In Bequest, you are all underlings of the late Dr. Schism, looking to split his empire. He was even kind enough to leave a will
“I, Dr. Schism, being of sinister 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!”
In practical terms, Bequest is an “I split, you choose” set collection game for 3-6 players that takes about 20-30 minutes to play.
Bequest is played over five rounds, and in each round, you’ll be splitting and choosing cards to draft. At the start of each round, you’ll be dealt out five cards, and you must split them into two piles: either 4-and-1 or 3-and-2. Then, the player on your left (or right in alternate rounds) will choose which of the two piles they want, leaving you with the unchosen stack. You’ll also get the same choice from your neighbor on the other side. At the end of the round, you’ll have added anywhere from 2 to 8 cards to your collection.
The goal is to collect sets of cards. There are a few different scoring categories, but most types you’ve seen before: majorities, exponentially increasing sets, static values, etc… All told there are about 5-6 different categories of cards that will score you positive or negative points in some way.
Also claimed during the round are key cards that let players draft special cards from the market row. These all you to remove unwanted cards or gain end-game scoring opportunities.
At the end of the fifth round, the player with the most points wins.
Bequest is an interesting title because it’s solidly in the filler game category, yet its production and table requirements far outweigh its gameplay experience. Thanks to all its extra boards (that exist solely to hold decks of cards) this one takes up much more table space than you’d expect. However, the artwork is fun and fits the theme, and I love the feel of the poker-style chips used to make your selections.
In general, I’ve always been a fan of the “I split, you choose” mechanics. It can usually lead to some interesting decisions where you need to not only weigh how much you want specific cards but how much you think your neighbor wants one. If there is a card you know the chooser really wants, I like to throw those in with a negative value card, just to make the choice a bit more painful.
That being said, this style of play also benefits from having hard decisions to make. I almost feel like there isn’t enough of that in Bequest. You really only have 2 splitting options, so it’s basically if you want to risk getting 1 card or 2. Plus, there are only a handful of negative value cards, so most of the time, it’s just splitting up the positive cards. I think the game could have definitely used some more variety on this front.
But other than that, Bequest is a simple game where the longest part of the experience will be explaining the rules and setting up the decks. We played with a few gaming newbies and the hardest part was trying to teach everyone how the scoring cards all work. For the most part, it took a round for them to wrap their head around the gameplay.
Bequest is a solid filler game that works pretty well for what it is. It doesn’t really break any new ground here, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like a warm bowl full of mac and cheese, sometimes comfort food is just what the doctor ordered. My only real concern with Bequest is that I worry it will get a little too samey after a few plays. Just from our handful of tests alone, each game didn’t feel all that different from the previous. If this were a $15-$20 card game, that wouldn’t really be an issue. But for a $50 board game, that makes the decision to buy Bequest a little tougher.
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – A solid filler game with some tried and true mechanics, but a more streamlined production might have been a better value.
• Easy to learn mechanics
• Tried and true gameplay, but it works
• Solid production values
• Splitting decisions weren’t hard enough
• A little expensive for what it is