Last Days: The cycle of game play
All right game fans, we’re going to start today off with a look at setting up and playing a game of Last Days. Once you have your warband and your opponent, you’ll need to setup the board for a game. Remember, a 3 foot by 3 foot board is the recommended play area. A larger board will take longer to get your people into the game and increase the likelihood that a zombie horde will overwhelm both sides.
This is a game that encourages heavy terrain density. The more is definitely the merrier, and open lanes of fire in large areas, (like empty parking lots or streets that are clear) turn it into a shooting gallery rather than the firefight the game represents). This is a game that works extremely well with a representation of heavy urban environment like a city block or two, but I could also see someone using a zone mortalis board to represent the inside of a ship at sea, or putting together a large farmstead board to play a movie type scenario from Night of the Living Dead or The Crazies.
On terrain and scenic elements, this game loves cars and other vehicles. Fill up your highways and byways with cars, trucks, school buses and big rigs. It gives your warbands interesting tactical choices to make and helps bring the setting into the game. It’s highly unlikely that streets would be empty of everything after an outbreak of civilization, so scattered cars and vehicles make sense (especially if you can find the ones with doors that open and feel like painting bloody hand prints all over the internals).
Terrain is classified into one of three types, Open, Difficult, and Solid. Open terrain is open streets and parks without any other scenic bits to get in the way of movement. Difficult Terrain is rubble, wrecked objects like cars or shipping containers and anything that makes moving through difficult. Solid Terrain is a functional car, walls, a building or any other piece of terrain that obstructs movement rather than reducing it.
Ash has some directions on terrain dispersal for the game, and presto, you’ve got your board setup.
Now, onward to mayhem and zombie destruction. The game is broken up into five phases, and once both players have completed all five phases the game turn ends. Once players have completed the number of turns laid out in the scenario, or one player’s warband has been eliminated or run off the board the game ends.
Part 1: Menace Phase:
The first phase of the game turn, the menace phase, represents the zombies and other scenario based game effects going off. The uncontrolled zombies activate during this phase and follow a set protocol to determine what they are going to do. There are also other game play effects that need to be resolved and the menace phase is when all of these specific situations resolve.
Noise tokens represent the accumulated racket or distraction that a character has gained over the preceding turns. For each character that has accumulated noise tokens, roll 1D6 and add the noise modifier shown on the tokens. If a 6+ is rolled, then a new zombie enters the board from the board edge closest to the noisy model. Most guns make noise, and a warband that relies on guns to put down opponents has the potential to flood the board with zombies.
Ammo tokens are acquired every time a character fires a gun and represent the ever increasing chance that the current clip or cylinder is out of bullets. Roll 1D6, add the number of ammunition tokens and compare it to the reload value of the weapon. If you equal that number, the gun is out of bullets and has to be reloaded during subsequent phases or it won’t be usable. If the reload number is rolled, remove all the ammunition tokens from that character and start over as they use their weapons.
Zombies follow a plan of action that works kind of like this. If a zombie can see a human, they will towards it. If they can’t, they move towards the closest thing that made noise. Zombies move during this phase and if they get into base contact with a human, they will attack them during the CQC phase. Zombies have 6 AP base, and will use their action points to move, (Remember, a zombie hit by a weapon that has knockback has their AP reduced by that value assuming they weren’t outright killed).
The last thing that occurs during this phase is the removal of locked and loaded tokens. L & L tokens mark characters that have assumed positions and stances to shoot things that enter their line of sight during the turn, and they can take opportunity shots against them should they pop up. You have to s pend the token to make the shot, so they should only be around during this phase if nothing entered your line of sight or you didn’t want to shoot at the target.
Part 2: Initiative Phase
The Initiative Phase determines who activates their characters in the order of their choice. Remember, Last Days is an I Go, you Go, I Go etc. game where both players are acting in the same phase. Being able to decide who moves first, or shoots first can be an important tactical decision, and it comes down to the dice.
Both warband leaders roll an initiative check by adding their intelligence and their courage to 1D6 roll. Ties are re-rolled if needed, and the winner of the dice off determines whether they want to be the aggressor or the defender. The aggressor gets to move first, which means they can push into areas and get into better positions to pursue objectives. The aggressor also gets to pick first in CQC. The defender gets the first activation during the shooting phase, meaning they get to Han Solo someone. Remember, if you win the dice roll, you get to decided which one you want to be, and it will be a decision that changes turn by turn.
Part 3: Action phase
This phase represents movement and interacting with your environment during the game. Starting with the aggressor, players take turns selecting a character to activate. Once you’ve activated a character, you have their AP stat worth of action points you can spend to do things including:
· For 1 AP, you can move a model 1 inch in any direction
· For 2 AP you can move a model 1 inch in any direction through difficult terrain.
· If you want to, you can spend all of your AP to take the run action, which allows you to move twice your AP in inches (12 inches for most characters). You won’t be able to take any other actions this turn though
· For 3 AP, you can break contact with an enemy model (Opponent controlled or zombie). You move 1 inch away from the model you are in contact with and continue your turn normally. Additional models in base contact increase the AP cost by 1 per (don’t get mobbed by four or more zombies).
· For 2 AP per inch of height, you can ascend climbable terrain to get on to dumpsters or buildings.
· For 2 AP, you can open or close a door. Doors remain opened or closed until interacted with by another character.
· For 2 AP you can reload a firearm.
· For 4 AP you can gain a Locked and Loaded token (which you can use to interrupt another character moving. They have to be within 12 inches, and line of sight, but you do get to take shots out of phase. Unlike the other actions in the phase, you can’t spend AP after you pick up your locked and loaded token, so you should move first, then prepare the bullets.
· For 2 AP, you can interact with an objective, and the scenario will tell you how that interaction works.
After a character has spent all of his AP, turn his card sideways to indicate that his action phase is complete. Once the first character spends all of their AP, your opponent activates their character and repeats the same process of deciding which actions to perform. After every character on the board activates, the game passes to the next phase.
Part 4: Shooting Phase
This phase of the game is where all of the ranged combat takes place. Starting with the defender, players alternate back and forth activating models and taking shots at zombies, each other, and in some cases, the scenery. Shooting attacks are easy to resolve, for each shot that you are taking, roll 1D6 and add your character’s FA stat to the roll. A combined result of a 7 is a hit. There are a variety of modifiers to the hit roll, including cover, range, zombie, and ROF modifiers that will affect the difficulty of the shot and modify that 7.
If you have hit the thing you’re shooting at, it’s time to calculate damage. For Humans, roll 1D6 and add the weapon’s damage to the result. Take this combined number and divide by the target’s Endurance to determine how many damage boxes are filled in, (round down for fractional wounds).
Zombies are a different matter, and some can take scads of damage without being stopped. When you hit a zombie, roll 1D6. If you rolled a 5 or a 6, the zombie has been destroyed and is removed from play “You got to hit them in the head” rule. Some skills make this easier, but we’ll cover those when we talk about skills and attributes. Remember, a zombie that isn’t killed has its AP reduced by the knockback value of the weapon it was hit with.
Once you’ve finished your shots, applied damage, acquired noise and ammo tokens, turn the active character’s card sideways and play passes to your opponent to activate their shooting attacks. After everyone has rained bloody murder down, play passes to the fifth phase.
Part 5: CQC Phase
Starting with the aggressor, players take turns activating characters in base contact with other characters (humans or zombies) and start taking CQC attacks. Zombies always go last during this step, and it’s a good idea to let your opponent roll for the zombies that are trying to eat your dudes.
CQC is a little different from shooting attacks; it’s an opposed die roll. The character attacking and the character targeted both roll 1D6 and add their CQC statistic and any other modifiers. If the Attacker rolls higher, he has hit the target and then proceeds to deal damage. If the Defender rolls higher, they take no damage from the attack. Damage for CQC is rolled by rolling a 1D6 and adding the strength attribute. Divide by the target’s endurance and fill in damage boxes.
When zombies enter CQC with a character, that character has to make a courage check to see if they will have the option to break off during the next turn’s action phase. Both the character and the zombie make opposed rolls, (the character using Courage, the zombie using Horror) if the zombie rolls higher, the character cannot breakaway next turn, and is effectively stuck to the zombie.
At the end of the CQC phase, both players will have to check for a break test, if you’ve taken a casualty. Roll 1D6 and add the number of casualties you’ve taken, compared against the Courage and Intelligence of the warband’s leader. If the number rolled is higher, your forces have broken and flee the battlefield.
Play then proceeds to the start of phase 1 for the next turn of the game, and the process repeats.
I hope that gives you a breakdown of the basics of Last Days, and you find this game as interesting as we do.
Game on, Game Fans