Last Days: Review and Battle Report

I spent a little money at Austrian Salute 2019 on new toys. Among them Last Days, a set of rules for post-apocalyptic Zombie games. It’s published by Osprey and from their range of “fancily produced rulebooks”.

Last Days Zombie Skirmish

Over the past few days I spent some time with these rules. I’ve had a collection of Zombie figures for modern Settings as well as a bunch of Survivors. I’ve played with these figures twice since then, using the All Things Zombie rules by Two Hour Wargames.

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Here’s a quick overview of that game: ATZ is based on the unique and excellent Chain Reaction system by THW, fluffed up with a ton of tun, setting-specific extras and events. There is relatively little given to outline your game, so you’re pretty free with that. The author uploaded a very good pdf (Day One) to introduce people to the game in a unique way, which I really enjoy: The starting point of the campaign (the zombie apocalypse) is right when and where the players are sitting right now. At your disposal you got what’s in the house, players have to agree on what they want to do first and this leads to the in-game events. Great game, maybe I’ll write more about it in the future.

The problem with ATZ, or rather the character, is that all the events are written to fit with games being set in the US. Apart from that (unless you got the rules printed) they’re a bit hard to navigate on a tablet, and last but not least it’s pretty much impossible to prepare a gaming table for it. The games which happened in our little campaign took place: At the ATM down at the supermarket, about 10 minutes away from here, a part of Heiligenstädter Straße around the gas station and that gun shop, an art gallery in Vienna’s 1st district, and the road in front of a friend’s flat. So pretty specific things we know in real life. NOBODY’s got terrain to represent that. Of course it could be approached a bit less RPG-like, but it would be a shame to sacrifice part of what makes the game unique and interesting.

Either way, it wasn’t quite as handy as I’d hoped. It’s a geat game, and I’ll happily play it again, but it’s not exactly ‘tight’ or ‘quick to set up and just have a game’. This is where Last Days comes in.

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A few weeks ago Constable had posted a great looking report of his Last Days game with Arcshao on his blog. Shortly thereafter I met both of them, Arcshao told me more about the rules, and subtly nudged me in the exact direction where to find it at the next vendor’s (who happened to be 2m next to us. It was at a show.). So I just grabbed it. And then I paid for it too. :-p

Back home I read the rules to get a general idea of them. The book’s been written by Ash Barker. I was told that he creates a ton of Youtube content for which he is quite beloved. Watching wargames/figures related things on youtube isn’t something I usually do. It costs me more nerves than it helps, I feel. Every now and then I look at specific videos if I need certain infos, but I rarely do it ‘for fun’. But many people say that he’s great. Which I’m sure is true. Everybody on youtube is great.

The presentation of the rules is pretty much as we’d come to expect from Osprey: roughly US letter sized, 109 pages, full-colour print and illustrations as well as some photos of nice miniatures. This we already know from similar products like Frostgrave or Burrows&Badgers (both of which I own, neither of which I played so far).

Structure

The book starts with an introduction by the author. A nice prelude in which he explains the history of the rules set, his intentions and so on. 3 pages thereof. In terms of the setting’s background there’s just a tiny little paragraph on that, because that’s all you need really.
Then it’s right on to how to recruit your gang/ group of survivors. After that we get the actual game rules, rules for Zombies, weapon and character traits, campaigns and in the very back we get 6 scenarios


Assembling your Crew

Each player commands a group of apocalypse survivors, consisting of roughly 5-10 characters. These are ‘bought’ very traditionally by using a points system („Scavenge Points“) from a list of archetypes.

There’s a nice twist in that you have to start by choosing a leader from 3 different archetypes, called „Everyday Hero“ (a goodie), „Merciless Thug“ (a baddie), and „Professional“ (somebody trained for combat or extreme situations, usually a military type, Cop, or something like that).

Depending on their moral philosophy each leader and recruitable archetype is tagged either „Selfless“, „Selfish“, or „Trained“. Recruitable crew members also sometimes come with the „Neutral“ tag. Up to 50% of your group members may be Neutral, up to 25% of them may differ from the leader in terms of philosophy. Merciless Thugs may recruit more Neutral characters than others, but they may not recruit certain archetypes like Cops. Groups led by a Professional may only use high-quality/military grade equipment (which is the only sort of equipment a Professional will consider sensible and safe to use), and as many Trained characters as they like.

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Group members can be chosen out of a list of 15 different archetypes, described as „Rescue Worker“, „Soldier“, „Tough Guy“, „Goon“, „Kid“, etc.

In the beginning you can also buy weapons (guns and close combat weapons) and limited equipment (booze and first aid packs) for your crew.

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Now that your crew is recruited they’ll also need a Refuge to stay in during the campaign. The rulebook gives a choice of 6 different ones. If you’ve read Frostgrave and Burrows&Badgers it will come as no surprise that over the run of the campaign you can upgrade your Refuge. Another factor in the Refuge is that each only provides space for a certain number of people. During the campaign the Refuge may get overrun with Zombies, so that the crew (if they can escape) have to look for a new one.

Game Rules

Now we’re ready for our first game based on one of the 6 scenarios from the rulebook (or ones you make up yourself).

Usually it boils down to 5 Supply Tokens being placed on the table which have to be grabbed and taken off the table. Games happen as a fight between two groups of human survivors. To win you either have to grab more Supply Tokens than they do or get the opposing group to their breaking point and retreat off the table. In the latter case the remaining group automatically gets all Supply Tokens left on the table at this point.

Zombies work more as a third faction or rather as a force of nature to create annoyance/pressure during a game. They play a role, but at its core this is a game about small groups of badly equipped humans fighting each other for resources.

Each turn starts with a Menace Phase in which you have to roll for new Zombies being drawn onto the table by the noise of the battle, players have to roll for guns having to be reloaded or not and zombies are being moved.

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The next phase is the Action Phase, starting with an initiative roll between the leaders. This sets one side as being the Aggressor and the other as the Defensive Side for this turn.

The basic difference is that the Aggressor (the side who take initiative and decide to act fast and maneuver to get in a favourable position) get to activate one of their characters first. The Defensive player on the other hand gets to activate first during the following shooting phase. These are the main differences.

Now players take turns (starting with the Aggressor) to activate their figures. Each character has a number of Action Points they may spend on a number of actions each turn. Move 1“ per Action Point spent, run 2“ per Action Point (this comes with some drawbacks though, mostly noise and not being allowed to fire in the shooting phase), a gun can be reloaded, they can interact with characters or the surroundings, and so on. The Lock&Load action is worth mentioning here. This basically works like overwatch, i.e. allowing to fire on an opponent’s activation.

Once a character spent all their action points the other player may have one of their figures act.

Now it’s time for the Shooting Phase. The Defensive player may choose one figure to shoot first, then the other player may choose one of their figure to fire, and so on. Shooting itself is (as with everything in these rules) very simple: Each character has a Firearms stat, usually 3. If they fire a gun you measure the range and check Line of Sight. If the target is in range and visible a d6 is rolled, the Firearms value is added and modifiers are applied. If the result is 7 or more you got a hit and roll for damage (Weapon strength plus 1d6, divided by the target’s Endurance = number of points of damage).

For Zombies you don’t have to roll for damage; you just check if the head’s been destroyed (which kills’em dead for good). If not there’s a pretty neat and simple mechanic to translate non-killing shots slowing zombies down into game terms. So basically: The shotgun shell didn’t hit the head, but it will still knock the zombie off his feet and he’s gotta get up again before advancing.

Each shot fired makes a lot of noise and thus adds to the chance of a zombie appearing in the next Menace Phase. Firing an assault rifle salvo at the enemy is pretty neat, but attracting a horde of zombies next turn isn’t. On top of that each shot will increase the chance of having to reload next turn.

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In a very classic fashion the shooting phase is followed by a Close Combat Phase, which basically works like the foregone shooting phase. Only between figures in base-to-base contact. In the Action Phase characters may spend action points to break up close combat. If a zombie moves in contact with a survivor the latter may panic and spend all of their action phase to struggle in close combat. Annoying, and a nice touch.

At the very end of the game turn you have to check if either (or both!) sides reach their Breaking Point from accumulated losses or scenario-specific factors. If they fail this roll they have to retreat immediately and the game ends.

After that a new game turn starts with a new Menace Phase, and goes on from there.

Campaign Game

Once the game on the tabletop is done we move on to the campaign phase. There’s a big table of possible injuries characters who went to the ground during the last game might suffer from. So characters who get taken out in the game (= figures who take damage points in excess of their Damage Capacity) aren’t instantly dead. In fact it’s not all too likely that they die outright. They may lose a limb, may get infected with the zombie virus, may be captured, or even fully recover!

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Then it’s time for Experience Points. Yay, everybody loves those, right? Characters get XP for surviving the game, eliminating Zombies or opponents, achieving scenario goals and so on. This way characters may level up. If they do that they may either increase one of their stats or gain a new Skill within one of their skill groups. There are 5 skill groups with 6 skills each. Raising stats or attaining a new skill is randomly rolled for, but the result may be modified by spending extra XP. A pretty cool system, although some people may prefer to level up just exactly what they want to.

The next step in the campaign phase is to find out what exactly was looted in those supply tokens. This is another big table to roll on and basically feels like unwrapping Christmas presents. You’ll always get a number of Scavenge Points (= points to buy Refuge Upgrades for or recruit new characters) and, if you’re lucky, additional kit such as weapons, upgrades, or other equipment.

Then it’s back to the grim reality of the apocalypse. Group members who aren’t currently recuperating from being wounded are allocated to different jobs around the Refuge. They’ll stand guard, work various Refuge perks or build new ones. Leaders also have extra options like recruiting new group members or sit down and have The Talk with one of the group members to try to bring their philosophy in line with their own.

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At the end of each campaign phase we have to work out if the Refuge is overrun by Zombies. A simple dice roll, modified by a few factors like how many people you allocated to stand guard, how many people are down in the sick bed, if there are any Refuge Perks like Fortified Windows working in your favour and so on. If your Refuge happens to be overrun you have to look for a new one.

Scenarios

As mentioned above there are 6 different scenarios („Encounters“) in the rulebook: Bushwhack, Home Defense, Massacre Site, Rescue, Scavengers, The Escape. These aren’t incredibly different from each other, but different enough to keep the game fun.

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…and that’s it!

So what do I think of Last Days?

Just from reading this one it looks OK. The basic rules are really simple and along the lines of other ‘big’ Osprey rules sets: Dice plus Stat (possibly a simple modifier) = result. There’s alternating figure activation to keep downtimes to a minimum and replaces possibly complicated reaction systems. It’s all very, very straightforward, all of which we’ve seen a thousand times before.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This kind of gang warfare between largely untrained combatants just doesn’t allow or call for interesting command&control mechanics, and especially in recent times this kind of game usually comes with very simplistic base rules with special rules piled on top to add …height? Which may be perceived as depth from a certain perspective.

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Luckily the special rules don’t complicate things to large extends. You won’t have to combo abilities to achieve great things or stuff like that. This games places the narrative firmly in the foreground. It’s not a tournament game, but most figure wargames are. I don’t see much of a reason to play this without using the campain rules either.

The book is nicely designt and once you start playing you’ll find that it’s mostly well structured. If I had to nitpick I’d mention the full-page illustrations. This is a thing that’s bothered me about Frostgrave already: There’s 20 pages of this book dedicated to full page-sized illustrations, so almost a fifth of the whole book. In between we get nice photos of miniatures (Hasslefree, Armorcast, Studio Miniatures, RAFM) on nice gaming tables. Apart from that it feels like every single page is introduced by a little fluff paragraph which I could have done without. This is the things I would mention if I had to be nitpicky. That being said, I relly like the illustrations (although I prefer rulebook illustrations to be of different styles and artists) from a visual standpoint.

I hope that you enjoyed this little introduction to the Last Days rulebook. Next I’ll post a battle report of my solo testgame in which I checked how the rules translate on the table.

Game Report

Right, now on to the game. I threw together a table. Against any reason I decided against an inner city setting, but went for something more rural instead. I wanted to see if I could pull of that kind of table with the terrain I have at hand.

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I guess it’s kind of a storage area for a nearby sawmill? Or a carpenter? To the North we got a forested area, lighter and cultivated trees in the West and South. In the Southeasy we got a blueberry field, and in the East we got this area with the white picket fence around it in which they grow…something on dense bushes, about as tall as a man.

The scenario, as suggested by the rulebook, is scenario no.5: Scavengers. Both groups of survivors fight for 5 Supply Tokens strewn across the table. In the beginning of the game we got 3 zombies on the table already. The suggested table size for Last Days is 3’x3′.

I had read that shooting is very strong in this game (as it makes sense) and rewards a defensive approach. That’s not good of course, so I introduced a lot of terrain – as per usual in this kind of game – as well as some slight rule changes. It seemed weird to me that there’s just one modifier for being in cover, so I a.) made cover cumulative and b.) introduced ‘hard cover’ for stuff like stone walls and similar for a better cover modifier.

As I do sometimes I look at an all set up table and think „this is nice, but if I just quickly painted up [x], this would look ever nicer“. So the whole test game was delayed while I painted two slightly beaten up civilian cars from that Mantic plastic terrain set as well as a fifth supply token.

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Right, NOW we can go on to the game. First I set up the two warring bands.

McCoy’s Survivors

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Left to right: Jens Gäbel (clerk in an electronics store,armed with cricket bat), Rosie (armed with toy gun and a fluffy bunny), Kyle Nightingale (Nurse, armed with shotgun and first aid kit), Chainsaw Charlie (Dishonorable discharge from the army, armed with a chainsaw), Mr.Jacket (nobody knows what he does. He just showed up, always wears the jacket and the hat, doesn’t talk, but makes himself useful), McCoy (taxi driver, Leader, Everyday Hero, armed with surplus assault rifle and a knife), Reverend Ralf (founder of the Online Church of Easily Attainable Salvation, armed with semi-automatic pistol), Luke Isberg (Scout Leader, armed with a sporting crossbow and a knife)

Toblerone’s Troublemakers

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Left to right: Kim (Survivalist, left the NRA because she deemed them to be too illiberal in terms of the right to bear all the arms and too liberal in all other regards, armed with a modified surplus assault rifle and a knife), Ron (Gang Member, armed with a shotgun and a knife), Biff (Gang Member, armed with a baseball bat), Armando Toblerone (Gang Leader, Merciless Thug, armed with a semi-automatic pistol and a knife), Spliff (Gang Member, armed with a knife, carrying a first aid kit), Kid (Gang Member, armed with a surplus sub-machine gun and a knife), Michelle Masters (former olympian, former sports model, former reality tv personality, former singer, fitness youtuber, armed with a sports bow and a knife)

The Table

Here you see the table again (this time with cars!). McCoy’s group’s deployment zone is marked in blue, Supply Tokens in purple, and red marks Armando’s Gang’s deployment zone. You can also see one of the three Zombies already on the table rigth next to the white picket fence.

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…the other two zombies are roaming inside of the storage compound:

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You can also see one of the five Supply Tokens between the stack of wood and the old-timey car.

Armando’s gang, alerted by the noise of McCoy&Friends’ cars, step out of the woods they’d been lost in for a day. Luckily they had run across Kim who promised to help them as long as they didn’t get too close.

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At the opposing table edge McCoy’s group get out of the cars and scan the area for signs of opposition. That barn over there looks promising…

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Turn One:

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Scout leader Luke and McCoy take the lead and sprint right over to the fenced off compound. Reverend Ralf and Jens take the left flank. Next to them you can see the noise markers generated due to running.
Chainsaw Charlie advances more cautiously up to the very first supply token, while Nurse Kyle, with Rosie in tow, advances down the dirt path. Mr.Jacket, hands in his pockets and qietly whistling, wanders down to the blueberry bushes.

Armando’s gang advance much more cautiously, because they already hear the undead grumble right in front of them:

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The fearless leader sends Biff, Spliff and Ron forward into the compound to get some info on the situation. To their left Michelle and Kid keep an eye on things and secure a supply token by the truck.

Kim sneaks off to the far right on her own (as she’s done most of her life) and takes position. Just in case the invaders try to flank.

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Here’s an overview of the action phase of turn 1:

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Since everybody’s been activated I move on to the game’s first shooting phase. Nobody has a target, except for Michelle who gets a target on the zombie shambling next to the white picket fence. She aims, zip, splat, garglegargle. A clean (well, more or less) headshot and Michelle claims the first zombie kill. Kid is massively impressed. The big advantage of the bow is that it doesn’t generate noise markers upon shooting. This comes with the fact that bows require reloading very often, and that they lose their punch at higher ranges.

There are no close combats, no casualties either, so there won’t be any Breaking. The first turn ends and turn 2 starts with the Menace Phase. As McCoy, Luke, Reverend Ralf and Jens made quite some noise running around they had lured a zombie onto the table. The zombies within the compound can’t see anybody, but the noise catches their attention as well and they move toward McCoy’s group.

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Retaining their initiative, McCoy and Luke slip through a hole in the fence and hide behind the barn, right on the supply token. Luke commences packing up the pile of supplies immediately while McCoy watches out for movement.

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Outside Reverend Ralf and Jens hold their position to whack everything across the head as soon as it comes around the corner.

Chainsaw Charlie sneaks up to the hole in the wooden fence to support her comrades on the inside if need be.
The Zombie with the weird huge axe spoted Luke and will continue to advance towards him, despite the fact that Biff’s making a ton of noise running across the area between barn and wood stack. (* I’d made a mistake there. I had missed the fact that models may run only once per turn. During this turn I let Biff run twice, hence the two noise markers). Spliff and Armando hang back in cover behind the wood stack, while Ron (in the bottom of the photo) takes position behind the smaller wood stack.

In the top of the picture you can see Kim advancing swiftly on their right flank.

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Watch out, Armando! All the noise Biff makes while running around makes another Zombie appear right behind them. Not to worry though, Michelle turns around and, with the help of her trusty bow, takes care of the situation before Armando and Spliff even notice.

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Still, the noise draws in one of the zombies who has been lurking the area since the beginning.

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Armando and Spliff won’t let their crony be ripped to pieces and solve the situation the best to their abilities: by kicking and stabbing.

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In the mean time somehow everybody suddenly seems to have undead-related trouble.

First, Mr.Jacket in the blueberry field:

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This happens after Jacket tries to hide right next to the zombie. His plan was to let the undead pass by, then jump across the fence and grab the supply token. Didn’t work out so well.

Luke and McCoy are still sitting behind the barn, putting everything useful looking into boxes and bags, as the old zombie finally lunges at them.

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Unfortunately there’s too little space for both of them to fight the zombie. If either stepped away from the barn they’d be in ganger Ron’s zone of fire.

At their left flank Reverend Ralf and Jens Gäbel make a decision: They have to advance to the flank to stop Kim from doing so, otherwise their whole group would be caught in a nasty crossfire. So both men storm out of their cover and dive behind the stone wall across the dirt path.

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This task force, consisting of online preacher and shop clerk rush forward; the firmer reciting holy litany, the other bellowing his battle cry: „WELCOMETOE-MARTHOWCANIHELPYOU!!“

The whole scene happens too fast for Kim to open effective fire at the two men. She sticks to the plan and sprints further down the flank. Much to her dismay all the noise Ralf and Jens made attract the attention of two more zombies who appear right behind Kim.

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Here’s an overview of this phase of the game:

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At the top you can see the route Jens and Ralf take. Chainsaw Charlie sneaks into the compond as well and hides behind a box. At the centre you can see the latest developments: the brawl between Luke and the Zombie led to a stalemate, so he pushes the zombie away and shoots him with his crossbow. With the line of sight unobstructed now a firefight between McCoy (look at all the noise markers she generates!) and Ron (below) erupts, but neither does any damage to their opponent. Despite undead and bullets zipping by left and right Luke manages to pick up the supply token.

The yellow arrow marks the path of the zombie who hunts Mr.Jacket through the blueberry field. His plan of killing the monster in close combat didn’t work out at all; now he resorts to getting away from it and trying to shoot it with a revolver he had produced from his jacket.

In the upper right Armando and his cronies are still beating the zombie to a pulp and in the bottom Kid is advancing to take shots at Mr.Jacket while he’s busy fighting the zombie. Way in the left there’s nurse Kyle, ready to fire at Kid if he was stupid enough to advance any further.

In one of his attempts to get away from the zombie MrJacket stumbles into Kid’s crosshairs who opens fire with his submachine gun. All the bullets miss their target. Jacket raises his revolver, fires a single shot which hits home and strikes Kid to the ground.

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This takes some pressure off Mr.Jacket, but the blueberry zombie’s still coming at him. Kyle tries to help out with some covering fire, but fails to do any damage to the undead, so Jacket keeps on stumbling backwards, taking panicked shots, but doesn’t hit any of them. The zombie gets into close combat again and Mr.Jacket is severely wounded.

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McCoy and Luke manage to flee the sawmill compound back through the hole in the fence, the steaming gang hot on their heels. Luke doesn’t stop and runs off the table with the Supply Token. McCoy makes a decision and takes a sharp turn to the left to pick up the supply token by the white picket fence. Jens and Reverend Ralf assume the crazy gun lady to have fled or been eaten by zombies, so they haste back to their group to cover their retreat. Jens grabs the supply marker near the cars and takes it off the table to help Luke load the cars with the supplies.

Chainsaw Charlie also flees the sawmill compound, but is too slow and the gang catch up to her.

An overview:

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In the lower left, the blueberry field, Mr.Jacket finally gets away from the zombie again. Him, Reverend Ralf and Kyle fire at the creature over and over, but it just won’t stay down. In the mean time Kim is back on the scene. She left the two zombies back in the light woods for now. In the bottom of the picture you can see that McCoy’s ambition to get a third supply token got her into a sticky situation: She picked up the supply marker, but now she’s being pestered by two zombies who make a retreat really tricky. She won’t give up the supply token, so he lacks the action points to disengage and hop over the fence. One or two times she kicks them back and fires her assault rifle, but the effect is next to nought and the noise might lead to zombies popping up right behind her, which might end her pretty quickly.

In the far right Michelle paces up and down. She doesn’t want to get too close, or else she might attract the attention of some roaming zombies herself. So she pretty much stays put and guards the supply token by the truck.
The most interesting situation currently of course is the big brawl at the centre of the board. Charlie fires up her chainsaw as she’s being cornered by Armando Toblerone, Ron, Biff and lateron Spliff. This doesn’t look good.

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Her comrades won’t let her down though. Reverend Ralf and Rosie (of all people) charge at Armando, in part to avoid getting shot at by Kim. But mainly to help out Charlie. Of course.

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Here’s a slow-motion version of what happens next: Chainsaw Charlie swings her saw at Biff. He manages to block the attack with his baseball bat, swings again and knocks out Charlie.

Now Reverend Ralf tries to hit Armando with the handle of his gun, but the gang leader has been in about 500 street fights more than the Reverend has been, so he easily avoids the attack and strikes Ralf down.

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The combat factor Armando fails to notice is Rosie. She drops the toy gun, grabs hold of her plushie bunny (which contains a big old snowglobe which used to belong to Rosie’s mother) with both hands, and starts swinging it around. On the first whirl she hits Armando’s leg which makes him stagger to his knees, the second swing hits him in the back of the head and the Merciless Thug goes to the ground.

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Note: I swear, this is exactly what happened.

The rest of the gang freezes in place.

In the mean time McCoy is still all caught up with slowly retreating while fending off the zombies to her front.

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A quick overview of the centre of the table: Kim (left, blurry) takes position behind the fence. In reaction to this Kyle (in the right) hides behind the took shed. He takes a few shots at the zombies who isolate McCoy from the rest of the game, but to no avail. He’s also much more nervous about Kim’s modified assault rifle. To top it all off the zombie from the blueberry field (now there’s a film title!) turns his attention from Mr.Jacket, who had fled, to Kyle and they get cought up in close combat. Kyle is cornered between fence, tool shed and zombie, without any chance to get ouf of this without beating the monster down.

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At the very centre Rosie is facing all the bad boys on her own. McCoy’s group has to win the initiative roll now so Rosie can activate first and run off, otherwise she’s in big trouble. Fortunately they do win initiative, Rosie grabs her toy gun, slips through the fence and jumps into the blueberry hedge.

Still, McCoy’s gang is in a bad place now – the only characters who aren’t caught up in close combat with zombies are Rosie and the wounded Mr.Jacket.

Then something odd happens. Ron, Biff and Spliff move down the path and between McCoy’s and Kyle’s combats with the Zombies. Ron is angry and decides to just unload his shotgun in Kyle’s general direction. He cocks his shotgun and pulls the trigger at the wild mêlée. More or less by accident he turns the zombie’s head into a cloud of fine red (and dark blue :-P) mist. Kyle, only acting on instinct now, whirls around to Ron and fires his shotgun at him. Kyle is hit and drops to the ground.

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Kim and Rosie make ready for a bizarre shootout between Kim’s modified assault rifle on the one side and a hedge shouting „bang! Bang!“ on the other.

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However, it doesn’t come to this quite yet. Kim fires a salvo at Mr.Jacket, but doesn’t hit.

Biff and Spliff have enough. They shoulder their injured boss and comrades and decide to head back to the oldtimer to grab some supplies on their way home.

Last Days Zombie Skirmish

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A few turns ago Michelle had a similar idea, takes the supplies she has guarded all game long and leaves the table.

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Soon thereafter the zombies Kim avoided so far catch up to her.

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She decides to abandon her position, melds into the woodland and disappears.

Kyle and Mr.Jacket fire a few more shots at the zombies to maybe get them off McCoy, but get ignored once more.

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With a lot of luck (and the supply token!) their leader makes it off the board eventually.

The remaining survivors also move back towards the cars.

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Thus the game ends.

None of the groups reached Breaking Point.
McCoy’s Survivors: 3 Supply Tokens
Toblerone’s Troublemakers: 2 Supply Tokens
A close victory for McCoy’s Group.

Debriefing

Well, that went surprisingly well, even though it was just a solo game. During the game I’ve had several situations which were either tense, funny, dramatic or all three at once!

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I believe that the little modifications I applied to the rules worked out pretty well in combination with a lot of terrain. But again, I think that’s a given with this kind of game.

Last Days Zombie Skirmish

Even though my table wasn’t quite 3′ in width it worked rather well. Zombies had just enough impact on the narrative and gameplay. It’s interesting how the most fearsome guns on the table (Kim’s and McCoy’s assault rifles respectively) were effectively taken out for large chunks of the game. In the end neither of the two had killed anything. Having to consider noise generated by firing multiple shots and this drawing in zombies makes for a nice twist to the whole gunplay.

Maybe I’ve taken this game, which basically was just set up to test the mechanics, a bit far, but a.) all the fluff adds to the narrative, and this is what these games are all about and b.) if I do it I’ll rather do it right and test it properly. And I found that despite the simplistic base mechanics this plays really well.

I hope that you enjoyed this battle report and that I got what this game is about across somehow. Let me know if you have any questions, critique or comments!

Campaign Phase

1.) McCoy and Friends chose a mall for their Refuge, mainly for all the space and lots of storage rooms. Toblerone’s Troublemakers took over a farm which comes with fenced-in gardens.

Last Days Zombie Skirmish
(photo credit: Joseph Kocher)

2.) Injuries. Both groups haul their wounded back to their refuge and take a closer look at the damage. Characters who get wounded, but still are able to act at the end of the game are assumed to heal their wounds without complications. Each character who gets taken out during the game have to recuperate and I have to roll for possible permanent damage (or worse!)

This is where First Aid kits and Medical Training (in the case of Kyle Nightingale) come in extremely handy. Those will let you modify the result from the Injuries Table. As both sides have access to at least first aid kits all of the 5 injured characters (Reverend Ralf, Chainsaw Charlie, Ron, Kid and Armando) all fully recover, apart from the odd scar. Kid even learned something from the event and got extra experience points.

3.) speaking of which, it’s time for Experience Points and Level-Ups. As mentioned before, characters receive Experience Points for surviving the game, taking out zombies or opponents or achieving scenario goals. This means that McCoy’s group gets a bit more than Armando’s.

Last Days Zombie Skirmish

McCoy wants to raise her base stats, rolls on the table, spends some XP to modify the roll a little, and ends up with an extra point in Endurance, which makes her well hard. Luke Isberg opts for training his Athletic skills and learns the Stalker skill (no more noise when running. Handy.), Jens Gäbel gains the Scavenger skill, Mr.Jacket trains his shooting skills and gains Double-Tap. In Armando’s Gang only Spliff gets to level up (..and discovers his love for growing pumpkins by acquiring the Agriculturalist skill!), Michelle Masters gains the Sniper skill and Biff becomes a Heavy Lifter.

4.) Now it’s time to look through the Supplies. This again is done via a large table in the rulebook. Usually each Supply Token ‘contains’ a number of Scavange Points (which can be used to recruit new crew members and/or to build Refuge Perks) and sometimes an additional goodie such as equipment, a weapon, and so on. McCoy’s crew gets 23 Scavenge Points, a military-grade sub-machine gun and a fire bomb. Toblerone’s Troublemakers get 14 Scavenge Points, Booze and – curiously – a Riot Shield.

Last Days Zombie Skirmish

5.) Refuge Perks! McCoy has her group build a watch tower on top of the mall’s roof, which helps fending off attacks by zombies and others. This costs most of their Scavenge Points, but it will be worth it.

6.) Now characters who aren’t injured can be allocated to working around the Refuge. They can either work certain Refuge Perks (for instance Spliff is growing pumpkins on the farm’s fenced-off garden, generating Scavenge Points for the group). Crew members also have to be allocated to building Perks if you have the scavenge points to afford them. The third option is have crew members stand guard. This is very important, as Refuges are constantly at danger of being attacked by large numbers of zombies.

The leader also has the option to either recruit new mebers to the group or sit down with a single member of their crew and have The Talk. In this action the leader will try to convince the crew member of their philosophy. If they succeed the character’s moral philosophy will change to the leader’s.

Last Days Zombie Skirmish

7.) the final step in the campaign phase is the inevitable Zombie Attack on your Refuge. It’s a simple check you roll for, modified by the number of crew members you have on guard vs. The number of members recuperating from injury. Certain Refuge Perks like reinforced windows and so on will factor into this as well. The chance of getting overrun isn’t very high, but it really sucks if it happens just because you didn’t allocate enough crew members to guard duty.

…and that’s the campaign phase!

I hope that this article helped giving you an overview of the Last Days rules, how the game plays, and a quick look of the post-game phase. It’s all pretty quick and simple. The campaign, being the heart of the game, takes care of giving the games a lot of flavour and some emotional investment.

If you have any questions or ideas to share, please so do in the comments section below or directly via e-mail. Thanks for having a look and stay tuned for more!

2 thoughts on “Last Days: Review and Battle Report

  1. Thanks for this and for going into details as you did
    It was a pleasure to read 😄

    We played this game a several times, we found that it is quit easy for players to take a defensive position and just shoot everything from the table what was coming in los
    I think this game is vulnerable for power gaming and will end up in an ordinairy shoot out, even on a table scattered with more than enough terrain.
    But if players take this in consideration it is a nice set of rules allowing you to have a lot of fun !
    Just as you showed with your aar where the party’s undertook a lot of other actions than just shooting😄

    1. Thanks very much, Patrick!

      Yeah, I had read about people’s concern about the shooting and the powerful position of the passive player. This is why from game#1 on I used house-rules. I Introduced a -2 to-hit modifier to shooting for ‘hard cover’ (and stuck to -1 for just concealment/light cover) and a -1 to-hit modifier for Lock&Load. I also made modifiers cumulative (which I believe they’re not in the base rules). All of that helps a lot, I believe. Stay tuned for an AAR of the second game, for which I actually got another person to play with. 😉

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