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Jonathan Kinney
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Surrey
British Columbia
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I don’t normally write reviews…even though I play a lot of games. But after two plays of Lords of Waterdeep, I HAD to write my impressions.

This is a beautiful, well-crafted worker placement game. One that, while not necessarily full of original mechanics, is easy and fun to play. It is a game comfortable in its own skin. It doesn’t feel it has to do something new in order to be successful. The game takes the best of games like Agricola, Dominant Species and Le Havre, streamlines them and overlays a great D&D theme.

Components:

The board is well laid out with beautiful representation of Waterdeep. The cards have amazing artwork...although they are a little bit on the flimsy side. The buildings are gorgeous with an innovative way of identifying who has built them…players place a cardboard chit in their colour into a specific notch in the bottom left of each building. If there is one weakness in components it’s the player pieces…standard eurogame fare. Action pawns are fairly standard meeples, but that’s not the big thing. It’s the adventurer pieces that prevent me from giving this game top marks…they are simply colored cubes. And while other aspects of the game immerse you in the D&D theme…the cubes just don’t. It’s impossible not to simply say “I need two white cubes and one black cube to finish this quest” instead of “I need two clerics and a thief”. But that’s really a small quibble in an otherwise very solid set of components.

However, there is one component which shines above and beyond the rest…the insert. Not only is it made for the storage of this game…it is customized for PLAYING the game. Push one side of the cards and the other side pops out. All the adventurer cubes are in their own cups…BUILT INTO THE INSERT (no searching for bowls or ramekins). Each player has their own section of the insert to store their pieces providing easy access throughout the game.

Score: out of

Rules:

I’m not going to provide a deep analysis of the rules, but rather a quick overview.

After the start player is determined, each player takes turns placing their action pawns and immediately carrying out the associated action. This could be anything from securing the help of adventurers, to taking the start players, to playing intrigue cards, to building new buildings.

Once all players have completed placement, they have the opportunity to complete quest cards – either ones they acquired during setup or those they have picked up along the way.

After eight rounds the player with the most victory points wins.

Score: out of


Gameplay:

Anyone who has played Agricola, Le Havre or Dominant Species will understand the basic mechanics of Lords of Waterdeep. The main difference? This game is much more streamlined and simple. And the best way of achieving this is by reducing choices. Rather than providing players with a brain-numbing array of choices, LoW creates a situation where almost every option is chosen every turn – even later in the game as more buildings are built, players are given more action pawns. The benefit of this is that each choice doesn’t feel overly powered…it’s just different. Each quest forces players to think differently. Thus there isn’t a “right choice”, there’s only a “more appropriate choice”. But even if you don’t get what you want, there always seems to be a suitable Plan B.

You are driven by two things: 1) the quests you acquire and attempt to complete throughout the game, and 2) the role card you are randomly given at the beginning of the game. While the quest cards reward you with victory points, intrigue cards, gold or adventure cubes when you complete them, the role cards reward you with bonus victory points if you complete quests for certain adventurer types (you can probably think of them as guild quests).

While the game is not complex to learn it is as equally unforgiving as the more complex games I’ve mentioned above. You really need to develop a rhythm for how you play. In fact, if you cannot complete quests in five or six of the eight rounds you are likely to be in trouble. Even if you are stuck with a mandatory quest (something given to you by another player that you must complete before you can work on one of your main quest), you need to get rid of it quickly as even it provides some VP. But don't despair, there are other ways of getting VP. If someone uses one of your buildings you get some. Certain intrigue cards allow for you to accumulate VP. So there are definitely multiple ways to victory.

Score: out of

Conclusions:

This game is surprisingly fun. The “cult of the new” is often a curse. So often, game designers try and out-mechanic each other. This game, on the other hand is a breath of fresh air. It can be played by five people in a little more than an hour, but doesn’t feel rushed. And unlike Agricola where you spend too much time setting up your end game (only to have things finish far too soon), Lords of Waterdeep allows you to start achieving your goals right away and stay on a steady path to victory. I would put this game in a category with Stone Age…as a great gateway game for those looking to for an excellent introduction to worker placement games. In fact, I would say that if you were looking to play a game like Dominant Species, that playing Lords of Waterdeep should be a first step.

Overall: out of
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Marty Kane
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Champaign
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Nice review, well written. I was just curious why you gave the rules out of ? What would have made them better?
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Ronnie
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mekane wrote:
Nice review, well written. I was just curious why you gave the rules out of ? What would have made them better?


I would have preferred that the rule book include a more thorough reference section for the more complicated buildings and intrigue cards.
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Jonathan Kinney
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Lords of Waterdeep » Forums » Reviews
Re: Lords of Waterdeep
mekane wrote:
Nice review, well written. I was just curious why you gave the rules out of ? What would have made them better?


I think for me, the rule book was very good, but not great. But I have high expectations. Chad Jensen (Dominant Species and Combat Commander) is the master of rules writing and this one wasn't quite there. I found the rules explanation video that WotC produced was mre useful. As well, there were a couple of issues that arose when I played regarding the cards and the rules didn't really help. But in my mind 3/4 is still a very good rating for a ruleset.
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