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24 June 2024
Darren Werner

Destiny is all, but you also need a good strategy.

OVERVIEW

I think many of you have watched The Last Kingdom series breathless. Well, I didn’t. I think many of you were very excited when you heard that there will be a board game after this series. Well, I wasn’t. But reading other opinions and positive reviews in which this game was praised, made me curious.

I am no stranger to the world of The Last Kingdom, I read 5 of the novels written by Bernard Cornwell, after which the TV series was inspired. But the fact that the board game was in close connection with the series, having the artwork with images from the movie did not attract me at all. But now that I’ve played the game, I can say that I was wrong about it, and that all the positive reviews were rightfully given.

The Last Kingdom follows the power struggle between the years 872-898, in which Britain was divided into several kingdoms, divided in the face of the Danish invaders. You will step into the shoes of a leader and try to bring victory to one side or the other of the barricade.

The Last Kingdom @BoardGameColors

HOW TO PLAY


The game plays over 2 rounds, each round having 3 phases:

Draft: each player is dealt 5 cards that they draft amongst themselves, choosing which cards to keep and which to pass;

Conflict: players take turns performing primary and secondary actions to resolve the conflict until all consecutively pass and the current conflict is resolved. Players aligned to the winning side gain victory points based on how much affinity they have for the factions with units in the conflict region; this will repeat until the conflict is resolved in all 5 regions;

Cleanup.


The Last Kingdom @BoardGameColors

 

GAMEPLAY


The map is divided into 5 regions. The game will have 2 rounds, and one round will last until a conflict is resolved in each of the 5 regions.

I played the game in 2, 4 and 5 players. Although the game works well with 2 players, we recommend it in a larger number. The part with alliances and betrayals does not work very well in 2; the more the number of players will be, the more unforeseen situations will appear, this giving a special air to the game.

We really like the way you can take the actions. Each round you will have a limited number of cards in your hand that you can play as you wish and several Action Tokens that you can spend to move your heroes or activate Action Plaques.

The Last Kingdom @BoardGameColors

Because of these limitations, you will tend to hesitate when fighting for a region. Because they are limited and each round can have at least 5 conflicts, you must think carefully before consuming them because you may realize in the later conflicts that you have nothing to use to face your enemies.

The way you activate action plaques is also quite engaging. Depending on the position of the tiles, to activate them you must pay a cost. After a tile is activated, it moves to the end of the site, having the highest cost. You will always be in competition with the other players involving these plaques, trying to activate the tiles you are interested in before your competitors, but also pay as little as possible for them.

The cards are divided into 2 decks, each round having its own deck. The ones in round 2 are stronger. Some will give you instant effects, some permanent effects and some will be discarded after you use them. These will help you place, move, or remove troops from the map, or grow on affinity tracks.

When you choose your leader, you will have a choice of 10 available characters. Each one comes with very different abilities, affinities, and characteristics of their own. We also played the game with people who watched the series and told us that the characteristics received by the characters in the game correlate with how the characters are in the series.

The Last Kingdom @BoardGameColors

The first time I laid my eyes on this game and heard the fact that the confrontation will take place between 4 factions, one of which is Danes and the other 3 Saxons, I thought the player who will play Danes will have no chance of winning against several Saxon players. When I understood the game, I was amazed to see that you don’t really represent any of the 4 factions, you only represent your own interests. You will be able to change your affinity depending on who you anticipate winning the current conflict. In fact, the real confrontation will not be between the Danes and the Saxons, but between the players, each one trying to gain as many points as possible from the conflict and beat their opponents, or at least minimize their gains. You will be able to manipulate points gained by bringing or moving troops from the region, and you will always want to have as many troops as possible from the faction you are higher on the affinity track.

Although, when you climb to the top of an affinity track, and you must grow on that track above the maximum position, you will receive 6 victory points, it is not necessarily a good strategy to grow on only one track. Growing on affinity tracks is not easy, you will have to invest quite a lot of resources from the already limited ones you have. After conflicts you will always receive several points equal to the relationship between the troops in the region and the level you are on the affinity track of the troops present. There will be times when you won’t be able to bring the troops to the region that will help you gain most points, or maybe your opponents will eliminate your troops. A good strategy is not to ignore any of the affinity tracks, so that you’re always able to earn some points. Fewer points are better than nothing.

The Last Kingdom @BoardGameColors

ARTWORK AND COMPONENTS


The art of the game is closely related to the TV series. The illustrations on the cards and on the game box are images taken from the show, which probably makes it even more appealing to the fandom of the show. Although we haven’t seen the TV series, and we’re not big fans of the real-life or movie artwork, preferring the drawn type, we can say that it fits the game well and even though we initially had reservations about it, the pleasant gameplay managed to convince us and occupy a leading place among our top games.

The game comes with 21 miniatures, 18 of which are representations of characters from the movie. The miniatures are of good quality and urge you to paint them. They will populate the map very nicely, helping you to better observe the distribution of heroes on the map. Also, the regular troops are represented by 3D tokens, in the form of soldier statuettes, looking like real wooden sculptures from that time and which give the game a more authentic look.

The Last Kingdom @BoardGameColors

 

FINAL THOUGHTS


An interesting thing that I don’t think I’ve come across in any other game is the way you can say pass. There are two types of passes in the game, a temporary pass and a permanent pass. This opens the door to many strategies. You can say temporary pass and wait for the other players to solve the conflict by spending their resources, and you can intervene when you think it is appropriate for your own interest. And the second type of pass, the permanent one, will reward you with action tokens if you are the first to activate it. You will also be the one who decides where the next conflict will take place. This gives you an advantage, being able to choose a region where your troops have a majority, making everything more difficult for the opponents.

The Last Kingdom @BoardGameColorsWe also liked the fact that not only conflicts can help you win the game. You can earn points from various other skills as well, you need to take advantage of any method and any character skill to collect point by point towards victory. You need to adapt to the situation, always trying to gain as many points as possible, even if this means turning your weapons against your allies and changing your alliance. The multitude of characters and their abilities open up a large number of strategies you can tackle throughout the game, also giving it great replayability.

As for the interaction between players, The Last Kingdom is a game where this interaction is the core of the game. You will make alliances, you will betray, all in your own interest, but it is very important to know when to do it.

The Last Kingdom @BoardGameColorsThe game is full of difficult decisions. You must learn when to give up, when to betray, and when to fight for points. The way points are awarded after each conflict is also very interesting. Depending on your affinity, you will receive points if the side you fought for wins. You will choose 5 soldiers surviving the battle and depending on your position on the faction affinity track, you will receive points for each.

In The Last Kingdom, victory depends on your ability to adapt to tense situations, knowing when your interest is above the victory of the action you represent. Victory will never come through winning a single battle, it will always be the sum of many battles, won or not, and all the actions you take.

RATING 9/10.

Disclaimer: Review copy from GamelynGames.

If you like to see how a real Viking would play The Last Kingdom take a look at our video: How to play The Last Kingdom like a real Viking.

And if you like what we do a follow on our Instagram would be really appreciated: BoardGameColors

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