Diary of a First-Time Designer – #18 LAST (STAND) Year

First-Time Designer Issue 18

Join me on my continuing multi-part series as Martin and I attempt to turn our jumble of half-conceived brain sparks into our first fully functioning board game.

Part 18 – LAST (STAND) Year

Wow, has it really been a year!

One year ago, I had an idea pop into my head where players build robots piece by piece and then fight giant monsters attacking the Earth. That day, I phoned up Martin and asked him if he wanted to join me in developing a game that would hopefully be published. A couple of days later, I was round his house with a laptop, spit-balling ideas and shaping our thoughts into something more tangible.

In the last 12 months we've created various incarnations of a prototype, showcased at the UK Games Expo, built a variety of contacts, started a blog on our progress, created an early draft of the rulebook and conducted over 20 playtests around the UK. Oh, we also changed the name from Kaijukazi!

As I write this, we feel that the game is very much there mechanically. The systems are working in tandem with each other, there is a good level of balance and players have reported enjoying the game while playtesting.

Now that we are approaching the next significant step, I thought it might be a good idea to tell you more about how the game works...an overview perhaps. It might also give some of the playtests I will be writing about some context.

I would describe the game in two ways, depending on who I was talking to. If I was talking to an experienced gamer I would say; “LAST STAND is a semi-co-op worker placement game where you build giant robots to defend against attacking Kaiju who are trying to destroy the Earth and your worker placement spots."

If I was explaining the game to an inexperienced gamer I would say; “LAST STAND is a game where you defend the Earth from attacking monsters by building your own powerful robot or ‘Titan’."

Of all people, Ignacy Trzewiczek advised me that it is best to describe your game not by the mechanics and systems but by what players actually do in the game. It makes it more compelling and relatable. Despite this, I’ll be writing with the assumption that experienced gamers are reading.

The board in our board game is the world, roughly divided into continents called ‘regions’. Each player takes responsibility for a region and is given their own player board that contains a graphic of a basic version or their Titan. The six regions of the board have a worker placement, or ‘action’ space, where a body part can be obtained after the placement of a worker. It is then installed on their player board, overlaid over the basic Titan’s corresponding body part. The body parts provide a dice for use in combat and can be upgraded to provide a dice changing mechanic such as a re-roll.

The purchased body parts are all designated either Air, Land or Sea just as the attacking Kaiju are also designated Air, Land and Sea. In addition to the six body part actions, there are 12 other action spaces that do a variety of things like increase income (the lifeblood of the game), draw power cards or place shield or ‘Military’ tokens on the board to be spent if a Kaiju attacks that spot.

Kaiju spawn via the roll of a dice and arrive at a random location on the board. If players do not destroy them by the end of the turn, they will attack that region, potentially destroying an action space.

Players initiate an attack by placing one of their available workers onto the torso, or ‘Frame’, of their Titan and roll the dice that are defined by their purchased body parts in an attempt to reach a target number. Rewards are given for vanquishing a Kaiju that include money, income increases or victory points. The victory points are thematically in the guise of Popularity; the love that the world’s populace throw your way for saving them from certain doom.

If a region loses all three of their action spots, all players lose the game. This is unlikely but some action spaces are expected to be lost, forcing players to adjust their strategies. This makes the game somewhat semi-co-op as players must work together to avoid losing the game collectively but still aim to be the most popular region; making them the overall winner.

I hope you enjoyed this brief overview. I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to look back over the last 12 months. It’s amazing how far just an idea in your brain can take you!

Next time in the First-Time Designer series I’ll be going into more detail about the systems and mechanics of LAST STAND.