Review: Attack on Titan: the Last Stand

Designer: Antoine Bauza, Ludovic Maublanc
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Category: One Vs. All
Player Count: 2-5
Price: $39.99
When I first set out to review the Attack on Titan Deck-Building Game, I binge-watched the entire first season of the show, and loved it. So I’m all the more excited to see that Cryptozoic is back with another Attack on Titan game, this time from famous designers Antoine Bauza (Hanabi, 7 Wonders, Tokaido) and Ludovic Maublanc (Ca$h ‘n Guns)! In The Last Stand, one player takes the role of a Titan, trying to defeat the other players before they take him down. The game is highly asymmetrical, with the Titan player using cards while the heroes use dice. Does it work? Let’s find out!

Content Guide

Although Attack on Titan is an intense, violent show, there is little-to-no gore in the game. However, the Titan standee is intimidating, “nude,” and in the process of eating someone. Also, one way the Titan wins is to eat 12 citizens, or to kill one hero.

Review

I had the chance to play this game with friends who have never seen the show, and the excellent components certainly beg a few questions. “That guy has no pants,” one said, to which I replied, “It’s okay, he has no genitals either, or a stomach, he just eats people for fun…” Boy, Attack on Titan is a weird show. In any case, the components for this game are extremely good. The tower and the titan standee aren’t all that necessary—it could have been done with a flat player mat—but they look super cool and are worth the price of inclusion. In fact, given all the cool components here (20 chunky dice, oversized cards, etc.), a $39.99 MSRP price tag is pretty low! The components look great overall. I tried to hunt for a nitpick about the components, and I honestly couldn’t find one. They’re great.
And once this game begins, it’s fast and furious. Our games clocked in at 30 minutes or less, occasionally 40 with more players. There’s actually a fair amount to explain at the beginning, because the back-and-forth phases seem far different than many other games, and there are lots of special abilities. Those phases center around a dice mechanism that’s brilliant, and the driving force of the tension behind the game. First, the Titan picks two cards to attack with, but the second is face down to surprise the players. Then, the players roll their dice. In a brilliant twist, they can reroll as many times as they want, but any face symbols go to the Titan player, which he will then use to punish them. When they’re done, the Titan player uses their dice against them—but each dice he uses is returned to the players! They can then reroll those dice, although further face symbols are still set aside. This simple back-and-forth mechanism does a lot to generate tension and excitement on both sides of the battle. After this phase, players have to try and block the Titan attack cards, one at a time, and then finally have their chance to wreak havoc on the Titan.
Players can use their dice to move and attack the Titan with swords and cannons, but the main way they mess up the Titan are with Tactics cards. There are seven, with one face-up at any given moment. They require the players be in a certain formation with certain symbols among them, and then give an effect. One heals the players, one makes the Titan play cards all face-up (very powerful), and one sends him straight to the Kill Zone—which is a requirement for using either of the cards needed to win—Neck Slash, or Eradication (you can’t just win on damage, because—of course—Titans regenerate!). Players can also use Tactics symbols to shift through the deck in addition to using them to block Titan attacks.
On top of all this, each player takes one of eight different heroes, each with a special ability, and the Titan player chooses one of four completely different Titan personalities, each with its own deck of cards and special abilities. The game has tons of re-playability right in the box, and is ripe for expansions with new Titans and new characters as the show continues. But even what’s in the box is quite enough. The abilities are all extremely powerful and impressive, making it tough to decide which to pick, and making for extremely even games. Our last three-player game had both heroes at one health each, when we managed to roll exactly what we needed to finish the Titan off before we surely lost the next round. Very few games have been a complete one-sided victory. That being said, the game involves a ton of dice rolling and card shuffling, and is very heavy on luck. But getting into the excitement and the story of the action—and for me, getting into the theme of the show—elevated the game so high that we never had a serious gripe about luck or strategy. We always felt like we had options and never felt like the game was just playing us.
A decade or two ago, the idea of a TV- or movie-themed board game was almost always a bad idea, a janky cash-in. In recent years, games like Star Wars X-Wing and Marvel Legendary have made good, licensed games a reality, and Attack on Titan: The Last Stand stands neck-and-neck with those titles. It’s fast, furious, exciting, evocative, and extremely fun.
Thank you to Cryptozoic Entertainment for providing a review copy of Attack on Titan: The Last Stand.

The Bottom Line

Attack on Titan: the Last Stand is a great board game in its own right, even for those who haven't seen the show. For those that have, this is the definitive Attack on Titan board game.

 

9.2