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I finally got a chance to sit down with my new copy of ‘Lords of Waterdeep’ last night! Lets take a look at the game in some detail:
Lords of Waterdeep has EXCELLENT components.Evrything from the box itself to the bits you play with is very well made. One of my favorite things to do when I get a new game (and don’t get a chance to play it for awhile) is to sit down and organize the bits. Whether it is bagging them or seperating them into Plano boxes, I enjoy organizing them. Lords of Waterdeep has such a thoughtful/useful insert that I didn’t get the chance to do anything with the componenets but put them into their respective and completely useful places in the insert tray, and leave them there. Sigh. Everything fits well, is super easy to get back OUT of the tray, and is very well organized. Though if you sleeve your cards they won’t fit quite right. The cards aren’t handled a great deal during the game so I don’t have any problem with this personally.
The components themselves are very nice wood and cardboard bits, a sturdy game board with excellent art and some very nice(if a *bit thin) linen textured cards. The agent tokens and counters are smooth and feel nice to touch, and the cardboard is thick and durable. This game will last for many, many games.
Overall I would give the components a 10.
Lords of Waterdeep is an easy to learn, but surprisingly strategic game. My wife always taunts me when I say a game is ‘easy to learn’. Since she doesn’t play a ton of boardgames, some of the concepts that we gamers understand quickly are lost on her. In this case, when I say the game is easy to learn, I actually mean it! Here is the quick rundown:
1. Everyone has an oversized player card in front of them that is broken into 3 areas- Agent Pool, Tavern, Completed Quests. At the start of the game every player gets a specific number of Agents that they will send out into the city. The number of agents varies based on the number of players. These Agents will sit at the top of your player card in the “Agent Pool” area.
2. The players are all assigned a starting bit of gold, with the starting player getting the least amount, and each subsequent plyer getting one more gold than the person he is following. Everyone also gets a Lord card that has a secret goal listed on it. This is kept secret from other players, and if the goal is achieved will give you get bonus victory points at the end of the game. This hidden victory point mechanic keeps the end game scoring pretty tense. Two Quest cards and two Intrigue cards are also given to each player. Quest cards give you in game goals to complete for rewards, and Intrigue cards are ued to gain extra resources and occasionaly do bad things to your fellow Lords.
3. In turn order, everyone places one of their Agents on a different area of the city. Most areas are allowed only one agent per round, but there are a few that will hold multiple Agents at a time. Some of these city areas give you resources (different colored cubes that represent the different class types in D&D. I.E. Purple cubes= Wizards, Orange= Warriors, White= Clerics and Black= Rogues.) These cubes are used to fulfill the requirements listed on the Quest cards. The collected…people cubes…are placed into the tavern area on your player card, and collected until you spend them to complete quests. It’s that easy. Some areas allow you to build new buildings, which then become new spaces for players to place agents on, but the owner of the building (the person that paid to build it) gets a reward whenever another player uses that building. This is a very fun mechanic.
The last few city spaces allow you to either get new quests, play your Intrigue cards, and even steal the first player token.
4. When all Agents are placed, the round is over and the Agents go home and await the start of the next round. Rinse and repeat. You play for eight rounds, and then the game is over.
The winner is the person that scores the most victory points by the end of the game. There is a pretty cool scoring track that borders the city and lets everyone get a quick glance at where scores stand at the moment. With the exception of the hidden VPs that will be applied at the very end of the game.
Lords of Waterdeep plays very elegantly and smoothly and the rules are very wll presented and easily understood. As our first game, I think I consulted the instruction manual two or three times during the game, and that was it. We all figured out the flow and some of the strategy of the game by the second round and were off to the races after that.
I would give the gameplay a 10. It is complex without being complicated, easy to learn, and the playtime is surprisingly quick. (We played with 3 people, first game ever, and were done in about an hour and twenty minutes.)
This is where a lot of people take issue with Lords Of Waterdeep. I would say that on the surface, the theme is pretty thin. Using blocks to represent people, and spending those people like currency to complete quests does not let you form much of a connection with your subjects. We had many jokes during the game about suicide missions and the like. Killing your tavern customers off is not very good for repeat business! BUT, the theme really didn’t bother me at all personally. A bit of imagination goes a long way in this game and the three of us that played were able to give some personality to our suicidal little cube adventurers.
The look of the game, and the theming on the board, tokens, coins and cards is solid though. The coins are shaped like squares and half-moons and are just fun to hold. The card art and quest titles help to build some sort of story, and the building names help immerse you as well. Not everyone will see these things as immersive, but the good thing is that there is a solid game underneath it all regardless.
I would give the theme an 8.
After reading all of that I am sure you can see that I really liked this game. It plays fast, is easy to learn, has great components and sets up quickly. There is a lot of strategy and choice, but not enough to cause analysis paralysis. I am going to play this with my kids next weekend (ages 11 and 13) to see what they think, but I am pretty sure they will grasp the concepts and gameplay pretty quickly. I would say it is a good gateway game with enough meat to keep serious gamers coming back for more. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading and have fun playing!
We never thought of them as going on suicide runs. We always pictured the adventurers you hired being mercenaries. You hire them to do a job (i.e. a quest), then they go home.
I played this last week and I pictured the coloured cubes as, well, coloured cubes that you collect to get points... and it didn't bother me one bit - I thought it was a really good game. It would however be nice to see smaller meeples rather than the cubes - perhaps they can offer an upgrade a la Agricola's animeeples?
It helps if you speak to your cubes as your hired adventurers: "I need you to go and retrieve the orb of cwazy wabbits for me. Be careful, Should any of you be captured or killed, I will disavow any knowlege of your actions. Good luck!"