This Last Bastion review was made after playing the game eight times. We were sent a copy of this game by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
What is Last Bastion?
Last Bastion is a cooperative tower defense game in which you’re trying to defend your fort against a horde of monsters and stay alive long enough to defeat the Warlord. This is kind of a fantasy remake of Ghost Stories, one of the toughest co-op board games ever made (and one of my group’s favorites).
Last Bastion Gameplay
In Last Bastion you’ll be taking turns attempting to keep the monsters from overwhelming your fort, either by trying to get stronger or attacking the monsters. The Warlord that you have to defeat is near the bottom of the Horde deck, so you have to fight off a lot of monsters before you’ll get your chance to take down the boss.
To set up the game you’ll shuffle the nine Bastion tiles and lay them out in a 3×3 grid. Each player gets a hero board that is attached (“linked”) to one of the four Horde boards.
Turns have two phases: the Horde Phase and the Hero Phase. During the Horde Phase the monsters on the active player’s Horde board activate, and then either a new monster card is drawn and put into play or, if the active player’s Horde board is filled with (three) monsters, the ability printed on the Horde board activates. During the Hero Phase the active hero can always move one space and can also either activate the Bastion tile they’re standing on or fight adjacent monsters.
All eight heroes have unique powers, such as Mylfaar’s ability to make monsters weaker and Feng-Li’s ability to reroll dice. Each hero also begins the game with a Call to Arms token, which is a one-time-use bonus action that can be used to activate any Bastion tile from anywhere in the fort.
All of the monsters have 1-3 effects on their cards. There are entrance effects on some cards that are applied as soon as the monsters are drawn. Some monsters have either ongoing effects that are always active or recurring effects that are applied during the Horde Phase of the heroes whose boards are linked to those monsters’ Horde boards. Many of the monsters also have exit effects, which can be good or bad effects that are applied when those monsters are defeated.
Some of the monsters bring Grasp of Evil skull figures into play. These figures can block Bastion tiles’ abilities and heroes’ abilities. When a monster has a recurring Grasp of Evil effect, a skull is first placed on the monster’s card and then on the following turn it is moved to the first available Bastion tile in front of the monster.
The monsters and the Warlords have a number of resistance icons/colors on their cards that represent their health. When you fight them you’ll roll three dice and try to meet or exceed their resistance. You’ll gain different colored Equipment tokens throughout the game that can help you defeat monsters when you don’t roll well.
You’ll win if you’re able to defeat the Warlord. You’ll lose if every hero is wounded and/or defeated at the same time, if three Grasp of Evil figures are on Bastion tiles, or if the Horde deck is empty when you need to draw a card.
- Last Bastion is easier to beat than Ghost Stories, but it’s still satisfyingly challenging (I’ve won two out of eight games so far). You can still lose very quickly, but there are more games where you have time to use the Bastion tiles and get better prepared for the horde.
- The high-tension moments are definitely still there. When you draw those monsters and when you roll for combat, everyone is on the edge of their seats.
- The game looks amazing on the table. The village tiles and the cards look fantastic, the miniatures are great, and everything fits together nicely thanks to those enclosure tiles.
- There are eight characters to choose from compared to only four in Ghost Stories. Sure, it’s the same number of abilities (the priests’ boards in Ghost Stories are doubled-sided), but I think it’s great that each hero has their own unique special ability and miniature, and I like that there are four male and four female heroes.
- As expected, Last Bastion has great replay value. You have different Bastion tile layouts, the Horde deck is randomized, you face different Warlords, you have different hero combos, and, of course, the dice. Plus, there are multiple difficulty levels to choose from.
- I really like how the Grasp of Evil figures work. It’s cool that they can be placed in multiple places, tweaking the puzzle in different ways. The designer created them by combining different Ghost Stories ghosts’ abilities, which I think that was a great idea.
- The fantasy tower defense theme does come through. It definitely feels like you are protecting your people as this horde of monsters rushed at you from all four sides.
- Great rulebook. I think everyone will agree that Last Bastion’s rulebook is a lot better than Ghost Stories’. Oh, and the rules for two and three-player games are much more straightforward.
- To me, the most unfortunate thing about Last Bastion is that it’s almost the exact same game as Ghost Stories, just with a different theme. It has a nice new look and I like how the Grasp of Evil figures work, but I’d say about 90 percent of the game was taken directly from Ghost Stories, making it feel less… special.
- I’m surprised they didn’t include at least two or three more Bastion tiles to give the game even more replayability.
- This fantasy tower defense theme just isn’t as interesting to me as the ghost-fighting village defense theme in Ghost Stories.
- The plastic trebuchet net is pretty small and easy to forget about, both when it’s on the Trebuchet tile and when it’s on a monster card.
I think Last Bastion is an excellent cooperative game – my group played it four times in a row one night because we were having such a good time – but I don’t like it as much as Ghost Stories. Last Bastion does have a much better rulebook and it plays slightly smoother, but the darker ghost story theme is just so much more interesting to me. Also, the insane challenge that these games throw at you makes more sense in a horror-themed game.
Now, with all of that being said, you really can’t go wrong with either one of these games. If you’re more interested in the fantasy theme, absolutely get Last Bastion. You might also prefer Last Bastion if you thought Ghost Stories was too tough. If this is the first time you’re hearing about these games and both themes interest you, I’d say get Ghost Stories.