One of the first board games I really got into was Flying Frog Production’s Last Night on Earth zombie horror game. The game first hit the shelves in 2007 and I picked it up right away due to its unique art style using edited studio photography in place of the more common painted or illustrated art of other games.
The game play itself was pretty unique to me as well. This game didn’t set players against each other or co-operatively against the board game itself, it had a player play as the zombies trying to defeat the heroes. This one-vs-many approach was pretty common in dungeon-delving games like Heroquest and Descent but it was novel in the zombie game genre- a genre, I’d like to point out, was not anywhere near as populated as what we see today. If you check out that Boardgamegeek geeklist of zombie games, you’ll notice most of the entries are after Last Night on Earth came out. Essentially if you wanted a zombie game back then, you were either doing the All Things Zombie miniatures rules, something by Twilight Creations, or little unknown one-off games from small publishers.
In my narrow view (and increasingly narrower) view of the board game hobby, Last Night on Earth’s hit release was at the beginning of the wave or possibly the catalyst for wave of zombies games that came after its release.
So with this game, I loved everything about it: the storytelling, the art, and the mechanics, but I wanted more. As I wrote about in one of my first posts years ago, this game really got me into painting and pimping out games, starting with painting the minis.
These were some of the first minis I ever painted and the original painting thread on Boardgamegeek was the inspiration. Looking back at what I’ve done since then, it’s hard not to understate how important that one article was to my enjoyment of this hobby.
Flying Frog saw a lot of success from Last Night on Earth and was able launch their game company from it, spawning several expansions and ultimately branching out into other game systems. In 2010, Flying Frog returned to the Last Night on Earth system and created a ballsy new edition: Invasion from Outer Space.
Aliens invading the setting of Last Night’s Woodvale was not that far fetched but Flying Frog decided to take on a crazy twist to the story by adding a carnival setting complete with tutu-wearing dancing bear.
The reaction to this adventurous take was pretty mixed. I loved the wacky theme and new territory Flying frog was breaking into but the public seemed to not care for such a whimsical approach.
The heroes were more developed, more interesting, and more fun to paint, but I think it confused buyers looking for a more serious approach to the game system. In their defense, Flying Frog added rules to use the heroes from Last Night on Earth in the game in case you wanted to leave the crazy carnies out of it. This mix was not enough and ultimately Flying Frog never returned to the game.
Abandoning the title was pretty sad as the aliens and mechanics around them were great and I really wanted to see more on the Carnival adventure.
One little pimp I did to the game outside of just painting the minis was adding these flying saucer miniatures taken from Monsterpocalypse by Privateer Press. These markers represent the flying saucers flying overhead, warping more aliens down to the planet and causing havoc.
Ultimately, I still love the setting and both games but I was sad they never expanded Invasion from Outer Space. Luckily, they haven’t abandoned everything and still produce Last Night on Earth content (though it has been quiet until very recently).
At GAMA, Flying Frog announced they are doing a 10th anniversary release of Last Night on Earth for 2017. From the ICv2 article:
Last Night on Earth 10th Anniversary Edition, which will be produced as a deluxe limited version of the game. This boxed set will include eight heroes, including new playable versions of the original Townsfolk, along with a plastic Old Truck model, plastic pieces for several of the game markers, new scenarios, and an updated and expanded rulebook that includes rules for fire and the experience system introduced in the Timber Peak expansion. MSRP is $99.95.
While I’m glad Flying Frog is back in the Last Night on Earth game setting, this product seems more like what new players should pick up as the hardcore fans likely already have the Timber Peak expansion and don’t need to rebuy all of that other material. This is a little unfortunate as these same hardcore players helped keep the game alive and would likely want a lot of the special plastic pieces and new versions of the townsfolk.
Maybe Flying Frog will look at making a separate “upgrade” kit for original owns similar to what Ares Games did for fans of their War of the Ring Anniversary Release.