In this post-apocalyptic wasteland, the scarce resource is GOOD TASTE.
So this was a pretty easy review, pretty much rewrite the Defenders of the Realm review and modify it to make it specific to Last Stand. It really is pretty much the same game underneath the post-apoc veneer with lots of nomenclature changes and a couple of very Richard Launiusian tweaks to sell the setting.
It's not a bad game- neither was Realm. It's just so hilariously incompetent in its production quality and visual style that it actually hinders it. I just recently re-acquired Defenders of the Realm and played it for a bit before I flipped it again...mainly because I was looking at the game and thinking "damn, this is ugly." Last Stand is worse. And it's another that I'm flipping, even though I would otherwise keep it around for awhile because it is pretty fun.
Some will disagree about the visual style. Oddly enough, there was a review of the Suicide Squad soundtrack I read where it mentioned how it had no influences or references outside of other nerd media. And that is exactly the problem with a lot of graphic design and illustration in games. And it's why Scythe for example stands as one of the best looking, most aesthetically appealing games in recent memory.
And that game is pretty great too, despite detractors such as the notorious Pete Ruth. It's such a brilliantly designed and executed set of mechanics AND it has an original, unique setting that has enough faith in the player's imagination to bring it to life instead of idiotic flavor text all over the place. All that on top of actual THEMES, too! I don't know if there has ever been a game that has been such a victim of misdirected expectations...there's a lot of weird resentment coming from folks that are disappointed that it is not Battletech: The Board Game or that the goal is not the total extermination of other players. But it's pretty clear that these were not design goals, and that it is not based on the same dated and worn out 4x gameplay models that are increasingly creaky and less appealing year after year, at least outside of the top titles in the genre. So consider me a Scythe supporter- I liked Euphoria quite a bit, but Stegmaier and company really stepped everything up on this one.
In other hot game news, I have Mansions of Madness 2 in hand and I played through about half of the first story with two players (using the millionaire and the butler). Hard to say this early, of course, but I'm kind of wondering if it may actually take the app thing a little too far. I'm not really sure that I felt like I was playing much, just rolling dice in reaction to prompts. I guess that's really what an RPG is, but since it's NOT an RPG, walking into a room where you have three options, pressing one, and then rolling dice based on what the app gives you is oddly underwhelming. It was different with Descent, because that's more of a tactical combat game.
That said, there were some interesting things like how I had a journal that required me to read it over multiple actions- that's something that couldn't really be done without the app assist. And it really did feel like the game was generating a story, which was pretty neat. I did a code-breaking puzzle, and that was cool. But the biggest surprise is that it took me about ten minutes from opening the box to turn one. The setup was super simple and the rules I practically didn't even need to look at.
I'm going to give it a go in earnest tonight...interested to see if some of the same events happen or not, if the same thing happens every game with the kitchen, for example, that may limit the value of playing these scenarios more than once.
While all eyes were on the Dreadball 2 Kickstarter, I snuck in on eBay and got a deluxe starter for $35. I've got my human team the Midcentury Meteors, painted up in a turquoise/chartreuse/silver scheme and I'm starting on the "Orx". The figures are pretty fun to paint, they're simpler than GW stuff but with lots of options for detailing.
As for the game, I just poked around solo with it and it seems like it's really good. It is definitely kind of an evolution of Blood Bowl, and a lot of it will be familiar to anyone who has played Blood Bowl. It's not so much streamlined and refined as it is accelerated. Things like not resetting the pitch after a score make it a much more fluid game with unique situations developing from turn to turn. I just played with basic teams, no special abilities, but it felt good and the dice system works pretty well. I like things like how your throwing successes turn into additional dice for the catcher, how doubling a target number of successes sometimes results in special effects and of course- the greatest game mechanic of all time- exploding sixes.
The big penalty is that it isn't Blood Bowl. It doesn't have the unique character and charm of that game. I like the Mantic figures and to some degree I like how more freeform it is in contrast to GW, where I don't want to paint my own Marine chapter or whatever because I like the history and the storylines that they've established. But the Dreadball races and all feel either completely generic or completely ripped off from GW. I wish they had gone in a different direction with, for example, the Veer-Myn. I mean come on. They're space-Skaven. Why not do a race of jaguar people or fish men instead? I think it's funny they have the long lost space dwarves/squats (Forge Fathers), but there again I wish they had done their own thing.
The other iffy thing is that it is really built for league play, which isn't really happening. But I like it enough that I think one-off games with set team budgets will be plenty of fun.