Attack on Titan: The Last Stand
Bauza, Antoine & Maublanc, Ludovic
Don’t Panic Games
The Titans are attacking! With one player as the Titan and the others heroes like Eren, Mikasa, and Levi, can they weaken the Titan enough to get a killing shot? Or will they lose all hope as the Titan destroys the cannons and eat the citizens? It’s time to risk it all!
If you’re an anime fan who has been living under a rock… Hi! Thanks for visiting! The new big hit is Attack on Titan, about giants eat people, and it has gotten to the point where the survivors all live behind walls. And, like usual, teenagers are humanity’s only hope. Oh, and One Piece is still going but the other two of the Shounen Big 3 are finished. Also, eating laundry detergent is a thing evidently.
For everyone else, we’re moving on.
Attack on Titan: The Last Stand is a one vs many game for up to five people. It can’t really be played solo, and in a two-player game, the Hero player controls two characters.
But before I go any further, the first thing that makes The Last Stand stand out is the actual stands. (Puns intended.)
The Titan is about 15 inches (40 cm) tall, and the tower is about half of that. It really is cool to see a huge Titan on the table. I also get a kick out of the little baby cannons. The dice are a good size, and the tactics and character cards are also big. It feels like the designers decided to go all-out on the giant theme. Even the “small” cards are standard size and not Ticket to Ride mini size.
Here’s the thing though: both the Titan and the tower are a major pain to put together. Let’s start with the Titan. When I first had it on the table, I couldn’t figure out why it was lopsided. I examined the bottom, and the cuts between the front and the back and the two pieces were slightly different, one skinnier, one wider. I had to force one of the bottom pieces so that it was perpendicular with the Titan, damaging it slightly. I could have used an X-acto knife or something, but it’s still a quality control issue.
The tower is even worse. It does not just snap together. Honestly, I think just gluing it together and displaying it until you want to play is the way to go. You have to try to get four walls and a roof to connect for each of the two Levels, The connecting areas aren’t that big, and they don’t snap together like a puzzle. The best way I found is to put the roof on the table and try to connect the walls that way. Make sure you add some time before the game to try to assemble it. I got frustrated several times, and even in the end, it isn’t a perfect fit. It’s fine once it’s put together, but I am also concerned that if you repeatedly play this game, there will be some long-term damage. Again, just gluing it from the start would be the best bet. Plus, you have a neat little scene to display in between games.
I do wish the characters looked more determined instead of just poses that look like they’re from a character design sheet. The box looks cool, why not the Heroes? Heck, the Titan standee is about to eat someone; the Heroes like they’re lining up for school picture day.
Oh, and while there are eight characters, you choose at most four to play. You swap the stands between characters to match a set of dice. So, if you do want to display this scene, you’ll need to either steal some stands from other games or just have half the cast leaning on the tower or whatever. The dice are all the same, so it doesn’t matter which color you are.
But what about the actual game itself?
The game is played in seven steps:
- Titan player selects two of cards in hand, one face up, one face down. The two played in a previous round are unavailable.
- Players roll their dice as many times as they want. Together, individually, round-robin style, doesn’t matter. They keep going as long as they want, but dice with Titan faces must be handed over to the Titan player.
- Titan player decides whether to use the dice or not. If they do, they can use one of the three abilities on their card and then return the used dice to the other players. If not, the Titan can pass but not return the dice.
- Heroes get one chance to reroll returned dice. This time, Titan heads aren’t returned, but they are just locked for the round.
- Heroes first get a chance to prevent the Titan’s visible card’s action by paying the cost; otherwise, the Titan player does the card’s effects. Then the hidden card is revealed and again it is either prevented or applied.
- Heroes then use their other dice. The dice can be used individually or, if they meet the position and dice requirements on the Tactics card, use the revealed Tactics card for a certain effect. Otherwise:
- Swords = 1 damage to Titan, but only if on the Titan
- Cannons = 2 damage, but only if on the tower. Max number of cannon dice used in a round cannot exceed how many cannons there currently are.
- Character = Move 1 Level. Exception is that for one movement die, can jump between table (Level 0) to first level of the tower (Level 3), from Level 3 to the top of the tower (Level 5), or vise versa.
- Shields = move on to the next Tactics card
- Hook = only used to prevent some Titan effects or for Tactics card. No use otherwise.
- Titan player returns unused dice and sets the two cards used aside. Players also get their spent dice back.
The Tactics cards are extremely important in this game. There are seven of them, and they each have a different cost and effect. Two characters must be on certain Levels with a required die cost, plus the team must also meet a third requirement. Blinding Shot, for instance, has to have one character on Level four of the Titan with two Hook dice, one character on Level 3 with a cannon die, and then the team must have an additional two cannon symbols. One of two particular Tactics cards, Eradication and Neck Slash, must be activated for the Heroes to win the game. Instead of having a team dice cost like the other five, these need to have the Titan be in the Kill Zone — i.e. the Titan must be at 3 HP or less. Once a Tactics card has been used, it is removed from the game.
Heroes, meanwhile, have only 3 HP in total, and if any one of them lose all three hearts, the Heroes lose. They also lose if all six cannons are destroyed or if all 12 citizens have been eaten. Like most co-op games, there are more ways to lose than to win.
There are four Titans, each with their own seven card deck and three special abilities. Each Hero has their own special ability, like Eren being able to give dice to teammates or Mikasa counting one sword die as two sword dice.
Of course, the real question is whether The Last Stand is a good game or not. I think the main question is, “How many people are you going to play this with regularly?” This game can be played with two people, with one player controlling two Heroes. Maybe in a four, five player game it’s different, but I found it extremely hard to win as the Titan with two or three players.
First off, with only two or three players rolling dice, it makes it very hard for the Titan player to get five faces to activate their ultimate ability. There were a lot of rounds where I was playing as the Titan and would only get one face, and only one of the four Titans has a 1-face ability. So, yeah, the players couldn’t use the die, but I couldn’t do anything either. Levi’s ability is that he doesn’t hand over Titan faces, so, that also can help freeze out the Titan player from being able to do much in a game with low player counts.
Even worse in a two-Hero game, the Heroes only need to activate two of the three requirements on each Tactics cards. (The exception is Neck Slash or Eradication, which specifically require the Titan in the Kill Zone and a Hero on Level 8.) One card when activated immediately puts the Titan in the Kill Zone. If that card is the one revealed at the beginning of the game and one of the game-winning cards is the second, the Heroes can easily take this thirty-minute game and end in it in two rounds. Think that won’t happen? Select Armin at the start of the game. He can get any specific Tactics card for one shield instead of just moving on to the next card. Considering you can reroll as many times as you like, it is unlikely that Armin will end his turn without a shield. Perhaps characters should be chosen randomly to prevent Armin from being drafted every game.
I’ve never played with a larger group, so I can’t give my own personal experiences in how the game changes. But judging from other reviews, this seemed to be a common criticism. The cooperative board game Pandemic is easier in my opinion with a larger team since the hand limit becomes less of a factor. Here, it’s the opposite. With three or four players rolling the dice, the risk of getting five Titan faces is much higher, and the Titan’s ultimate ability can be a lot harder to manage. Destructive and Voracious Titans remove 2 cannons and 4 citizens respectively. That’s 1/3 of the starting set, so a team can’t let this happen three times without activating some type of Tactics card — which, because of the larger group, has to have three requirements to activate instead of any two.
It also seems possible for the Heroes to turtle for long periods of time, especially with the Basic Titan. While this is annoying for all players, it is possible considering there are only two types of costs to avoid the Titan’s Action Cards. It’s either two hooks from a player who would be affected or shields equal to the number of Heroes for the entire team. The Titan’s deck, after the first round, only has five cards available, and one is face up on the table. Plus a couple might not be an issue for a round depending on what Levels the Heroes are on. Again, in a larger group, it is more likely that the Heroes are spread out so that the Titan player isn’t just playing useless cards that won’t affect anyone. I’m not saying that the Heroes should lose, say, 75% of the time like in many co-ops, but The Last Stand should be more 50-50 at all player counts. It is short enough that you will likely have time to let someone else be the Titan instead of just playing one-and-done , but the fact that players can roll one die at time does add some play time. I didn’t notice any huge difficulty spikes between the Titans minus the easy-level Basic.
I also found out while gathering information that there was a rule either added later or missed in the English version (at least the first printing): the Titan cannot use its ultimate ability if it’s in the Kill Zone or the Weak Zone (the four spaces before the Kill Zone). Like, holy cow, how is the Titan player supposed to win?! I mean, I wondered why the third ability was in yellow and why there was a Weak Zone, but seriously? If this was a mistake, how was it missed? I didn’t even see this noted on the official game website as to whether this is supposed to be a rule or not. I think only one time I played did the Titan manage to get five Titans, so it didn’t change my played games dramatically, but still. I think I’d house rule allowing the Titan player to use the third ability in the Weak and Kill Zones in a two-Hero game.
On the bright side, as I mentioned, this game looks cool, and it does have an Attack on Titan feel to it thanks to the giant on the table and the Heroes jumping from Level to Level. It’s definitely something I don’t think non-fans will “get”, as strategy-heavy players will want something with more meat and casual gamers would rather play a Monopoly version of their favorite series or interest. It will probably attract some attention though thanks to its pop-up design.
Attack on Titan: The Last Stand does look cool on a table despite its assembly problems. However, I won’t be playing this much since I never play with four or five people, and it felt like the Titan was just stalling the inevitable. Perhaps someone will come up with a pure co-op game like Castle Panic for Attack on Titan for those of us who play by ourselves or with 1-2 other people.