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Subject: need help on zombie tactics rss

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Craig M.
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Recently I purchased SOTF to complement my GH and LNOE game collection. I was excited to see grave weapons as a choice which added some much needed variety in my opinion to the game. I'd like to hear from more veteran experienced players to give me some suggestions. I have already downloaded the pdf file here on BGG about putting zombies in lines, attacking single survivors, etc. My last game with the scenario "Save the Townsfolk" went as follows:

The opposing hero player had "Barricade" Becky, Father Joseph, Jake, and Amanda. I wanted to use barricades since it fits nicely with a zombie theme game. The hero player also used "Hero Card Pool X" optional rule and Survival Decks to balance out the following for the zombies: Grave Weapons, Grave Dead (the red zombies who rolled a 1 for ability allowing for a very rotten effect).

The first turn I put 3 red zombies on board. I gave two of them grave weapons and was feeling pretty confident. I even managed to cut off Father Joseph from running to the church. That was the end of "good times" for the zeds. Becky was able to heal Father Joseph after he rolled quite well to cancel any card I played. Shamble was canceled quite often. I tried using "Bitten" on Joseph in order to curb his healing only to have it be canceled. The barricades were quite useful since heroes could take wounds to build them up faster only to be healed by Becky. Seven turns later the heroes had the four townsfolk and were able to head towards the cornfields only to hide from the few zombies left on the board. Several turns I didn't roll high enough for more zombies to spawn, which certainly limited my options. I am aware of a 4 dot rule to allow guaranteed spawning but I would need compensate for the heroes as well. Lastly it should be noted it seems very strange that Amanda can hide even with a crawling zombie on her ankle.

So, with red zombies and grave weapons, is it better to purposely keep the zombie count low to be able to spawn? Should one spawn more regular zombies than grave weapons/red zombies? I am getting rather frustrated with the game since most games tend to be lopsided towards one side (usually the heroes). Losing a game filled with tension and excitement is much more fun than easy blowouts.
 
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Wulf Corbett
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The more zombies the better for the zombie player, but when it comes to armed zombies I find in my games (whichever side I play) there tend to be very few, numbers being more important than weaponry...
 
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Nicholas Daley
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With auto- spawn on I generally wait until I am almost to capacity with regular zombies before I start to give any weapons. Or if there isn't auto-spawn I will only start to give out weapons once I hit 7 zombies on the board in order to keep the chances of being able to spawn.
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Tim McCloskey
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Use Grave Weapons and Grave Dead sparingly, as they will always become targets. Generally speaking, large numbers of regular zombies are better, with the odd Grave Dead/Weapon thrown in to strategic effect. (even if that strategy is "create a target to take the heat off of my other zombies")
 
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Vincent Streuner
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Nickmodaily wrote:
With auto- spawn on I generally wait until I am almost to capacity with regular zombies before I start to give any weapons. Or if there isn't auto-spawn I will only start to give out weapons once I hit 7 zombies on the board in order to keep the chances of being able to spawn.

Behold the voice of experience. This is solid advice. I would also add that you probably shouldn't double up your Grave Dead with your Grave Weapons as it's risky to put all your sweetbreads in one basket. Also, under some circumstances I go to extremes: With Auto-Spawn I'll wait till my zombies aren't just almost maxed out, but completely maxed out, and then I'll start adding Grave Weapons. Likewise, without Auto-Spawn I occasionally start in with Grave Weapons immediately as opposed to getting half of my ranks on the board, but that can be risky as it may give the Heroes too much breathing room to start with, depending on the scenario.
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Craig M.
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Just finished a close game as the zombies. Despite my loss, I had a good time since only a survival sewer card allowed the heroes to move to escape from being surrounded. I did use auto spawn rules though. How does one win as the zeds without using that rule? Every time I did not use the rule, I was beaten soundly. Relying on luck to see if one is able to spawn means hot dice by the heroes (usually picking off them from range with guns) thins the horde pretty fast which does not allow a "zombie line" or pack to cut of portions of the map.
 
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Craig M.
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ZomBub, what rules you typically use in your games as the zombies and the heroes?
 
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Nicholas Daley
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Also, if you only happen to have a couple of viable spawning points, but you happen to get to spawn 5 zombies, instead of just placing them in poor spots, it's usually a good move to give out a weapon instead.
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Kasper Klitgaard
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Wulf Corbett wrote:
The more zombies the better for the zombie player, but when it comes to armed zombies I find in my games (whichever side I play) there tend to be very few, numbers being more important than weaponry...


This holds true especially in the beginning of the game when you build up your horde or when your opponents use barricades. Like the soviets during WWII use your swarms to overwhelm your enemies' defensive positions or use them to pin down the Heroes before sending in your tougher (and more expensive) zeds. Remember they are as vulnerable to firearms as your regular zeds so don't use them in your first wave unless you are already strong in numbers.
 
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Vincent Streuner
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PenCapChew wrote:
ZomBub, what rules you typically use in your games as the zombies and the heroes?

In addition to whatever the scenario demands, we almost always use Heroes Replenish, Always Zombie Heroes, Survival Decks, Grave Weapons, and Barricades. Occasionally, if we draw a scenario that we've seen once too often, we throw in Grave Dead and Free Search Markers.
 
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Michael Kefauver
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We always do Heroes Replenish and Always Zombie heroes (seemed silly to have different rules for 2 vs 5 players, really). We usually throw in Survival Decks and Grave Weapons as well, and Barricades are fun, but scenario dependent. It can make certain scenarios much harder for the ZP than other missions(like defend the manor house or revenge of the dead).

The Father can be annoying, but even with Becky bandaging him up every turn that's only 1 healed counter-card, and even that's assuming he makes his roll every time. If you drop as many cards as you can every turn he'll have to pick his targets to avoid killing himself, and if you can get zombies near them it gets harder to stay on the same space.

Loner ruins Becky's day, Bickering can make them have a lot less fun for a turn or two, and if he has to roll to cancel them, more wounds for him.
 
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Biodiesel
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The type of grave weapon you draw makes a big difference on how you use them, but like most others are saying, you want hordes of zombies with grave weapons sprinkled in.

Beware the exploding grave weapon zombie and keep him away from your other zeds!
 
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Craig M.
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Interesting and informative replies. Nessmk2, do you not play with auto spawn for zombies? I find without zombie auto spawn the map is not quite full of zeds. In several of my games I would not be able to spawn zombies, often 3 or 4 turns in a row. I would have anywhere from 4 to 6 zombies on board on average. Without a horde of undead, the game loses some of its theme in my opinion.
 
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Michael Kefauver
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I like Auto-spawn, but it's not for every scenario. I find that it works best for the scenarios that have it written in (Hunker down, for example) but for other ones auto-spawning zombies can simply make the objectives too hard. Burn 'em out, for example, would be very hard with autospawn, since the heroes would have to fight through a tide of zombies for every spawning pit they wanted to blow up.

It's fun to ZP Auto-spawn games, but it usually leads to 12 zombies on the map, and then just throwing grave weapons where I can because I have no other zombies to spawn. Most scenarios don't give the heroes time to do TOO much searching, and even the best armed hero usually kills 1-3 zombies a turn (assuming a killer melee weapon, a gun, being able to draw 2 zombies into melee, and some darn good luck)

Rolling 2 dice to spawn, your average roll is 7, so if you have 6 or less zombies on the board, you'll likely be able to spawn. And since you spawn d6 zombies, you can really swing your zombie count turn to turn. Sometimes you'll roll 1, sure, but sometimes you'll get that 6. The average is 3.5 zombies per spawn, so sitting around 9-ish zombies isn't unusual, less if you're heavy on the grave weapons.

Also, you have all those fun cards that spawn zombies. There's too many, etc. They feel more powerful in a non-auto-spawn game, as does "My god they've taken the..." since it can suddenly give you a 3-6ish zombies depending on the building you roll.

Auto-spawn games make for lots of zombies and high-powered heroes (to make up the autospawn dots) with zombies being mindlessly thrown around and sent to be killed in hopes of getting lucky fighting the heroes that started with 2 cards each and can stock up on guns at the gun store as they please.

Regular games are more... measured. Zombies are a resource that you can't always replenish right away. You need to pick your battles, use your movement cards to fill in gaps in your lines and pin weak heroes down or or close with a strong hero quickly to remove him from the equation. Grave weapons are a choice rather than a "Well, I have 4 spawns I can't use, so..." and an armed zombie is a rare and terrifying sight.


In short, I like to think of the ZP as the director of the movie you're playing. Autospawn makes for a modern-day action-horror movie like the remake of Dawn of the Dead, where well-stocked heroes fight powerful, extremely numerous zombies that have tricks up their sleeves in abundance. The undead wield numerous weapons and there are always more, but the prepared heroes are up for the challenge, having stockpiled goods or knowing just where to look in town to get the best gear.

Non-autospawn is more like Night of the Living Dead. (If you've seen that movie, there aren't a ton of zombies on-screen... Less than are in a game of Last Night on Earth, I think, actually). You have the heroes desperately looking for weapons, rallying to those that can defend them as they start off scattered and weak, without the benefits dots give them. Zombies are numerous but not infinite, and the heroes can earn a respite by fighting well and cleverly. They're sometimes in control, keeping the number of zombies in check as they seek out salvation. Sometimes the other shoe falls and a horde of 12 (or more, with the red zombies) is closing in around them like a rotting noose. The occasional zombie shows up, a death grip around a rusty machete or covered in barbed wire, making the heroes pause and rethink how to deal with these unique challenges. And God help them if one of their number falls and returns, clutching an axe in their hands and crying out for their former friends' BRAIIIIINS!


I like both, and neither is 'better' than the other, but I play non-Autospawn more. Partly because I've played this game since the start and it started without autospawn, partly because it lets the heroes feel like they're doing more. Killing a zombie or 3 is a lot more gratifying when you're not sure that they'll be back right away at the nearest 3 spawn pits running after you again.
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Craig M.
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Thanks for the response. Do you have any recommendations on playing the zombies without auto spawn? I find I must keep pressure on the heroes by attacking them in buildings so they can't just keep searching to stock up on weapons/items. A lot of times I get sniped by characters with guns. With auto spawn I can constantly keep pressure and not be as timid to move the zeds closer to the heroes.
 
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Biodiesel
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Why would you be timid about moving? As long as you aren't playing "Die, Zombies, Die" scenario, then your zombies are expendable, plain and simple. Send in the troops!
 
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Michael Kefauver
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The big thing in games without autospawn is to make sure you make your zombies count. That might sound odd, but you're going to lose zombies. Make sure they die doing something. For example, when attacking a hero with a gun, walking in one zombie at a time is rather worthless. If you can't move a zombie in from a blind side he can't shoot at, move in multiple zombies at once. He might kill some, but even if he hits with every shot he can't kill 2 zombies a turn.

Unless they get lottery-winning lucky, not all the heroes will have guns, or even melee weapons. Hit the weak ones and make the strong ones waste turns saving them. If they bunch up, great! Block the doors with some zombies and keep them locked down. Remember that you don't have to kill all the heroes to win; just stop them, or kill 4. Killing 4 weaklings is far easier than killing 4 guys dual-wielding shotguns and meatcleavers packing a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.

Sometimes luck will go against you and you'll be sitting around with 4 zombies on the board, but that's rare, and you'll have equal times when you roll a 12 and can get every zombie on the board despite already having most of them out, and you can toss out a free grave weapon or two to boot. Ride the wave.
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Craig M.
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I appreciate the advice. Most of my games that did not use autospawn I would get several turns consecutively without zombie spawn. With ~5 zombies on the board, its difficult to surround the heroes and attack effectively if they stick together, especially if they have weapons. Once I get close to a building where they are holing up and searching, they thin the horde even further by shooting out the windows. And yes, the less zombies I have on the board increase my chances of spawning more but the heroes know this and just relocate to another part of the board that has the fewest zombies. Without shamble or some type of movement card, I rarely catch up with the heroes with a sizable zed force. Without the rain zombie card it becomes a kite fest.
 
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Michael Kefauver
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The first thing is that the first few turns are vital. Try to keep them split up, and remember that every turn they spend trying to gather up is one more turn they're not searching. You start with 2d6 zombies on the board, and if you feel that you roll too low, ask the Human players for a Mulligan. I've done it before when I rolled a 2 and they were good sports about it. Not an official rule, mind you, but if your group are interested in a good game rather than flat-out winning they might be up for it (and LNOE isn't a win at all costs sort of game, after all).

Keep cycling through your cards as fast as possible to get Dragging Meat and Shamble and things like that. There are more than enough non-combat cards to ruin someone's day. Heck, "Split up" is a great card if they're all bunched up; they have to run out into the night or take a damage, and if one of them is bitten... And Bickering is also great; I love it when all four heroes are 'safely' on one space when I draw it. What's that? No hero turn? Thank you!

Block doorways. Seriously, even a single zombie in front of a door will stop a single hero (that isn't Johnny) even if he does manage to kill it in hand-to-hand. The whole group of heroes shouldn't be able to flee in one turn unless they get stupidly lucky. They roll 4 movement dice, odds dictate they can't all roll 4-5-6ish at once (at least not consistently!), meaning there's a straggler to take out. They should be taking their turns one at a time, so if player 1 rolls a 6 and player 2 rolls a 1, that should mess up their plans with no help from you at all. Locked door is great! Play it on the last hero to try to leave a building and BAM! Locked in, missed their search, and suddenly cut off. And there's very few hidden ways to counter it.

Also, try to move the zombies that aren't actively going after the heroes that very moment towards town square. When there they can close in on any board segment quickly, and the heroes have to take the 'long way' anywhere or risk getting ambushed in the middle of nowhere. A shamble from mid-board COULD get a zombie anywhere on any board with a 6, which is a great way to ruin someone's day. Don't try to run after the heroes, try to lock them down. Make a picket line to box them in, make sure that if they punch a hole in it(barring any events, of course) they have to run from a surrounded building into an oncoming horde of zombies. Boards the like the Hospital or the Gun shop allow you to create 2 or even 3 'fall back' points for your zombies with only 4 or 5 zombies (one at the exit of the hospital, one inside if you can get it there, and one in the one-space areas outside) and that'll keep them boxed in for at least one turn, giving you time to drop events and force them to use resources to blast their way out instead of completing their objectives.

Also, since you seem to be having trouble with guns, remember that a shotgun has a 1/3rd chance of becoming empty with every shot, and a pistol 1/6. Every zombie they shoot weakens them, too. And a Resilient card can really hurt if you use it right. If they have a shotgun, spread out. If they only have revolvers, move zombies in stacks if you can, so they have to focus fire to even have a chance at clearing out your blockades. Unless they have Anderson or are in the Gun store, they'll run dry before you run out of zombies. Even if they do have Anderson, that's 1 revolver a turn he can pull at the cost of a search, but he can only fire 1 a turn. Without friends to pass guns to he's weakened, and that's still only 1 50% chance to kill 1 zombie a turn. If you're moving in 4 zombies at once, unless he's VERY lucky, you're going to get 2 in if he's the only one shooting, assuming he never runs out of ammo. Even with friends, every gun they lose is a lost search and a turn they need to end on the same space to trade, which will cost them a move most likely, or give you a ripe target for Bickering/This could be ourLNOE.

What scenarios have you done non-autospawn with?
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Vincent Streuner
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Nessmk2 wrote:
Locked door is great! Play it on the last hero to try to leave a building and BAM! Locked in, missed their search, and suddenly cut off.

This reminds me: We always play with what we affectionately call "Rule #22," which is detailed in Growing Hunger Rulebook, pp. 7-8, second through fourth paragraphs under 'Door / Locked Door Markers.' Good times.
 
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