Designed by Sharon Katz and published by Tyto Games, Final Act is a very satisfying abstracted tank battle game with stand out solid components. It is played on a 12 x 12 square grid and has many of the elements of an abstract game, yet Final Act does a surprisingly effective job of simulating the core aspects of tank combat.
The two players each start the game with a squadron of seven tanks. No cardboard chits or cheap plastic minis here: the tanks are all chunky wooden constructs. These all line up on opposite edges of the board. Players’ objective is to get one of their tanks to their opponent’s ‘last line of defence’ on the opposite edge.
The game involves simultaneous movement, with each tank able either to stop in its existing space or move to one of the three spaces orthogonally or diagonally in front of or behind them. Players indicate their movement and whether or not they are combining diagonal movement with a turn of heading by turning dials on a control panel. Again, the production quality from Tyto Games puts to shame the often limp card and plastic dials turned out by some of the big-name manufacturers. There’s no risk here of dials accidentally drifting off the setting a player gives them: these dials are each held tight by wooden springs. The only confusion we had in play was sometimes mistakenly marking the turn dial in the wrong direction (tanks are only permitted to alter their heading in the direction they are turning, so, in that respect, it would ease the game further if the turn dial simply offered a turn/no turn option).
Before players each simultaneously reveal their tank’s movement, each tank can fire a shell from its current position. For each of their tanks, players place out a shell within the tank’s arc of fire. This is, in effect, a diamond shape directly ahead of the tank. Players are hoping that the position they are shelling is a location into which an opponent’s tank is moving. Movement is revealed. If a tank is hit, that hit is marked with a wooden flame token. A second hit will destroy the tank, creating an immovable obstruction affecting both squadrons.
That, essentially, is the game in a nutshell (or, more aptly, a tank shell) further complicated only by the addition of terrain with its different effects, including thick wooden berms (raised embankments). This makes for a game that is quick and easy to learn but no less exciting to play. There is ample scope here for tactical play, bluffs, bravado, sacrifice and feints. Indeed, with no dice to roll or cards to draw, this is a game where the only element of 'luck' is whether or not you accurately guess where your opponent will focus their firepower: think poker stripped of the random uncertainty of cards!