As I’ve gotten older and wiser to the intricacies of Board Gaming, I’m finding that I need more theme in my games. If you’ve read my review on Dominion, you’ll remember that I didn’t like it because it was a game that could have been about anything – the theme wasn’t very important. They’ve somewhat fixed that aspect of the game with some of the expansions, but Dominion didn’t hit me out of the gate. I want games that combine good strategic play with a TON of theme. Luckily Last Will is one of those games.
In a game of Last Will, you’ll be desperately trying to get RID of your money. That’s the giant difference between this game and almost every other economic game on the market- you’re building a giant, unreasonably expensive machine so that you can run out of gas as fast as possible. Every turn, you’re going to clog up your board with expensive properties, old friends, Farms, Horses, and Carriage rides with your old friend. You’re going to throw lavish parties, go on boat rides around the world and buy up farms in the hopes of never selling crops to anyone. It’s kind of like Field of Dreams from the Banker character’s perspective- why is this man building a baseball diamond in the middle of his corn field? In last Will, you’re building that diamond so that you can tank your property, become homeless, and then become a millionaire. Pretty simple.
In Last Will, you’re going to take turns sending your errand boys to do your bidding. You’re going to get them to secure the best place at the Opera, establish contacts with an old lazeabout friend, and perform renovations on your home. The errand boys can even be sent to manipulate the housing market. I imagine them attending at various open houses and sabotaging the realtor- flooding the toilets, chiseling cracks in the foundation and doing other things to make buyers run for the hills. At the same time, they can drive up the price of your opponent’s property. Then, you’re going to live it up, performing actions that will see your financial ruin. The end of the game comes with the first player to declare bankruptcy.
I have only played this game with two players. With more players, I can see it running into the usual problem of Analysis Paralysis. There’s going to be a player who takes a long time on their turn to take their actions, and that is going to slow the game down. The paradoxically interesting thing about worker placement games is that they are very often a race run by turtles- you’re all frantically trying to grab up as many resources as possible in a limited number of turns VERY SLOWLY. Last Will is a worker placement game, and runs into this problem. In some games, this can be a big problem- in games where there is no theme, or where the game isn’t very engaging or fun, or where the theme is kind of boring, the waiting is the hardest part. The theme of Last Will ensures that you’re not particularly bored on other players’ turn. In fact, you’re watching them throw lavish parties wishing that YOU were the one who could afford to put on the Ball of the Century. Funny things happening abound in Last Will – you’re often watching your friend take their horse to the Opera, or seeing them visit their quickly spiraling out of control farm. The theme makes up for some of the usual problems in race-style worker placement games.
Last Will also turns a lot of the concepts that you’ve learned in other economic games on their heads. It’s not just the buying and selling of property, it’s also trying to figure out the biggest turn possible, with very little regard for the future. You NEED to throw that Ball this turn, or you may not get another chance.
Let’s talk about the property system, which I think is the most interesting part of the economic game. You’re trying to depreciate your property as much as possible, but in most cases, it’s still going to be worth something at the end of the game. You have to plan for that eventuality accordingly- sure you can spend all your money this turn, but next turn you’re going to have to sell the farm, and you’re going to get a huge influx of cash because farms, despite the best efforts of their owner to utterly ruin them, don’t actually drop in value that much.
This is also the rare worker placement game that works perfectly fine with two players. Too often, you need that third person to even get the game off the ground. More two player games with great theme, good art, and cool mechanics please!
I bought a copy, I think you should get a copy as well, maybe they have some at 401Games? There’s an expansion that sees you desperately trying to get your boss to fire you as well, which I think would be another great addition to this already great game.