BER: Last Days

Bird’s Eye Review: Last Days

Cover image of Last Days

Author:

Ash Barker

Website:

Find it on Osprey’s site here

Stand alone product?

Yep

Basic concept:

80s and 90s inspired zombie apocalpyse survival horror

Stand-out mechanics?

Flexibility with narrative creation and control

Automatic zombie control

Simple campaign system

Character customization and growth

Models used?

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.

Image of internal page for Last Days

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.

Image from Last Days

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”.

Art sample from Last Days
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.  

Wrap up:

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.

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Treasure Island! A Blood & Plunder Multiplayer Intro Scenario

 

Over the past weekend, Nick and I attended the Siege of Augusta Wargaming convention in Augusta, GA to help out the Firelock Games crew. During the event Nick was testing out a new scenario that we will be using at our FLGS Giga-Bites Cafe on February 10th and I had the opportunity to run a multiplayer teaching scenario called Treasure Island using my new Caribbean Island board.

There has been quite a bit of demand for me to post the rules for others to use so here you go!

TREASURE ISLAND
Treasure Island is a fun, light-hearted scenario designed to teach up to six people the basics of Blood & Plunder in a single sitting. Each player will be given a 4-man unit of long guns and a 4-man unit of sailors. Here is what is recommended:

Spanish: 4 Corsairos, 4 Marineros
English: 4 Freebooters, 4 Sea Dogs
French: 4 Filibustiers, 4 Marins

For this scenario, there will be no commanders or Force specialty rules, just what is listed in the model entry.

Game Materials Needed
1:  4×4 Water/Ocean Mat.
2:  Multiple island or hill terrain pieces that can act as islands that will fill up approximately 50% of the board.
3:  Jungle/woods terrain and appropriate scatter terrain to help fill in the board.
4:  One longboat with a Swivel Gun
5:  Enough dice to pass around the table. 12 is enough to cover most players.
6:  One single deck of cards.
7:  8 Milicianos Indios models for the hostile locals.
8:  8 Treasure Markers. These should be approximately 25mm to 30mm. A standard figure base will work for these.

Set Up
Place the longboat in the center of the board. Place the island pieces on the board, leaving approximately 6-8 inches of water between each island piece. Place the terrain on the island pieces as you see fit. Place the 8 Treasure Markers on the island pieces at least 8 inches away from a board edge and try to leave at least 6 inches between each Treasure Marker. Do your best to spread them out. Deal each player one card per unit (2 cards).

Deployment
Each player will spread out around the four sides of the table and deploy their units one card length in on the board (approximately 4 inches). Try to make sure that they are appropriately spaced out. Game play will then continue as normal.

Special Scenario Rules
Unknown Lagoon: Models will move through the water and treat it as difficult terrain. They will be able to make standard Shoot Saves. If a unit ever becomes Shaken while in the water, the unit drowns and is removed from the table. While in the water, units cannot fire muskets. Bows and Pistols can fire normally.
Digging Up The Treasure: any unit may spend one action while at least one model is in base contact with a Treasure Marker to dig it up and carry it. Any unit that carries the Treasure Marker will be moving at -1 inch per action point unless the unit with the Treasure Marker is in the longboat. The moment they dig it up, roll 1d10 and consult the chart below.

Roll:  Result
1-3:  Angry Locals: Place a 4 model unit of Milicianos Indios approximately 10 inches away from the unit that just dug up the Treasure Marker and make one Shooting Attack against that unit.
If there are 2 units of Milicianos Indios on the board then nothing happens.
5-8:  Small Treasure Pile: Getting this Treasure Marker to the board edge will score 5 Points.
9-10:  Large Treasure Pile: Getting this Treasure Marker to the board edge will score 10 Points.

Any unit may choose to drop a Treasure Marker at any time to move normally. If a unit is removed from the table while holding a Treasure Marker it will be placed in the center of where the unit was. If a Treasure Marker is dropped in the water then it will take 2 Actions to pick it up.
Angry Locals: Once the Milicianos Indios are deployed on the board they will receive one card per unit for initiative and activation. When they activate, they will focus on attacking the closest unit holding a Treasure Marker. If there are no units holding a Treasure Marker then they will attack the closest unit.
Reinforcements: When a unit is removed from the board it will re-deploy on any board edge of the player’s choosing at the beginning of the following round before initiative cards are handed out.

Scoring
Removing an enemy model from the board with a Fight or Shoot action: 1 point/model.
Getting a Small Treasure Pile to the board edge: 5 Points.
Getting a Large Treasure Pile to the board edge: 10 Points.
The player with the highest score at the end of the game wins.

Ending The Game
This will be up to the organizer but it is recommended that the game last 6 to 8 rounds in total.

 

And there you have it!  One pirate-filled scenario ready to be run at any convention or game store!

Until next time,

-Tim

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Number Cruncher

As the year drew to a close, the boys down at the podcast factory had some guests on to talk about playtesting. (Episode 95 ) In that episode, the idea of collecting data about games played came up. In some other podcasts, as the year has closed out, discussions of data collection about games played also came up. Then the year end happened, resolutions get covered, pledged, railed against, and more. In order to maintain a resolution, you have to remember not only that you need to do it, but that you did it. So again, we have data collection as a theme. It seems to be quite the time to talk about the idea in the hobby masses.

Personally, I love data. Simple as that. I find the insights and “oh, really?” moments you get from parsing through collected information about a subject to be really interesting. This leads to a love of info-graphics, but that tidbit isn’t as needed today. Today, we’re going to talk about data collection in your hobby life. A simple thing, but something that can be neat to see at the end of your collection cycle. Besides, most gamers are nerds on some level, right? We love numbers and dice and “mathhammer”. Why not apply that to more aspects of the hobby, but, ya know, in a meaningful way.

What to collect

spreadsheet of times robin did something hobby related

Over the past few years, I’ve been keeping records of my hobby time. This past year was no different. I kept track of hobby time spent in my little corner of the house. I did not track anything outside of that. I kept it fairly simple: Instances where I painted, Instances where I built or assembled models, Instances where I made bases, the number of finished models, and the dates these things all happen. In the past, I only tracked painted models, so this was a bit of a step up in complexity. I did not track time when I only primed a model as that doesn’t feel like it takes enough time to be considered effort.

This year, I’m increasing the complexity yet again. I’m taking the opportunity to track:

  • Number of Painted Models
  • Instances I painted
  • Instances I assembled
  • Instances I played

For each of these, I’m tracking the Game and the Faction as well. This way, I can review later and see what game got the most attention, which faction I played the most, and which models I painted more. I think over time, this could be a neat set to compare with. Did I play Faction A because it was already painted? Did I play Faction B even though it wasn’t painted? Did I focus on one game or did I spread out among many? In the future, what will that look like? Will I see a slow decline of a specific system?

If you want to start collecting data, you need to know what you want to know. You could certainly just start tracking things and seeing what happens. However, you may find you lack certain details because you didn’t think to track them, or you may have unnecessary information that was tedious to collect.

How to Collect it

Personally, I used a Google Sheets document. This way I can modify it on my phone, my tablet, at work, at home, anywhere. This leads to less “Oops, I forgot I did that.” You can certainly change it up though.

David Witek of Garagehammer used a “little black book” for tracking hours painting. He picked it up because it fit in a small pocket and fit his data needs. Super simple device to collect data. Very “low-tech” and approachable. The problem with this one happens when you have lots of data you want and eventually getting useful information out of it. 

Games Workshop Battle JournalSome folks have guiltily/unashamedly admitted to picking up the Games Workshop Battle Journal. This is a product specifically sold to track games played. It allows for certain bits of information and a spot for photos or notes to be plastered in. I can see the appeal if you like to recount your battle reports to your buddies on a forum or something. The problem with this one is that you cannot collect non-game hobby data with it.

2 Amazon Buttons on a board

You could go full nerd and use IoT devices. At work, I used an Amazon Button system to track when my students performed certain tasks. It was easy because they just pushed a button hanging on a wall. It was annoying because the type of information tracked wasn’t very robust. It solved the previous problem of them just not tracking things at all, but did have that trade off in scope. I could make it more robust, but long term support and sustainability became an issue

The Caveats

Clean data is very important. I have debated using a Google Form that imports into a spreadsheet. This way I can have a nice, easy interface that helps me keep the information consistent. One of my personal pain points this year was in the way I phrased things. Eg: “Assembled Faction” vs “Game Faction Assembled”. 

Easy to use. If you find it tedious to maintain, you’re not going to do it. Whatever system, methodology, or collected information you decide to use, make sure it is something you can maintain. Giving up half way through isn’t going to help.

What do you do with it

Once you have your data and you decide to wrap it up, what do you do with the information? If you know someone who is a Tableau or R master, maybe give it them to do something interesting with it. 😀

Or, if you are like me, maybe just do some simple graphs in a spreadsheet. The wizards for creating those things are pretty intuitive for simple graphs. The more complex stuff might take some effort.

Then build on that information. It may influence your decisions, it may not. It might just tell an interesting story of your hobby life. Sony Entertainment thinks that works for Playstation Plus members. They just sent me an email telling me how much time I spent in certain games on my PS4 this year.

You can see in my own tracking where I ended up having free time during surgery recovery. Turns out, I painted just as many models then as I did the rest of the year. That led to me making a resolution this year to play and paint more in general. I can also use that to determine success. What is “more” after all? One more game? Or 20 more games? How will you measure your own success?

What are some of the things you track? What do you do with that data? Hop on over to the Skirmish Supremacy Street Team on Facebook and let us know.

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