. In one section it told me to refer to a table above, but the actual table was one page removed on the opposite side and was not even the same creature type the author mentions. At times the rules can be a little to loose. Whenever you find vagueness in a ruleset you can bank on the fact it will come up as a game issue later.

None of these are game-breaking issues, but they are things you should be aware of if you are looking to purchase Last Days. You can purchase Last Days here from Osprey Games website. The author also specifically mentions Hasslefree Miniatures as his company of choice for your models. You can find their website here. I enjoyed my time with Last Days and I fully expect to pull out during board game nights, simply because in conjunction with other stuff I have it is a quick and dirty, skirmish game that plays out in about an hour or so. Perfect for those days where you want to get together for something a bit less involved than a roleplaying game.

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Until Next Time,

Keep rolling them bones

Chris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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