Review: Das Letzte Bankett – murder on a feast

Das Letzte Bankett - packaging

King holds a feast. And it’s not just any dinner. It will be full of delicious food, great wines and visual delights. Everybody, who mean something in this kingdom, was invited to see, how generous king can be. And this is opportunity you have been waiting for with members of your Brotherhood. You have couple of weeks of attempts to overthrow current ruler and establishm a new government. Current king has people’s support, but that’s okay. Power is a strong temptation and you will easily succumb to it too.

The outcome justifies the means, so there is literally nothing you would not do on your path to the throne. A single, clear goal is to get King from his position and put yourself or your puppet there. And if you did not accomplish it by peaceful threats, you will have to bribe officials and resort to violent acts. It’s up to the royal family.

Such a thrilling tale of treachery awaits you in new game from , a company with a bear in the logo. We had already opportunity to review other their games, Aargh!Tect (review in Czech), culinary A la Carte (review in Czech) or a piratey Sewer Pirats (review).

Das Letzte Bankett - game is ready

Game was created together by Nietzer Michael, Oliver Wolf and and so far is only available in the German version since year 2012. The English translation is, however, in preparation and should be available later in year 2013. But we got a chance to test the game in its original form. And although the game does not contain exactly cheerful topic of assassination of the king, colors used by are quite hilarious.

However, although you’ll experience a very intense game, it should not be taken too seriously, and also ensures sufficient dose of humor. But because from the very beginning, we know about what the players are trying to do in this game, we should now look at the box and its contents.

The lid contains a perfect snapshot of the royal dinner. In addition to the monarch and his queen, there are also a clown, first lady and one grim servant. There are obviously much more guests sitting on the sides, but we cannot see them on the picture. We must play the game to get a glimpse, how large a dinner can be. And we do not know, which one is actually conspirator and murderer, pulling all the strings.

Das Letzte Bankett - game is ready

Inside the box, there are rules and a pile of large cardboard sheets. When you peek under them, you will see an empty box only with a pile of twisted 24 strings. Their function is now a secret, you can only guess and speculate. But certainly your first step is going to be punching all components out of their captivity.

This means liberation of 25 guests portraits, whether it is a knight, princess, courier, baroness, while lady or abbot. All have beautiful portraits with their title in the bottom. On the other side, there is a brief introduction and description of the character, but especially its abilities, which can be used in the game.

These are divided into two groups – menu option for basic learning game, where will you have only one option for each character. And then there are advanced options for more experienced players, described in the following paragraphs 1 and 2, plus one more favor, which you can apply for at the king. Everything is unfortunately in German, so you must be able to either read German or translate these skills to your fellow players. Fortunately, you can do it just once, and then give each player paper with his role. There is no more text in the game.

Das Letzte Bankett - game is ready

In addition to these most important cards, which will be in front of players on the table, there are also scepter and smaller round tokens. The square ones are used to indicate faction players belong to. There can be up to four different factions – unicorn, rose, tower and axe. And there are also several items, with goal to enrich the game. There is fifteen of those. There is not only poison and dagger, which have a role in the title scenario, but also key, signet, ring or tails. The round pieces with king portrait are called veto counters and are used for marking suspicion of the king.

Das Letzte Bankett is a game based on scripts, you will therefore not have to always attempt to poison (pierce) the king. Its only your goal in the basic scenario. This version of the game is called Last Banquet (Das Letzte Bankett) and it is precisely experience, which will we describe in the following lines.

To play full version of this scenario, you need at least 11 players and ideally more. They are split into two factions seeking death of the king. He is the main character of the whole banquet. Together with him, there can be also other members of the royal family – queen, princess or first knight. They are added to the game depending on number of participants. Their presence also depends on whether the player number is odd or even. But there can participate up to incredible 24 opponents on the Great Banquet!

Das Letzte Bankett - game is ready

They create aforementioned teams, one being the royal family and the two other are factions. If you have a table large enough, then players will stand and sit by it. In all cases, players must form a circle. But they must have enough space for it to be able to stand up, because a large part of the game takes place standing. But more probable is, that you will play the game without a table, with only chairs. Its because of lack of space or too small table, because there is no way there would fit so many people. But it does not matter, because it is not really important to use table.

Once the players split into teams, each choose a symbol for their clan. This token strung on a string (for example rose or tower) will hang on your neck. It must be clearly visible for all. This is a distinction from other teams. At any time during the game, you could tell at first glance, who is playing with whom. Competing teams must have the same number of members!

Everyone should also choose his role, just like the king, who was determined earlier. Each then selects one card (randomly or according to your choice) and, depending on the version of the game (basic versus full), reads possibilities of his character written on the other side. A large and important part of the game is to take your role seriously, just as you were attending a real banquet. Its very close to acting. Your options are therefore distinctly based on the selected version from one event to three options, from which you can choose. The king himself now takes the scepter. One faction takes a dagger token and the other bottle of poison.

Das Letzte Bankett - character cards

Tasks are simple. While the king must reveal assassins among the wicked and stop them before they manage to kill him, the very teams have exactly the opposite goal. They must get their killer into position next to the king at the time, when round ends (= last player takes action). Then traitor can complete his work and assassinate the king, without waiting.

First, you must choose, who the killer will be. Each team thus gathers, arranges tactics and selects one of them, who gets the poison/dagger token secretly. He hides it anywhere on his body (for example in your pocket). All this, of course, must be done secretly, so others do not know, who is the elected one.

Now all players make a circle (possibly around the table), but for now without king. They leave him one seat open. His arrival is announced by trumpeteers and chores. The magical trick is, that he can choose any place to sit down. Therefore he does not have to use the spare chair, which was prepared for him, but he may seat himself wherever he pleases. The player, who must make a room for him then moves to the place, which was left vacant. Thus everything is finally ready for the game itself.

Das Letzte Bankett - game is ready

Participants on all feast should now introduce themselves to others. They can do it with some short of quote or phrase. Gradually each player introduces himself and players should start acting, should enjoy it and get into their roles.

Then finally a starter can be served. But before everyone get his share of the meal, all players have their first chance to act. This is beginning of the round, and all players must stand up. Thus, at first sight you can see, that they have available action to make. Now King has a choice to send his scepter in either direction around the table. This option remains only to him. Whoever holds the scepter can make an action, but only if he is standing.

The first standing player now has the opportunity to use any of his abilities (either one menu ability, or more options in case of advanced game). They usually lead to some change of seats of particular participants. It can be either with the acting player, or without him.

Das Letzte Bankett - character cards

Once completed, player sits down and sends scepter forward in the direction from the king to the next player. If he is standing, he can also take one action. Thus, players will gradually all get one chance to play. But remember, this is a team game! During the round, even direction of scepter rotation around table can change and even the owner. So beware.. In case of movement, scepter moves with player and he then passes it to his new neighbor. But there is again question of standing and sitting.

At any time during the game, king can express his distrust to any one of present characters. Before he decides, he can also use advice from any of his family members, if there are any in the game. He lays a veto token in front of guest, who has lost his faith. This round chit mark his as untrusted. This designation is important, however, to the very end of the game. IT means, that token travels with the player, in case he moves.

The round ends, when all players are seated and thus have a chance to play at least once. Now they need to check, if any of the teams succeeded to meet the condition of victory. If any of hidden killers is in this moment sitting next to the King (right or left), then this team has won and play continues immediately to point evaluation. Otherwise, the game continues with the main dish and dessert in the same manner. At the beginning of next course, players must stand up, and each have one new action. Only a special effect can allow them to take action more than once.

Das Letzte Bankett - tokens

After dessert, the game ends, whether murderers succeeded or not. Now its necessary to evaluate success of each present team. King gets a point for each correctly deployed veto token, which labels a true killer. If he managed to survive, he gets yet another extra victory point. The other members of the royal family receive the same number of points as the king.

Other teams receive points only in case, they were successful in their mission. Each member of the winning team gets a number of victory points equal to the number of members, they have in their team. Murder is getting more and more difficult to accomplish, when there are more players. Because each match is really fast, it is recommended to play more games and that’s why there are victory points. Player, who collects the highest number of points after agreed number of rounds can celebrat the triumph.

Last banquet is a sophisticated social game. Its greatest magic is the atmosphere, simplicity and speed of each round. Coincidence is irrelevant, everything must be carefully planned and intrigued by individual families. The king must be on guard the whole time, giving the meaning to every detail.

Das Letzte Bankett - game is ready

Thanks to more matches and fair counting of victory points, players can choose another side each time. They can even be in different teams. The game is all about fun and experience player and his character will undergo. It is from a real actor sensations, where comes the most intense fun. You must live your character and forget your everyday life.

And here also lies the biggest issue with the game Das Letzte Bankett. It can not be played by anyone. Now, we set aside the language barrier, which can be easily solved. Rather, it is a problem with closeness of the players. Too serious members are not welcomed in teams and will not enjoy the game so deeply. You get much better experience in loose group, so always be careful, who you invite over to dinner!

It’s amazing, how authors managed to involve such an enormous number of players in a game. We should note, that we did not succeed in playing game with those really higher numbers. But even with lower numbers exceeding eleven, game is a great experience full of bluffs. And it could get only better, because player actions are really fast.

Das Letzte Bankett - character cards

The authors devised a clever way to identify players, who were already on the move. Sitting perhaps was not used in the world board games for this purpose before. But it is entirely appropriate and fits perfectly into the overall theme. All players are constantly involved in the game and experience the story, that the game itself tells.

You can find variant for less than eleven players in rules booklet. You still need at least six. This dinner is called A small Banquet, and players will need to represent two characters each. Given the game system, there is basically no problem to it. But the experience of cooperation with others within team will fade away, just as your impersonation with your character. And it also takes experienced Banquet players, who can manage to plan for two characters. Yet the game is still fun and when you have no more friends coming overe, it will still be a real valid option. Trying to think about the murder to the last dot and using the abilities to do so is just plain awesome.

Very big part of the game is made of skills, though with three or only one menu option, you will experience fun. But this basic variant is used basically to train new players. Much more interesting battles await you, if you give freedom to all members and three activities to choose from. Actually two, because the third – favor – can be stopped by your patron (usually the king). But he must pay for it with valuable veto token.

Das Letzte Bankett - tokens

The monarch can not throw around his suspicions thoughtlessly. There can be always only one accused player in each faction. But veto tokens can be moved between them. At the same time each meal, the king can make only one accusation.

In eleven players a chance for a king to survive is quite small. This is probably the least appropriate full player number for the game, which we found during testing. Fortunately, when you reach the twelfth player, Queen immediately enters the game (we did not mention, that queen can be a man – gender roles are not limited here. Feminists yippee yay!). Her guidance and adviced can be really helpful to the king, just as her action.

But it is essential, that all players experience their roles properly. They should reach out to each other with their role names and not real ones. This is the first step towards greater atmosphere and personification. Topic of banquet, which may be last for this king, is a perfect fit for this game. But what is more important, is the fact, that this opened game system directly begs for new scenarios. And guess what, you will get them!

There are four different scenarios, each of them brings its innovations into the game. Mainly they add new items besides just poison and dagger. And these new stories ensure, that there can be even more factions fighting for victory, than in the basic game.

Das Letzte Bankett - character cards

Unfortunately, planning together is not so important. Its not so easy in the first place. Team must negotiate during the game nonverbally. Importance of arrangement from beginning of the game rapidly decreases with time and it can be torn apart in a moment, when king sends scepter the other way. The team can have some gestures agreed. But all this can easily be justified. Its another fit for theme of the game. Even in real feast, a lot of things can change and hired killers must improvise. And although it may bother someone, other players may be excited about this feature.

You can play by instinct and mainly thanks to very simple rules. They are maybe described in a little complicated way in instructions booklet. There was perhaps too much effort to describe everything in detail and explain. There are so many ways, through which the story can develop, that you just have to live and adapt accordingly. Thus, while the game belongs to the games in style towns of Palermo, its completely different in the outcome. Only the group element remains.

Das Letzte Bankett is simply an excellent game, which will transport you to a feast. A lot of great food to enjoy. At least in a metaphorical sense, because the food in this case is experience. But you need to find the right group of people, who are willing to entertain themselves not so seriously. And even act. There are many open possibilities, a large variability for number of players and future scenarios are making Das Letzte Bankett a compulsory purchase for every fan of group games.

DesignerMichael Nietzer, Oliver Wolf, Britta Wolf
ArtistSimon Eckert
PublisherEdge Entertainment, Fantasy Flight Games, GameHeads, Giochi Uniti, Heidelberger Spieleverlag
Year Published2012
# of Players6 - 25
User Suggested # of Players Best with 16 players
Recommended with 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 players
(4 voters)
Playing Time45
Mfg Suggested Ages10 and up
User Suggested Ages10 and up
(2 voters)
Language DependenceModerate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
(3 voters)
CategoryBluffing, Fantasy, Humor, Medieval, Party Game
MechanicActing, Role Playing, Storytelling, Team-Based Game, Variable Player Powers
ExpansionDas letzte Bankett: Comtessa
Primary NameThe Last Banquet
Alternate NamesLe Dernier Banquet, Das letzte Bankett, L'Ultimo Banchetto, El Último Banquete

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Das Letzte Bankett – murder on a feast
Final word
Das Letzte Bankett is a true and genuine party game. You will not doubt about it in a moment, when you first unpack it. The biggest hint is, that you will not properly enjoy it, until you gather up at least 11 partners to your table. Players will during the game split into different factions, each with its own task to accomplish. They can meet their goals only by exchanging seating order. But they have only limited time – until the third course, a dessert, disappears in stomach of all guests. Each of participants will enjoy three own turns (rarely more), which allow him to influence the story. But much bigger experience is coming from living the story, acting as their character and socializing with others. It is recommended, that players address themselves with their title and not the real names. Precisely the experience is the best motivation, why play one of available scenarios. You can start also with less than 11 players (at least 6), but each represents two characters. This spoils players impression. Biggest issue remains in players themselves – game is not exactly for everyone. If a player is too serious, cannot relax and enjoy the story, then he will not have that much fun while playing Das Letzte Bankett. But the rest will get fun, which cannot be easily forgotten.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
Cons
6 players is the lowest number
up to 11 players, each participant must play two characters
game is not fit for every player out there (serious means bad)
only in German (for now)
4
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