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A SMIRK & DAGGER game for 6-12 Players by Matthew Grosso & Andy Patton

DEAD LAST is a communal game where all players contrive to have each other bumped off whilst doing their sneaky best to remain alive until they are the LAST 'Man' STANDING.

Each player has their own set of voting cards which show their chosen colour ID on the flip side and every other player's colour on their face sides, plus they each also have an 'Ambush' card.

DEAD LAST needs at least six players, which is why it has taken me longer to review than normal, getting a minimum of 6 players together regularly for gaming sessions isn't as easy as it used to be since we moved to the 'sticks'.

Anyway I have now played it more than enoughl times, occasionally adding another player to the 6, 9 being the most we managed, to be able to form an opinion, read on please......

DEAD LAST can be played at whatever speed the players wish. Although the game states 90 seconds per Round of Voting, unless you have a timer that will whistle or ring when the minute and a half are up it is likely the players will deliberate either quicker or slower depending on how many of them are still left in the game, the fewer left the longer the deliberations. 90 seconds should be enough but if you feel rushed into your decisions then your fun of the game will be depleted, it is, after all, the communication between players and then the deceit of the vote that makes the game as amusing as it is.

Between themselves the players decide by voting one of them out of the game (bumped off), using one of the cards from their own sets - the one that corresponds to the Target - placed face down to begin with until they are all turned up and the decision seen. To come to their decision the players can talk amongst themselves, make hand signals, shift their eyes in the direction of who they wish to eliminate, flash the Target's card secretly, in fact let their intentions be known by any means possible. Of course once they have all acknowledged each other and secretly voted it is only known if they have voted as they said they would or entered into the shenanigans of deceit. There is no rule that says you have to be honest .. honestly!

It is sometimes obvious that a player will notice the machiavellian machinations of the others and realise they are going to be this round's target. In this case instead of voting for one of the other players they can play their AMBUSH card. If they were the target then they choose which of the opponents who voted for them to be killed is eliminated instead, they themselves remain in play. But if they weren't the target they will have committed suicide. During discussions, making a player believe they are the target is such a fun way to push a player into eliminating themselves. Players who don't vote for the target are also eliminated making each round last not very long at all. The game is played round after round until the Gold is won or all players eliminated and then all players come back alive and the game is on until the Victory Points total is reached. 

This is a crazy, fun, fast, chaotic game of bluff, double-bluff, treble-bluff and trust. This is where you find out who your friends are (and aren't) and who loves ya baby! The artwork is bright and brash and impossible to mistake. All cards are not only splashed with colour over a pen and ink drawing they also have the colour written in its colour across the top of them for the colour blind, thus RED is written as R E D actually in the colour Red. On this one of our players commented that the designer/artist must really like Green as there are three cards in the green family; Green, Teal and Emerald. There are stand-up colourful ID cards, one for each character so that all players know which player is which colour. These stand in front of the players until the player is eliminated from the game, in which case they are knocked over

At the start of each Round 4 Gold Bar cards are removed from the shuffled Gold deck and placed face down (values unknown), these are the reward/points towards the required 25 VPs for the win. Rounds can be played over 3-4 turns (rarely longer) including the Final Showdown especially when the target plays Ambush and the other players split their vote so that the Ambush kills one, the Target remains safe (for this round) and the lower number of the split are eliminated for not targeting the target. Basically (and regularly) half the players can be knocked out in one go.

If, after voting, one player is left alive then they collect all 4 of the Gold cards. If no players are left alive, no one wins the Gold, and if two players are left then they have to stand off against each other. They do this by discussing together and making a deal. Then they each take one set of FINAL SHOWDOWN cards and according to their deal select one of the cards and place it face down. When both ready they flip the cards over and the deal is done - or perhaps the deal is undone as someone has reneged and cheated on their opponent. There are three Final Showdown cards: SHARE where the players agree to split the Gold cards evenly, 2 each still with values unseen; STEAL where one (or both) of the players attempts to take all the Gold for themself and Grab One and Go which allows the player to take one of the Gold cards (unseen) and leave the other three for the opponent. Once again, the players can discuss the deal amongst themselves but there is no guarantee that either player will keep their promise.

If you have 6+ players around the table looking for a good fun light-hearted bit of skulduggery that they can all join in with then this is a super game to play as a session starter or closer. It's also fun when the family gather at party times, such as Christmas, and you want something much better to do after dinner than sit around watching yesteryear's movies on TV. Everyone can join in and play. You don't have to be a core gamer or regular boardgamer, all you need is a poker face and an honest demeanour (and be able to lie through your teeth and not mind doing the dirty on family and friends).

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015