One Last Job is an asymmetric card game for two players designed by Brian Cronin and A. Cabrera. Asymmetric simply means both players play the game in different ways. One player is the Powers that Be spreading influence over the city. The other player is the Crew assembling operatives to pull off heists and rip off the Powers that Be. As this is a preview of One Last Job, everything mentioned is subject to alteration before final production.
The decks included for the preview were the Mob as the Powers that Be and the Professionals being the Crew trying to steal from the Mob. The way I envisioned the theme was a disgruntled crew tries to rip off the mob with one last job, hence the name. This can be felt in the gameplay but was kind of muddled by the fact that characters on the Mob’s side were called Actors and locations called Scenes. Since I was expecting a heist game, this was confusing and affected my experience. One Last Job should be pitched as a create your own heist film. This more accurately reflects the experience you will get from the game. There are 6 factions in total to choose from and create a heist film starring. The Powers side can be the Mob, the Society (a secret sect like the Illuminati), or the James Bond-esque super villain, the Mastermind. The opposing player can be the Professionals, a group of hackers called the Phreaks, or the Gangs (a group of punks modeled after The Warriors). Players can then choose what movie they want to make. A classic heist story of professionals stealing from the mob, or something different like gangs taking on a secret society.
In One Last Job, the Powers player constructs the resolution deck based on the location card and chooses from two resolution cards (which I call gem cards) that only they see. Each gem card has a point value and amount of influence the Powers player needs at the location to claim the card. The Crew will put operatives into play, who can move to locations and start operations to search for the gem card in the resolution deck. Defense token cards in the resolution deck can put an end to the operation or trigger other consequences set up by the Powers player. Each turn players have 5 actions points to spend playing cards, moving characters, spreading influence, or starting operations. First player to acquire gems totaling 10 or more points wins the game.
Minor things like bad terminology (i.e. defense token cards, instead of just defense cards) or less than adequately explained rules in the rulebook can all be fixed easily before One Last Job gets in the hands of backers. I’m not going to nit pick a prototype.
My major issue with One Last Job, is that as it stands the game feels very unbalanced. In all the games I played, the Professionals always beat the Mob, by a lot. If the Mob managed to secure a location quite well, the Professionals could just wait it out for a new location to come out and be mostly undefended. There were cards in the Professionals’ deck that were too overpowered for their cost. A great example is Double Lift. This card costs the same as the action to start an operation, and it starts an operation with the advantage of drawing double the amount of cards. The Mob’s goal of spreading influence was not able to be accomplished fast enough to prevent the Professionals from stealing the gem card. Especially if the Mob is spending actions pointlessly trying to defend locations. However you looked at it, One Last Job appeared to be skewed to the side of the crew. It was too easy for the Professionals to win and just pure frustration for the Mob player. The only strategy that had glimpses of working, was a systematic strategy of repeatedly generating influence and moving it out to locations. Even if this had worked to win the game (it never did), it wouldn’t be fun for that player to just do the same thing over and over again. It is for this reason that One Last Job really fell flat for me. Some people I played with had no interest in playing ever again.
There were aspects of the game I thought were neat and enjoyed. Hopefully balance issues can be better worked out, leaving these parts of the game to shine. Operations were a cool mechanic where the Crew player had to equip their operatives to be able to handle whatever they might encounter when drawing from the resolution deck for that location. Private locations didn’t work as well, constructing the resolution deck was awkward trying to hide the contents from the opponent (plus they could see how big the deck is anyways). More bluffing would have been fun here if private locations had a specified number of defense cards, but were all chosen secretly by the Powers player. Although this aspect of the game is completely luck based, preparing properly so you can handle anything thrown your way was satisfying. From a production standpoint, the game is well put together. The final card art looks good and the icons are fairly self explanatory. I would expect the final card and token quality to be on par or better than the prototype, but that really depends on what funding is received on Kickstarter.
In my opinion, there is a fun game somewhere in the prototype of One Last Job, it just needs some tweaking to be more streamlined and balanced. There wasn’t as much bluffing as I would have liked, but this was partly due to the fact that the crew completely dominated and any bluffing was pointless. In an equally matched game, I could see potential areas where bluffing your opponent would be beneficial. While I wasn’t overly impressed with One Last Job, I would revisit it again if it was reworked.
One Last Job is funding on Kickstarter now until the end of June. Take a look at their campaign page and even try out the print and play version to see if it suits your tastes.