Saturday, 3 December 2016

Last Stand - First Time

Last night we gave Last Stand a playtest. Last Stand is a set of fantasy mass-battle rules which are being developed by one of our club members. They are designed to give an element-based DBM-sized battle, and whilst they owe their roots to the DBA/M system, they are different in many, many ways.

One person had played them before, whilst the other three of us hadn't even read them. Dave adjudicated, mostly from memory.

The game was a massive nostalgia-fest. Dave had set up a Middle Earth battle, and the figures were a wonderful mix of 25mm wonders from days gone by. Some of them were reckoned to be more than forty years old.

Pig-faced orcs!

And look at these minimalist ents.

Anyway, have fun looking through the pictures if you are into vintage miniatures.

As for the game, both sides spent the early stages wondering just what we were supposed to be doing. Last Stand is very detailed. It is, on the surface at least, quite complicated. It uses a whole range of mechanisms - different coloured dice drawn from a bag, a combat chart which looks like snakes and ladders designed by a sadist, a PIP system for movement, combat and rallying, multiple hits on elements and random events. There's no denying that this is a comprehensive game, but it's not an easy one to learn and, on a first play, ot an obvious one to get your head around just what you are supposed to do.

So here we were, set up and ready to go.

Unsure of how to initiate anything more complicated, Geoff and I (playing the Forces of Evil) just attacked. In the centre this went badly, with our Orc hordes hitting disciplined High Elf soldiers, and being repulsed along the line. It went pretty much as it would have done in HOTT.

We couldn't win there, even with dog-faced kobolds in our army.

It all looked spectacular.

Slowly we started to get an idea of how you managed attacks and supports, and from time to time all players were putting together moves which actually resembled the plan behind them.

After the first hour I stopped taking pictures, because it was hard enough trying to work out what we were doing, without trying to document it as well. The gist of the game was this. We attacked with our Forces of Evil in the centre, and it didn't go well. So the survivors just hung on grimly, and we attacked on the flanks instead. On our left, Saruman's Hillmen charged the Lakemen and in a spectacular round of combats and pursuits drove them back almost to their baseline before being halted by some dwarves. The Uruk Hai followed up to attempt to finish the job.

On the other flank, more orcs attack some wood elves and their Ent allies. We had some big monsters on that flank, and they smashed through the enemy line, with the breakthrough being supported by their Black Rider commander. The wood elves broke.

The Forces of God weren't idle. Both of our attacks had left our flank forces broken up, and they were quick to swing in reserves to exploit this. A disciplined line of Elven spears wheeled into the flank of the Uruk Hai, led by Gandalf himself. I managed to pull the half-orcs into a proper line in response, but it wasn't looking good.

So I threw Saruman into combat.

He defeated the spear-line opposing him, and broke through it. He attacked Gandalf.

He killed Gandalf.

A series of cascading morale tests on that flank saw the entire Good command rout and flee off the table.

This broke the army.

Evil triumphed.

It's very hard to judge a game on the first play. Last Stand is a fantastic labour of love, and when it's released into the wild for testing you'll see that it has one of the most outstanding sets of fantasy army lists I've ever seen, drawing from sources that I was not even aware of. But all of us felt that it could probaby do with streamlining in a few places. Difficult to see where, though, without radically changing some of the interlinked mechanisms.

One to keep your eye on.

And would we play it again? Dave admitted that what we played was a pretty large game, and was quite ambitious for novice players. I'd possibly be interested in a smaller battle with fewer troop-types, so that we could get a better feel for the interactions.

I want to play a big-battle HOTT game with those figures though.

I was so busy that I didn't get any pictures of the Team Yankee game, or even Gary and Peter's amazing Might and Reason battle. Peter took a couple though:


  1. Great looking game - How's the magic system?

    1. I never really tried it. I made one magical attack, which seemed to be a straight combat roll, like HOTT But apparently there is more magic than just that. Something to explore in a later game, I guess.

  2. Two broad branches of magic, Magic Assault which is really like a form of shooting, a lowish chance of success but pretty painful if it succeeds. The second branch is a list of spells, that do things like fiddle with the weather, terrain or inspire friends or discourage enemy. The more powerful the spell the more command it takes. Demon summoning buys random event cards.

    David B


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