Name: Jake Cartwright
Descriptor: The Drifter
Background: Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Jake Cartwright drifted into town this morning. A stranger to all, Jake lives on the road, traveling… always on the move. With a scruffy face and well-worn clothes, he has learned over the years to make-do with what is on hand. This is not the first time Jake Cartwright has passed through Woodinvale. He brings with him memories of the past and a dread omen for the future. He is a sight Sheriff Anderson remembers from his youth, and hoped never to see again.
Jake Cartwright represents meets the Drifter trope. He’s a guy who just happened upon the town of Woodinvale and got caught up when the outbreak started, eventually helping the other townsfolk survive. He’s experienced, he looks like he knows how to survive – in fact, he looks like he’s survived many ordeals. He doesn’t belong.
An example of the Drifter trope in popular media are the Winchester brothers of the TV show Supernatural, two people who wander in and out of towns and eventually end up helping the people there.
While I don’t necessarily roleplay when playing this game, whenever I use Cartwright, I feel that his character gives me the license to go rogue and do my own thing instead of having to confer with my teammates on the proper course of action. If anyone reacts negatively, I’ll just tell them that I’m aligning my gameplay to the theme of the character, and probably assure them that it’s going to be to the Heroes benefit if I play Cartwright in that way.
Start: Road Out of Town
Jake Cartwright has, in my opinion, the worst starting location out of all the Heroes. He’s the only Hero who starts outside of a building, which means that he needs to spend one turn to move into a building before he can start Searching. I think this is to offset his powerful Resourceful ability, which we’ll get to later.
Aside from starting outside a building, no other Hero starts on the same L-Board, which is a disadvantage because it’s generally better to group two or three Heroes together. The buildings on his L-Board are the Junkyard, the Gas Station, and the Bank, and only the Junkyard and the Gas Station have somewhat helpful Pickup abilities.
Keywords: Strange, Male
Cartwright has two keywords – Strange and Male. The Strange keyword makes Cartwright vulnerable to the Zombie card “I Don’t Trust ‘Em”, which, when played on Cartwright, prevents him from exchanging items with other Heroes. A minor disadvantage, as (1) there’s only one copy of the “I Don’t Trust ‘Em” card and (2) it’s easy to cancel out if it does get played. The Strange keyword becomes an advantage if you end up choosing Jade as well, as she gets stronger when paired up with Strange Heroes (more on this when we talk about Jade).
Having the Male keyword means that Cartwright, like the rest of the male Heroes, is vulnerable to the Zombie card “This Could Be Our Last Night on Earth”. But it can only be used if Cartwright is in the same space as a Female Hero – if this happens, then both Cartwright and the Female Hero will lose the turn the card during which the card was played. On the flipside, Amanda makes Male Heroes stronger, so if you happen to be playing Cartwright and Amanda at the same time, Cartwright gets an extra buff in the form of an additional Fight Dice.
So does Cartwright’s keywords have any impact on gameplay? Not really. And I think this is the same for all the Heroes when we get to each of them. But its worth pointing out scenarios when keywords are going to be beneficial or detrimental to your game.
Health: Three wounds
Resourceful – When drawing a Hero Card, may take two cards and choose which one to keep (discard the other).
Cartwright’s Resourceful ability is what makes this Hero great. His resourcefulness allow you to draw two cards and choose which one best helps you in your current situation. Last Night on Earth is a board game that relies heavily on the cards that you get – these cards give you the weapons and the tricks that will help you fight against the Zombies. Drawing two cards and choosing the best one gives you a little more control over what kind of cards you’re getting, and it thins the Hero Deck to allow you to get better draws in later turns.
The only drawback is having to discard cards too, but in this game discarding cards is actually a good thing. There are many effects that will allow you to access cards in the discard pile: there are several locations that have Pick-up abilities that allow you to get specific cards from the discard pile (the Police Station gets you the Pump Shotgun, the Church gets you the Faith card, the Hospital gets you First Aid cards, and so on), and one of the most powerful Hero Cards, Just What I Needed, allows you to get almost any card from the discard pile. In effect, Cartwright’s Resourceful ability allows you to “pass” an Item to a different Hero via the discard pile, instead of getting the Item himself and having to go to the other Hero to pass it.
It’s true that discarding also speeds up the process of burning up your Hero Deck (a losing condition), but I’ve never seen this happen. Only playing with the base game gives you a Hero Deck size of 60 cards; adding expansions further increases this to the point that running out of Hero Deck cards becomes close to impossible.
In the end, his Resourceful ability gives you a lot of control over what cards you keep, and in a game that relies heavily on card effects, this is very powerful.
When playing as Jake Cartwright, you have to make sure that he does what he does best as often as he can, which is to Search for the group. So, unless it’s absolutely necessary, make sure that you keep him out of fights because that’s not his strength. Move him to a place as far away from Zombies as possible, somewhere that allows him to Search for as long as he can without getting bothered.
If you’re playing with Cartwright in the party, you have to do your best to enable him. Protect him from attacking Zombies and allow him to search as much as he can; in return, he’ll dig up all the useful Items, Weapons, and Hero Events that will help your team.
If you’re playing as the Zombie player and you’re facing Cartwright, you might want to keep putting the pressure on him and keep him Moving – remember that Moving will prevent Cartwright from Searching. It’s even better if you can keep Cartwright away from Buildings as much as you can. If Cartwright isn’t Searching, he’s not thinning the Hero deck and he’s not fueling Pickups.
Essentially, the only thing that separates Jake Cartwright from the rest of the Last Night on Earth characters is that he’s very good at Searching. That might not be much at first glance, but experienced LNOE players know that getting the right Hero Cards is essential to winning the game. His drawback of a bad starting Location only affects you at the start of the game, and if the board doesn’t have the Road Out of Town location, you won’t even feel the drawback. With very little risk and a lot of reward, I’d actually rank Jake Cartwright within the Top 3 best LNOE Heroes simply because of his Resourceful ability.