Hang on, wait a second. Why am I reviewing this game? I am a grognard whose pedigree goes back to the early days of board wargaming. I don't even read Sci-Fi; well, very little. The map isn't of Europe or anything I have seen before, and what about all of the strange units? What's up with them? Just as companies have to branch out like Slitherine has done into IOS, Android, and non-historical games to keep pace with, and sometimes create new markets. We wargamers should do the same. I know I used to look down my nose at a map that had "shudder" areas instead of hexes. I now play Ageod games all the time and love them. So please, people, step out of your comfort zone with games every once in a while and check out those beer and pretzel games, fantasy, and Sci-Fi games. So does Slitherine and Auroch Digital hit one out of the park to the ultaran nebula, or is this game the last spark of a super nova turned cold?
Last Days of Old Earth was reviewed earlier here when it was still in early access. The game has changed since then, and also just received a very large update.
In this turn based strategy game, you can play as the Skywatchers Clan or the Automata.
The Skywatchers Clan are the last remnant of humans who live on Earth; not ours, but one that has been turned into a freeze pop. Playing as them, you are marching toward the equator, which is still warm enough to sustain some life.
The Automata are a robotic race of sentinels that are in the way of the Skywatchers Clan on their trek to the equator.
The only thing that confused me is that the Skywatchers clan is set on doing its Northwalk. Living in the northern hemisphere, it had me turning my head several times. This again is proof that people should think, look, and walk at times out of their comfort zone.
In some ways, the game resembles a turn based RTS game. You build facilities and upgrade them. You explore the map looking for both resources and enemies. The map is a blank slate except for the few tiles that you can see at first. As far as similarities to RTS games, that is about it. At its heart it is a strategy game as much as any wargame is.
The main difference is that it is turn based. So you have no need for frenetic map searching or finger clicking. It reminds me of the newer board games with its die rolls and cards to pull.
The terrain is varied, and gives bonuses to the defender like a typical wargame. The units have all strengths and weaknesses that have to be used to used to attack or to defend against your enemy.
You can build outposts which are military installations, and also build collectors on resource tiles.
One place the game really shines is in terrain height. In this game it actually matters. You not only get the expected defense bonus, but your units can actually SEE farther on the map. This helps immensely with recon, attack, and defense planning.
The other very well done part of the games is in its hero units. They have special abilities, and also have a set amount of units that they can command in armies.
You can garrison your HQ or your outpost or deploy your armies out of them. If you lose your HQ to the enemy, the game is lost. All of your installations have limits on the amount of units allowed to be present in the garrison. Units in installations can also be healed and repaired. There are a few units that can do this for your armies in the field.
The game turn starts with a die roll to determine who wins the initiative. You can use your resources to buy more chances to win the die roll. Gaining the initiative not only lets you move first, you also gain more action points to use during that turn.
Battles occur when units of both sides are in the same hex. You can choose to autoresolve it or move it to the field of battle. The field of battle is pretty typical in its look and usage. The front line is for units defending and attacking directly with the second line used for support units.
The AI is very competent on both the field of battle, and the maps.
The graphics at first seemed to me a bit cartoon-like (see above), but the maps and units grew on me. They are actually well done for the game's story line.
Resources are the key to the game.You have to get moving on the first turn. For both recon and to search, find, and capture the different resource hexes on each map. Not only finding, but also defending your resources is really the crux of game play. If the enemy can take away your resources you will lose. Possibly a slow loss, but a loss nonetheless.
The game comes with the ability to choose your units before you start with the ability to build your own 'decks' of them before battle.
The game also has an adjustable 'sudden death' meter in the skirmish games. This is a good addition so the player doesn't have to destroy all of his enemies or capture the entire map to win that scenario.
To add to the player's choices, the game has some interesting features. A unit can go into stealth mode in a forest tile and become hidden. You can try to assassinate your enemy's heroes. Sabotage is also something you can do against your enemy and cut down on his supply. The game also has 'encounters' where the player's forces will move next to a tile that has a force that is not one of the two antagonists. The player has to choose on how his forces will react to this. It is possible to gain allies during one of these encounters.
To sum it up, this game is an interesting title that really does have some depth if you take the time to play it. A lot of wargamers or grogs would look askance at it due to the story and graphics. This one will remain on my harddrive and I will definitely play it. In the beginning I was skeptical, but it has proved its worth.
Game: Last Days of Old Earth
Developer: Auroch Digital
Date of Review: 8/6/2016