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Subject: Going it alone in the Last Stand rss

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Jason Brown
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Since the slightly rocky Kickstarter last summer, I've been looking forward to getting Defenders of the Last Stand to my table. I'm an AVID Kickstarter backer, yet this game still stood out among the 24 projects that I backed in the time between the campaign and delivery.

I received my copy last week, 4 months later than the projected delivery of March. I've played it solo 3 times with 2, 3 and 4 Rangers with 2 wins (at 3 and 4) and one loss. Play time took about 3-4 hours per game, including setup. Though I haven't seen every adventure, artifact and mutation that the game has to offer, I've played every character and mission and seen a good representative chunk of what the game has to offer. My review is only from a solo player's point of view, so YMMV when played with a group.



1 Components. Let's get this out of the way up front. The minis are awful, on par with the little green army men I used to play with. I wasn't expecting CMON or Games Workshop quality, but definitely not this. The figures are made of thin, flimsy plastic, resulting in figures that lean over and bend in all directions. The Rangers, Leaders and Monstrosities are sturdier, but they lack detail and are really bland. It did not make a good impression coming out of the box. Everything else, on the other hand, is great. The game board and character cards are thick and sturdy, the cards feel nice in your hand, and the artwork is top notch. The box, it should be said, is big and beautiful and looks great on the shelf.



2 Rules. The rule book is well layed out, I read through it once and was playing immediately. As expected with a new game, there are a few small rules hiccups like typos and misprints, but there is one very significant rule regarding fighting leaders with raiders present missing altogether. That said, the designer Richard Launius is very active in the forums and has clarified every question personally. It's refreshing to see a publisher allow the designer to use BGG to answer questions (AHEM - FFG). One thing I would like to see is a better player aid. The included aid only lists the actions you can take in phase II and is identical on the front and back. This lead to my having to keep the manual open to the phase III page throughout my first two plays to ensure I didn't miss any steps. It would have been very helpful to use the back to list the overall steps from Phases I to III on the reverse side, as well as notes on radiation, mutation, special cards and artifacts.

3 Theme. The theme is outstanding and integrated into every facet of the game. Every action you take has a reason for doing so, and every mechanic is thematically justified. Leader abilities, character actions, location effects...everything matches to the post-apocalyptic struggle for survival that is the Last Stand.

4 Characters. I love the asymmetric characters on both sides of the fight. The 9 included Rangers are all interesting and offer totally unique play styles. Some excel at one particular thing like fighting techies or adventuring, while others travel faster or are better at scavenging. Any way you group them, your team of Rangers will be able to work together in their own way. The 4 enemy factions are also very different. The Techies are weak, but numerous, the Earthers are immune to special abilities and crash towards the Last Stand the fastest, and the Road Riders are tough and do double damage if you finish your turn in their area. Puke's monstrosities are totally different, with each one unique and requiring a different skill to defeat it. The Leaders are also varied and interesting, especially Puke, who flies around the board dropping monstrosities.

5 Story. I haven't played Defenders of the Realm, but I understand that this is where Last Stand really separates itself. The game comes with 36 adventure cards that represent stories around the map. The active adventures change throughout the game, and each one is short story tailored to the characters and locations in which they take place. Additionally, there are 16 Ranger missions that your characters can take on during the game to earn things like karma, artifacts, special abilities or even allies. Without getting into spoilers, flipping those cards to see what awaits me is one of the best moments of the game.

6 Gameplay. Based on the Defenders engine, Last Stand is smooth, solid and fun. There's just enough luck in the dice rolls mixed in with action point allowance and hand management to keep situations tense but still in control of the players. With so much to do, players must think carefully and plan out their moves ahead of time. The enemy is tough, but balanced, and defeating the individual leaders requires support from multiple Rangers. There is always seemingly more to do than there are action points to do them, but careful planning will usually lead to success. The scenarios advance in stages that ramp up in intensity as you progress towards the victory conditions, all controlled by cards that are organized according to your selected mission. The game comes with 3 scenarios, with 2 of the scenarios including separate group missions. Like the story and characters, they are unique and fun and worth playing.


Yes, there are some issues and it's not perfect. It needs an FAQ, the minis are embarrassingly bad and I want to burn the poor excuse for an insert. It will need an expansion soon with more leaders, rangers, missions and adventures, but the game in the box is fun and challenging. The MSRP is pretty steep, but there's a TON of stuff in the box. If you're a fan of cooperative adventure games, you really owe it to yourself to give this a try.
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Matt Smith
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I think that's a very fair review, even though I don't agree with every point. Here are my points of disagreement:
1. I think the raider minis are fine as functional representations of bands of raiders. They are better looking than the generic "hooded guy" mini used for all four minion types in Defenders of the Realm. I would have liked more detail in the Ranger minis, as they represent individual characters. We had a little trouble matching the ranger minis to their pictures.

2. The box insert is very functional, even if it's only cardboard dividers. The sleeved cards fit great in the center sections, the bagged minis are snug in the lower left section, the character and leader boards go in the lower right section, and the dice, bags of chits and leader minis go in the top sections. I've only had a couple of cards slide out of place when transporting the game in my car.

That's about it. Everything else in your review is spot on, IMO: freakin' awesome game play, great thematic integration, and a challenging difficulty level that requires planning and coordination between the players/Rangers.
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Paul Lodge
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Great review, thanks Jason, very interesting.

I'm still waiting for delivery here in the UK...

What's the significant missing rule when fighting leaders with raiders present?

Regards the minis, ok the plastic may not be great quality with little detail, but the minis in Defenders of the Realm are all the same, just different colours for the 4 factions. It's a different mini for each leader however, so really I would say this is still an improvement on its predecessor.
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Michael Chalmers
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Do you recommend using more then 2 rangers?

Is the difficulty too intense for just 2 rangers to handle, especially the first mission? The setup alone on that mission was very intimidating.

I am assuming the sweet spot will be 4 rangers so moving around the board is a little easier.

Thanks for the great review.

(BTW, I agree 100% about the minis. I do not own any other game with minis that are this bent out of shape, they are pretty sad. I don't disagree that they are functional, but a colored cube is also functional)
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Jason Brown
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Thanks for the comments everyone, this is only my 2nd full review.

Laardge11 wrote:

What's the significant missing rule when fighting leaders with raiders present?

Rangers may not initiate combat with a Leader while Raiders or Monstrosities are in the same location. It's a critical rule and it's missing from the rule book. It's being added to the FAQ that Richard is working on right now.

sador42 wrote:
Do you recommend using more then 2 rangers?

Is the difficulty too intense for just 2 rangers to handle, especially the first mission? The setup alone on that mission was very intimidating.

I am assuming the sweet spot will be 4 rangers so moving around the board is a little easier.

My game with 2 came to a quick and violent end as I could not control the Raider spawns. I had 5-6 quick overruns which resulted in all the oil & ammo caches hitting the board.

I won both the 3 and 4 player games, neither of them handily. Actually, I defeated Bama 1 move prior to his entering Last Stand at 4. The 3 player game was my last game prior to the review and I had found my groove. I knew how quickly things devolve when that 4th stage gets flipped, so I prepped my battles for the last 2 leaders at the same time and rolled just enough hits (thanks to several special cards and the giant growth mutation) to win.

For me, the sweet spot appears to be 3. The game was about 30 minutes shorter at 3 than 4 and saved some table space while still allowing for Ranger interaction and specialization.
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Paul Lodge
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Thanks Jason for clearing that up.

It's actually the same rule for Defenders of the Realm.

I always get spanked when playing Realm, I've followed recommendations but to no avail. Always have great fun though, & this game I think takes it to the next level.
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Neil Edmonds
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You need a little luck when playing Defenders of the Realm, Paul. It's very easy to lose in the later stages of the game due to tainted lands or overruns because there are multiple Darkness Spreads card draws. Sometimes the Hero cards don't cooperate and you can't draw the right color cards to confront the last general. The 3 Darkness Spreads card draws for the late war stage are a killer, so you definitely want to take out generals 3 & 4 close to one another. Also, some generals have special abilities - like Brimstone's random flight and fire - that makes defeating them in the Early war stage a priority.

The nice thing about DOTR is that the variants - cards, minions, and generals - are all designed to tweak the difficulty. So if losing all the time is getting to you, try using the King's Blessing variant or an extra "All is Quiet" card or two and see if your luck changes.
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marvin knighton
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Having played Last Stand a few times I have reached the following conclusions about it. I play a LOT of DOTR so I tell local people who know me that Last Stand is DOTR on steroids. The basic game engine is the same but the options are dramatically increased. I enjoy it. My only wins so far have been at 4 players, but we have only played 3 games at 2 and 5 players. I believe that the decrease in total group actions for 5 vs. 4 players per round raises the difficulty level more significantly than people may realize.(group action totals-4=4x7=28 vs. 5x5=25). Combine this with 1 extra raiders card per group round in 5 vs. 4 players total and the game toughness factor is raised considerably. By the way this is not a complaint just an observation. My proposed house rules is 6 actions per player but this will make a longer group round.
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