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Subject: First Play rss

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CJ
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Finally managed to get in a first play of LNOE this evening after the game arrived on Monday. As it was both my wife's and my first play we stuck with the basic game and the Die Zombies, Die! scenario.

Having perused the rules earlier in the week set-up proved to be brief and relatively painless and there was a minimal wait before the serious business of zombie slaying began. My wife took the heroes (she had no interest in playing zombies) and I was happy about this as it would allow me to mentor her through the game and give her an opportunity to experience the greater complexity of the heros. We randomly drew 4 heroes and she found herself with the Sheriff, the Drifter, Jonny and the Nurse. As neither the school nor hospital were on the starting locations the latter two started in the town centre while the Sheriff and Drifter went to the Police Station and Road respectively.

The game began and I managed to generate 8 zombies that began the slog towards her characters. Rather than overwhelm her with rules at the start I preferred to explain the move/search action only at this point and she began by moving 3 of the heroes and having the sheriff search the police station. The zombies continued to advance and she quickly grasped the the basics of the movement, searching, and began to see some of the cards that she were available for drawing.

Within a few turns the sheriff was still in the station, taking pot shots at one of the zombies heading towards her. Jonny and the Nurse were in the gun shop and the drifter was meandering his way towards them. The zombies finally started to move into combat and at this point I started pointed out how to conduct fights and how they differed to ranged combat. It took a few turns for both of us to grasp exactly what was going on, especially as I was getting confused about when cards could be played, but we eventually understood what was happening.

So far 6 turns had passed and no zombies had been killed thus far and I started to get concerned that a dismal performance would sap her enthusiasm for further games. So far only a couple of wounds had been caused on heroes, quickly healed, and a mere handful of zombies were dead. Fortunately (in the interest of enthusing her for future games) things started to happen and the games tempo picked up. The zombies were pulling some decent cards and managed to take over the gun shop. Meanwhile the spawned zombies started to overwhelm the drifter's building and things were looking dire. Then came an outstanding string of good rolling for the heroes, with every fight they engaged in seemingly responsible for the death of one of the brain-eaters. Then the sheriff found the shotgun and it was only a matter of time.

The game finished with 3 turns to go and while it was primarily a learning experience for both of us I found it enjoyable enough and my wife didn't dislike it as such. It seems clear that the game will benefit from more players, as well as a better understanding of the rules, and hopefully I can negotiate a further game this weekend. As the game is relatively straight forward I expect Mrs Jones to be happy playing without assistance next time and once we can arrange some gaming visitors I have no doubts it will shine.

I'm looking forward to further exploring LNOE, although neither of us are especially convinced by the soundtrack. I'll endeavour to post up a review once I've a few more plays and can make an informed decision.
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Gordon Adams
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Nice and entertaining session, Chris.

When I first played this game, I thought "Aha, Gun Shop " !, but one still draws cards from the one deck....anything might turn up. For sure, searching is a must. However, it would have been a better idea if separate decks (some smaller than others) were made for specific locations : gun shop etc. If that were the case, the zombies would also have to have that bit extra power, too (example, moving 2 spaces instead of one near a gun shop). Just a thought.

Anyway, I found that the game became rather easier because co-operating with fellow Heroes is a necessity. Distracting the zombies and thus allowing for more searching is good. The major disappointment was that the scenarios do not necessarily become more difficult in the base game. I finished the game in a week. The replayability is low, imho, unless one buys the expansion.

Well, I did buy the expansion and have still not got round to playing any of the scenarios so I sincerely hope that the difficulty level is higher than the base game.

It is fun to play as husband and wife; I wager that 90% of the time ladies do not want to play the zombies.....wait Chris, I bet you will have a hard time presuading your better half from changing sides

Enjoy playing and write your future sessions, looking forward to them.

Regards
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Austin Lamb
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I find the game best with either 3 or 5 players. 3 keeps it to only 2 heroes per player, which is much easier to keep track of than 4 heroes all for one person. 5 players is obviously awesome as everyone gets really invested in their character and what's going on.

I personally am not a huge fan of 2 zombie players, as I think it makes the zombies weaker. When there's only one mind controlling them all, it makes them a bit more focused, which is generally a good thing.

Happy gaming!
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CJ
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elfrododumbo wrote:
It is fun to play as husband and wife; I wager that 90% of the time ladies do not want to play the zombies.....wait Chris, I bet you will have a hard time presuading your better half from changing sides


In my case I have no doubts that my wife will outright refuse to play zombies, ever. The only way I'll get to play heroes is a bit of strong-arming, or maybe the promise of a new handbag.

In regards the ease of victory with heroes, I suspect that you may be generally right although I think there is a more subtle degree of zombie tactics that further plays will reveal. That said, I'm curious if there are any Zombies!!!-esque variants where the game can be a little more cutthroat between the hero players. I've been searching but haven't found anything yet, but allowing heroes to draw discarded zombie deck cards and using against other players is something that springs to mind...
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Brian M
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Sounds like a good first play. As you get into more interesting scenarios you'll find there's a lot more to it.

Quote:
I personally am not a huge fan of 2 zombie players, as I think it makes the zombies weaker.

Personally, I far prefer two zombie players. If playing on a team is more fun for the heroes, why wouldn't it be for the zombies as well?

Quote:
That said, I'm curious if there are any Zombies!!!-esque variants where the game can be a little more cutthroat between the hero players. I've been searching but haven't found anything yet, but allowing heroes to draw discarded zombie deck cards and using against other players is something that springs to mind...

This would require a complete rewrite of all the scenarios and probably a complete re-balancing to accommodate having the heroes all on separate teams instead of working together.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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elgin_j wrote:
...I found it enjoyable enough and my wife didn't dislike it as such.


High praise! Made me laugh when I read that; my wife isn't much of a gamer either, but plays a bit mostly to humour me.

(Note the extra 'u' in humor - I've been studying foreign languages!)
 
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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I've never actually tried LNOE with two zombie players... It sometimes seems like there isn't all that much to do for just one zombie player, so splitting that work up never seemed like a good idea. I'll have to try that at some point, though. But I'll agree that with 3 or 5 players, this game is terrific. And 2 is great, as well, as long as someone doesn't mind running all 4 Heroes.

For a 2 player game, my wife actually prefers to play as the zombies, because there's not nearly as much for her to have to keep track of. But she still prefers the game on the co-op side of the Heroes, with 5 total players so she only has to control one Hero.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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I've played once with two zombie players; my daughters teamed up, while my sons and I played the heroes. The ladies were less than thrilled by the experience.
 
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Dan H
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elfrododumbo wrote:

When I first played this game, I thought "Aha, Gun Shop " !, but one still draws cards from the one deck....anything might turn up. For sure, searching is a must. However, it would have been a better idea if separate decks (some smaller than others) were made for specific locations : gun shop etc. If that were the case, the zombies would also have to have that bit extra power, too (example, moving 2 spaces instead of one near a gun shop). Just a thought.


The Growing Hunger expansion includes an optional rule, `Well-Stocked Buildings', which allows heroes to pull Pick Up cards from the draw (rather than just discard) pile. Of course, the expansion also introduces other optional rules to tilt the balance back towards the zombies ....

elfrododumbo wrote:

Anyway, I found that the game became rather easier because co-operating with fellow Heroes is a necessity. Distracting the zombies and thus allowing for more searching is good. The major disappointment was that the scenarios do not necessarily become more difficult in the base game. I finished the game in a week. The replayability is low, imho, unless one buys the expansion.

Well, I did buy the expansion and have still not got round to playing any of the scenarios so I sincerely hope that the difficulty level is higher than the base game.


The scenarios in the expansions are harder than the ones in the base game, but not significantly so. In any case, I'm kind of surprised that you found the replayability to be so low. Both heroes and zombies have some basic strategies, but the tactics for both sides depend so much on the scenario objectives, the heroes in play, the buildings on the board, and the items and events that you happen to be holding at the moment that each of my dozen-plus games has felt very unique. But, to each her or his own.
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Gordon Adams
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As I said, the expansion might level up the difficulty.

From what I've read re; the expansion, the characters sound interesting and that is an incentive. New scenarios ...yes, I will get the box out and start brain-eating soon !!!! Mind you, I prefer to play the Heroes Anything for a bit of variety to spice up my mundane existence laugh

 
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Matt Lernout
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If nothing else, our play group actually found the Growing Hunger expansion made things easier for the Heroes. The new heroes have some incredible abilities, and some of the new items and events in the card additions are equally impressive.

LNOE certainly has a lot of chance to it, which makes broad generalizations such as "it's too easy for the heroes" (or, if rant appropriate, zombies) somewhat ungrounded. Yes, the heroes can (and should) work together tactically to take advantage of mechanics like zombie hunger where appropriate, but it only takes an unlucky roll or two to make everything go downhill. By that same token, the Heroes can get a lucky set of rolls or search draws and achieve victory in a handful of turns.

On top of that there is strategy involved, which equates to a matching of wits. If the superior strategist(s) are always playing the heroes, of course they're going to have an advantage. I've played out a number of games as the zombies where playing a particular tactic has cost me the game - Do I continuously swarm the Heroes to keep the pressure on? Do I single out a particular Hero or keep the whole group on the run? Do I converge my Zombies on a scenario-critical building or choke point? Our group rotates zombie player, and it can make a marked difference in difficulty depending on who has control.

Even with the expansion scenarios in the available draw pool, our play group can have a real rough time as heroes with some of the base scenarios - Defend the Manor being one that immediately springs to mind.

I disagree that the base game has low replayability. The board is modular, there are a variety of scenarios, and the hero teams can play very differently depending on which are selected. I will agree that with the base game only the card decks can fall into a degree of predictability, with the same "Remains in play" cards creeping up in every game - I know all of group's early games ended up coming under Heavy Rain. It wasn't a question of whether it would happen, but when.

I won't disagree that the Growing Hunger expansion increases playability tenfold. The expanded card decks help alleviate predictability and broaden the possible events. The added point by system is also a useful set of tools - Still convinced the zombies are disadvantaged? Give them some free points to spend to tilt things more in their favor. Like I said, I won't disagree that the expansion helps replayability, but I do think there is a lot of playability with the base set alone as well.

Have you given the official web scenarios a whirl? Our group has only given "We've got to go back" a play so far. It can be a treacherous gauntlet for the heroes to run.

You can find them both here:
http://www.flyingfrog.net/lastnightonearth/webcontent.html
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CJ
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
That said, I'm curious if there are any Zombies!!!-esque variants where the game can be a little more cutthroat between the hero players. I've been searching but haven't found anything yet, but allowing heroes to draw discarded zombie deck cards and using against other players is something that springs to mind...

This would require a complete rewrite of all the scenarios and probably a complete re-balancing to accommodate having the heroes all on separate teams instead of working together.


Not sure if I entirely agree with you there. I've played again since this session and although I quite clearly lack sufficient knowledge of the system to make definitive statements I'm inclined to think that it wouldn't be that difficult at all.
 
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Dan H
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I can see the problem. Say you're playing Escape in the Truck. Assuming the hero deck is neither particularly lucky (lots of gas and keys near the top) nor particularly unlucky (lots of gas and keys near the bottom), the scenario is nicely balanced so that four heroes can, with some wit and tactics, just barely escape. In my experience, playing a standard game, things wrap up within the last five turns with either a narrow escape or the zombies eating a fourth hero character.

Now let's modify the scenario for one zombie player and two hero players, the latter each controlling two characters. A hero player wins only if her two characters together satisfy the victory condition (truck is filled, both characters on the truck, one has keys), and the zombies win if neither hero player wins. Add some rules for the hero characters to shoot at, loot, and maybe even steal from each other. Presumably heroes auto-spawn (so that no one loses just because one of their two characters dies). Now things have gotten, not just a little harder, but a lot harder: you have fewer heroes to work with, plus someone else shooting you and trying to get those precious gas and keys cards before you do.

I see two easy ways to try and balance things out. One, adopt Hero Starting Cards (1) or (2) from Growing Hunger -- each hero character starts with one or two additional cards, on top of any cards they might start with. Two, each hero player gets 4 characters (and Heros Auto-Spawn only applies when your second-to-last character goes down). IIRC, there are only 6 characters in the base game, so you'd need at least two more hero characters for this to work.

And this is only for Escape in the Truck. I'm not sure how you could even define the victory conditions for competitive-heroes versions of Burn 'Em Out, Defend the Manor House, or Plague Carriers.
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