Some of the most entertaining gaming experiences are cooperative ones, where every member of the team works together and utilizes their specific skills towards a common goal. There are some stellar experiences out on the market already, but Repos Production and Asmodee have one more that should certainly make its way into your next tabletop session, and it is Last Bastion. The game is for two to four players and will challenge those of all skill levels, and while you might not always come out the victor, you will end up having a fantastic time.
Last Bastion puts you in the role of one of eight heroes tasked with defending the fortress from the hordes of monsters attempting to bring it down, and you'll do so by utilizing teamwork, hero abilities, and special abilities unique to each Bastion Tile. While you've got some impressive powers at your disposal, you'll need all of it and a little luck to push back the horde, and one of your biggest allies is the board itself.
Each Bastion Tile has a different power that you can activate in lieu of an attack, and these powers are essential to turning the tide. The Trebuchet Tile, for instance, allows you to throw a net onto a Horde Card, which silences one ability on that card of your choice. This is great for nullifying a problematic effect while you try to kill that particular creature, especially for abilities that affect your dice rolls or don't allow you to use Equipment Tokens to kill an enemy.
Another handy Bastion Tile is the Divine Fountain, which allows the player who activates it to remove two Grasp of Evil Tokens from the game, and you'll be using that ability quite a bit throughout the game (or at least I did). Grasp of Evil Tokens can be placed on Horde Cards, your Player Board, or the Bastion Tiles, and they can really screw you over, removing your character's special ability or the ability of a Bastion Tile until they are removed. Three of them on the Bastion Tiles at once can also end the game, so you'll want to make sure you know where this Tile is.
Those tiles and your abilities will help you survive well enough, but you'll also need to take down some enemies, as the only way to actually win the game is to make your way through a stacked deck (literally) until you get to a Warlord Card, which you then must defeat. This is what you'll be doing the bulk of the time throughout the game, and you'll eventually find yourself in a nice rhythm. Like me, you'll probably favor just a few Bastion Tiles and abilities at the beginning, but after a few playthroughs, you'll start discovering the benefits of the other Tiles, characters, and the all-important Call to Arms Tokens, which allow you to use a Bastion Tile's ability from anywhere on the board (you typically have to be on the Bastion Tile to use its ability).
If you find yourself at a table with a bunch of lone wolves, this probably won't go very well. It's important for the team to communicate and figure out what would help the team overall, and someone might need to eat some damage or a negative effect next round to fill a crucial role. For instance, the Standard Bastion Tile lets you pick a specific color flag to hang, which reduces enemies of that color by one. That means you only have to roll two yellow symbols to defeat an enemy instead of three, and since you only have three dice to work with, you'll want to send someone over there throughout the game to switch that out, depending on what color enemy is dominating the board.
The same goes for utilizing the Dwarven Quarry, which has a trap miniature that you can place on an empty spot, while others offer buffs, healing, or other benefits. The needs of the group will constantly shift throughout the game, and as you get closer to the warlord in the deck, the amount of enemies coming at you only increases, and it's this escalating challenge that makes the game so addictive. Things can amplify incredibly quickly, depending on what cards you draw, and you always feel like you're walking a tightrope between making it to the next turn and utter failure. That constant push and pull might frustrate some, but if you're a fan of a challenge, this is going to be right up your alley.
That said, there are some issues that hold it back a bit. The miniatures are impressive, as are the visuals on the Bastion Tiles, Horde Cards, and pretty much everywhere else (even the rule book is slick). The actual character designs on the Hero Boards are a bit wanting, as only a few of them stand out in any real way. Last Bastion is also going to take up some significant space on your table, so you'll want to make sure you save it for your bigger surface, if you've got one.
The other main issue is the challenge itself, as you will probably fail a few times while working out all the systems and tricks of the game, and that will put some off. There is also a somewhat intimidating learning curve, mostly regarding learning what all the symbols mean and getting used to how the Horde Phase plays out, especially once several cards are in play.
Even with that learning curve, you'll quickly find yourself thinking ahead and strategizing your next move when it's not your turn, and once you understand the core mechanics and how things interact with each other, you'll really start to have a ball. The game is fast-paced and rewards risk-taking, and more often than not the safe choice is not actually the best choice, and that gives the game an edge and a sense of tension that is hard to resist. Sure, you might not win, but you're going to remember how much fun you had while trying to when all is said and done, and isn't that the point anyway? Yeah, we thought so too, and that's why Last Bastion deserves a spot in your collection.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Designed By: Repos Production
Published By: Asmodee
Last Bastion is available now.