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One Last Job Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look: One Last Job


Designer: Brian Cronin and A. Cabrera
Artist: Brian Cronin
Publisher: Off Script Games
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 2
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 20-45 min

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of One Last Job. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.



Review:

tl;dr: Asymmetric heist gameplay familiar to fans of the Android: Netrunner LCG. 

Getting to the Game: Each player chooses a faction from the two sides--The Powers (Organized Crime / Mafia) and the Crew (Con Artists / Small time criminals)--and builds a 30-card deck. Choosing a pre-constructed deck is also an option. The Powers get a starting location and a Boss which begin the game face-up on their side, while the Crew gets a similar starting location alone. The Powers player also has a 10-card deck of locations, which represent places, both public and private, where each of the heists is going to take place. 



Learning how to play One Last Job isn't as daunting as some asymmetric games can be. Both players play more or less the same, but how they score points is radically different. The Powers have all the information available to them from the very beginning, representing their tight grasp over crime that happens in their city. They win by amassing enough influence at a location to score the "resolution" there, earning the points for themselves. They're trying to do this while simultaneously stalling and preventing the Crew from getting to it first. The first player to reach 10 points worth of resolutions wins.

Playing the Game: There is a huge amount of attention paid to balance in this game, which I immediately appreciated. It's evident from the very beginning of the game where, during setup, no locations are placed on the table. Every round, the Powers player checks to see how many locations are in play. If it's less than three, they add a single one to the game. In this way, the Powers are able to slowly set up defenses at each location as they hit the table, preventing the Crew from an early/easy score. Each location has a deck which consists of four defense "tokens" called out on the location card itself, to which the Powers will add a single resolution token. They draw two tokens from their resolution deck, put one of them back on the bottom, and add the selected one to the location deck. The Powers are free to look at any location deck at any time, giving them exact knowledge of each location's remaining defenses.


 

While each player has 5 "clicks" to spend each turn on playing cards and moving actors (Powers) and operatives (Crew) around, the Crew simply need to get at least one operative into a location and pull the resolution card randomly from the deck. If they do, they score the points on it. The Powers are tasked with needing to get enough influence at a location to score the resolution. When they do, they immediately claim the points. If the Crew are able to nab the resolution before the Powers can get the influence they need, any influence at the resolved location is lost--this sets up a really intricate game not only of cat and mouse, but also a serious consideration of resource management. At its purest form, influence is gained by spending one click to add one influence to the Powers' home location, and then another click to move a single influence to a location where they have an actor. There are cards that let you cheat this a little bit, but over most of the game, this is what the Powers will be doing. So, if a location has a resolution worth 4 points for 7 influence, that means that just to get the influence needed to score it, the Powers have to spend at least 14 clicks. At 5 clicks a turn, it takes them 3 full turns just to score one location.


Conversely, the Crew need only spend 1 click to start an operation, and with no actors at the location to defend it, this would give them a one-in-five chance to score (again, most of the time, assuming a fresh location). Things get deliciously, literally more complicated when the Powers start dropping face-down actors and complications to each location, each with abilities, like being able to stop an operation as soon as it begins, bouncing the Crew's operatives back to their Hideout, or even trashing their items. The Crew can prevent these drawbacks by loading up on skills, so each game becomes this war of escalation as the Crew tries to set up an insurmountable defense, all the while racing against the Powers, who know exactly what's where.

In practice, this turns into a really tense combination of chess and poker, where the Crew has to decide how best to assign their resources, while simultaneously trying to determine if the Powers are massing for a big score, or just bluffing a trap. Asymmetry is difficult to pull off, but incredibly satisfying when done well, and One Last Job has found a sweet spot here. The rulebook mentions that each side has three factions: The Powers have the Mastermind, the Mob, and the Society; while the Crew gets the Gangs, the Phreaks (Hack the Planet!), and the Professionals. My review copy was only the Mob and the Professionals, but I'm incredibly excited to see how each faction gets fleshed out. Going solely by the names, I would love to see a group of tattooed cyberhackers take on an Illuminati-styled cult, or manipulate gritty street gangs into taking down a Kingpin-style ultra-criminal. Depending on how often additional cards are released, or how much variation in deck building comes out of the box, this could easily be a game that is worth many, many hours. 

Artwork and Components: The artwork on the cards in my review copy is just templated cards with blank art boxes. The included press kit has some of the crispy, comic-book-style art I've placed above and below. The style here looks nice, though, and if it's indicative of the final art in-game, then I'd be totally satisfied

The components here are similarly placeholder, and this is where I'm especially excited to see the final product. What's here is perfectly decent laser-cut tokens and good quality cardstock. If the finish on the cards gets upgraded through stretch goals, or through a higher price of entry, and the tokens move to something nicer (acrylic would be just outstanding here, aluminum might be too much to ask), then buying into One Last Job moves from a Strong Recommendation to a Must Buy. One very small disappointment is tracking clicks--currently there are clock tokens that you would give five of to each player, and you could put them on the cards you're using, move them from one side of your space to the other, or whatever. A sexy solution here would be a click tracker element. Even a nice pair of d6's that each player could spin down as they take their clicks would feel very nice.

The Good: Asymmetric gameplay is done simply and well. Art style feels fun and thematic. Alternate scoring conditions feel balanced and tense, and they avoid lopsided or "runaway" victories. Strategy for one side doesn't translate to the other, so there's lots of replayability.

The Bad: Components are a question mark. Similarly unknown is the card pool, and whether power creep could be an issue. I was only able to play as one faction on either side, so I don't know what any of the others feel like. Deck building is required, and not everyone enjoys that. (Pre-built decks are included, though.)

Score: One Last Job feels like the perfect game for players who enjoy asymmetry, heist themes, and bluffing. There's deck building for customization, and pre-constructed card pools for those that don't. Balance feels very, very tight, which is an absolute keystone in games like this. Functionally and mechanically, the game that's in front of me is absolutely worth getting into. It waits to be seen if more cards and finalized artwork keep it there, or move the needle. I'm giving One Last Job a score of Grand Theft.





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About the Author:


Nicholas Leeman has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints, a professional baseball team. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.
One Last Job Kickstarter Preview One Last Job Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on May 10, 2018 Rating: 5

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