Being chased though the streets by a ravenous horde of zombies, rushing towards your safe house and the protection it promises. As you begin to tire, your pursuers close in and you begin to feel that hope is slowly running out. Suddenly a colander wearing warrior leaps from the rooftops and strikes down your attackers with a staff topped with duct-taped knives. You enter the house, slam the door shut and catch your breath; looking around the room you see nine others and know that you have just scored ten points for your team.
When it comes to card games, my main experience comes from either building silly decks on Hearthstone or running away screaming from Magic: The Gathering. The majority of card games I play are games like Coup or Lords of Scotland which are nice little distractions from meatier, more dynamic experiences. Last One In however promises to both be a simple card game to pick up and learn, whilst also being a more fulfilling experience.
Last One In is an up and coming card game by City Gate Games. The game is a modular card game set in an apocalyptic, zombie filled landscape, where players are competing to either save civilians or to lure zombies into their opponent's town. Players do this over a course of rounds by playing civilian cards into open houses they have previously played, and then deciding whether or not to add zombies to their opponent's zombie pile.
Gameplay flows like this: Players play an open house in front of them that they then attempt to fill with survivors. When played (or previously active from an earlier round) the house allows you to either draw cards or choose cards from the 'town square' (a market of five cards that sits between the players) which means choosing a house to play is a strategic choice as not only are you choosing a size of house (houses have various population caps that you need to fill in order to score them) but also deciding on how many cards you are going to get to play with.
To mix up the gameplay, the game features many cards that allow you to affect your opponent, such as zombie cards that can be played out of hand to send back any zombies added to you pile, which they then have to add to theirs. Allowing you to keep your total low whilst gleefully screwing them over. Also, cards that let you add civilians to your open safe house and then also take an additional civilian card from the town square and adding it to the safe house if possible, allowing you to secure a safe house quickly under the nose of your opponent. Little additions like this make the game more tactical and allow for more player interaction, which for my money allows for more fun.
The typical way to play the game is in a 1v1 match, the game also allows for a 2v2 experience or a 3 to 4 player free for all. I myself prefer the 1v1 experience as I find it more tactical, but the additions of extra modes mean that other players are not left waiting for a game to finish. The experience can be a little more tense as you now have to worry about to hands of cards being played against you, though thankfully zombies can only be played against the player directly in front of you, stopping a team from winning through swamping one player to victory.
Last One In is a quick and fun card game which I found to be easy to learn and quite moorish. After playing one game I found myself wanting to play another almost immediately, which is pretty much the best thing that a game can hope for upon a first experience. I have enjoyed games such as Epic and Star Realms, and Last One In certainly feels similar in certain ways to those games, whilst still being unique. The artwork of the game is a particular selling point for me; the look of the cards combines a comic book feel with grim horror, like a copy of Plants Vs Zombies covered in brain matter.
Whilst Last One In is a solid experience, it does have a few draw backs here and there. Although keeping track of how many zombies you have isn't too complex, I often found myself having to recount my pile in order to reassess my strategy at the time. The impreciseness of that can lend itself to a sinking feeling when you realise how close to doom you are, but the addition of a counter app or at least a branded notepad in box wouldn't go amiss. Also, on repeated plays I found myself wanting a little more randomness from the experience, similar to Star Realms, perhaps a few random events or cards that change the state of play for both players. In recent discussions, the game's developers have let me know that up and coming cards will affect the decks and all cards in play, so I hope that this can shake up the experience somewhat.
My favourite thing about Last One In is it's very modular nature. The developers describe the game as being a modular card game and I think the idea will really boost the re-playability, as well as making it stand out from the crowd. Being able to switch in and out various cards, effectively making the exact experience of the game that the players want. This flexibility will seemingly iron out most people's potential minor issues with the game or on the contrary, allow players to toss in every legal combination possible and revel in the madness of it!
At present Last One In is a fun game to play, but its future updates are where I expect the game to shine. Inclusion of new cards and new game modes will not only bring in a new audience but also lift the game beyond its already solid core experience. I am looking forward to seeing more from this particular title that will be releasing on Kickstarter at the end of May 2018. So all that is left to do is get comfortable, hunker down and make sure to close the safe house door on the way in.