Lords of Waterdeep review
Score : 8
Easy to grasp
Always a viable option to choose
Interactive and players always involved
Great expansion available
Fairly obvious what Lord roles people have
Theme is often ignored in favour or referring to "cubes".
We were in the final round of the game, and I had just used my first agent to recruit a cleric, the risky option which meant I could potentially complete two quests later in the round. It moved on to the next player’s turn. As they had all game, they chose to build, meaning there were only two players left to ruin my plan by taking the quest card I needed, or playing an intrigue card to remove the adventurers I had recruited. Thankfully a side effect of all this building meant there were now a wealth of locations for the other players to send their adventurers to, and both chose to pursue their own goals, leaving me to kill the owlbears, complete both quests and snatch victory at the end by a single point.
Lords of Waterdeep is a D&D themed worked placement game. Each player has a number of agents which they can send out to locations on the board, which allow you to obtain quests, recruit adventurers, gain or play intrigue cards or gaining initiative for the next round and going first. You can also buy buildings, which everyone can then use, opening up more potential actions as the game goes on.
Players win by earning victory points, which are primarily gained from completing quests but also when other people use your buildings. Additionally, each player at the start draws a Lord, which they keep secret, but gives bonus points for every building you have, or for completing quests of a certain type. Gold and unused adventurers also score points at the end.
Quests are automatically completed if you have the right band of adventurers (for example, your quest might specify you need two clerics and four fighters with two gold), and you will then be rewarded with victory points and sometimes other benefits such as drawing intrigue cards.
Intrigue cards are (as you might guess from the name) kept secret, and allow you to perform one-off actions which usually affect several players. You may get to gain gold but you have to share it with another player, or you can force another player to go on a mandatory quest which they have to complete before they can go on any other quest, which when well timed can really mess with their plans.
This is one of those games that is very simple to explain but has a great deal of strategic depth. Every round, you will have your plan in mind, but as many spaces can hold only one adventurer, watching someone else claim your space (especially when you know they only went there to block you) requires players to adapt quickly. This also means that the downtime while others place their characters is really engaging, as every move affects what you are going to do next. Rarely has sitting there watching others decide which quest to undertake, adventurer to recruit, or building to use, been so tense, as you often plan your turn in advance only to have it ruined.
The oft quoted downside to the game is that the theme can feel a bit tacked on, depending on who you are playing with and some groups will talk about “I have completed this quest with my 4 black and 2 red cubes”, but this doesn’t really affect the gameplay.
A slightly bigger problem is that there are only a limited number of starting Lords you can play and it quickly becomes obvious from how people play which Lord they have.
Lords of Waterdeep is rightly seen as a classic game, it plays quickly with a lot of depth and maintains your interest during others’ turns. There are a number of viable strategies and any win makes you feel that you really outsmarted your opponents, rather than relying on luck.
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
By: Peter Lee, Rodney Thompson
Number of players: 2-5
Play Time: 1 - 2 hours