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Subject: Can you waste it all? rss

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John Bandettini
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In my reviews I concentrate on two aspects of the game. A look at what you actually get in the box. The components of the game, a look at both the quantity and quality.

Secondly, my experiences with the game including what I like about it and anything I don’t like about it.

This time I am going to be looking at Last Will. It's latest game designed by Vladimir Suchy. It the forth game he has had published and I must admit I am a bit of a fan boy. I really enjoyed his previous games and this was my most anticipated game from Essen this year.

The game is for 2 to 5 players. Play time around one and a half to two hours. (Which is more than it claims on the box) The idea is the reverse of most financial games in that here you are trying to loose all of your money. Your eccentric, not to mention very rich uncle has died and he decided to leave his vast fortune to whoever showed the best appetite for it. In other words it goes to whoever can waste the most money.

So let's see what you get in the box and how it works.



The box art shows a gentleman sitting outside a stately home, reading (I assume) the will. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be the winner or just one of the contestants. It's almost cartoon in style which I think fits with the fairly light hearted theme of the game. It's a lot better box than all the ones with creepy looking guys that were so popular three or four years ago.

The box itself is the same size as Vladimir's other games. And if you don't know any of them, shame on you go and try one now.

I like the way rather than saying Last Will by Vladimir Suchy, it says Last Will of Vladimir Suchy. A nice touch.

Open up the box and you will find lots of stuff. I like lots of stuff, there's boards, there's cards, there's wooden pieces and there is money chits.

The rule book is pretty good. Lots of illustrations and examples of play. I would call it around medium depth, but I did not find I needed to refer to the rulebook that much even on the first play. The game uses a lot of icons on the cards and I was pleased to see they are all explained on the back of the rule book. A separate sheet with them on as well, like in 7 Wonders would have been good, but at least you are not forever looking them up in the rules.



The game is really all about the cards, you use them to build a tableau like in London. Not that the game itself is like London. I am going to look at the cards first as I think it is easier to understand the flow of the game when you know what the cards do. There are six different card types and three different border colours. (I know there are eight in the photo, the ones with the crowns on are the same type of card they just get set up and drawn in crown order.)

You get black border cards, these stay in play once played. (Or at least until the player chooses to remove them). White border cards are played and discarded and blue border cards are support cards and are played in conjunction with black and white bordered cards.



For your first few games everyone starts with 70 pounds they need to spend, but when you are used to the game, the above cards are some of the last will cards. They give you a variable starting amount. Just shuffle them and pick one. They vary from 70 to 130.




The cards above are companion cards. These are played with other cards to enhance them (cost more money), I'll explain more when we see the other cards. They come in four types, Guest, Chef, Horse and Dog. There are also wildcard companions which can count as any companion. The wildcards are limited, either one or two in play at any time.

These cards may require actions to be played or they may not. This depends on the cards they are played with.



These are property cards, what better way to burn through your money than spend it on property. There are four different property types you can buy. Farms, Mansions, Manor Houses and Town Houses. Each property type has an illustration in the middle of the card and has it's property type written on the bottom of the card.

There are icons in the top left hand corner. These are used when other cards interact with property to see which properties they work with. Farms have a different icon from the rest, which have the same icon but in different colours.

Generally Farms interact with different cards from the other properties. If a card interacts with a specific non-farm building the icon on it will be of a matching colour. If it is white it can be used with all of them.

Below the building icon will be one or more amounts of money. The top amount is what you pay to purchase this property. You can reduce the value of your property in three ways. You can choose not to pay the upkeep on it, there are some events (Wild Party) that can reduce the value of your property and there are 4 property market modifier tokens that can be used to reduce the value (More on them later).

Farms only have one value and it can not be reduced(except by the property price marhers), but there are more cards that can be used with a farm to lose money then the other property types.

On the right of the card will be one or more money symbols. The number in the symbol is how much you can spend on up keep each turn. There is a small A in the symbol. This is used on all the cards to indicate that you need to use an action to activate this card. Any money symbols on any cards without an A can be activated without using an action.

The top symbol on the right (on some cards it will be the only one) is the default cost for upkeep of a property. To pay the higher cost you need to play the relevant companion card. If you look at the Manor House in the photo. If you play it with no companions, you can spend £5 on it each turn. If you have a Chef companion you can spend £7 per turn, add a guest and it's £10 a turn.

If there are more than one extra money symbol, you can fill them in any order but you can only spend the highest amount where you have no gaps. So on the manor house if you had a guest but no chef you could only spend £5 per turn until you got a chef.



These cards are helpers and expenses. These are black bordered cards so once played they stay in play. You have to use an action to put any of these cards into play. I'll use the three cards in the photo as examples of the sort of things these cards can be used for.

The first card is a reservation. Once in play it can be activated without an action every turn to spend £1. Add your own personal chef companion (which will cost an action) and you can spend £3 per turn without needing an action.

The next card is a waiter. the waiter card allows you to spend an extra £1 every time you activate a card with the matching knife and fork symbol. In this example you could use it with the reservation. If you had multiple cards with the knife and fork icon you can add £1 to the cost of each of them.

The third card is your school chum. this is a free to activate card that you can spend £1 on every turn. The icons on the bottom of the card shows that a card has a special ability. You get the benefit of this every turn even if you don't activate the card. In this case you get to keep two extra cards at the end of a turn. (Normally you have to discard down to two cards)




These are the event cards. They are white bordered and are for a one off use. You can waste a lot of money for you, so don't discard them just because you only use them once. Quite a few of them can be boosted by using companion cards. As they are one off cards, unlike the black bordered cards where you can add them later you need to play any companion cards at the same time you play the events. Also unlike the black bordered cards when you play a companion with a event it does not cost an action. Quite a few of the events can cost more if you spend more than one action on them.

The first card in the photo is pretty straight forward, spend an action on a carriage ride and it costs you £2. There are other cards that can be combined with this card to make it cost more.

The second card is Dinner and will cost you an action to spend £2 and also £2 each for up to two companions. We earlier saw the waiter, which would also increase the cost of this card.

The third card is a Ball. As you can see the more actions you spend on the ball the more money you waste. The ball cards tend to be very popular late in the game.



The final group of cards are the special cards. They are a mixture of black and white bordered cards. Some of these cards are very special. This deck comes in three sections as shown by the backs of the cards, the single crown cards come into play first, then the two crown cards and finally three crowns.

Unlike the other cards you can't just draw these cards, they are very limited how many are available each turn, either 2 or 3. You need to use an errand (we will get to these soon) to get them.

The first card in the photo is an old friend. Spend an action to put this card into play and for as long as you have it, you get an extra action every turn. (A version of this later in the special cards also allows you to spend £1 per turn on your old friend, as well as getting an extra action)

The second one is another Ball card, but as you can see this one goes up to a lot more actions and points than the other one. And yes it is possible, but not easy to get 7 actions for one turn.

The third card is Wild party. This allows you to apply three devaluations to any property you own. You can apply it all on one property or spread it across more. This allows you to pay upkeep on a property and still devalue it.

That's a lot of cards and they are the heart of the game, but it does also have some boards and they are pretty important too.



There are two main boards, both of which are double sided. This is the board where you chose your plan for the day. This side is for 4 or 5 players. The other side is for 2 or 3 players and has less plans. (We are just about to look at plans)

In the top left corner is the turn track. The game plays for 6 turns. As long as at least one player is in debt at the end of the 6th turn the game ends and the player most in debt wins. If no one is in debt by the end of the 6th turn a 7th turn is played. The game always ends after the 7th turn and the player with the least money left wins.

To the right of the turn track and going all the way across the top of the board are the day plans. These determine what you can do each turn. In player order, the players choose their plan for the day by placing a marker in the very top spot of the plan they choose. The player who places chooses the plan furthest to the left hand side goes first and then player order continues towards the right.

There are three parts to each day plan. The top icon shows how many cards you get to draw. This is done immediately and you can draw your cards from any pile except the special cards. next is the number of errands you can run that turn. You get to run either one or two errands with your errand boys. When using errand boys you can only assign one to each applicable space. The first player performs one errand and then all the other players get to perform an errand before the first player gets to perform a second errand (If they have one) and then the other players who have a second errand to run. The third slot shows you how many actions you have for the turn.

It's important to point out at this stage that running errands is effectively a worker placement part of the game, whilst taking actions (which in other games might be placing workers) is here playing and activating cards.

In the bottom left there are illustrations of the four types of properties in the game. Underneath each of them is a box which has room for a price adjustment chit. There are four chits which add or subtract from the current prices of the corresponding property. At the beginning of the game they are randomly assign. If on his turn a player places one of their errand boys on the space under the properties they can rearrange the chits any way they want.

To the right of the properties are five spaces in the players colours. If you place one of your errand boys on the space matching your colour, you can draw one card of any type except special cards.

To the right of that are two more spaces where you can send errand boys. The top one allows you to add an extra slot on the end of your player board. You can add as many extra slots as are available, though only one at a time. The space below allows you to go to the theatre if you place your errand boy there and spend £2. There are cards that can be combined with this space.



The other main board I think of as the card board as it's where you place your errand boys to get cards. The one in the photo is the 2 and 3 player side. The 4 and 5 player side has one more card slot. Each card slot shows what card goes on there and on what turn. The cards are drawn from the relevant deck and placed face up on this board. Each card slot has a corresponding space for an errand boy. as mentioned earlier this is the only way to get the special cards. by placing errand boys on this board. Any cards not claimed are discarded at the and of the turn and all new cards are placed for the next turn.



This is an extra bit of the card board that is used in the 5 player game. It holds one more event card and a second extra slot space for the player board. the other side is used in the three player game and just has the extra event card on it.



This is part of the player board showing two card slots. The board in total can hold up to five cards. On the right of the board is the action track. Here you mark the number of actions you currently have and move the marker up the track as you use actions. The card slots all have an 'A' on them to remind you that it takes an action to play a card. (There are a few that actually take two action to play). You will also see a tick at the top of the card slots. When you activate a card you move it down in it's slot so that that can easily tell which cards have already been activated. At the end of the turn move them back up so you can activate them again next turn.



This is an extra card slot. You use an errand boy to acquire one of these and put it at the end of your player board. You can have more than one extra slot. It allows you to play more black bordered cards.



Money chits in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50. It does not have a currency on it, but as the game is set in Victorian Britain I have called it pounds throughout the review.



These are the property price adjustment markers. When buying or selling property you add or subtract from it's value which ever chit is currently on that property type.



This is the first player marker (it passes round the table to the left every turn) and turn track marker.



The round pieces are used by the players to mark which day plans they are using. The top hats are the errand boys.



These are the property price markers. You put them on player owned property cards to show the current price.



These are the companion pieces. Any black bordered cards that you assign companions too, you place these markers on the cards to show they have been played.

So what do I think of it?

For me it's another one in what has become quite a string of hits for Vladimir Suchy. This one is proving very popular at my local club, London on Board with a lot of plays so far. I think this will be his most popular game to date.

To be fair as people have already pointed out, you could just as easily be making money as spending it. It's not really a revolutionary idea, losing money instead of gaining it and yet it does manage to feel a little different and even the table chatter seems to reflect a different feeling as you are trying to waste as much money as possible.

Whilst not a very complex game I think it's one that does take at least a play to really click. When I have played it usually seems to be about half way through the game that someone says, ah I see how it all works.



I have played it three times so far and at the moment it looks to me that there are different ways to win it. In my first game all but one player got into the property market, the one who did not just tried to get as many cards as he could all game long. He went with lots of events and won the game. I was a little worried that maybe that was THE way to play the game.

My next two games were won by players who did go into property. I think managing the property well is a skill to be learned. You can't go into debt while you own property so the miss-management of your property is an important skill to master. You have to have sold all your property (selling a property is an action) before you can win the game.

If you are going to maximise your property loses you need to buy when the price is high and sell when it is rock bottom. Getting to re-arrange the property price adjustment
markers really helps here.

I think there is one component missing in the game, there is no way to record that a player is in debt and not in credit. What I have done in my games is ask people to keep their money above the player board if it is credit and keep it below if it is a debit. It's not really a big deal though as it's usually only on the last turn that it is an issue.

The day plans give you tough choices every turn, you need to decide what is most important to you this turn. do you want to go early in the turn to grab a key card, or go for drawing lots of cards, maybe you need the maximum actions. What ever you want it's never an easy choice.

All of the components are of a good quality. The cards are nicely illustrated and everything fits in well with the theme. I particularly like the top hats for the errand boys, they are a great piece.

So a big thumbs up from me. Already one of my favourite games of the year and one I can see myself playing a lot more.

Why don't you give it a try and see if you really are as wasteful with money as you think you are.

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Excellent review (as always) John. Now I just added it to my wishlist... Have a look, Silent Secret Santa! whistle
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Laszlo Molnar
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That last image is the best one in your review. (although I like the shot about the money as well. )

By the way, I agree, Last Will is one of the better games this year, also one of the most fun Euros of 2011.


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John Bandettini
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lacxox wrote:
That last image is the best one in your review. (although I like the shot about the money as well. )

By the way, I agree, Last Will is one of the better games this year, also one of the most fun Euros of 2011.




Laszlo

I only add my own images where the ones I want don't exist.
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Ben
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Nice review, John. Last Will is certainly one of the better games to come out of this year's Essen.

My one big issue with the game is that one of the core tensions in the game is so very artificial: planning your day. I can't seem to get past the fact that you are selecting from a pre-progammed menu of constraints, rather than operating within constraints that develop organically through in-game decisions. For example, I would prefer that the number of actions each player has each round depended on the player having made certain action-producing decisions (hiring helpers, perhaps), which naturually has an opportunity of not making card-producing or errand-boy-producing decisions. Instead, the game's balance reeks of having been designed, and, for me, trivializes the experience. I care less because any challenge posed by the game feels constructed.

Still an above-average title, even with my ideosyncratic issues, however. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
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Alicia
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Nice review John, this is on my wish list and I wondered how it played. I like some of the same games you have in your library so I trust I will like this one as well.

Thanks for the insight and GREAT job.
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John Bandettini
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PollutedMonkey wrote:
I just had my first two plays of Last Will. Both games was with 2 players. We both found the game disappointing.

The artwork is the best I've seen in a game for years. And I really like the day planning mechanism. But as a whole the game felt too fiddly, too mechanical and a little repetitive.

The ways you could spend money just felt too similar: You can spend money on real estate, money on events, and money on helpers (such as coach ride and dinners) that's pretty much it. Sure there's different icons and artwork, but most of the cards are just spend an action to spend x money + modifiers, if you add other cards.

All the different cards decks also felt unnecessarily complicated. It could probably have been cut down to just helpers, events and real estate.

I'd like to play the game again with some more players. But right now I can't help but feel disappointed.


Lasse

You are a real tough audience though. You sell more games than most people own.
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Kelly Krieble
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Great review.

My one complaint - and I have it with most images that people post - is that nobody ever puts any kind of comparative scale in the images. A ruler or coin next to the cards and boards would tell me how large the cards are, for instance. I'd like to know if the cards are a la Through the Ages, Dominion, or 7 Wonders in size.

Anyway, I've got this game pre-ordered and eagerly await its arrival!
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John Bandettini
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dr_divot wrote:
Great review.

My one complaint - and I have it with most images that people post - is that nobody ever puts any kind of comparative scale in the images. A ruler or coin next to the cards and boards would tell me how large the cards are, for instance. I'd like to know if the cards are a la Through the Ages, Dominion, or 7 Wonders in size.

Anyway, I've got this game pre-ordered and eagerly await its arrival!


Kelly

They are regular playing card size.
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Andy Andersen
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OUTSTANDING

Thank you
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Dan Copeland
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Thanks for this excellent, detailed review.

I noticed one discrepancy (at least with the rules I received, copyright October 2011). Referring to increasing property upkeep cost with companion cards, you wrote:

Quote:
If there are more than one extra money symbol, you can fill them in any order but you can only spend the highest amount where you have no gaps. So on the manor house if you had a guest but no chef you could only spend £5 per turn until you got a chef.


Actually, the companion spaces can only be filled from top to bottom as indicated by the arrows. In your example, you cannot add a guest unless you've already added a chef. Page 11 says:

Quote:
A companion token can only be added to the uppermost empty space with a companion symbol. (This is unlike the white-bordered cards, where the order printed on the card does not matter.)


Then, for an example farm which costs 2 by default, then 4 with a dog, then 7 with a horse, it says:

Quote:
If you only have a Horse card in your hand, there is nothing you can do yet. First, you must get a Dog.

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