Bird’s Eye Review: Last Days
Stand alone product?
80s and 90s inspired zombie apocalpyse survival horror
Flexibility with narrative creation and control
Automatic zombie control
Simple campaign system
Character customization and growth
Anything you want. Model agnostic.
Suggested play area?
A 3’x3′ play area is recommended, but not strictly necessary.
Why would you be interested?
You are looking for a modern game that allows you to play the big “What If?” scenario that has been around the pop culture block a few times. There have been a few miniatures games based around this concept. Zed or Alive, Project Z, All Things Zombie, Twilight Creations Zombies!, are just some initial ones I can mention. They all, more or less, have their own approach and focus for their games that is not fully reflected in similar titles. For example, Zombies! focuses only on players vs zombies, no PVP. Some have fallen to the wayside for various reasons, and are no longer being supported, like Zed or Alive.
This particular iteration combines the “living vs dead” you normally expect and the “us vs them” warband/gang/roster/army/party/list/whatever you find in most other miniatures games. This is not intended to be the cooperative, kumbaya approach some films would have you believe in. This game is about looking out for “Number 1”, similar to some video games on the market presently.
You create and customize a group of survivors from a recent zombie apocalypse event. They can be ex-military, ne’er do wells, senior citizens with a grudge, whatever you want. You plant this group in a refuge from the world, an HQ, and then send them out to scavenge the modern wasteland. What happens from there is where the game takes place.
As far as mechanics for playing things out on the table, the basic idea is you use d6 for your dice, you roll, and then add a stat to the roll. If you meet or beat a predetermined target number you succeed. Sometimes you have to do some division, but it isn’t too major. If you have any experience with a miniatures game, this kind of action resolution will be pretty familiar. I perceive the system as being simple to understand and absorb; focused on quick resolutions and keeping the flow of the encounter’s story and the flow of the game. All this is with the goal of pushing around whatever miniatures you choose to use to complete the scenario tasks.
The scenarios are kind of what you would expect for flavor and guide you in a game. You can play without these guides easily enough. Actually, most of the scenarios revolve around collecting objective tokens, same as the non-scenario play teased early in the book. This helps lend the idea that this game was designed and intended to be a “Hey, let’s bash at each other while dodge mobile hazards.” kind of game, instead of a “tournament” style game. The scenarios help you tell a better narrative.
One scenario I have been scolded for not mentioning in my first draft (and rightly so) was the one focused on raiding another group’s Refuge. There’s something about interacting with another player’s traditionally non-interactive campaign perk that really energizes a player’s bloodlust, err… drive for narrative. So far, I think I have come across only two games, including this one, to really offer that.
You can use those little narratives to build a bigger one focused around the campaign system. It’s a pretty straightforward thing we have seen in many games previously. Individual models gain experience, your refuge can grow with a perk system, loot helps you fight later scenarios, repeat. It is up to you to figure out the “why” and the “where”.
Things that don’t impact the gameplay, but are noticed:
The first thing I noticed when starting to read this book was the tone. I really like the tone. If you have ever watched one of Ash’s YouTube videos, you know what I’m talking about. If I was given this, read it, and then was advised of the author, I would not be surprised at all. Now that I know he’s releasing his own written content, I bet I could identify his future content without prompting. He has a very distinct voice to his writing. I appreciated this. (Please note, he does not refer to anything being “his jam” or “bananas” anywhere in this book from what I can tell. So if you want one of his catch phrases, you’ll just have to wait for an expansion.)
I also appreciated the layout of the book. It makes sense and flows pretty well. I will probably keep it in mind when I think of future reviews and any suggestions I ever make to prospective writers. It might be the case that the book benefits from not having any real “fluff” to get in the way of rules and layout. I find that other books occasionally mix the two concepts in confusing manners. I’ve certainly been guilty of that before.
Give it a shot if you think zombie apocalypse and modern-style events appeals to you. You don’t need much you don’t already have. You can use tokens to represent zombies. You can use, as the book references at one point, tape on your kitchen table to represent the play area. You can use whatever miniatures you want. Just grab the book, grab the goods you’ve already got, and start seeing what kind of story you can tell. Acts of heroism or acts of selfish greed, who knows what you’ll come across in a zombie filled wasteland.