One of the aspects of Last Night on Earth that I really enjoy is the large selection of characters to choose from, or have randomly chosen, depending on how you set the game up. There is a pretty big disparity between the best and worst of them, so I’ve decided to rank them all! One thing I will say is that strategy and cards are more important than the characters, it is certainly possible to do well with a bad bunch of heroes. It’s really all about weapons and planning.
1. Sheriff Anderson: Guns don’t kill zombies, Sheriff Anderson kills zombies. Actually guns do kill zombies, which is what makes Sheriff Anderson the best hero in the game. Not only does he come strapped with a revolver to start the game, but his Man of Action power assures that he will never be without one for long. Whenever the Sheriff searches he can choose to pick up a gun as long as there is one in the discard pile. Since he starts the game with a gun, if he does not have one then there is one in the discard pile. See how this works? The fact is that guns rule in LNOE and Sheriff Anderson is always packin'.
2. Rachelle: Rachelle would be the number one if I were ranking my favorite characters. A curious out of town police officer, Rachelle arrives on the scene looking for a fight. She starts the game with a revolver, flashlight, and an ability to ignore any wound she receives on a roll of six. That is quite a package. My only criticism of Rachelle is that the revolver and flashlight are both really awesome, but if she loses them she does not have a ton going on for her.
3. Jake: The shady Drifter Jake Cartwright has a knack for turning up useful items with his Resourceful ability. Anytime Jake searches he draws two cards, keeping one of them. In a scenario that requires certain items he may actually be the best character to have. And since he is drawing so many cards he is usually a pretty good fighter due to most likely having a competent weapon as the zombies come crashing down all around him. I also really like his picture a bunch and his miniature is top notch. It is also not a coincidence that the top three heroes all have abilities related to items.
4. Sally: Despite her diminutive stature the High School Sweetheart may actually be the best pure fighter in the game. Her Lucky ability allows her to force a zombie to reroll any or all of it’s fight dice once per battle. That’s really good, especially since zombies are usually not rolling a bunch of dice. The two health boxes make her vulnerable, but it seems that she does not lose fights all that often. Her only drawback is that the revolver is the only gun that she can use, which I think just means that she can’t use the pump shotgun.
5. Amanda: The charming Prom Queen is one of the better hero’s in the game, relying on her looks and small stature to survive the zombie onslaught. Whenever Amanda shares a space with a male character, so eager are they to please her, that she grants them an extra die in any fight. Sounds more like a cheerleader than a prom queen, but whatever. The ability is rather circumstantial but a nice boost when it happens. Her real strength is her hiding ability, which essentially makes her a traveling cornfield. Whenever she fights a zombie she can roll before the fight starts and cancel the fight on a roll of 4+. Sure, it doesn’t kill any zombies, but it makes her a huge nuisance to the undead.
6. Sam: Sam the Diner Cook, former military, is the toughest hero in the game. The only character with four health boxes, he’s the one that you want slugging it out with the zombies. Unfortunately zombie slugfests rarely work out for the hero, so even Sam should avoid them. His Brawling ability to potentially cancel a fight card played against him does make him a better fighter, though a weapon would be even better. He should have a meat cleaver or something. In many of the games that we’ve played Sam’s glaring weakness has been exposed on more than one occasion. The zombie player can infect him with any of those cards that turn the hero into a zombie when they take another wound, thus nullifying the large amount of health that Sam has. That sucks for any character, but it hits Sam the hardest. Still, he’s a solid character.
7. Johnny: The quote on Johnny’s card sums him up pretty well, “I ain’t goin’ out like a chump.” Too true. Johnny usually does wind up getting killed, but no one would ever confuse him with a chump. His ending is usually spectacular. His Blitz ability is one of the most interesting in the game. During his move phase he can run around the board and fight zombies, and continue to move. His potential for destruction is unmatched, with a decent weapon he can decimate the enemy ranks in a single turn. He also wins fights on ties, which is like giving him a +1 to each fight die. However with only two health boxes the zombies only need a couple of lucky shots to take him out. Johnny has the highest home run potential of anyone in the game. Maybe he should be ranked higher.
8. Father Joseph: I don’t know what to make of Father Joseph. For starters he has one of the biggest handicaps in the game; he is unable to use guns. I don’t know why this would be, I can’t imagine that the Bible says something about killing zombies. In order to just be average he is going to need a pretty good ability. His Strength of Spirit allows him to sacrifice a point of health in order to cancel a zombie card on a roll of 3+. Considering how devastating many zombie cards are this is pretty good. The problem is that this ability is fueled by his health, and since he can’t use guns it means that he is going to be mixing it up with the zombies and short on health anyway. He is also immune to Last Night on Earth cards, so pairing him with Becky makes a pretty good combo. As the only Holy hero he benefits the most from the Faith cards.
9. Kenny: An outcast teen working at the supermarket, Kenny is able to focus his anger and kill a zombie in a fight even if no doubles are rolled. In order to use this ability Kenny has to take a wound (not a great option considering that he has two health boxes) or discard an item that he has. This ability, the awesomely named Cleanup on Aisle Seven, can be useful because anytime that you can kill a zombie is a good thing. But the cost is steep. In a one on one spot he can safely sacrifice a health to do it, but if there are other zombies around then he is basically sending himself to the morgue. And the other option is not much better, there are just not that many items that are worth sacrificing for a single kill and have it be worth it. In some scenarios the lighter is a good option, and maybe something like the jumper cables. I sort of see why the other teens don’t like Kenny too much.
10. Becky: Becky seems like she should be real good. In a zombie invasion scenario, wouldn’t we all want a nurse around? Especially a cute one like Becky? Especially in game where health is at such a premium? The problem with Becky is that she can heal the other heroes, but she has to be in the same space as them. Generally heroes should avoid being in a space with one another because of the devastating cards that cause them to lose a turn, so she runs the risk of that every time she uses it. And that is her only power. I have seen Becky go through an entire game without using her ability once, actually I’ve seen that happen more than once. Sorry Becky.
11. Billy: Someone may want to run a paternity test on Billy since he bears little resemblance to his father Sheriff Anderson. A misunderstood teen, he would rather run from his problems than face them. This makes him slightly better at running, so he gets a +1 to his movement roll each turn. Clearly not a power player, but I will say two positive things about him. One, his power automatically works each turn so you will get a lot of use out of it. Two, I’ve seen many games of LNOE come down to the last turn and often success hinges on a couple of movement rolls at the end of the game. If you need someone to get the keys to the truck or sacrifice himself to destroy a spawning pit, Billy may be your man.
12. Jenny: Jenny the Farmer’s Daughter is a total bum, I don’t know what else to say about her. I suppose her ability to keep hand weapons from breaking has it’s uses, but she should really be avoiding close combat anyway. Like with all the teen characters she has two health boxes, making her very vulnerable. She gets a slight bump in the rankings if the barn or cornfield is in play (she gets a an extra fight die in either area), but to take advantage of this she just needs to hang out in the cornfield which isn’t really a good idea. Oh, I don’t want to forget that she also gets a bonus when she rides that horse card.