Sunday, January 6, 2019

Mini-Review: Osprey's Last Days

My particular hard copy arrived after the USPS claimed it was probably lost en route... About a week and a half late, but hey! There wasn't any rush and I got it for maybe 15 bucks or something, so no harm done. A good looking book with great art, nice photos of well-painted minis (mostly Hasslefree, I think?). Simple, although maybe too many stats, is my first thought.

It's fun, and well made, some other people have done it better and more thoroughly. I like that there is some within-team tension, and I like that you don't have to use weird dice (this is my least favorite thing about the Walking Dead game, all the dumb weird dice)

Coulda used some more rules on varieties of zoms, maybe (note: easy enough to hack, on my own) and the effects that non-meshing builds have. For example, there is a rule that your leader  can "Have the Talk" with a member of the crew who doesn't share the same psychological tag as him or her. Well, that's great if you want to keep hiring on gangbangers or something if your leader is a Nice Guy. But! There's really no bad effects from having a team member on board who doesn't fit within the preliminary team-building guidelines. Say you pick up a couple of real bad hombres in the course of play, either through capture or rescue, or whatever... I get the impression this is an eventuality that might occur. Until you "Have The Talk" with them, some morale deficiencies owing to disharmony seems pretty reasonable, until at last they defect and hit the road, or else come around. So: team members who don't share tags with the leader don't follow orders, or maybe loot counters they get don't have full value, or something. It seems like this must have been included in there at one point. A great number of things occurred to me whilst reading that were like O THATS COOL, THEY MUST ADDRESS THAT LATER, but then i got to the end of the thing and that was it.

I guess I like the book as a physical object. The margins seem sort of wide... Like a Freshman English essay? Like, hey man, use a slightly larger font, make the margins smaller, the book slightly shorter, whatever. I felt like even the low price I paid via the sale was sort of paying for a great deal of empty layout. Too much white space in my game books makes me nervous. Frostgrave has that feeling, also, and it's my goto favorite wargame for a good long while, but Frostgrave is nice and tidy and a complete package.

Good Things: it hints that there is a really good game in there, somewhere. And it seems like it was probably much grander in scope than what we are given. The 'DLC model' of releases is fine, I guess. The impression I had is that some of the more fun stuff that was in there must have been advised or edited out. Like "THIS IS TOO COMPLICATED MAN CHOP IT OUT" and then they had to bump the margins larger to account for missing space.

As a comparison, Mantic's The Walking Dead : All Out War has made me feel tense and nervous and (dumb weird dice aside) there is a real feeling of dread that comes through in playing the game. I start that game up and I wish my little people were some other place instead of on that 2x2 or 3x3 board. A very interesting thing is that TWD:AOW presents a 'solo version' of the game within the first few pages of the quick start. I wish that a lot of other pubs put out a product that didn't always make the assumption that you and a couple of friends could get together to play it. TWD:AOW seems to me more limited in scope, justified in its DLC model (Days Gone Bye is kind of a game-changer in terms of dropping custom figure rules), and chock full of zombie-apocalypse horror. On the flipside, I don't like to manage a bunch of cards and tokens and bits and bobs. One bad thing about Last Days is that every action accumulates counters (I guess you can put them on the fig's card instead of on the board) to keep track of ammo use and other conditions.

All in all, a good dame, needs a little polish and some at-the-table hacking but it's nice and neat and great in that it doesn't need a proprietary fig set. You just dig out what you have and use it.