Last Will- Vladimir Suchy
2-5 player/ 45-70 mins
When I first joined Instagram a few years ago I was pretty clueless about the hashtag system. Whilst plugging away at my (then) online clothing business I came to learn all sorts of seemingly useless information. A few years later it’s become such a fundamental part of connectivity it seems ludicrous not to get involved. So whilst my business failed (c’est la vie) my knowledge of how to appropriately use hashtags didn’t. Now I’ve finally come up with a glaringly obvious way to ultilise this through my blog…with a board game Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday. Every week (here’s to hoping) I shall talk about a game that may not be new, but is nonetheless relevant. Games that I have enjoyed, perhaps games I have sold, or simply those that I have played often over the years. I’ll be reflecting on my experience with the game and how it’s changed for me as time has marched on.
I’m kicking off with Last Will, which I played on the weekend just gone. During the game I realised that it’s well deserved of a write up, not only as it’s one of my old favourites but also a very good game that I don’t see around too much.
Going back to the beginning, I have a feeling that Last Will was purchased in 2014. I believe that it was store bought, on a brave expedition through North London to Leisure Games in Finchley. I loved the premise of the game- to win by going broke. Have you ever seen the film Brewster’s Millions? Last Will is that, in game form. Y’know, kind of. A rich (dead) uncle has left his fortune, but first his dearest and nearest (that’s you) will each receive a sum of money. The person to spend it all first inherits the fortune. But much like in the movie losing your money is harder graft than you would think. Trust me.
You start with your personal player boards, a central ‘planning’ board, a starting hand of 2 cards and £70. Each round you will plan your day. First you will choose a planning space that allows you a certain amount of errands, cards and actions per turn. In a two-player game you use an additional marker to block off one space that you definitely don’t want to be stuck with or a space that you absolutely don’t want your opponent to have. You the draw the amount of cards specified on your planning space from the selection of decks on offer. There are companions, properties, helpers, expenses and events, all of which will assist you in spending money. You plan your day by sending your ‘errand boy’ to the spaces on the central board. Here you can take additional cards, jiggle the property market, draw another random card, or perhaps give your errand boy a day off (which will instantly lose you £2). You then each take your designated number of actions and this where your hand management comes in. Some cards will stay in play to be activated at any time, cards attach to one another based on type and symbols, some give you additional actions, and some will only interact with other cards. What you do with the cards in your hand will ultimately be where your money is spent.
When I first played I was fairly new to modern board gaming and I pretty much took it at face value. I had no real strategy, I was just doing what it says on the tin- ‘ok lose money, cool’ therefore I was choosing action spaces and errands willy-nilly and selecting any card on offer. I performed as many silly stunts as I could think of and found it all rather amusing; ‘I’m going on a cruise with a horse! Woo-hoo!’ A few years and several games later I still find it amusing and have a giggle about theatre going with my dog and the like, often we building narratives around our antics. But I have come to realise that it’s all about the turn order, actions, and property. It’s really tough to win this game without buying and up keeping properties (ultimate money burners, how thematic). By cleverly fiddling the market you can swing it in you favour, or against your opponent. If you’re feeling especially mean you could just do it for fun. In my last game I deliberately didn’t purchase any property, to see if I could win without one. From my experience you fall so far behind it’s very difficult to catch up. Carefully surveying the cards on the planning board, what cards you are holding and how you use them is essential in winning Last Will. Determining player order is also a fundamental part of this. Say you have plan in place and your opponent nabs the card you need, or you don’t have enough actions to execute your plan this could make all the difference to winning or losing.
Reflecting on how the game has changed for me makes me realise that I have have grown as a tabletop gamer, but it hasn’t made the game any easier. Which is fantastic of course as it makes me want to carry on playing. Some games you may grow out of, some could become a little too lightweight, but I could revisit Last Will for a long time to come. Because it’s fun, thematic and smart, and has that charm and humour which never makes for a sore lose. I’ve never been desperate to win Last Will, I have enjoyed the gameplay without worrying too much about ‘the big win’. Where as some games I have an iron cast determination from the beginning to thrash my opponent(s).
I must say my favourite cards to play in succession are ‘hectic day’ and ‘a lavish ball’. Fancy a drunken trip down memory lane with some old friends? Why not host a wild party in the mansion you don’t want? By using a ‘hectic day’ to accumulate several actions and a ‘wild party/lavish ball’ you can lose a large sum in one fell swoop.
Last Will is one of the rare games that I wanted an expansion for. I don’t feel that it needs an expansion but I can see why it was brought in- it fits nicely, it doesn’t distract from the base game but adds more fun in the form of Getting Sacked. You are quite literally trying to lose your job by getting caught in the act so to speak. Each round when you play a certain card type you may block off a wage space on your employment card, until you lose your job. You can also do this by performing an action on the planning board. Now we’ve played with the expansion I can’t imagine not playing with it- the additional income from your wages gives you an extra challenge to meet and ever so slightly increases the difficulty of the game.
The appearance and rulebook is very much in line with the usual Czech Games Edition stuff; artwork that doesn’t take itself too seriously and a jaunty rulebook complete with back-story (I love the first line- ‘Your uncle has died. Hooray!’) It’s perhaps not a game where you would admire the card art, but not hard on the eye either. It’s a fair representation of the game and what it’s all about. Also those top hat meeples- adorable!
Lastly I’ll leave you with the fact that I kind of suck at Last Will. I can never seem to win, no matter which strategy I employ. The irony of this has been pointedly remarked on often- considering how good I am at spending money when I have it in real life, how can I not do it so well in a game? But that’s what I love about tabletop games. It can be such a departure from every day life that in Last Will I can be the more astute millionaire, rather than the fool hardy spend-a-holic I wish I could be. Damn.
Thanks for reading!