I am a big fan of White Eagle Defiant by Ryan Heilman & Dave Shaw. So when I heard there will be possibility to play their pre-publish version of the new game based on similar mechanics, I knew I have to try this. The occasion come with one of the online conventions and what I could experience was one of the finest mixes of classical wargame mechanisms and… Sci-Fi theme!
Before talking about the game, couple of worlds about fantastic event our session was part of. The Armchair Dragoons Digital Convention was held online from 15-17 January, 2021. Following the success of last summer’s Virtual Dragoons Assembly the Armchair Dragoons have elected to organize and execute another online convention to give players an opportunity to meet, play, and congregate in another online/virtual convention. Thanks to the online mode, that was first time when I had opportunity to attend (not so easy to get from Poland to US these days!).
I think best summary of the convention is the livestreams & recordings webpage. Note that not all sessions were streamed / recorded, but majority of them are now available online. You can really see a lot of classic but also new titles played:
After this introduction, let me now focus on the game itself.
Last One Standing is a science fiction sequel to Brave Little Belgium and White Eagle Defiant with some new tweaks to keep things interesting. It is still in pre-publish phase but let me share some interesting facts about game. Be aware below information as well as graphics are not the version!
- Theme – it is near future, the world was hit by the global warming (see the map you play on and see where Atlantic Ocean reached). The world was overwhelmed by The Swarm and what was left of humanity is contained to the eastern part of former USA, desperately trying to find a way to contain the enemy. Your research laboratories in Atlanta, Washington DC and New Year are working full speed trying to develop a super-weapon against Swarm. Will you hold for 10 turns, desperately fighting against countless numbers of enemy and achieve win for humanity? Or will you succumb to the alien form once it occupies at least 2 out of 3 of your research facilities?
- Chit-pull mechanism – the Last One Standing uses as far as mechanics are concerned a standard chit-pull, with both sides divided into three separate armies, bunch of events plus three End Turn markers. The game lasts 10 turns but can finish immediately once Swarm occupies at least two special research facilities.
- Destruction Track – that is a very neat addition to the game mechanics; in essence, each side can draw during its turn one nuclear bomb type of weapon. It usage is very powerful, and first two explosions – from whoever they come – are without consequence. But starting with third you have to roll 2d and there is a growing chance you will cause global catastrophe and lose immediately. This is a very interesting element, which can be a game changer. But a dangerous one. So be careful!
- Forces – human forces are finite, and when you take a hit it is forever. On the other hand each killed swarm comes back in two turns at the westernmost edge of the map. Humans have also Militia which is randomly placed at the beginning of the game, making each session a different experience.
- Electromagnetic Wall – from Chicago to Jackson there is a special barrier, which cannot be crossed by Swarm unless two adjacent forts are destroyed. These are really cool delaying factors but once that obstacle is broken the game starts to be a very maneuverable one.
Picture being worth a thousand words, let me share some screenshots from our session; we were using the Tabletop Simulator as you can see below. I had a privilege to lead the Swarm while Dave and later on Ryan were in command of humans (you can click on pictures to enlarge them):
The full game, with great intro from Ryan about the title itself in below video, streamed during the game:
That was really fun to play the Last One Standing. Combination of proven wargame mechanics – chit-pull – with Sci-Fi theme was very enjoyable. There are various paths to victory and the feeling of being surrounded by the countless hordes of swarm must be overwhelming. The events as always spiced up the game but the most thrilling mechanism was definitely the Destruction Track.
I see also a lot of potential for modding, variants and new scenarios. Hope to see the game published!