$18.00
The Hotness
Games|People|Company
The Hotness has gone cold...
GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters: 120.14

7,242 Supporters

$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
45.6% of Goal | left

Support:

Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Appraising the Heroes. Part 1: Jenny rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ian Thompson
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
Last Night on Earth has been a perennial favorite of my play group since I acquired it in 2008 along with Growing Hunger and has become a centerpiece of my collection. Something about the immersive theme and collaborative game-play lends itself to memorable, seat of the pants moments, clutch victories, harrowing defeats, and hilarious in jokes.

One of the first things that drew my interest in the game was the selection of heroes. The actors, costume and photography ,and game mechanics all do a great job of capturing a great b-movie tone for these characters that permeates the game. They are all such well worn, time tested clichés that it just feels right when the drifter stays to himself and hordes that one weapon that saves the day, or the sheriff makes that lucky shot that saves the nurse or takes a more bumbling stance and runs out of ammo right after frantically finding his gun after losing it twice , or when the cocky high school athlete grows overconfident and goes down trying to hold a horde of zombies off.

Starting off, I was drawn to articles and reviews that highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of each Hero. As time has gone on and I’ve logged more experience, the game has aged and the articles have grown. I decided to give back to the geek, and give a strategic and thematic appraisal of each hero. It’s what drew me into the game and I notice posts from players new to the game seeking information even after all these years, so I figured my observations could guide them just as I had been all those years ago.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Thompson
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
JENNY

Theme

Ah, the farmer’s daughter. Front and center on the box, for a while Jenny was essentially the unofficial mascot of the game. Easy on the eyes in cut off jeans, the farmer’s daughter conjures images of pg-13 sex appeal, vulnerability and resourceful, plucky toughness. Just as easily imagined as the tough as nails survivor, holding her own as the final girl against the ravening horde using her muscle and wits, as the first to die disposable floozy, Jenny has tons of character and is easy to identify with and root for but easy enough to kill off that her many deaths can become memorable stories of their own fitting a farmer’s daughter’s most traditional role in many stories as a side, stock character. It is a thrill, in those clutch, specific situations when Jenny has all she needs; weapons in hand on her home turf and becomes a zombie-hunting machine. Any time she dies can be memorable, but games where she succeeds are legendary. All around she is quite a fun character to both play as, and against.

Mechanics and strategy:
Jenny is a student, and as such, has low hit points but a reliable way to replenish them in the ability YOUTH at the expense of a search, and thus movement as well. As with all students, at the most general level, when equipped with something useful and comfortably away from the action, a combination of moving and healing can keep them alive for a while. It is actually quite rewarding using youth effectively and keeping a vulnerable hero alive all game. The tension and balance of course comes from the limited versatility. Sometimes, you just HAVE to move or search, and always being able to heal doesn’t help much when you essentially only have one health to spare. It’s nice to have the ability, but there isn’t much of a choice sometimes, because if you don’t use it you die. Unfortunately, most other students have other useful keywords they can supplement this basic strategy with…

Jenny has two very situational keywords. HANDY allows her to add one (and subtract but there are no mechanics in place yet to make this useable.) to any break test. In theory this helps her keep her weapons longer, giving her more options to move and heal. In practice, well, it just doesn’t come up very often. Weapons do break sure, and the ability to negate this is helpful, but impossible to plan for. Essentially the plan is to arm Jenny, but well, you were going to do that any way most likely. The play doesn’t change much, and the chance for it to be helpful is small. Moreover, weapons with break tests are generally melee,(and the best ones don’t have break tests) so you’ll be putting Jenny in the fray, and stated earlier, as a student she doesn’t have much health to spare. Handy is so passive that the advantage is slight.

Jenny’s other keyword is FARM GIRL, granting an extra fight dice in the barn or cornfield. An extra fight dice is a nice advantage, essentially a weapon bonus, and as her other ability stresses acquisition of weapons, this stacks pretty naturally. The huge caveat of course, is that it is quite board dependent. In the base game, the farm map will show up often enough when randomly drawn. With the other expansions, well the chance diminishes quite a bit. So when Jenny is drawn and her map isn’t available, well she pretty much plays as a standard student with no real benefit to bank on. Of course, you can agree with the other players and choose the farm map. This is fine, but it is a lot of hoops to jump through to make one character effective. Moreover, the farm map isn’t exceptional. The barn has a spawning pit and can be a death trap, the farmhouse grants no advantages to Jenny weirdly, and is small and easy to be trapped in, there isn’t much incentive to go in there unless you just really need to search, and there definitely isn’t any reason to linger there. The cornfield is pretty good, as it gives the ability to hide and is pretty big and easy to navigate, but it can’t be searched. Sometimes it will help, but it isn’t going to be the lynchpin of every plan.

Overall, Jenny is very overly specialized and circumstantial. When on the right map, with the right weapons, she can shine, but it is luck dependent, takes a lot of work to pull off, and the payoff simply normalizes her, it doesn’t guarantee any thing flashy.

The implication of the combination of her abilities paints her as a melee fighter, but with low hp of a student, she is definitely a light hit and runner, unless you kit her out (either with a great, unbreakable weapon or a good, breakable one where she may have an advantage in keeping it. I suggest the baseball bat as she can really press her luck with it and get the best of her handy ability.)and camp out on a map square where she gets the best of her abilities (like the barn in a scenario where you are actively hunting zombies and camping the spawn point.)

If you have the advanced abilities supplement, Jenny has access to PREPARED, an ability that lets her give up a search action to roll for a chance to take a hand weapon from the discard pile. This can be pretty darned good, and further cements her as a melee fighter, or a good source of melee weapons to share with those more capable, but again, is very circumstantial, as advanced abilities don’t come into play often.
On the whole she is a standard issue student with youth, with some circumstantial boosts to being a melee fighter, but no specific build to take advantage of it. Expect Jenny to play to type and be zombie fodder more often than not.

One ray of light: Circumstantial doesn’t mean impossible. When Jenny’s abilities DO work, especially knowing how rare it is to pull off, it can be incredibly, game defining-ly, satisfying. I’ve had games where Jenny was THE hero to beat, and my friends and I still talk about them, especially when considering to pick Jenny, or commiserating when she is randomly assigned. There was that game of Zombie Pillage, where she had Heroic Resolve and the push broom, of all things, hunkered in the barn…

Don’t fall in to the trap in thinking that since jenny’s abilities skew toward the melee side you have to play her as one. If given the opportunity to use a gun or other specialized role, feel free. Low health students can be fine staying away from the action taking ranged shots or lighting gas or dynamite, regardless of whether Jenny gets synergy with the particular weapon or not. Trying to maximize her abilities payoff by finding her the perfect breakable weapon and putting her in the fray may throw away other opportunities and dangerously pigeon hole her. Being flexible and open-minded with Jenny is sometimes the key to victory, try to roll with the punches.

Keep this in mind if you play Timber Peak with Hero upgrades. While in most cases, on paper it makes sense to specialize on the melee upgrades for Jenny, keep the larger picture and available weapons and available in mind. It is very possible Jenny’s best role in any given game may very well be the flexible support character focused on searching, thus making Special upgrades a good choice if Jenny isn’t fulfilling a direct hand to hand route. And of course, if already armed with a nice gun, Ranged upgrades may be the way to go. Again, stay open-minded.


Overall. Jenny can be very fun to play as, fulfilling her role as good looking but easily killed farm girl often, the side character she was written to be, and every once in a while can headline as the star of the show, the unbeatable heroine standing her ground with a pitchfork and home team advantage in a cornfield rustling with the shambling dead. My advice is to not really over think Jenny when you play as her, and just have a good time with the farmer’s daughter.

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Pratt
United States
Anacortes
Washington
flag msg tools
Just admit it already, Small World is not a fantasy wargame...it's a Mancala variant!
mbmbmbmbmb
Great idea! I like what you've written so far, but if you are going to do this for all of the heroes, you should make this a Geeklist. It will be easier to take in as a whole article once you are done.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Thompson
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
That's a really good idea, I may just do that. Thanks!

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Blank Francis
New Zealand
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Jenny the farm girl, as a character, is iconic. As you say, she was practically the poster girl for the game.

In gameplay terms, though, her abilities are highly situational and potentially completely useless. Sadly, the addition of the Growing Hunger expansion makes her even worse by (1) adding more boards, meaning the farmhouse is less likely to be in play, and (2) adding lots of melee weapons that don't break, meaning her ability to avoid breakages is even less useful.

She is definitely bottom tier among the heroes, and she could well be the very worst one.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.