I can still remember the first time I played Last Night on Earth. When I first saw the box, I was really interested. The game looked scary, and I liked scary movies and stories a lot. Then I saw that this was a zombie-themed game, which got me even more interested. I was then asked if I wanted to play the game, and said “Sure!”
But I didn’t get really into the game until the point when we were choosing our characters. I let the other players choose their characters first, and when it was finally my turn, I was left with Father Joseph and Jake Cartwright. I didn’t feel “sacred” enough, so I chose the scruffy drifter instead. There was something about Jake Cartwright’s portrait and designation that appealed to me. “The Drifter”, as he’s referred to, seemed to be like a grizzled loner who knows what it takes to survive.
We played the Escape in the Truck scenario, and who would have guessed that out of the eight characters in the game, it would be Jake Cartwright that would be the key to the survival of the humans, finding the keys to the truck, some gasoline, and a fire extinguisher for pushing off zombies. Only Jake would know that you could actually use a fire extinguisher for that purpose.
And so that went on – whoever character was assigned to me (or my team) always had an influence on my excitement for the LNOE games that I played. Maybe it’s the images on the character sheets and the cards – take a look at Johnny, the High School Quarterback:
His picture conveys a lot, giving off a kind of bravery that falls somewhere between confidence and arrogance. Other card images support this, such as:
His abilities support this too. Without delving into specifics, when you play this character you get the feel that Johnny was made for fighting. In a team of four Heroes, Johnny is likely to be the one fighting against zombies. For a game to be able to capture that level of flavor is amazing, especially to someone like me who was new to board gaming.
Surprisingly, after playing other different board games, as well as a lot of LNOE games, the theme is still there, as strong as it was when I first played the game. I think the main factor contributing to this is a combination of how the characters are presented and the way they were created. I think it’s because the characters are simply every day folk: you’ve got a small town sheriff, a priest, a nurse, and different high school student archetypes – that’s it, there are no superheroes, ninjas, or wizards here. Just regular, easy-to-relate-to people.
Because of this, I’ve decided to write about each character in terms of flavor and what they can contribute to the game strategically, partially to promote the game but mainly as a creative outlet. So, let’s get started!