If you think loads of atmosphere, a big helping of luck, and lots of laughs make great gaming, then you’ve probably already discovered Flying Frog Games, a relative newcomer on the gaming scene that has made a huge splash with its cinematic games and photographic art style.
Flying Frog first hit the gaming scene with a loud cry of “Braaaaaains!” in 2007 with the B-movie zombie fun of Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game, and the game was an instant hit. There have been a lot of zombie games over the years, but Last Night of Earth really focuses on re-creating all those iconic moments from classics such as the George Romero zombie movies and numerous 80s horror flicks. As the human player, you get to control sterotypical characters such as the local sheriff and the high school sweetheart, and as the zombie player—well, you get to control hordes of shuffling zombies, of course! They may move slowly at only one square per turn, but they’re relentless and they come in great numbers… and your hero may even turn into one if things turn nasty!
The rules are easy to learn. Hero characters move a number of spaces equal to the roll of a six-sided dice per turn, or can search and draw a card from the Hero deck if they spend their turn in a building. Heroes and zombies in the same square must fight, and the zombie player can draw new zombie cards each turn and spawn new zombies if he rolls higher than the number of zombies on the board on two dice. The zombie and hero cards are the meat—excuse the pun—of the game, and lead to all kinds of special events, frequently hilarious, along with providing the heroes with various items to aid them in beating back the tide of undead.
As for hero characters, you can choose from Becky the Nurse; Father Joseph, Man of the Cloth; Johnny, the High School Quarterback; Billy the Sheriff’s Son; Sheriff Anderson, Small Town Lawman; Jenny the Farmer’s Daughter; Jake Cartwright the Drifter; Sally the High School Sweetheart. They’re all represented on the board by high-quality plastic miniatures. As are fourteen horrible zombies in three different sculpts.
The game can be played with a simple ‘kill or be killed’ scenario, or there are four special scenarios that really enhance the gameplay: Defend the Manor House, Save the Townsfolk, Burn ’Em Out! or Escape in the Truck. The latter scenario is perfect for those ‘dropping the car keys just as the zombies are about to kill you’ moments!
Of course any successful game these days just cries out for expansions, and Flying Frog hasn’t disappointed on that score. In addition to new scenarios and villains available for download on their website, they released a first expansion the following year: Growing Hunger. Sam, the Dinner Cook; Kenny, Supermarket Bag Boy; Rachelle Winters, Detective; and Amanda the Prom Queen join the battle, along with more zombies of course—seven of them. Three new scenarios—Zombie Apocalypse, Plague Carriers and Burn it to the Ground!, two additional boards, and lots of extra cards and counters complete the expansion.
But the expansions don’t stop there! Last Night on Earth: Survival of the Fittest includes three new card decks that feature unique items, grave weapons and survival tactics (seventy-six cards in all), four new scenarios and four counter sheets. Last Night on Earth: Hero Pack 1 has four new heroes: Stacy the Investigative Reporter; Mr. Goddard the Chemistry Teacher; Jade the High School Outcast; and Victor the Escaped Prisoner; along with a new scenario and ten new cards. Last Night on Earth: Zombies with Grave Weapons Miniature Set features fourten new plastic zombie miniatures in seven sculpts: the Crawling Torso, Machete, Old Pitchfork, Rusty Axe, Wrapped in Barbed Wire, Bloated Body, and Sickle. Aaaargh!
Of course, if you have a bit of painting experience you can really enhance the appearance of the game. Here are my hero miniatures from the base set, fully painted (note the miniatures in the game come unpainted):
If you’re a fan of the Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow—and it’s one of my all-time favourites—then you’ll love A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game (2008). Though keeping the photographic style, this is quite a different game from Last Night on Earth. It’s set in America at the dawn of the 19th century—an age of science, superstition and witchcraft—and the hero characters can either co-operate or act independently to track down and destroy the supernatural villain that is threatening the secluded village of Shadowbrook. There are several villains to choose from that give the game a different flavour every time: the Scarecrow, the Vampire, the Werewolf, or of course the classic Spectral Horseman. As for the dauntless heroes, you can choose from Karl the Soldier; Inspector Cooke; Isabella von Took, Noble Woman; Thomas the Courier; Victor Danforth, Playwright; Anne Marie the School Teacher; Heinrich Cartwright, Drifter; or Katarina the Outlaw. In addition, there are six Town Elders who may help or hinder you on your quest, and who may have dark secrets of their own that must be uncovered …
In the expansion A Touch of Evil: Something Wicked the terror reaches out into the countryside; with the help of new heroes (Valeria the Vampire, Brother Marcus, Eliza the Witch Hunter and Captain Hawkins), the players must confront villains such as the Unspeakable Horror, the Banshee, the Gargoyle and the Bog Fiend. The expansion features an additional board depicting Echo Lake and the locations around it that is added to the main game board, and of course a plethora of new cards and counters.
Finally, A Touch of Evil: Hero Pack 1 gives you even more heroes and their miniatures: Adrianna the Foreign Traveler, Harlow Morgan the Inventor, Lucy Hanbrook, and the infamous highwayman, The Scarlet Shadow; plus a new villain, the dreaded Necromancer.
Here are my hero miniatures from the base set, fully painted (note the miniatures in the game come unpainted):
The newest game from the Flying Frog workshop is Invasion From Outer Space: The Martian Game (2010). Creepy little Martians—complete with clear plastic helmets—invade a 1940s circus, and the motley crew of circus performers are the first line of defence for planet Earth. There are definitely some Tim Burton fans at Flying Frog, because the Martians are reminiscent of the ones in his film Mars Attacks.
The circus performers—in Flying Frog style, played by actors—include Angelica the Bearded Woman; Lucrezia the Contortionist; Cassidy the Trickshooter; R. J. Flannigan, Ringmaster; Carl the Strongman; Archibald the Human Cannonball, Hannah the Firebreather, and finally Jo Jo the Dancing Bear. Arrayed against them are eighteen Martian Soldiers, a Martian Champion, and the huge and intimidating Zard Beast. You can play the basic Invasion scenario to get started, then try out Abduction, where the Martians try and kidnap human allies from the various circus buildings; “Wipe Them Out!”, where Martians attempt to obliterate four groups of the crowds that are running screaming about the fairground; “Blow ’Em Out of the Sky!”, where the humans must destroy three flying saucers with the cannons placed around the board; and Unleashed, where a flying saucer has crashed and a Super Zard Beast is running riot!
Invasion features some new mechanics—the Martian player has several options on his turn, from receiving reinforcements to building new tech Like the Death Ray—and there are also additional rules for fires and crowds. The great news is there are comprehensive rules for combining Invasion and Last Night on Earth, so you can also play games of Zombies at the Carnival and Martians in the Small Town—or just mix and match the bits you like—if you own both games. No doubt further expansions won’t be long in coming!
Finally, here are my hero miniatures from Invasion From Outer Space, fully painted (note the miniatures in the game come unpainted):
As you can see, there’s a lot of variety and replay value in Flying Frog Games. Add that to well-sculpted miniatures that are perfect for painting, high quality components, and easy rules, and you’ve got some of the most entertaining games around. And as a bonus, each game comes with a CD of ‘background music’ composed by Mary Beth Magallanes to get you in the mood. When it comes to theme, Flying Frog can’t be beaten!
by Universal Head
For more information about these games, visit Flying Frog Games and BoardgameGeek. You can also find rules summaries and reference sheets for all of these games (Invasion coming soon!) at Headless Hollow.
Universal Head has been designing for clients across the globe for more than 20 years, and playing games for much longer than that. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent an entire year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for a computer game. In between he’s designed just about every form of visual communication: corporate identities, websites, packaging, brochures, even postage stamps. He also created the game websites www.tekumel.com and www.battleloremaster.com. His blog site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for boardgames.