Sunday, February 27, 2011

Last Night on Earth: Escape in the Truck

A classic scenario. The only way out of the zombie infested town is a single old pickup truck marooned in the center of the town. Unfortunately, it has no gas in the tank and the keys are lost somewhere in the town. Such is the life for the poor survivors in the Escape in the Truck scenario for Last Night on Earth. This is definitely one of my favorite scenarios in the game. It combines a good story with a clear, obtainable objective and is generally a lot of fun. It is also one of the few scenarios that the heroes can win quickly if they get a little bit of luck. Of course, if they get no luck they will be slowly torn apart as they continue their futile search for automotive supplies.

The goal is pretty straightforward in Escape in the Truck. The heroes need to find some gasoline and put fuel in the truck, then get a set of keys and two heroes into the truck and get out of dodge before the sun comes up. The challenge here for the heroes is to find the items and survive long enough, the zombies should focus on constant harassment of the heroes and be prepared for the showdown at the truck, which is when the heroes will be their most vulnerable. Like most of the scenarios in LNOE the advantage goes to the defender (in this case the zombies) but this one is a little more evenly balanced than most of the others. It is also one of the shorter scenarios, lasting only fifteen turns. So the heroes have little time to waste.

One aspect of this scenario that I enjoy is that you actually get to use some of the cool pieces that the game comes with. There are tractors, meteors, evil books and all sort of other neat little game pieces that rarely see the light of day because there is no actual use for them. But here, you at least get to employ the hard working old truck. Which looks like it is from the 50’s. I have a hard time believing that this is the only functional truck in town, but I’ll suspend disbelief for the sake of the game. But yeah, having an actual truck in the middle of the board is nice.

The board pieces that wind up being used don’t make a ton of difference in this game. The gas station is nice to have, but really only comes into play once you have already used the gas once. And you only need to use it once, so there. Should your gas carrier get killed (which is a possibility) it is convenient to be able to go pick up another quickly. Like any scenario that involves getting items Jake the Drifter is an ideal choice for the party to have. His ability allows him to cycle through cards twice as fast, doubling the possibility that the valuable keys and gasoline will make an appearance. The other hero that is very useful here is everyone’s favorite prom queen, Amanda. Why? Well, for a single turn one of the heroes is going to be an absolute sitting duck and she is the best choice for it. In order to gas the truck up a hero must begin the turn on the truck, sacrifice the gasoline, and do nothing else. It is literally a sign on the hero that says come and maul me to death, quickly. Which is what usually happens. But if the hero does not survive the turn the gas is lost and the truck still has no fuel. Amanda has the two wounds that is typical of the teens, but her Hide power allows her to cancel any fight with a good roll. I’ve seen her frustrate the zombies to no end with this. Make sure that she has a weapon and a hero card to help her out and she just may live to take the ride out of town. In the absence of Amanda try to get someone well armed to fuel it up. Like in most scenarios, Becky totally sucks.

It also makes sense for the heroes to work in pairs. One to do the searching, the other to lure them away and take shots with some sort of gun if they have it. The fact is that if the heroes are not constantly searching they are not going to do so well.

The zombie strategy should be to keep the heroes on the move, thereby not allowing them to search over and over. The more that they are on the move the less likely they are to get the stuff that they need. It’s sort of Zombie 101. The real key to this scenario is to not allow the truck to get fueled up. At some point the heroes have to go to the truck and wait out a turn there. There should be a horde of the undead waiting there for them, preferably equipped with every nasty Zombie card there is to just take apart the hero who is foolish enough to challenge them.

The actual escape is much easier to accomplish because the heroes can just show up there and end the turn in the truck. As long as the have some keys they are good to go, so the play here for the zombies is the fuel up period.

Last Night on Earth can be a complicated game at times. Some times the rules drag or are so obtuse that they seem counterintuitive to the rest of the game. When this is coupled with a more complicated scenario (such as Plague Carriers or Zombie Apocalypse) it can really slow things down. Escape in the Truck is simple and clean, it’s obvious what needs to be done and how to do it. The hard part is actually doing it. For the heroes it is very exciting and satisfying to see that truck pull away to victory (I wouldn’t fault you if you actually made an engine noise and physically drove the truck off the table), and the zombies should always elate in foiling the plans of the living.

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