Timber Peak Sets the Zombies on Fire

Last Night on Earth’s latest expansion, Timber Peak, is a standalone game that adds new scenarios, characters, and chaos to the endless struggle between the humans and the zombies. You thought you could escape town and head for a remote mountaintop to get away from the walking dead? You were wrong.

I’ve always liked Last Night on Earth. It has more complexity and depth than Zombies!!!, but not to the extent that it feels confusing or unwieldy. After about two turns, you’ll grasp the basic rules and turns will move quickly. Because the rules are somewhat modular, you can learn extra parts as they come into play. For instance, you’ll spend a few turns moving and searching, and spawning new zombies. Eventually there will be a fight between a human and some zombies, so you can learn the combat rules at that point. Event cards introduce weapons and things like fire or zombie infection, allowing you to learn those parts of the game as they arise. LnoE also benefits from the fact that it scales nicely from two players up to six. Every game is humans versus zombies, so all that changes is the number of players on each team.

When I talk about Last Night on Earth, I use the word cinematic a lot. For one thing, most of the game art is photographic. They hired some actors and did a bunch of zombie make up, and with all the dramatic lighting, it feels very much like some tawdry, direct-to-DVD zombie horror flick (which I surely don’t mean as a put-down – it’s the perfect vibe for this game). The games play out like zombie movies, too. It’s scenario based, so the humans will have some specific goal to accomplish, which can range from merely surviving until dawn to repairing a radio to call for help or even setting explosives and blowing up the entire town.

Our playtest of Timber Peak actually had a pretty solid three-act structure, ending with the tragic defeat of the humans. The slow zombies mean the humans usually come out looking good, but the playing of cards tends to boost the zombies’ numbers over the course of the game, making for harrowing endings as hordes of the dead clog the board.

Timber Peak incorporates some of the old optional rules into the base rules of the game, with the compelling argument that they make the game more fun. Now, dead humans turn into zombified versions of themselves, and they also get replaced by a new human character (so no one ever has to drop out of the game). There are new characters in Timber Peak, but a few of the classic characters from the original set show up here in “survivor” form, which adds a cool element of a larger unfolding storyline.

The other excellent addition is experience points for both zombies and humans. You can trade in XP to draw an upgrade card (humans have a choice of melee, ranged or special upgrades). The upgrades can then be “boosted” by spending extra XP on them, and some other character abilities allow for the use of XP as well.

As usual for Flying Frog Productions, the game components are deluxe. Heavy cardstock, vivid colors, great graphic design on the modular board pieces, unique plastic minis for the humans and gruesome shambling zombie minis – it’s a visually impressive game. Timber Peak adds a ton of new counters, including fire tokens that can spread across the town and add some urgency and chaos to a scenario; infection tokens that can turn humans into zombies in a hurry, fuel cans, gasoline, detonators, trees, and more.

With this set alone, you can construct your own scenarios with ease (I want to try one where the town actually starts on fire, and you have to rescue another survivor before the town burns down/zombies eat your face). Combined with the original set or any of the other expansions, and you have quite an impressive tool set for scenario construction here.

As a big Last Night on Earth fan, this expansion feels like a home run, but there are a few drawbacks. I wish they’d included more than four scenarios to make use of all these cool parts. It’s also not all that different from the base Last Night on Earth game. It’s an upgrade, with the rules tweaks and experience points, and for someone like me who can’t get enough LnoE, it’s great. If you don’t own Last Night on Earth and want to, I would actually suggest getting Timber Peak instead of the original game.

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