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Subject: Didn't like the game, would like to be convinced to try it again rss

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Eric Taylor
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About a month ago, a friend brought this game over to my place to try. I'd heard good things and generally like worker placement games, so I wanted to like it. I did not. This is not a high-and-mighty "You sheeple like a crappy game and I'm here to tell you why it's crappy" post. This is a "please respond to my concerns, as maybe we were playing it wrong or I misunderstood something because I'd like to like this game" post. Just thought I'd get that out of the way early.

Concerns:
1) It seemed like it did not scale well.
Specifically, with 5 players, there were never enough fighters (orange cubes) ever. I'm used to Agricola, where more players = more action spaces, so even though it's never exactly a resource bonanza, the game accommodates the increased resource needs of an increased number of players. In LOW, we had the same basic fighter guild that repopulated at the same rate as if it was a 2 player game and could only take one player's worker pawn per turn. I got the sense that the increased number of buildings you would expect from a 5-player game were intended to ameliorate this problem, but this did not come to pass as a fighter-producing building only became available very late.

2) It seemed extremely random.
Your lord of Waterdeep is random. The selection of quests is random. The buildings available to you are random. You can at least "reset" the quests, but it felt as though if you hit a situation in which several players were going after the same kinds of quests and that type of hero was in short supply due to the buildings not favoring you, it got to be a real pile-up. Meanwhile, players who received lords of Waterdeep that went after less contentious quests pretty much just strolled through. I understand that you can choose to complete quests that are not favored by your lord of Waterdeep, but at that point, it feels like you're being penalized and now you get to fight with the players who DO get bonuses for those quest types and for lesser rewards than they get. This I did not like. I'm okay with some randomness in worker placer games (Aricola's actions are randomized within their stages, Dungeon Lords' heroes and special events are randomized as are the traps you draw, Puerto Rico's plantations are randomized, etc.), but the randomness in LOW just seemed completely unpredictable and often very unfair.

3) The "take that" cards seemed unfun and difficult to assign.
My players had a hard time realistically gauging who was winning, because despite the victory point track, Lords of Waterdeep were unknown (guessable, of course, but unknown) and it's tough to gauge how likely or soon a player is to complete a quest if he doesn't quite have the heroes to complete it yet. Therefore, the "screw you" cards were difficult to assign in the early game and by the late game, leading players were using them to slow down people close to them. Plus nobody liked mandatory quests that specifically targeted one person. It just felt fairly Ameritrash compared to the general vibe of worker placement games where sure, your choice might screw over someone else more than others, but if affects everyone. The "affects everyone" cards were fine. Extremely varied in terms of power levels and playability, but fine.

That's basically my gripe. The owner of the game really liked it as did his brother, but nobody else around the table really came away from it feeling like they wanted to play it again. That is sad, given that many of us wanted to like the game but didn't. Did we do something wrong? Did we have a particularly unrepresentative game? Please let me know. Thanks.
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Darrell Goodridge
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I haven't played a game with 5 players yet, but it sounds like in your example, you had several lords with Warfare and got unlucky with buildings. There's probably 5 or 6 buildings with at least one fighter.There are several more with a "your choice" cube. I suppose it could have easily been worse. For example, if 3 of you have Arcana bonus, good luck getting wizards. I think the crux of the scaling within LOW is that it's harder to get quests completed, so you're looking at maybe 6-7 instead of 10-12, but on the other hand the Intrigue cards are much more valuable.

If you notice that 4 players are going for fighters (or whatever), focus on your secondary quest type. Likely it will need less of the hotly contested resource.
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Wally Jones
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This is not the game you are looking for. Move along. Move along.
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Serge Gagnon
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Rygel wrote:
This is not the game you are looking for. Move along. Move along.


Agreed, there's enough threads to say why this game is good (or not) and bottom line, it's not everyone's cup of tea (even if you spike it with a good liquor devil ).

The points you addressed are valid. As for points 1 and 2, it seems they are correlated and as stated, if you notice all players are going after fighters, focus on the other aspect of your Lord. Therefore, I don't think it was a mechanical issue as much as a strategic issue. Some Lords are easier to play then others because it's easier to pick up fighters/ rogues then wizards/ clerics. As much as I like this game, this particular aspect is what I dislike about it. Getting 'stuck' with an arcana or piety lord, I usually feel forced to 'slow my opponents' by intrigue or swapping out quests.

As far as the 'screwage' part usually depends on style of play. I personally don't feel its a 'take that' as opposed to 'I need to slow you down'.

If you don't enjoy it, don't waste your time... Why would you need convincing otherwise. Yes I can recognize certain flaws but I enjoy the game enough to adjust my strategy.

Happy Gaming! (whether or not it's with LOW )

(Edited as unfortunately, I'm notorious for initial reaction, then I actually read the post... sorry)
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Eric Taylor
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RAVENTROLL wrote:

Agreed, there's enough threads to say why this game is good (or not) and bottom line, it's not everyone's cup of tea (even if you spike it with a good liquor devil ). If you don't enjoy it, don't waste your time... Why would you need convincing otherwise.


Initial opinions can sometimes be wrong. Lord knows I've played some new games before and not been terribly convinced but came to love them later. I've also found sometimes friends who introduce me to new games forget certain rules that would make a huge difference. I didn't want to give up on this one if there was still a chance for it. That's all.
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Shaun
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Snipafist wrote:
RAVENTROLL wrote:

Agreed, there's enough threads to say why this game is good (or not) and bottom line, it's not everyone's cup of tea (even if you spike it with a good liquor devil ). If you don't enjoy it, don't waste your time... Why would you need convincing otherwise.


Initial opinions can sometimes be wrong. Lord knows I've played some new games before and not been terribly convinced but came to love them later. I've also found sometimes friends who introduce me to new games forget certain rules that would make a huge difference. I didn't want to give up on this one if there was still a chance for it. That's all.


I'd just read the rules yourself, and play it one more time. That might be all you need to really know if you like it or not.

I liked the game, but I had no preconceptions of it before I had played it. I don't know if I'll ever buy it, but I'm up for playing it again. I see it as a game where I can have a beer and just relax and move some pieces around on a board. If I want a really rewarding gaming experience, I'll play something else, like Chaos in the Old World.
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jeremy hammond
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Didn't read others response and won't come back in this post, but if you don't like it nobody needs to convince you. Its your problem b/c its an awesome game. Obviously you never played D&D

As someone else said: Move Along, LOL
 
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Eric Taylor
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kidohearts wrote:
Didn't read others response and won't come back in this post, but if you don't like it nobody needs to convince you. Its your problem b/c its an awesome game. Obviously you never played D&D

As someone else said: Move Along, LOL


Actually, I've been playing D&D for about 15 years now. Never got really crazy-deep into the in-game campaign settings or fluff because they're usually aggressively awful, but I'm quite familiar with D&D and have fond feelings towards it. That was one of the reasons I wanted to like this game.

And I like to think that if there's something that comes highly recommended to me and I don't like it, I must have misunderstood something. Apparently I understood pretty well and that is disheartening. The "screw you noob, move along LOL" response I've been receiving hasn't exactly been helping my overall impression either.
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Dale Moore
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Well you should always try a game a second time.

Remember ever lord except the building lord has two choices if you notice everyone going for Warfare go for the second choice.

5 players is a crowded board, so it become more important to take the first player marker. That way you can get the colors you need.

Try to complete quests that give more adventures as rewards.

Try to buy a building that gives you owner rewards that help you with your choice of quests.

Get plenty of Intrigue cards. The majority of those cards are not screw the neighbor but more helping you get adventurers.

Then if you try again and still don't like it there are many other games out there.
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Chad Miller
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Quote:
The "screw you noob, move along LOL" response I've been receiving hasn't exactly been helping my overall impression either.


Seriously, I kind of couldn't believe those posts when I was reading them. You guys really feel the need to throw tomatoes at someone explicitly saying "I didn't like this game but I want to talk about it?" This OP is better criticism than some actual reviews!

Anyway, my take on the three points:

1) I think 5 may actually be the worst number to play this game with at this point, though that has more to do with the turn order mechanism than anything (being to the right of the guy who insists on always taking 1p when he doesn't have it is always bad, but it's dreadful in 5). That having been said I've never really had the problem with X resource being too scarce because there's only ever been at most one scarce resource, and as some others have said you can proceed to focus on the other ones (including the other half of your lord instead)

2) There is a lot of randomness, but most of it causes "good variance" rather than "bad variance". By this I mean, there's the kind of randomness that makes me say, "Looks like I'll have to adjust to this" and the kind that makes me say, "Shit, guess I just lost." The amount of the second kind in this game is surprisingly small. I've had a lot of games where unlikely events had me making plays I wouldn't normally make, but in the well-past-lost-count number of games I've played I can only think of about one or two games where the quests, buildings, and lord left me with no way out.

The Reset Quests space is subtly powerful. It's also even more of a variance-reducer than it first appears since you don't have to prioritize it (so you can still spend your earlier action on "real" spaces). If you want it, chances are no one else does, and even if they do, you get most of the effect anyway (since getting rid of 4 quests you didn't want is the important part).

3) Whether negative interaction is a flaw or not is a matter of personal taste. That said, I'm lukewarm on the Mandatory Quests myself. I suspect they're in the game to prevent someone from running away with the game via early plot quests, and they do add an element of risk to the end game that I like, but in many situations they feel a little too powerful for what they are doing. The two-player game in which I got three of them and my opponent got zero certainly felt stupid. Stuff like Free Drinks is good imo. And as Dale said, most of the Intrigue cards are actually positive effects that are at least on par with the resource spaces.
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Runcible Spoon
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Quote:
The "screw you noob, move along LOL" response I've been receiving hasn't exactly been helping my overall impression either.


SlebRittie wrote:


Seriously, I kind of couldn't believe those posts when I was reading them. You guys really feel the need to throw tomatoes at someone explicitly saying "I didn't like this game but I want to talk about it?" This OP is better criticism than some actual reviews!


Agreed, fanboy rage is lame.

Like you I enjoy BGG as a portal to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of games and share musings about them. I just wanted to take a moment and make a meta-comment that I thought your response to the OP was well thought out so I gave you a thumb and I liked the OP to for standing up in the face of some ill-considered responses so they got a thumb too.
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Kevin B. Smith
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#1 (Scaling): Try the game again, with some of the suggestions given above. It sounds like you hit a rare game where there were few ways to generate fighters AND several players who needed them AND not enough other ways to get them (like Intrigue cards). Not every game goes like that.

#2 (Randomness): There certainly is some. Probably not as much as it seemed based on the game you played. One more play might inform you as to whether or not it is too much for your tastes.

#3 (Attacks): I think you understand exactly how the game works on this topic (for better or worse). Either you're ok with it or not. There are lots of threads on this topic already.

For me, #1 and #2 are not problems, but #3 is. I hate leader-bashing and kingmaking, and it's even worse when people think they are bashing the leader but really they're bashing the person in second...or last.

I'm ok with LoW. Don't love it. Don't hate it. I'll play it, which is good because it's danged popular and hits the table a ton around here.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Runcible Spoon wrote:
Quote:
The "screw you noob, move along LOL" response I've been receiving hasn't exactly been helping my overall impression either.


SlebRittie wrote:


Seriously, I kind of couldn't believe those posts when I was reading them. You guys really feel the need to throw tomatoes at someone explicitly saying "I didn't like this game but I want to talk about it?" This OP is better criticism than some actual reviews!


Agreed, fanboy rage is lame.

I didn't see any rage.

It sounds like the O.P. had a pretty good understanding of how the game works in his first post, and his complaints aren't all that unusual. If a person doesn't like that sort of game, suggesting that he move along and not waste further time on it seems perfectly reasonable.

I've read a lot of opinions pro and con on LoW, but I don't recall reading accounts by people who disliked it initially but changed their mind after repeated plays. It's a pretty straightforward game, not the sort where hidden beauty will emerge only after achieving a level of mastery.
 
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Chad Miller
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Sphere,

I had considered the possibility that the original "Move along" response was just a really terse way of saying what you're saying (and I agree it's a reasonable response!) and maybe should have said so in my post. Some of the followup by other people is definitely unreasonably hostile, however.
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Marty Kane
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I definitely wouldn't give up after just one play. I really hated Pillars of the Earth after my first play but now after five or so plays I quite like it.

#1 (Scaling): I like 5-player the least. Resources always feel tighter. The random set of buildings that appear usually shift the balance around if which resources are scarce. Repeated play with even that out too.


#2 (Randomness): We always draft starting quests after dealing Lords. (See the Variants section for details). I am fine with random Lords and buildings, but I like to have some control over my starting quests. I do sometimes wish there was a way to clear the buildings in Builders Halls.


#3 (Attacks): I think this is another reason I don't like 5-player. A mandatory quest can be really crippling, whereas in 2- or 3-player it's much less of a problem.
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Matt Smith
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RAVENTROLL wrote:
Rygel wrote:
This is not the game you are looking for. Move along. Move along.


Agreed, there's enough threads to say why this game is good (or not) and bottom line, it's not everyone's cup of tea (even if you spike it with a good liquor devil ).

The points you addressed are valid. As for points 1 and 2, it seems they are correlated and as stated, if you notice all players are going after fighters, focus on the other aspect of your Lord. Therefore, I don't think it was a mechanical issue as much as a strategic issue. Some Lords are easier to play then others because it's easier to pick up fighters/ rogues then wizards/ clerics. As much as I like this game, this particular aspect is what I dislike about it. Getting 'stuck' with an arcana or piety lord, I usually feel forced to 'slow my opponents' by intrigue or swapping out quests.

As far as the 'screwage' part usually depends on style of play. I personally don't feel its a 'take that' as opposed to 'I need to slow you down'.

If you don't enjoy it, don't waste your time... Why would you need convincing otherwise. Yes I can recognize certain flaws but I enjoy the game enough to adjust my strategy.

Happy Gaming! (whether or not it's with LOW )

(Edited as unfortunately, I'm notorious for initial reaction, then I actually read the post... sorry)

Actually, Arcana and Piety quests usually require less wizards/clerics than Warfare and Skullduggery require fighters/rogues. For example, compare the 25-point quests:
- Piety: 5 clerics and 2 gold
- Arcana: 5 wizards and 2 gold
- Warfare: 9 fighters and 2 rogues
- Skullduggery: 8 rogues, 1 fighter and 1 wizard

Using the basic board spaces, you can get 2 fighters/rogues, 1 wizard/cleric, or 4 gold with one action. This means the basic actions required to complete a 25-point quest are:
- Piety: 6 actions
- Arcana: 6 actions
- Warfare: 6 actions
- Skullduggery: 6 actions

As for the 24 buildings, here is the breakdown of the number of buildings that give adventurers:
- Clerics: 9
- Wizards: 9
- Fighters: 9
- Rogues: 9

In most cases, when a building gives fighters/rogues, it gives 2, and when it gives clerics/wizards, it gives 1.

As you can see, the quests and buildings are incredibly balanced.

I think what it will come down to for the OP is what style of game he perfers. LoW is a very tactical game. You can't decide on a strategy at the start of the game, then stick to it with unwavering focus. Instead, you have to react and adjust to:
- what buildings become available/get purchased
- what types of quests the other players are focusing on
- movement of first-player marker

Some gamers really enjoy this type of "constantly evolving, turn-by-turn strategy" game. Other players prefer a game that will allow them to "do their own thing", and not get too tripped up by the actions of others. LoW is insanely interactive for a euro game, and that can certainly catch gamers by surprise. For this reason, it may not be your cup of tea.

Personally, I prefer games that present an ever-changing decision space that requires me to think on the fly. In LoW, the player who is best able to recognize efficient combinations of quests and buildings, and can time their actions accordingly, will have the most success.

One more tip: don't focus on your Lord's quest types to the exclusion of recognizing useful quests from the other types. Often, it's better to complete a non-Lord quest that will give you some resources that you need to complete a Lord quest. Not only are you taking a quest away from another player who could score bonus points from it, but you're putting yourself in more control of when you can get more adventurers to complete your Lord's quest types. Players who stubbornly focusly exclusively on their Lord's two quest types often struggle to score well.
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Rick Teverbaugh
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Almost didn't comment on this at all. As a reviewer of games, I will never write about a game unless I have played it a minimum of 3 times and on most occasions 5. To me it is quite like reading the first chapter of a detailed book or watching the first episode of a new TV series. There's so much new going on that it is difficult to feel comfortable enough to start enjoying what is happening and to begin exploring what the game has to offer beyond the surface. I would quit on a game that I wasn't reviewing but merely playing after 1 game either. If a designer thought it was a good idea and a company liked it well enough to spend a considerable amount of money publishing it, I can afford to play it more than once before dumping it, dumping on it or publishing concerns about it. Maybe that's just me.
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I would agree that another play is worth a try. 5 players is very tight, it might be more enjoyable with fewer players.

I've played two games now where one of my opponents has forgotten that the Lord provides bonuses for TWO types of quests, not just one.

Another aspect of the game that no one seems to have mentioned yet is the plot quests. Some of the quests, when completed, provide you with a permanent bonus for the rest of the game. Some will give you a few extra points when completing quests of a certain type, others give you extra money when you collect money, others give you more adventurers when you get adventurers, etc. In a game last night my friend was getting an intrigue card every time he picked up a wizard, and having an arcana lord he was doing this quite often. The plot quests are easy to overlook but can have some big benefits.
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I don't like LOW with 5 players. It just seems like it doesn't work well.

Yep, there is a ton of randomness in the game. Sometimes you can have a run of pure bad luck or another player can have really good luck. If you find this aspect that disturbing then LOW is definitely not for you. I consider it a little like poker, the luck plays a role, but the good players will still have a very good chance to win. For instance, there is a player in my group who consistently wins, and sometimes dominates the entire gaming session of LOW with consecutive wins. In my group, we have even given him the title of "undisputed master of LOW" but even he can lose a game sometimes, and recently he came in last place which was unusual. Still, the fact that he wins so often overall tells me skill plays a large role in this game.
 
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rickert wrote:
To me it is quite like reading the first chapter of a detailed book or watching the first episode of a new TV series.


There are easily books I would freely dismiss after one chapter, TV series I would dismiss after one episode, and games I would dismiss after one play with no remorse. I have actually dismissed one game after less than one play, though to be fair that was because it was a stand-alone expansion to a game I already hate. Granted, Waterdeep doesn't have any of the kind of glaring flaws that would make such a judgement justified, but OP didn't actually do any of that.
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SlebRittie wrote:
rickert wrote:
To me it is quite like reading the first chapter of a detailed book or watching the first episode of a new TV series.


There are easily books I would freely dismiss after one chapter, TV series I would dismiss after one episode, and games I would dismiss after one play with no remorse. I have actually dismissed one game after less than one play, though to be fair that was because it was a stand-alone expansion to a game I already hate. Granted, Waterdeep doesn't have any of the kind of glaring flaws that would make such a judgement justified, but OP didn't actually do any of that.


You might do ALL of those things, but I would consider all of them bad ideas. I know of at least three games in my collection that I really like that I had strong misgivings after one or two plays.
 
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I kinda agree with everything you hate here. It's all real and doesn't go away with repeated plays IMHO. So you have to embrace that or not I think. For me, this is a go-to intro easy worker placement game. It's easy going with an easy flow. I didn't think I'd like it - but I do. Maybe it's because I'm old and am wanting simpler games.

It is produced well - I think all agree about that. Maybe you could love it for that quality?
 
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More control over buildings might be nice, but the Builder's Hall is already one of the strongest spots on the board. Seems like any buff to Builder's Hall makes turn order even more important.
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SlebRittie wrote:
More control over buildings might be nice, but the Builder's Hall is already one of the strongest spots on the board. Seems like any buff to Builder's Hall makes turn order even more important.


I agree, but with the caveat that it is mostly strongest early in the game. And some games there just aren't any buildings that really benefit anyone's strategy specifically and it would be nice to get some new options.

I think it could be an interesting interaction to clear some of those buildings that are accumulating VP's in favor of something that gives a more useful benefit. It would shift the later-game strength of Builder's Hall from pure VP to actual questing help.
 
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