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Sneak Peek: Defenders of the Last Stand

Posted by Account Deletion {Family Gamer} | 5-May-15 | 10 comments

Defenders of the Last Stand Logo

This month 8th Summit Games will launch a Kickstarter campaign for Defenders of the Last Stand, a highly-thematic post-apocalyptic adventure game designed by Richard Launius incorporating different mechanics we’ve come to love from his catalog to deliver a wholly original experience.

Jason Maxwell, the brains behind 8th Summit and co-developer of Defenders of the Last Stand, sat down with us to provide some insight into the game and what makes it unique and exciting. But first we have a quick introductory video with Richard Launius that gives an overview of what we can expect from his latest title:

What was it that drew you to the post-apocalyptic theme?

JM: I’m a big fan of Mad Max. I knew several years ago that a film was coming out in 2015, and I always wanted a big adventure game set in a post-apocalypse setting. No better time to come out with a game than this summer. I discovered that post-apocalypse settings can range broadly; others’ ideas for the post-apocalypse never matched my own. I wanted a game, in the very least, with cars and leather-clad punks and bikers. I approached a few designers with the idea and they either showed me prototypes that I didn’t think matched well with what I was looking for, or they were not interested. Richard Launius was telling me one day that he wanted to use mechanics from Defenders and transplant them into a setting on Mars. I immediately responded that those mechanics would be great for a post-apocalypse setting! This game has become very important to both Richard and I so we have not been holding back anything.

In the video Richard talks at length about the Invaders; while the inspiration for the Barbarians (the motorcycle-riding, weapon-toting trouble-makers) seems clear and the Techies are pretty straight-forward, is there a story behind the Earthers (mutant-buffalo riding Amazons) or the Monstrosity?

Defenders of the Last Stand Wing Mutation

JM: Richard always wanted to add fantastical, mutated creatures – a deeper insertion of fantasy and sci-fi than I envisioned. But in fact, this is the kind of stuff that you more commonly see in post-apocalypse games. The game is all his design – I just requested specific elements and developed what he created. This combination and the gameplay worked really well as a finished product from the very first prototype. What you get is a combination of Fallout and Mad Max in its own unique setting. That’s why you see Monstrosities alongside desert bikers.

How is character mutation in Defenders of the Last Stand handled?

JM: Some areas of the board are highly irradiated. This radiation can spread to other areas of the board. When you finish your turn in one of these areas you check your radiation resistance and make a dice roll. If you fail the roll you have to draw a Mutation. There are also events and story encounters that may require you to draw a Mutation. Most mutations are positive – by failing your roll you could gain a new ability. However, each Mutation has a number on the card; the higher the number the more severe your Mutation. If you mutate too much – if those numbers get too high – you lose all your humanity and turn into a Monstrosity for the Clan Leader, joining his ranks and adding one of his miniatures to the board. As a player you must then draw a new character or reset your current character.

Defenders of the Last Stand Diner Art

Does gambling in Defenders of the Last Stand work in the same manner as in Defenders of the Realm?

JM: Yes. You bet a card and then flip two Defender cards. If one of the cards matches your bet card color you keep all cards. If not, you lose the card you bet. Some characters have powers that enhance betting.

You’ve been working on this title with Richard for years. What excites you most about the mechanics?

JM: The Reference board for Defenders of the Last Stand showing all of a player’s possible actions on their turn excited me the most. It’s huge! Three years ago, Richard showed me an unfinished prototype of another post-apocalypse game, but I didn’t know how to develop that game to fit what I envisioned, so my search continued. When Richard first mentioned reusing the mechanics from Defenders for a new game, it immediately dawned on me that this was the perfect starting point. I wanted to add an adventuring element and light mutations. Richard took it a lot further. There are unique and common artifacts you can collect. You can now discard Defender cards with icons to take a lot more actions, even directly damaging the Clan Leaders before players conduct the big dice battle against them. You can discard cards to protect against radiation and draw special cards. Having too many decisions to make on a turn can hurt a game, but what makes this game less intimidating is this: If you have played Defenders of the Realm or Arkham Horror before you will be very familiar and excited with all of your possible choices. A lot of the game will be intuitive. It will be easy for an experienced player to sit down and understand quickly.

Are you worried at all about it being too complex for players not familiar with Defenders of the Realm or Arkham Horror?

JM: No, this shouldn’t be too complicated for hobby gamers.

Defenders of the Last Stand Buffalo Minion

It seems like there’s great opportunity for expansion simply through the addition of different breeds of Invaders. Have you play-tested any outside of the base four that you’ve got release plans for?

JM: No, not yet. We intentionally decided not to take it much further than the base game. We have additional hero characters we will be offering up as stretch goals, but not boxed expansions. The problem is that this is such a big, complex game it didn’t make sense to jump into offering boxed expansions yet. There’s a ton of gameplay already. It’s very complex to create new villains for Defenders. I love expansions myself for games I buy and play, so if the game does well you can bet there will be more to come.

A few questions worth asking of any cooperative game… first, will there be differing difficulty levels built into Defenders of the Last Stand?

JM: We are creating scenarios for the game. There will be a base scenario you can replay. Or you can play more difficult scenarios.

Can those scenarios link into a campaign?

JM: That would be interesting, and I’ve been saying for 10 years that board games will go more and more in that direction. But this game doesn’t really lend itself to that. Richard may have a different answer, however…

Defenders of the Last Stand Portrait

Is Defenders of the Last Stand playable solitaire?

JM: Yes, definitely. We are talking Richard Launius. As far I can tell, Arkham Horror is one of the first, and may very well have been the first, published cooperative board game for adults. There were children’s cooperative board games that were published in the 70s, but not board games for hobby gamers. Richard created Arkham Horror back in the 80s so that he could play games by himself.

What do you feel makes this game stand out from other cooperative games?

JM: It’s a culmination of a lot of great Richard Launius designs rolled into one game that feels entirely fresh. The setting is unique for a big adventure board game. And above all, the true test of a great cooperative board game for me is if I can find myself having so much fun right off the bat that I don’t care how well I am playing or if the bad decisions of myself or others affect the outcome of the game. In fact, the first time we played the prototype, I didn’t care about important playtesting items like balance, fixing broken cards, or finding things to criticize. That’s rare. Usually you immediately go into “how can we fix this” mode when playing a prototype. It turned into a game I played strictly for fun. If you ever have that experience playing a prototype – especially the first prototype – you know you have something special.

Defenders of the Last Stand Multi-Arm Mutation

Defenders of the Last Stand hits Kickstarter in under two weeks. We’ll be there on day one, so if you’re as excited as we are be sure to keep that Kickstarter page refreshing on May 14th. Or check back here – we’ll be sure to remind you!

Comments (10)

Gamer Avatar
I Am What I Am
Comic Book Fan
Basketball Fan
Pet Lover

Interest is piqued. not a huge fan of the theme, but everything else looks good!

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Intermediate Reviewer
Professional Grader

Looks really good.

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Gamer - Level 1

Can’t wait for this one!

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Professional Reviewer Beta 1.0 Tester
Silver Supporter
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan

Looks really good.

Gamer Avatar
Miniature Painter

This slipped under my radar but I’ve just caught it thanks to the BG homepage 🙂

Gamer Avatar
I'm a Player!

Awesome! I was just contemplating getting this game…especially after seeing the new Mad Max. Game looks like so much fun!

Gamer Avatar
My First Heart

Kickstarter is set to start this Thursday, the 14th. This is going to be one great game!

Gamer Avatar
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter

I’ll take Defenders of the Realm over Pandemic any day of the week – so yeah….

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Z-Man Games fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Stone of the Sun

This sounds awesome, looking forward to this one!

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El Dorado
Professional Advisor

Definitely a no brainer for me…can’t wait for may 14th

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