second chance games

Search This Website of delight

FINAL ACT The Dials!  The Dials! Ok, I ' ve got your attention.  Now, can the game hold it?  Well, this certainly is ...





The Dials!  The Dials!

Ok, I've got your attention.  Now, can the game hold it?  Well, this certainly is something different.  On one [many?] levels, it appears a very simple, almost child-like tank game.  Simple in physical components, simple in the rules and simple in number of pieces.  Just seven tanks per side, a bare map of 12 x 12 square grid, a few pieces of terrain, oh ... and two control panels with THE DIALS!

Contributing most to the impression that Final Act is a youngster's game are the tanks - very basic wooden-block tanks that could easily come out of my two-year old daughter's play box.

As you can see, a wooden body, a wooden turret and a wooden gun.  The few pieces of terrain and obstacles are equally simple and blocky: three berms [earthen mounds] and a cardboard swamp and minefield.  That's virtually it.  The few other components are also wooden: these are the red flame markers to indicate a hit on the tank [that's the reason for the groove on the tank's rear, namely to slot the hit marker in] and black shell markers to place on the map to indicate where your shots land.

But there in the back ground of the picture is without doubt the star component: one of the Control panels with its celebrated set of dials. As you can see the quality of nearly everything is superlative.
Only the cardboard swamp and minefield look rather ordinary  among such well finished pieces.  Once again, I can't help drawing you back to the dials. 

Admittedly, dials have become something of an in-thing in the gaming world, from Glass House's production wheels to Tzolkin 's gears and, perhaps most recently Scythe's Combat dials.  But these really are the piece de la resistance. Though the pointers are made of plastic, they are solider than any others I've come across and, most important, already assembled and secured in quality machined,  metal units.

The map too is an attractive production with strong, vibrant earthen colours that are echoed in the orange and brown shading of the berms. 

It is very physically appealing, but an appeal to a fairly young age group rather than an adult market.  This seems a little at odds with the background of one of the designer's being a former Israeli tank commander.  Though he views the game as light to medium, I've found it to be ultra-light in depth and game play.

The rules do an excellent, clear job of explaining play, but are barely more than four pages long.  As you can see below, text is fairly brief, well-laid out and attractively illustrated.

But basically, it is a question of setting your upper row of dials to program each tank's movement, which is always one square into any of the three front or rear squares.  You cannot move directly to the squares to your immediate left or right.  At the same time, you program each tank's lower dial if you want to make a 90 degree turn.

Before you reveal and move your tanks, you place each tank's wooden shell in one of the square's of the tank's fire arc. In  the photo above, you can see several images of how terrain affects that fire display.  You then reveal your control panels and move your tanks.

If an enemy tank moves into a square that contains one of your shells, your opponent places a red hit marker in the groove at the rear of the tank.  If that tank later in the game takes a second hit, you place the marker on top of the tank's turret and it is killed.  In the basic game, the tank is removed from the map board, as an advanced rule the wrecked tank remains on the board as an obstacle.  Again, the fact that the latter is one of the four very simple "advanced rules" indicates the strongly introductory nature of this game.  The other three extra rules allow once per game for one tank to fire two shells, for one tank to repair by removing a shell hit and for a reduction in the number of tanks that can fire if specific tanks have been destroyed.

So, combat boils down to a game of "guesstimate".  You work out which squares your opponent's tanks can potentially enter and your shells can hit and then try to guess which ones he/she has chosen.  This factor alone [reinforced by the ultimate goal of the game being to get one of your tanks into the enemy's area designated Last Line of Defense] has led me to struggle to find players among my gaming circle, both of Euro gamers and wargamers, willing to give Final Act a try.  

Though the initial secret placing of terrain and tanks lends variety to each game and there is no doubt of the physical quality of the game's production, ultimately I've found reactions have uniformly been that this is a delightful product and excellent for introducing children to the fascinating world of wargaming, but with very limited appeal to an adult market.

Final Act is published by Tyto Games and can be pre-ordered on their website