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Last Frontier: The Vesuvius Incident is a solitaire wargame set in a space station that has been invaded by hostile alien life-forms.

For your $$$$, you receive a 20 page rule book, 158 counters (printed in colour on thick cardstock but not they will have to be cut out), a large'ish (22" x 17") mapsheet and a double sided sheet of tables. Two six-sided dice are required for play and must be provided by the player.

The plot of Last Frontier should be familiar to anyone who has seen the Alien movies. The players control a squad of a dozen marines who are investigating a lab ship in a decaying orbit around a planet. When they board the ship, they realize that something is REALLY amiss. The player must investigate the ship, account for the crew of the lab ship and disembark from the ship before it burns up in orbit. The game system controls the actions of the various non-player characters, i.e. the aliens, crew members of the ship and robots.

Let it be known that this is a fairly complex game. The sequence of play is rather involved and complicated (but makes sense once you wrap your brain around it) and most players will have to read the rule book several times and refer to it several times during the course of their first few games; it has been said that the rule book is poorly organized but due to the fact that the sequence of play is somewhat convoluted due to there being two modes of movement (combat - which is fast, and exploration - which is more slow and deliberate), I'm not sure if I could have done much better at explaining how to play the game.

The game is essentially a dungeon crawl set in space. The player controls his characters (the marines) and has them explore the lab ship. Choices have to be made on how this exploration is carried out. Due to the decaying orbit of the ship, the marines are under a time constraint and speed is the order of the day. However, disperse your marines too much and you'll find that some of them may be caught alone by the aliens that have somehow infested the ship and be carried off to become a chew toy for the lab ship's new denizens.

There is a lot of science fiction chrome crammed into the game. The lap ship is one of those spinning top type of ships which generates artificial gravity in this manner - the outer ring has gravity but the inner portion of the ship (the hub) which is where the marines first enter the ship has no gravity and movement is somewhat slower in this region. And in addition to their aliens being torn apart at the claws of the aliens, the player has to contend with acid blood and the computer controlling the lab ship going crazy and depressuring certain regions of the ship.

It's refreshing to see a game like Last Frontier - it reminds one of the old Metagaming and Task Force Games classics. Its complexity may be a bit of a anachronism in this day and age where more simple game mechanics seem to be in vogue but the effort spent in deconvoluting its mechanics is well worth the effort
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