Bobby's Games

I will be posting monthly recaps of my gaming which I have been doing in GeekLists. I'll also be commenting on games on occasion, though I can tell you that I will be behind the curve because I just don't get to play the new games as soon as some people do.
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Looking at Lords of Waterdeep

Bobby Warren
United States
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This avatar stinks!
Mike taught Lords of Waterdeep to Hilary and I the other night and playing it only once has made me a total expert on it and given me enough information to make a full, comprehensive review.

All right, all right! Calm down! I really only know enough about it to make some comments which will likely bear out over time.

First up, the box. Whoever designed this poor excuse for a game container should lose their job, be flogged, rehired just so they can suffer the humiliation of being fired again. In other words, it's poopy. Maybe I am being a little dramatic? The box isn't sealed on all four corners and while the insert looks like it would hold everything, if some poor sot placed it on a shelf like a book, the shallow cover would likely come off and spill the contents everywhere. It's something I would not expect from such a big company.

On to the game!

Take the Dungeons & Dragons theme, add some Forgotten Realms, and some flavor text on the cards. Got it? Now toss it all out and let's look at the game because what we have here is a basic Euro worker placement game which has less nothing (which is a really small amount) to do with the theme. Not that it is a bad thing. For me, theme is best used when explaining a game and I think it would help those who need to explain the game to players not familiar with standard Euro conventions. In our playing, we were about 1/4 of the way through the game when Mike held up a black cube and said, "Oh, these are rogues." Until that point, who knew?

The game is about collecting resources (hiring adventurers) and completing goals (quests) by paying the collected resource cubes and, sometimes, cold flexible (because it is cardboard) cash. This is done by visiting locations in Waterdeep, a city in the Forgotten Realms. Most locations have one room for one worker meeple a round and two of them have space for three. When a meeple is placed on a location, the player which placed said meeple collects the resources indicated on the space, or takes some other action, like taking the start player marker.

There are five or six different types of quests and each player will be dealt a "Lord of Waterdeep" card which gives bonus pints at the end of the game for each of two types of quests that are completed*, which adds one more layer of the information the players need to track. I was looking to complete Warfare and Commerce quests and I believe there were Arcana and Skullduggery and others.

One of the actions is completing one of three face-up building tiles, which creates a new space on the board which players can visit. The player that built the building will get a bonus when other players use the building. There is a stack of building tiles which is shuffled at the beginning of the game, so the available buildings will be different every game.

The other location with three spaces is where one of four face-up Quests are taken. Each space allows the player to take a Quests, with a bonus. One space gives the player two coins, one gives an Intrigue card, and one discards the face-up Quests and replaces them with four new ones before the player has to choose one.

Quests are completed after placing a meeple. A player can only complete one Quest after placing a meeple. Usually the Quests are placed face down in a completed quest pile, but some of them give the completing player an ongoing bonus, such as collect an extra fighter (orange cube) anytime the player takes an action which gives them any fighters.

There are also Intrigue cards, which give bonuses to the player that played them and/or sometimes have a minor annoying effect on an opponent. They can only be played when visiting the harbor space (which has room for three meeples) and meeples on the harbor are placed on different spaces in the town at the end of the round. So the cost of being able to play one of the cards is losing out at the better spaces available earlier in the round. A fair trade off in my book.

The Intrigue cards are what almost stopped me from wanting to try the game. Severe screw your neighbor effects really can ruin a good game, especially random ones. If a game is set up so every player has the same effects which they can play on others, then it is fair and everyone knows what can (and likely will) happen during the game. But drawing cards randomly which can then be played on another player really can ruin a good game.

What I saw of the Intrigue cards during the game we played made me believe they are all pretty equal. Sure, some might be better than others for a particular task at the moment, but overall the designers look to have done a great job with them.

I enjoyed my playing and will happily play again, though I am sure each playing with come with some kind of taunt made at the stupid box design. Yes, I obsess over small things.

It's a good Euro-style game, and one which might lead some of the RPG fans to the world of board gaming. Since Mike has it, I see no reason to buy it. Plus the box wouldn't work well with how my games are stored. (See? Small things!) We can play whenever he is up for it and it might also be something Nico buys, which means I would be able to play on Saturdays when he's not playing at being shark bait.

Mike has played it with two, three, and four players and said it scales well with that number of players.

I wonder how much I would have to say about something I actually knew more about? Sheesh!

* I see from perusing the pictures for the game that at least one of the Lords of Waterdeep gives bonus points for constructing/controlling buildings.
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