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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Lords of Waterdeep) rss

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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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BOX ART



In Lords of Waterdeep players will compete over the course of eight rounds to score the most points. Points are scored by completing quests and quests are completed by collecting the necessary resources.



QUICK FACTS:
Style of Game: Strategy
Play Time: 60 to 120 minutes
Theme: Dungeons and Dragons
Number of Players: 2-5
Main Mechanics: Worker Placement, Set Collection, Hidden Objectives, and Take That
Components: Good
Weight: Light


THEME AND MECHANISMS:
The theme in this game is there but I can't honestly say that it shows in the gameplay. The mechanisms in this game are solid but they don't engage you in a thematic way. You seldom feel more involved with the theme than simply collecting cubes and turning them in because that is what is on the quest card.


GAMEPLAY OVERVIEW:
The game is played over the course of 8 rounds. Before the game begins each player will receive a number of workers based on the number of players in the game and a hidden role card that gives the player and incentive for completing certain tasks throughout the game. Each players is then given a starting amount of money based on the starting turn order and multiple quest and intrigue cards.

To perform each round players will follow the current turn order and perform one or both of the following actions,place one worker on one of the several locations on the board and complete a quest. Each of these locations provides the player that placed a worker there a benefit. These benefits cans range from one of the types of resources in the game to building a new building in the city, to changing the turn order.

Once all players have placed all of their workers they should check the location on the board that allows players to replace any workers that were placed there and then the round will end. During the fifth round of the game players will receive an additional work to account for the potentially larger number of available locations.

Players will be placing their workers in a manner that will provide them the resources they need to complete the quest cards they have obtained throughout the game. When a player has collected the correct resources to complete a quest the player may turn the resources back into the appropriate supplies and collect the reward that is listed on the bottom half of the quest card.

Play will continue like this for all 8 rounds and once the eighth round is complete players will check the hidden role cards they received at the beginning of the game to adjust their scores and turn in leftover resources to collect additional points. The player with the most points after end game scoring is the winner.


ASSESSMENT


My assessment of board games is broken into three core areas: Depth of Strategy, Quality of Design, and Replayability.

Depth of Strategy


Lords of Waterdeep is the ideal weight for families looking for a game that begins to step out of the family game category and into the strategy game category. There is enough going on to keep this game interesting but what is happening is not hard to grasp. You do have to consider each of your moves but there is seldom a situation where you cannot do anything at all to benefit yourself on a turn. This worker placement game is not as tense or short on productive locations as many worker placements game so players can afford a few mis-steps along the way. Turns become increasingly more important as the game progresses which introduces younger players to the idea of planning ahead and making good choices in sequential order.

Depth of Strategy:

For families:

For gamers:



Replayability


Lords of Waterdeep offers a solid amount of replayability for families due to its fast-pace and easy rule set. This game seldom, if ever, over stays its welcome and once all players has a good grasp of the rules it can really get moving at a nice clip. The actual gameplay welcomes replayability because there are several different buildings that can be built from game to game. These buildings can add a level of uniqueness to each play. The game loses a bit of replayability for gamers because there is very little tension in the game. Gamers are going to be able to work around the little competition there is for the locations on the board because there typically several ways to obtain each type of resource by the half-way point in the game.

Replayability:

For families:

For gamers:




Quality of Design


Worker Placement: The worker placement aspect of this game is pretty standard. There is very little to this mechanism that sets it apart from other worker placements games. What makes this mechanism work in this game though is that its lack of competition for each location and the abundance of resources that can be collected each round allow players of all ages to feel a good level of success. Unfortunately, I think that is the same thing that causes this game to fall a little flat for gamers. The lack of tension can become dull and turns can become systematic.

Take That: The take that aspect of the game is flexible and allows for different levels of aggression between players. This is an area of the design that I feel can help keep gamers interested in the game but can be avoided if necessary for families.

Set Collection: Set collection refers to the resources you must collect throughout the game. This a pretty standard method of collecting sets but adds a slight twist by allowing for a mixture of resources to be used to complete quests.

Hidden Objectives: This is one of few real complaints about the game. Most of the hidden role cards seem balanced and players are given the opportunity to manipulate the game in their favor, but there is one role card that allows the player to benefit from building new buildings in the city much more than other players. The power of this card is typically compared to the power of the other hidden role cards and the incentives they offer, and that seems fine. The issue with this card for me is that it impacts how the other players have to play their game while the other hidden roles cards really don't. Most of the roles are relatively easy to disguise but the building character is pretty easy to catch onto and forces the other players to plan accordingly.


Quality of Design:

Overall:


FINAL THOUGHTS FOR FAMILIES:
Lords of Waterdeep is a solid game design. The mechanisms blend well together and allow for a very smooth, fast-paced experience. Players of all ages and skill levels will be able to grasp the rule set and achieve a good amount of success. The natural progression of the game allows players to learn the ins and outs of the game without costing themselves a chance of winning right from the onset. This is a nice step out of the extremely light family games and into a light weight strategy game.

Rating -


FINAL THOUGHTS FOR GAMERS:
Lords of Waterdeep is a nice game to have in your collection to use as a gateway game because it does offer a little more than the typical gateway game. However, the mechanisms do not create as competitive of an atmosphere as I would like to see in a worker placement game and I think that will hurt the game in the eyes of most gamers. This feels less like tension and difficult choices and more like a systematic approach to maximizing points.

Rating -


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Brian Baier
United States
Grand Forks
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Have you played with the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion, or do you intend to? I won't go into my thoughts on it, but I believe it is worth including in a review of the base game and I'd be interested to see how it might shift your ratings.
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Michael Carpenter
United States
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elucidarian wrote:
Have you played with the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion, or do you intend to? I won't go into my thoughts on it, but I believe it is worth including in a review of the base game and I'd be interested to see how it might shift your ratings.


I do own the expansion but I have only played with it a couple times. I haven't had it very long. From what I have seen though, one module adds more of what is already there and actually makes it even easier to get a ton of points and one module adds an entirely new mechanism that there was no sign of whatsoever in the base game. This isn't always a bad thing, just kind of a surprise twist on LoW. I really don't feel confident enough to say whether the expansion is a good or bad thing for the game because a friend of mine is wary of the balance some of the new Lord cards and I haven't used many of them. If nothing else it does give you some new options. LoW doesn't lose its flavor quickly, but it is the kind of game that can get played quite a bit for some groups and could be worn out. Once I play with it a few more times I'll do a review of just the expansion and give better thoughts. Sorry to not be much help.
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