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Lords of Waterdeep – Review

A Dungeon’s and Dragons themed worker placement game, REALY?!  I must admit the look in my wife’s eyes as our local hobby store owner recommended this game was classic.  I could tell the theme was not up her alley but he insisted and even went as far as offering to buy it back if we didn’t like it.  Read my full review to find out if we took my local shop keep up on his offer.

One thing that really stands out with Lords of Waterdeep is the unboxing. It really shows the time that Wizards of the Coast put into the professionalism of the game down to the fine details. The Artwork on the box cover is either eye catching, or revolting depending on your preference for medieval and/or fantasy games.

The Box is far from cheap. It has an interesting design in both shape and structure of the external box, but the Insert inside is where the unboxing truly shines.

How many of you board gamers have thousands of different size plastic baggies on hand? There are even kickstarts for color coded baggies (link to kickstarter). The insert solves that for you. Every component has its place in the molded plastic insert. Sometimes the Agent pieces are a little difficult to remove from their homes, but hey no one really wants to go to work do they?

The Board unfolds to reveal the bustling city of Waterdeep. For those of you who are not familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, is a city in Faerun, on the Sword Coast. Where pirates frequent, and Lords make their money, and adventurers seek….well adventure.

In the base game there are 5 Factions, who own Taverns. This is represented by your Player or  Faction Mat. This displays the color of your player and a nifty place for you quests, and adventures to Gather.

What is a faction without a leader? The Lord Cards provide the direction in which the faction will need to take to win the game. On these cards will be written objectives that, if adhered to closely, can win you the game through Victory Points. As you progress through the game you will be awarded victory points, and your Score Marker, A small wooden piece representing each player, will move around the board. This makes you a prime target. At the end of the game you will gain additional victory points that other players aren’t privy to.

Another way to gain victory points is by completing quests on Quest Card. Each quest will require color coded Adventurer Cubes and/or money to complete. Money and Adventurers are gathered by using your Agents during your turn to be played: on Buildings, which players use the base buildings or purchase new ones; to play Intrigue Cards,  cards that  let you secretly manipulate others to advance your ends; and collect new quests.

Of course not everyone can occupy the same task. Everything will go in an order based on who has the First Player Marker. (Side note, it seems the player who starts in second place has won the majority of the time in our game…Coincidence?).

As you occupy buildings you are gathering adventurers. Clerics, Rogues, Mages and Fighters are at you Beckon call which you will us them to complete quests. Through the rounds you gain victory points. Some of these are very evident and others are hidden until the end of the game. Though there is little direct contact, mainly done through the use of intrigue cards, the resources become scarce later in the game, creating plenty of tension.

Impressions

TheBaron

I was told originally that Lords of Waterdeep is the next best thing to playing tabletop games. This is your backup. Well, I sure hope not because that is far from the truth IMO. Mages and Fighters are represented by tiny coloured cubes(This can be rectified by a purchasing new meeples) . Maybe I’m just slow but it took me a full game to realize I’m actually gathering characters to complete quests. It’s a thin veil to a mechanic of obtaining resources to get victory points. Which I found disappointing. There’s not roleplaying because if you roleplayed your house lord, everyone would know who you were, which is supposed to be hidden. Lords of Waterdeep was a lot of fun to play. I have a hard time figuring out if it’s more fun to play the first time or after a few times. I think that’s because at times it also feels as frustrating as it is fun. The polish on the game is great, but the no matter how much strategy you put into your game, it only goes so far, because you may get terrible buildings, or no quest cards of your lord for example. I’ll play lords again and again, but don’t move out in front to soon. You’ll get shut down in no time.

SixSided

Lords of Waterdeep is a great game and I had a lot of fun playing it.  I have never really played D&D so initially I was a little turned off by the theme but I’m glad I tried it.  This was the first board game I have played which uses the worker placement mechanic.  This mechanic is fun and extremely easy to learn.

 Things I liked:

  • Lord Cards: Each player plays as a different lord with different objectives (Complete certain types of quests).  This makes each game different and also provides hidden victory points.
  • The game visually looks awesome even if you’re not really a D&D fan.
  • Components are really good quality and the box insert has a home for all components which is a bonus.
  • Scoring always seems pretty tight.  Most games I played all players were neck in neck near the end of the game.

 Things I didn’t like so much:

  • Not a lot of player interaction in the game.  The only thing there is are mandatory quests you can force other players to complete.  I guess it is sort of a Eurogame but I would have liked more interaction.  The expansion a little with the introduction of corruption points.
  • Would have liked the adventures in the game not to be simple square blocks.  I guess this was a cost thing so oh well.

 Strategy: I found what works best in this game is to take a lot of quests early.  Then throughout the game collect the required resources to complete these quests but don’t complete them until near the end of the game.  In this way you don’t make yourself a target early in the game by looking like you’re in the lead.

BarKeep

Great game! Get it if you don’t already own it and if you do get another copy and give it to a friend.  

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