My gaming group had the opportunity to play Lords of Waterdeep a couple of times this week. Despite the D&D theme, this is surprisingly a Euro-style worker placement game.
Players score points by completing quests within the city of Waterdeep. Quests are completed by recruiting the necessary adventurers (clerics, fighters, rogues, and wizards) indicated on quest cards. Recruiting of the adventurers happens at the various locations on the board where players place their ‘agent’ meeples.
There is a wide variety of buildings that can be purchased by placing an agent at the Builder’s Hall. Generally, only one new building per turn will be added to the city, with some exception. These buildings provide new action spaces for players to use when placing their agents. The player who purchased the building will derive a benefit when other players use the action space.
At the start of the game each player will receive a Lord card, which indicates how the player can score bonus (hidden) points for completing specific types of quests. There also a Lord card that offers bonus points for each building owned by the player, making the landlord strategy a viable strategic choice. In fact, in our first game, this was the wining strategy.
The game also includes a mechanic called Intrigue cards. These are action cards that can be played by placing an agent in the Waterdeep Harbor location. The Intrigue cards are always beneficial to the player who plays them, and most have a secondary effect that can help or hinder other players. Some Intrigue cards are quests that you can assign to other players that must be completed before the player can complete any of their main quests.
Here are my ratings of Lords of Waterdeep after two games:
Fun – I happen to be a fan of worker placement games such as Agricola, so a solid worker placement game with a fantasy theme is a wonderful combination in my opinion. Even though my strategies failed to deliver a victory, I did not feel at any point that I was out of the running for the win. Some actions on each turn are fairly obvious choices while other actions require more planning and consideration. I very much enjoyed each of the games and I rate this a 9 out of 10 for fun.
Strategy – Plenty of strategy here but luck plays a part as well. In our 2nd game, the winning player gained the point advantage on a lucky draw from the available quests. For this reason, I wouldn’t rate this game at the top of the scale in terms of strategy, but I suspect most (but not all) games will be won by the player who was able to make the most efficient use of their turns. Personally, I like games where fate can occasionally lend a hand. I’d give this game a 7/10 rating for strategy.
Theme – Well if you like D&D, you’ll like the theme. The theme does feel lightly pasted on, but nonetheless I think the theme works pretty well with the mechanics and components. I’m a fan of fantasy themed games so I’ll go with a 7/10 for theme.
Components – Great art, nicely produced bits, but the use of the wooden cubes for the adventurers was simply an awful decision. Using cubes to represent the clerics, fighters, rogues, and wizards simply doesn’t’ cut it, and I would go as far to say it almost kills the theme. Using wooden cubes for resources seems fine, but not for adventurers. I’m hoping to find a nice set of replacement tokens that have the right look and feel so I can replace these cubes. Still, I can’t entirely dismiss the rest of the nice quality components because of this poor choice. My components rating is 7 out of 10.
Mechanics – A great implementation of the worker placement mechanic. The mechanics are straight forward enough that only infrequent trips back to the rulebook were necessary in our first couple games. Well done! 9 out of 10.
A very enjoyable game, with only minor nits to pick. I’m hopeful that this game will continue to be as fun and enjoyable after a bunch more plays. I wish they had chosen better bits for the adventurers instead of the basic wooden cubes. The learning curve is short, and the game play is just the right length to allow for more than 1 game in a typical game night. One of the best of the recent games in my opinion.
Overall rating is 86 out of 100.
- 50 value ’1′ chips
- 10 value ’5′ chips