Dale Yu: Review of Bequest

Bequest

  • Designer: Marek Tupy
  • Publisher: Wizkids
  • Players: 3-6
  • Age: 10+
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by Wizkids

bequest

In Bequest, all the players are relatives of the misunderstood Dr. Schism, who has somehow met his ultimate demise, and whose last wishes state: “I, Dr. Schism, being of siminster mind and not-bad body, leave one bequest to my underlings, the gift of petty conflict!  My minions must squabble amongst themselves to take control of my supervillainous empire.  Whoever can cut the best deals, deviously split my treasure, and scheme their way to the top is the true worthy heir to my legacy!”

The game revolves around Asset cards; a deck of which is made (based on player count) for each of the five rounds in the game.  There is also a deck of Special cards which is shuffled and placed off to the side. Each player gets 2 Decision tokens (labeled “A” and “B”) and a Reference card. Finally, between each set of players, place a Splitter board.

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A mock-up of the game…

The main game board is placed in the center of the table, and each round, deal out a specified number of special cards (based on player count).  Again, the game is played over 5 rounds, and in each round, there are two phases: Split/Choose and then the Special Card draft.  There is a round tracker on this board with a counter that shows you what round it is as well as which way to distribute cards.

In the first phase, each player draws 5 Asset cards from this round’s deck (there won’t be any cards left over).  Players look at their cards in secret and split them into two groups.  These two groups are put on the Splitter Board following the direction of the counter on the Round Track.   Once all players have done so, they look at the groups of cards on their other Splitter board, decide which group they would prefer, and put a facedown decision token on the board, denoting either stack “A” or “B”.  When everyone has chosen, all the decision tokens are revealed.  

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You take the stack  of cards that you chose (using your decision token) and then turn to the other side and pick up the stack of cards that your other opponent left behind for you.  All of these cards are placed faceup in front of you in your display.  Splay them out so that everyone can see how many of each type you have at a glance.

In the second phase, players discard Key cards that were acquired and exchanges them for a faceup Special card from the board.  If a Lackey card is taken, it is resolved immediately.  All other special cards are simply added to your display.  

This is repeated for five rounds; at the end of the fifth round, each player scores their cards.  Each card type has different scoring rules.

  • Global Influence – Money earned if you have more of this type then your neighbor(s)
  • Gadgets – earn per size of collection of each of the 3 Gadgets
  • Treasure – arithmetic progression of money per card obtained
  • Evidence – worth negative $3 per card if you have 3 or more!
  • Hideouts – as printed on the card, could be positive or negative
  • Lackeys – as written on the card, many different effects
  • Schemes – earns money based on a conditional scoring criteria printed on card

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The player with the most money wins!  Ties broken in favor of the player with fewer evidence cards.

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My thoughts on the game

Bequest takes one of my favorite game mechanisms and uses it over and over again in this set collection game. Ever since San Marco, I’ve been a big fan of I split, You choose games.  When I first read the rules, it became quickly apparent that the overall structure of the game is remarkably simple. A lot of time and words are devoted to the setup and the description of the scoring, but the game itself is five rounds of choosing and splitting. 

The game is set up to have the same pace each game, as you have to set up the Asset decks specifically for each round.  While it takes a little bit more time in set up, it helps make sure that you got the desired distribution of cards in the game at the times you want them showing up in the game. There is still a fair amount of variance due to the special cards, as this is a separate deck and the cards from the set show up randomly.

The special cards are nice because they allow you to convert unwanted Cards into treasure. However, if you get these cards early in the game, you might not yet know which cards are useless to you.   The scheme cards can be helpful to give you a scoring strategy if acquired early in the game, they can also be a nice bonus late in the game if you find one that matches your current card collection.  I have found that the special cards offer just enough difference from game to game to prevent you from having a fixed strategy. 

For me, I just try to get a good selection of cards in the first round, and then going forward, just reacting to the cards that I am dealt and those that I get to choose from.  The evidence cards can definitely affect how you choose things. The fact that you only go negative when you have three or more of them is a nice rule. The jump from 0 to -9 dollars is big, especially in a game where winning scores are in the 50s, so you can use this to help incentivize people to choose particular groups of cards. There are also a few Lackey cards which allow you to discard your evidence cards, so you could even try to push your luck and take some evidence cards early and then I hope to rid yourself of them later. 

The components in the game are well done. I like the feel and heft of the decision coins. they remind me of nice poker chips, though they are plastic and not made of clay. One note, in my particular box, I ended up with an extra round marker and was missing one of the decision tokens. I don’t know whether this is an error just in my box or in all of them, but since I have not read anything online about the missing component, I suspect that this is a one-off problem. Also, Wizkids was quick with their customer service to fix the problem. The artwork on the cards is nice, and the icons are fairly easy to understand. The cards feel a little thin, but this should not be a problem as there is not much shuffling.

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The scoring is fairly easy, especially with the included score sheet –  but it will probably take you a few games to get a feel for how valuable each of the different scoring categories can be. As I mentioned above, the bulk of the cards in each game will be the same due to set up, but the special cards can clearly change things up. Additionally, while the cardpool for each game is the same, the fraction of cards that you see in each particular game will obviously be different.  It would be quite difficult to run a gadget strategy if you simply didn’t see enough Gadget cards to collect them.

I would definitely recommend a larger table to play Bequest. Though the components are not that large, each player needs a fairly large area to arrange their card collection, and you also need space for the boards between each player. The one time we played on a smaller table, we had to constantly ask each other to move their arms so that we could see what cards they had on the table, as this is very important to know when you are trying to decide how to split your cards or how to decide on which pile to choose.

The game plays quickly, with our plays now clocking in at 15 to 20 minutes of actual gameplay. We still have 5 to 10 minutes of set up as you have to make each of the asset decks, and that requires you to go through each deck to pull out the cards you need for the specific player count. But once you get started, it is 5 short rounds of I split, you choose. Then it’s time to add up the scores and you’re done! For me, this game is a good distillation of the game mechanism which I adore, and one that I look forward to playing again soon.  If I would take the time to make the decks up beforehand, this would be a perfect closer or super filler. 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y, John P
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Essen 2021, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

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