The Last of the Independents is a recent Euro-style board game from Numbskull Games. The idea behind this game is to out engineer, out manufacture, and out advertise your competition as an Automobile company circa 1950’s. Aside from the unique setting, this game is also noteworthy that it is a strategy board game that does not use dice.
The idea behind the game is that you are betting your cash against your opponents to try to win spots on the board. For example, in the first phase you are dealing with the different car models. You can put X million dollars into manufacturing sports cars. Your opponent could bid elsewhere (e.g., luxury cars or compact cars) or they could also put money into sports cars to try to beat you at it. When everyone has finished with the models, all the money tokens for the sports cards are put into a bag, and one drawn at random, that is the winner of the sports car (so the more you spend the better your odds) and this continues for all the different models.
Players repeat the same sequence for the Engineering and Promotions phase. You have to be careful though, your money has to last the entire round. So, if you spend all your money in the models phase, your opponents will eat you alive in the promotions phase. You also each get a unique car company that has strengths and weaknesses to help you along the way. And the round ends with announcing who won the Car of the Year (again a random bag draw).
There are other phases, cards to screw people over, earning victory points and all that fun stuff too. But, I won’t go into the entire rules breakdown.
Overall, we found the game entertaining. The uniqueness of the setting and gameplay was a nice break from the more traditional games. The drawing from the bag mechanic got a little tedious toward the end, because you do it so much. I think a dice cup would have been better suited, because it can be a pain getting little tokens in and out of the bag.
This game is available now from Numbskull’s website, your FLGS, or Amazon.com and various other retailers.
MSRP is 39.99. This is a must have game for any car aficionado who is into board gaming. People into marketing and engineering may also enjoy it for its theme. It is also a good fit to play with any non-gamers, as it does not have a gamer-centric appearance (my wife still will not play RuneBound with me after years of attempts).
Thanks to Patrick Stevens, the games creator, for submitting this copy for review.