Sunday, July 23, 2017

Board Game: Last Friday

I own a bunch of board and card games, and many of them are full-evening activities. We never wind up playing those games, though, because sussing out the rules takes a while on its own. So yesterday we scheduled such a game, and here we are!

The Game: The Last Friday
The Publisher: Ares Games
Time: About 2-3 hours, though I'm sure it would go faster now that we know how it works
Players: Me, +Michelle+John+Dirty Heart, Al, Kathy

Game Play: The Last Friday is a hidden movement game, much like Fury of Dracula or Letters from Whitechapel. As such, it's already a winner in my book. In it, one player (me, in this case) is the "maniac," unnamed but a pretty obvious Jason Vorhees homage. Everyone else is a camper. Five campers need to be represented, whether or not you have six players, so if you have fewer than that someone's controlling a few extras.

"I'll be right back."
The game consists of four chapters, each of which have (at most) 15 rounds, which sounds like a lot, but it moves pretty quickly. In Chapter One, the maniac is hunting down the campers and trying to kill them while the campers are trying to get into cabins safely (the cabins are locked at first, and you have to find keys and open them; the maniac can also use an ax to bust in and claim a cabin). If the maniac manages to kill all five, he wins, if not, then anyone who dies gets to bring in a new camper next chapter.

In Chapter Two, the campers are trying to find the slasher and kill him, while the slasher is trying to get away. Once the camper kills the maniac, that camper becomes the "Predestined".

In Chapter Three, the killer tries to find and kill the Predestined (which, again, wins the game for the maniac).

In Chapter Four, the campers try to surround and block the maniac so the Predestined can kill him. The maniac can win by just staying ahead of the campers and waiting it out.

The bigger white circles on that map are numbered; that's where the maniac moves, one at a time. The campers move on the dots between them. They can kill each other (depending on the chapter) by passing over one another. For example, in the first chapter the maniac kills campers by passing over them or letting them pass over him.

Both sides also have tokens that can be used for various effects. The campers' tokens let them light up an area (forcing the maniac to reveal himself if he comes into that area), run a bit further, listen for the maniac, and so on. The maniac's let him smash into unlocked cabins, trick the campers into thinking he's somewhere else, or extend the chapter a bit longer. During the first chapter, the maniac has almost all of his powers, but during subsequent chapters, it's based on how many people he killed in the previous chapter vs. how many surviving campers there are.

The maniac moves every round, but reveals his previous position (first and third chapters) or current position (second and fourth chapters) every third turn. It's therefore hard for the maniac to get truly lost.

Opinions: I'll say one thing for this game: The instructions were easy to follow. If you play a lot of board games, you know that's huge, especially when the company isn't American. We had a couple of rules hiccups in play, but I was able to find answers for them, and that's a big deal.

I generally like the game. I love this genre of movie, and there are a bunch of things that work to evoke the feel of a slasher movie. Unfortunately, one is that the campers are not the most diverse group of people. There is exactly one POC in 15 camper cards, and one of the others is wearing a faux Native American thing (headdress, paint, etc. I killed her first, with her player's help).  With that said, it's not like the campers' names or personalities impact the game much.

The tokens were kind of a sticking point. Players get clue tokens (which then get revealed to be one of the several types of useful thing) by following the trail that the maniac leaves, which is fine, but there aren't many of them and when you die, you lose any you've accumulated. Likewise, the slasher begins with four of his powers, but then getting more is difficult. The game is weighted to favor the slasher having powers in chapters 2 and 4, when he really needs them because he can't kill, and so I suppose that's good.

All in all, I like it. I enjoy this style of game anyway, but this is nicely uncomplicated in comparison to, say, Fury of Dracula.

A camper is about to meet the business end of a machete.
Keep? Yep.