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Subject: My review after 12 plays rss

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Dan Spezzano
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This is a copy of my review over at oldboardgamers.com typically I don't cross post reviews but I like this game so much I thought I would share. See the actual review if you want images.

=======

What’s that?” I heard a bystander ask as we were preparing to play a 5 player game of Wizard’s of the Coast newest game Lords of Waterdeep. “Some kind of D&D game that is suppose to be a Euro” said one of my new players. “I don’t want to play a D&D game with a scoring track” said the bystander.

Something funny happened after that exchange as we started to play. That bystander was joined by two more. Around 90 minutes later all 3 of them had choose to watch Lord’s being played then start up some other game of their own. There was a similar experience with the four players who were all new to the game. During turns one and two (LOWD is played over 8 turns) I heard things like “This could be a game about selling vegetables” or “I don’t really see the logic in only allowing one player to purchase a building a turn” This is not true by the way, intrigue cards can circumvent this but I’m getting off point.

Somewhere around turn 3 or 4 is when things start to change. The game starts to pick up, the strategies needed to win start to make more sense and the theme that some commented felt pasted on at the beginning is starting to shine threw in player reactions and responses.

Around turn 7 the game is a heated affair, as heated as a Euro game can get anyway. Players are vying to get on certain buildings to collect adventures or they are working their plans via intrigue cards trying to slow down another players bid to complete a 25 point quest.

When round 8 is complete and the secret Lord cards are revealed, victory point totals are finalized. This is when the full weight of Lord’s of Waterdeep game play can be felt. Players talk about their moves, things they could of done better or plans that were thwarted. The player who made the vegetable comment earlier comments on how well the theme makes the whole game work. “I don’t know if this game would be this much fun if it had a different theme.”

Players who chided the game because it was D&D themed are now talking about how well it plays. One day someone will need to explain to me why a majority of board gamers seem to think it is uncool to play role playing games. In the end players walk away satisfied with what they just played. It was fast, easy to understand, the theme worked incredibly well and above all it was fun. Those bystanders who watched the whole game look at me wondering if I’ll play another. Why of course I will, step right up gentlemen…

Components
Lords of Waterdeep comes in an unusual box which is oddly sized. It is meant to look like a large book or tome. The lid is roughly a quarter of the size of the rest of the box. Inside you’re going to find a well laid out insert that at first glance will make you think if used, your pieces will end up everywhere during transport. That once again is a misconception because the insert works like a charm, as long as no one picks up the box and flips it over.

The game comes with a nicely illustrated board which is clearly laid out. In an era of over art production it is nice to see a game that keeps it simple but retains a great artistic feel. Spaces are labeled on the board clearly. There is no guessing at what cards are what. Quest cards say quest on the back, intrigue say intrigue and, well you get the idea. There are components for 5 players. These consist of a player mat, a scoring token, 5 wooden agent markers, card board chits to maker building ownership and to indicate passing 100 victory points.

In addition to this you have wooden markers for Start Player as well as an Ambassador and Lieutenant marker which act as extra agents in some games. Card board chits for gold pieces and victory points are also included. There are 100 adventure cubes, 25 in each color. Purple for wizards, white for clerics, black for rogues and orange for fighters. There are 24 building tiles that add a random element to the games as not every building will come into play.

Finally for cards you have 11 Lords of Waterdeep cards which represent each players secret end of game victory point scoring. 50 intrigue cards which can be used for things such as attacking other players cube supply to bolstering your own. Last but certainly not least, 60 quest cards that are the main way to score victory points during the game.

Everything in my copy was of excellent quality. I fully expect to hear noise on the card material as it is pretty much the same that Wizards uses in the D&D adventure games but I don’t have an issue with it. I give the game high marks from a quality perspective and equally high from an artistic one. While you can only make a map of a city so interesting the card art work is fantastic.

Game Play
Players start the game with some gold, 2 face up quests, their secret Lord card and 2 intrigue cards. They also start with a number of agents which is based on the how many players are in the game. In a five player game they get 2 agents and in a two player game they start with 4.

No matter how many agents they start with an extra agent is placed near turn 5 on the turn track and all players get that extra agent on that turn. The game plays very differently with more players. In a 2 player game you’ll be making 4 and then 5 actions in a round so you get to do a lot more. In contrast in a 5 player game you only get 2 and then 3 actions. You also have 4 other players to keep tabs on which can often result in your plans being altered by another players move.

On a turn you can place an agent and then if you can solve an available quest you control. Of course you need to meet the requirements to solve these quests. That is paid off with adventure cubes and sometimes gold as well. There are also quest types such as piety, warfare and commerce. Those Lord cards you received at the start of game give you an end of game scoring bonus. For example one Lord might say score 4 vp for each skulldugery and commerce quest you have completed.

The game board has some basic building on it that grant various items or benefits. For example the Blackstaff Tower lets you take one wizard (purple cube) into your tavern, think supply but it’s aptly named tavern for theme purposes. While Builders Hall lets you pay for and build one of the 3 buildings currently available. Buying buildings is something usually done by the start player for the round as it grants several benefits. First on the game round track there are 3 victory point tokens and at the start of each round you put one vp token on each building in builders hall.

This grants an immediate vp boost for the player buying the building but it also makes buildings that sit in builders hall longer more enticing as they start to accumulate vp tokens each round. When you buy a building you put it on one of the blank building spots and mark it with your control marker. At this point you have opened a shop for other players to visit and these building offer lots of neat things. It is also beneficial to you because there is an owner payout each time someone visits.

Lets use the House of Heroes as an example. Once in play a player may place an agent there and then take 1 white and 2 orange cubes from the supply. As payment the owner may take either a white or orange cube from the supply. Building give out different owner benefits beside cubes,. Some offer money, intrigue cards or even victory points.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now you can only place one agent on a building. So if another player places where you wanted to first you’re out of luck. There are a few building which adjust this rule. One is Cliffwatch Inn and it accepts 3 players. The inn is where you get more quest cards and each space on the inn provides a different reward. One space gets you a quest card of your choice and two gold. I should note there are always 4 face up quest in the inn. Another gets you a quest card of your choice and an intrigue card. The last lets you sweep away all 4 available quest, put out 4 news ones and claim one of them.

The second building which accepts 3 people is Waterdeep Harbor and using the spot is crucial to winning the game in my opinion. Waterdeep Harbor is the only place you can play an intrigue card and those cards are usually very good. The other bonus of going to the harbor is after everyone has placed all their agents you can then reassign your agent from the harbor to an empty space. In essence you get to play an intrigue card and get another play. The Harbor only takes 3 agents and has spots labeled 1, 2 and 3. So reassignment is done in order. First in, first out so to speak.

After all the reassignments are done the round ends. Players take back their agents and a new round commences. The game mechanics are incredibly simple, so much so that the rules reference on the back is all you need to refer to 99% of the time. The rule book does contain every building description in case the iconography doesn’t make sense. There are also some clarifications as well. The Palace of Waterdeep is one building you should read in the rules if it comes into play as it has a lot of clarifications.

Final Thoughts
In case there is any doubt I am enamored beyond belief with this game. If you’re a long time reader you know “euro’s” aren’t my thing but Lords of Waterdeep doesn’t elicited any of the feelings I usually have when playing that genre of game. Maybe it is the theme. There is something far more interesting in the idea of hiring mercenaries to conduct elicited operations on my behalf then say harvesting coffee beans. Perhaps it’s the simple mechanics but thought provoking game play. It certainly doesn’t hurt that a game can be finished in 60-90 minutes.

In the end I can’t put my finger on what makes Lords of Waterdeep so special. It’s a mash up of mechanics, simplicity and theme that is thrown together to deliver a well thought out and fun experience. I keep thinking back to my first 5 player game and those three guys watching and then longing to play. I have never watched a complete game being played when I could of done something else. With the game releasing today I fully expect to see many glowing reviews coming soon and Lords deserves the praise.

What’s Good
Fast game play
Great and simple mechanics
Variety of building and Lord cards to keep game fresh
Theme

What’s Not so Good
Would of liked to see the different agent groups be involved in the game other then player color and flavor text.
A very small number of the quest rewards seem to be greater then their requirements

Over All – A+
There is no question in my mind that Lord’s of Waterdeep is the best game put out by Wizards of the Coast in their new board game line up. While I don’t want to see a slew of euro’s coming out from them, Lord’s proves to me that Wizards can deliver more then the move your plastic figure around games. As much as I love the D&D adventure games Lords provides more fun for me then those games and it is something that won’t be leaving my table for a very long time.
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Jason Mosley
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Great review. My copy shipped today.

So do the intrigue cards really add a lot to the game? Its the only part of the game that I haven't got a chance to see yet.

I am thinking that is were the player interaction is but I am wonder how much.

Thanks for the review!
 
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Dan Spezzano
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Intrigue cards come in different varieties,

Some are attack cards and they may go like. Each other player must put an orange cube back into the supply and for every player that can't gain one orange cube.

The can come as bonuses like gain 4 gold and each other player can pay you 4 gold once to earn 4 victory points.

You also have Mandatory quests in the intrigue deck which you can give to other players and they must complete that quest before doing any others. These quest are easy to complete usually 3 cube combo's but they often slow down a well planned bid to complete a larger quest.

In short they add interaction and by limiting them to only being played form, the harbor keeps them from becoming complete chaos IMO.

BTW thanks for the kind words on the review.
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Greg Lott
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dspezzano wrote:

A very small number of the quest rewards seem to be greater then their requirements


Meaning what exactly? Since you need victory points to win, and quests are the best way to convert currencies (money and characters) into VP's, I'm not sure what you mean here.
 
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Dan Spezzano
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I meant some of the 25 point cards seem easier to complete then cards worth 20 points or less. It could be a condition of the games we played and how they went. Obviously based on buildings some cubes are harder to get some games then other, like white.

Also some lesser VP cards bring with them other benefits as well. It's just been noted by several players that the 25 point cards seem easy to complete so I felt it worth mentioning.

 
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Andrew Bird
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Great review. I've got my copy, and plan to play over the weekend. Here's hoping I like it half as much as yourself!

A couple of minor nitpicks, however:

dspezzano wrote:
Players talk about their moves, things they could of done better or plans that were thwarted.

I do apologise, but my inner grammar pedant is screaming at me - the correct phrase is: could have done better.

dspezzano wrote:
Everything in my copy was of excellent quality. I fully expect to hear noise on the card material as it is pretty much the same that Wizards uses in the D&D adventure games but I don’t have an issue with it.


I agree with the first sentence, but not the second. I have LoW and WoA in front of me as I type. The LoW cards have a glossy, linen finish, and shuffle like silk. Whereas the WoA cards have a flat, matt finish, are a little trickier to shuffle, and are already starting to warp a bit. Perhaps they upped the card quality in further reprints of WoA, but from where I'm standing, there's a marked difference in card quality.

Like I said, minor nitpicks. All in all, I enjoyed your review, and hope that I end up agreeing with your opinion of the gameplay!
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Greg Lott
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birdman37 wrote:
Great review. I've got my copy, and plan to play over the weekend. Here's hoping I like it half as much as yourself!

A couple of minor nitpicks, however:

dspezzano wrote:
Players talk about their moves, things they could of done better or plans that were thwarted.

I do apologise, but my inner grammar pedant is screaming at me - the correct phrase is: could have done better.

dspezzano wrote:
Everything in my copy was of excellent quality. I fully expect to hear noise on the card material as it is pretty much the same that Wizards uses in the D&D adventure games but I don’t have an issue with it.


I agree with the first sentence, but not the second. I have LoW and WoA in front of me as I type. The LoW cards have a glossy, linen finish, and shuffle like silk. Whereas the WoA cards have a flat, matt finish, are a little trickier to shuffle, and are already starting to warp a bit. Perhaps they upped the card quality in further reprints of WoA, but from where I'm standing, there's a marked difference in card quality.

Like I said, minor nitpicks. All in all, I enjoyed your review, and hope that I end up agreeing with your opinion of the gameplay!


lol

I didn't want to say anything, but I almost stopped reading at "could of" also. BIG pet peave of mine.



Good review, grammar issues aside.
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Dan Spezzano
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birdman37 wrote:

A couple of minor nitpicks, however:

dspezzano wrote:
Players talk about their moves, things they could of done better or plans that were thwarted.

I do apologise, but my inner grammar pedant is screaming at me - the correct phrase is: could have done better.


Not a problem, I fixed it. One of the hardest things to do, for me anyway, is to write and then edit my own review. I read that 5 times before posting and didn't catch that and I'm sure others.

 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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What percentage of VP's do the Lords contribute? Sometimes I have issues with hidden information games like this one.
 
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Greg Lott
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jschlickbernd wrote:
What percentage of VP's do the Lords contribute? Sometimes I have issues with hidden information games like this one.

Quite a bit, but the information isn't as hidden as you might fear. If someone is grabbing all the Piety quests, you can bet there's a reason for it.
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David Dawson
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I think this review is spot on about the theme. There's something much cooler about victory point games when the victory points represent intrigues and influence among guilds in some political sphere like a city rather than prestige among merchants or farmers.
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Dan Spezzano
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jschlickbernd wrote:
What percentage of VP's do the Lords contribute? Sometimes I have issues with hidden information games like this one.


I can't say I sat down and looked at every card side by side. But I am 99.9% sure they are all the same in that they each provide 4 victory point bonuses for 2 types of quests.

ie.e 4 vp for skulldugery and warfare while another might be 4vp for warfare and arcana.

As someone else pointed out you can see who is choosing what quests so it's fairly easy to get an idea of what they want.

In terms of percentage I won a 2 player game last night against my wife 142 to 127 and I received 32 points from the bonus and she received 24. I find that bonus is usually smaller in 4 or 5 player games.
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Stephen Radcliffe
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10 of Lords provide bonus VP's for two types of quest each out of a pool of Commerce, Piety, Warfare, Arcana and Skullduggery. One of them alone gives 6 VP's for each building purchased.

I tried not to look at the different lords, but in a moment of curiosity (weakness) peered at the rulebook appendix to see that somewhat disappointingly most of them were essentially the same.

I suspect the developers had plenty of ideas on how they could use game mechanics combined with the Lord's inherent flavour to produce interesting bonuses, but struggled to balance them all and ended up dumbing them down for the production version.

Still, there's plenty of scope for expansion in this area.
 
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Merric Blackman
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jschlickbernd wrote:
What percentage of VP's do the Lords contribute? Sometimes I have issues with hidden information games like this one.


About 15-25%, in my experience. However, if everyone has been playing competently, there shouldn't be much of a gap between the players' hidden scores.
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Marco Wong
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Thanks for the review Dan!
Could you clarify a bit for me? I've read the rules and found it sounds like a very basic worker placement game with very flimsy theme. Do you find the same? Or why not?
Thanks in advance!
 
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Greg Lott
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Lubi123 wrote:
Thanks for the review Dan!
Could you clarify a bit for me? I've read the rules and found it sounds like a very basic worker placement game with very flimsy theme. Do you find the same? Or why not?
Thanks in advance!


You didn't ask me, but I'll answer anyway.

If there is a knock, it's that 'yes', the mechanics in the game are definitely garden variety worker placement. But, I must say the theme doesn't feel flimsy at all. When you gather clerics, rogues, whatnot, you 'feel' like you are gathering clerics and rogues... and whatnots. The quests and intrigue cards also do a good job in maintaining a level of immersion as well as granting an acceptable amount of interaction.

This game doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it's fun!
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Merric Blackman
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Lords of Waterdeep » Forums » Reviews
Re: My review after 12 plays
Excellent review, Dan!

Cheers,
Merric
 
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The Soot Sprite
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Thanks for the review. This is becoming a must-buy for me.
 
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Jim Schroder
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Interesting. Our group played this last week and we thought the theme was VERY thin. I kept calling the white cubes sheep, etc. I didn't feel like I was in a D&D world at all. Collecting the cubes to complete the quests kinda felt like Fresco, without the paint mixing. However, at the end, I did enjoy the game (winning by a fairly wide margin helped!) I liked the bonuses from building, the mandatory quest screwage, and watching what quests others were going for so that I could try to limit the cubes I knew they would need. I'd like to try it again.
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Greg Lott
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Jim1701 wrote:
Interesting. Our group played this last week and we thought the theme was VERY thin. I kept calling the white cubes sheep, etc. I didn't feel like I was in a D&D world at all. Collecting the cubes to complete the quests kinda felt like Fresco, without the paint mixing. However, at the end, I did enjoy the game (winning by a fairly wide margin helped!) I liked the bonuses from building, the mandatory quest screwage, and watching what quests others were going for so that I could try to limit the cubes I knew they would need. I'd like to try it again.


Maybe its a frame of mind thing. If you don't call them sheep from the outset, maybe that'll help.

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Mike Forrey
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Lubi123 wrote:
Thanks for the review Dan!
Could you clarify a bit for me? I've read the rules and found it sounds like a very basic worker placement game with very flimsy theme. Do you find the same? Or why not?
Thanks in advance!


It's actually a bunch of Euro Mechanics thrown together into one game. The difference i have found after some 30+ games is that unlike most euros you are STILL in the game till the end even if people are putting the screws to you. Keep in mind that is all within a 1 hour time frame for a 5 player Pseudo Euro game.(pretty impressive IMO)

Some mentioned that they thought some of the 25 pt quests were a little easy to complete. In some ways they are and it's YOUR job as the player to either get ahold of them asap or deny them to someone. With those kinds of quests in the mix it makes even the quest drawing space an optimal choice each turn. Unlike other worker placement games that have spaces that eventually go dead you keep all the spaces optimal in LoWD.

For me this game is one expansion away form being a masterpiece because of how much it keeps you thinking right up to the end. Adding in some variable Lords powers in an expansion would really push it to perfection for me.
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R Mayers
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Thanks Dan

I punched out my copy last night and I really like the box and how you can play the game out of the box. Great stuff.

 
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ferris1971 wrote:
Jim1701 wrote:
Interesting. Our group played this last week and we thought the theme was VERY thin. I kept calling the white cubes sheep, etc. I didn't feel like I was in a D&D world at all. Collecting the cubes to complete the quests kinda felt like Fresco, without the paint mixing. However, at the end, I did enjoy the game (winning by a fairly wide margin helped!) I liked the bonuses from building, the mandatory quest screwage, and watching what quests others were going for so that I could try to limit the cubes I knew they would need. I'd like to try it again.


Maybe its a frame of mind thing. If you don't call them sheep from the outset, maybe that'll help.



I'm sure you're right. If I had just called them clerics instead of sheep, a whole D&D world would have popped up around me like the holodeck.
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Matt Morgan
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ferris1971 wrote:
Jim1701 wrote:
Interesting. Our group played this last week and we thought the theme was VERY thin. I kept calling the white cubes sheep, etc. I didn't feel like I was in a D&D world at all. Collecting the cubes to complete the quests kinda felt like Fresco, without the paint mixing. However, at the end, I did enjoy the game (winning by a fairly wide margin helped!) I liked the bonuses from building, the mandatory quest screwage, and watching what quests others were going for so that I could try to limit the cubes I knew they would need. I'd like to try it again.


Maybe its a frame of mind thing. If you don't call them sheep from the outset, maybe that'll help.

I don't understand why clerics can't be sheep. I have known many to be versatile figures, both capable in combat and skilled in the use of divine magic. They are also a good source of textile fibers, making them valuable members of any adventuring party.
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Mike Forrey
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Our group has played the game so much we now call the cubes Guys, Bros, dudes and people. We get some odd looks in the store when people are watching.
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