When i asked Czech Games Edition if they could send me some copies of games from their back catalog, they wanted me to talk about Trapwords, but were nice enough to send along a few of the other games i requested. Last Will was one of those. It had always piqued my interest (as i mentioned during the unboxing), but i never quite made the plunge. Since then, the game has had an expansion called Getting Sacked and a semi-sequel called The Prodigals Club. i’m late to the party, but if you’re late too, enjoy this How to Play video explaining how the game works.
Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table, and this is Last Will, a worker placement, set-collecting, economic management game for 2-5 players. Reading the rulebook for this game was like reading about the internal workings of a car… i had to play the game before i figured out “Oh! Car goes vroom!” So hopefully in this video, i can show you how the game works. There are a couple of spots where the Rules Gremlin is going to point out some pitfalls, so watch out for him. Let me show you how to play!
In Last Will, you and your friends have a rich, Victorian-era uncle who has recently died. In his will, the uncle expressed regrets about not enjoying his fortune to the fullest, so he’s bequeathed you all a small amount of dough to burn through as frivolously as possible; the player who spends all that money the fastest will inherit the lion’s share of your uncle’s money. And yes, before you ask, this IS the exact premise of Brewster’s Millions.
In order to blow your wad as quickly and irresponsibly as possible, you’ll be going out to dinner, taking boat rides, and chumming around with some right deplorable people, as well as buying property for the sole purpose of trashing it and selling it at a loss. If you can find a way to bring a few friends or animals along for the ride, you’ll burn through your uncle’s money more quickly. The game lasts up to 7 rounds, and the player to run up the deepest debt without owning any property is the winner.
A round consists of a few different phases. In clockwise order from the starting player, everyone picks a turn order slot, which may give them extra cards, workers to place, and actions to take in a later phase. After that comes the worker placement phase where, in the turn order that’s been established, you place your errand boy top hats on various spots on the board to pick up more cards, fiddle with real estate prices, blow a bit of cash at the opera, or extend your player board.
After that, you spend the actions you gained on the turn order track to either fritter away your uncle’s money on one-off day trips on these white-bordered cards, or commit the black-bordered cards to your player board to build a longer-term engine, to help you lose money faster. After everyone has spent their actions, if no one is in debt yet, you tidy everything up, discard down to two cards, take your pieces back, deal out fresh cards, and advance the marker for another round.
So let’s take a closer look at each of those phases. In the first phase, Planning, you pick one of these turn order slots. They’re first come, first served. They give you a certain number of new cards, they let you use either one or both of your errand boys, and they give you a certain number of actions to spend in the Actions Phase later on. They also determine who gets to place their errand boys first; after everyone going clockwise from the starting player has picked a planning spot, the turn order for the rest of the round goes from left to right across this track.
When you pick a spot that gives you cards, you take them right away. The cards come from four different decks down at the bottom of the board. You can take your cards from any of these decks, but you can’t look at them; you have to take all of the cards you’re entitled to before you can flip them over to see what you got. Later in the game, if a deck runs out, shuffle the discards to refresh it.
Planning works a little bit differently in a 2-player game. The first player uses a non-player marker to block off a spot. Then the other player blocks a second spot with a non-player marker, and then chooses a spot with his or her own marker and takes cards, if applicable. Then the starting player picks a spot, and takes cards if applicable. These non-player markers just make planning more crowded – they don’t have any effect beyond the Planning phase.
During the Errands phase, the starting player token stays put, but turn order changes, going from left to right across the planning track. In that order, each player takes a turn placing one of their errand boys, represented by a top hat. These are the spots where you can place an errand boy, and each spot is exclusive. Here, you place it on the circle matching your colour, and take one face-down card from any of the four decks. Here, you go to the opera and burn two pounds. Those are the least interesting spots.
The tastier spots are these ones, which let you take a card from the board, this one, which lets you extend your player board, and this one, which lets you futz around with real estate prices. You get one extension any time you send an errand boy here, and there’s no limit to the number of extensions you can add to your player board throughout the game. When you take a card, it doesn’t get replaced this round, so the cards are first come, first served too. On the 2-3 player side of the board, these two spots let you choose any of these three cards, so it forces a bit of scarcity. The cards across the top get dealt from this special crown deck. The special cards are more powerful versions of the base cards in the game. This last card is a wild companion card that we’ll look at in a bit.
Once everyone has placed their first errand boy, you spin around in turn order and everyone places a second errand boy, provided the planning slot you chose has two top hats in it.
Then the actions phase begins. This is where you have a chance to lose some serious scratch.
First, you slide the token on your player board down to match the number of actions your planning slot gives you. The ways in which you can spend these actions are many and varied, and depend on the cards you have in your hand and on your board.
The white-bordered cards are one-off events. So if you want to go to the theatre, you spend one action, pay three pounds, and discard the card face-down into the white discard deck at the top of the board. That’s okay, but there are definitely ways to spend your uncle’s money more extravagantly.
This boat trip costs you two actions, and you can lose four pounds on it. Fine… but if you bring a friend, you can lose an extra three pounds. The slate coloured cards have one of four different companions on them: chefs, doggies, horsies, and ladies. If you want to take this boat trip with a lady, you discard the companion card along with the boat trip card, spend two actions, and lose 7 pounds instead of only 4. NOW we’re talking!
This particular boat trip gets a little crazier. The base price is 2 actions and 2 pounds. If you bring a lady, you can spend an extra two pounds on it. If you bring a dog as well, you can spend 7 pounds total, and if you bring a private chef, you’re losing nine pounds in one trip! You can play this card with any combination of companions, in any order – so, just the lady and the dog, or just the dog and the chef, or just the chef, or without any companions. If a card calls for only one doggy, you can’t discard two doggies with it to waste extra money. The white cards aren’t concerned with the order of the companions, but the black cards are, as we’ll see in a moment.
Instead of disappearing into the ether like the white-bordered cards, you spend actions to build the black-bordered card to your player board. Every spot on your board has a red action symbol on it to remind you that any black-bordered card you play there costs 1 action. Every slot on your board can hold exactly one card.
Here’s the anatomy of a black bordered card:
The cost is here.
The benefit from activating the card is here.
And some black-bordered cards give you a persistent, passive ability, listed down here.
So this card lets you spend money on a restaurant reservation that you never show up to. You spend one action to play the card to an empty slot on your player board. Now, during any actions round for the rest of the game, including this one, you can activate the card by sliding it down to reveal the checkmark. You make the reservation, pay your two pounds, and the table sits empty for the rest of the evening. During the clean-up phase at the end of the round, any activated cards get deactivated, so you can skip out on your reservation again by activating this card in the next round as well.
The Gentlemen’s Club has an extra red A in the top left. That means it costs an extra action to play it to your board, for a total of two actions. This bit in the top right means that once the card is built, you have to spend one action to activate it by sliding it down to reveal the checkmark. And then you get to throw away five pounds at the club. As with the dinner reservation, the card refreshes at the end of the round, so the Gentlemen’s Club gives you a way to spend your money for every round of the game.
Not all black-bordered cards are created equal. This reservation card only lets you blow one pound when you activate it. But you can spend an action to discard a chef companion card, and place a white chef token on the reservation card. Now, whenever you activate the reservation, you call in a private chef to prepare the meal you’ll never eat, which will cost you 3 pounds total. And why stop there? If you spend another action to hire another chef by discarding a second chef companion card, every time you call in this reservation, you’re paying the main course guy AND the dessert guy to stand around waiting for your no-show! Once you put companion tokens on a black card, they stay there round after round.
Some of the black-bordered cards represent various fairweather friends and assorted lowlifes who are all too eager to help you waste your uncle’s money. These associates give you a passive, persistent ability every round. So this school chum lets you draw additional cards every round during the planning phase. This boozy old friend gives you an extra action during the actions phase. Some of these abilities are a little trickier to parse, like the Valet, who gives you an extra action to spend on a white-bordered card once per round. For your first few games, you’ll probably wind up referring to this back page of the rulebook pretty often to figure out what everything does.
If you need to free up a slot on your player board, you can kick out a card without spending any actions to do so, even if you’ve already activated the card, and even if you built it this turn. You can’t get rid of properties like this, though. Properties are a whole different kettle of fish.
The last type of black-bordered card comes from this properties deck. Property ownership is the most challenging part of the game to learn, so let’s dive in.
There are four types of properties you can buy: mansions, manor houses, town houses, and farms. The game generally treats them as two separate groups: farms, and not-farms.
To build a property on your player board, you spend one action, as usual, and you pay the cost of the property at the top of this list along the left hand side of the card. Sounds like a good deal, right? Well, the problem is that you can’t go into debt and win the game as long as you own property; if you want to wind up a victorious Victorian, you’re gonna need to sell that building eventually. And ideally, you’ll sell it at a loss.
You track the value of the property by placing a property token at the side of the card. Every round, unless you intervene, the property falls farther and farther into disrepair as you move this token down the list. So at its simplest, you can buy a piece of property for top prices, let it rot, and then sell it for a lower amount. It always costs one action to sell a property.
Property ownership gets a little fancier when you consider upkeep. Take this Town House. You can spend an action to activate it, and spend four pounds keeping it shiny and new. Just like the other black-bordered cards, you can do this every round, spending money bit by bit. The catch is that if you activate a property to maintain it, the disrepair token doesn’t slide down at the end of the round, so you have to balance the benefit of losing money by investing in the property round after round, vs letting it go to seed and selling it at a loss. A skilled player will waste money doing both.
Certain properties are special because they let you assign companions to them. This red A means that you can spend an action to discard the matching companion card and let a lady take up residence in the mansion. Having her there allows you to spend more money in upkeep. It unlocks this slot, which means you can either pay one pound OR 5 pounds when you spend a single action to activate this card and maintain the building. Why on earth would you want to pay one pound, when you can pay 5?
Well, let’s take this situation: you’re down to your last four pounds. But you own a Mansion, and as a property owner, you’re not allowed to go into debt, which means you can’t win the game. You slide the Mansion down to activate it and spend money on maintenance, but because you can’t go into debt and you only have four pounds, you can’t spend five pounds on maintenance. You can only choose this option, and spend one pound on maintenance.
As we saw earlier with other black-bordered cards, some properties can be loaded up with multiple companions. Unlike the white-bordered cards, order matters: you have to put a chef in this manor house before you’re able to move a lady into it, because she has expensive tastes. With these two companions in the building, you’ve unlocked these three activation options; you can pay either 5 pounds, 7 pounds, or 10 pounds when you spend one action to activate the property to maintain it. (rules gremlin) Note that these totals don’t stack – you can’t add the numbers together. The arrow means “or.” That means you’re spending ONE action to activate the card in any case, no matter which option you choose.
When you decide the time is right to sell a property, you have to spend one action to get rid of it. You regain whatever amount of money the marker is next to. As long as you don’t have any properties on your board, you can blow the rest of your uncle’s money to drive yourself into debt.
There’s one interesting twist to property ownership. This market section affects the buying and selling price of different properties. If you wanted to spend an action to buy this farm, it would cost you 13 pounds, minus 3 pounds, for a total of 10. That’s not so great. You want to manipulate real estate prices by playing your errand boy here during the errands phase to make the farm more expensive to buy. Likewise, when you’re selling a property, you want to adjust the market so that you LOSE money on the sale; so instead of selling the farm for 13 pounds, if the market looked like this, you’d only be selling it for 10. So if you bought it for 13+3, and sold it for 13-3, you could make a net loss of 6 pounds on this farm. When you place your errand boy here, you can reposition as many or as few tokens as you like, including not moving them at all.
At the end of the round, you discard down to 2 cards. Any properties that weren’t activated this round go down one level in value. Deactivate any activated cards on your player board. Your unspent actions don’t carry over to the next round, so remember to set your actions marker back to zero. Wipe all of the cards from the common board; the normal cards get discarded, but the special crown-backed cards go back in the box. Scoop up your player pieces. Advance the round marker, and deal new cards out to the board as indicated. Cards get dealt out to the board from different decks as the game progresses; properties and helpers show up a lot at the beginning of the game, while event cards dominate the back half. That’s because properties and helpers tend to involve investment and engine building, while the end of the game is a mad dash to waste as much money on one-off events as possible. There are two wild companion cards in the game that stand in for any of the four companions; at the end of the round, these cards always get returned by the players who took them, whether they were used or not! The starting player marker gets passed on clockwise, and that player is the first to pick a planning space in the next round.
You trigger the end of the game if you don’t own any property, and you come up against an expense that you can’t fully pay. At that point, you declare bankruptcy, and you keep track of how many pounds of debt you’ve racked up as you finish your turn. The rest of the round plays out as usual, which gives other players a chance to possibly go bankrupt and rack up an even bigger debt than you. If you reach the end of the 7th round and no one has declared bankruptcy, the winner is the player with the least money and property. To figure out how much a property is worth, you take its current value and add 5 pounds. Your helpers …. and the property market values don’t enter into it. The leftmost spot in the Planning spaces breaks ties.
To set up the game, put the common boards on the table. The boards are double-sided, and they mark how many players they support; in 3- and 5-player games, you’ll need to slip this extra piece between the two boards. Shuffle and stack the four regular decks beneath the board. Player board extensions go here. Shuffle the special cards in one, two, and three-crown piles, and then form a complete deck, with the one-crown cards on top. Set the round marker to round 1. Deal the modifier tokens out randomly to the real estate market. Put the companion tokens, property value markers, and money in piles around the board. Everyone takes a player board in their chosen colour, along with a planning marker and two errand boys. Deal three helpers and expenses cards, and three property cards, to each player. You look at your cards, keep any two, and discard the rest.
The rulebook says that 70 pounds is a good starting amount for all players. There are also these Last Will cards; you can draw one to determine the starting amount instead. (rules gremlin) Note that you draw ONE of these cards for the whole game, not one per player – otherwise, it would be a really unfair distribution of wealth!
Once everyone has their starting money and cards, you deal cards out to the common board according to the symbols in the spaces and begin the game. The last person to have bought something takes the first player marker.
And now you’re ready blow dough like a proper hooligan in Last Will!
Get Your Own Copy of Last Will
Last Will is the same game whether you bought it on launch day, or many years later! If you’d like to add it to your board game collection, use the Amazon link below, and i’ll receive a small commission.