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Subject: Impressions After One Play rss

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Patrick Reynolds
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A friend just bought this game earlier in the week and we got the opportunity to give it a test run at Evolution Games in Lansing, MI. As luck would have it, Michael, the owner, came in just as we were preparing to play and joined us. So we had three players for the initial run.

We did miss one fairly important rule - that agents assigned to Waterdeep Harbor get reassigned to other spaces at the end of each round. It's definitely a big rule and I can see how it would make playing Intrigue cards much more enticing since you also get a shot to scoop up some extra cubes or gold or whatever is left at the end of the round. However, this exclusion didn't change my feelings about Lords of Waterdeep at all, and will only make future plays more interesting.

In short, I think this is a fantastic game. I would define it as a very lightweight worker placement game with lots of randomness and an extremely flimsy theme. Let me break each of those elements down a bit further:

"Very lightweight worker placement." Lords of Waterdeep is by far the easiest worker placement game I've ever taught. I was able to quickly explain the game to Michael based only on Jason's (the game owner) quick but thorough explanation as he punched out the cardboard pieces (which in turn was based on a tutorial video he had watched earlier), my own perusal of the board and game assets, and an extremely brief glance through the rules. The board and iconography in this game makes perfect sense. There is almost nothing here that you'd need to consult the rules for (I think we looked up the deeper explanation for two of the buildings to make sure we were playing them correctly). Most of it is exactly what it looks like - you take the coins or cubes or cards or VP shown.

Everything is laid out clearly and the print is mostly easy to read (there is some small text on the cards but a lot of it is flavor and can be ignored).

"Lots of randomness." The Quest cards, Intrigue cards, the Lord card each player recieves at the start of the game (with a hidden VP goal) and the buildings that become available during the game are all randomly dealt out (there are always four face-up quests available, which mitigates this somewhat, but those come off the top of the Quest deck randomly as well). Compared to some "pure" euro worker placement games like Agricola and Village, which have very minimal random elements, the randomness in this game heavily dictates your strategy at any given time. Since you cant count on a certain building or Quest becoming available, you work with what you have. This is not a bad thing, and I never felt like my options were limited by randomness, which in a game with so much of it is definitely a good thing.

"Extremely flimsy theme." In Lords of Waterdeep, you place meeples on spaces and take the action printed there, which is usually acquiring wooden cubes or coins, which are used as resources to complete the requirements on some cards you have. Sometimes you'll acquire a new building which adds another meeple-placement space on the board, and gives you a bonus (usually more cubes or coins) when someone else places their meeple on it.

Of course, the rulebook tells you that the different colored wooden cubes represent various hero classes (warrior, rogue, cleric and wizard) and that the cards you're completing are quests that these cubes...er, adventurers, are undertaking. Buuuut, I never felt the theme coming through during the game. The Intrigue cards come closest to letting the theme shine through somewhat, but most of them seemed to boil down to screwing opponents by giving them a crappy low-scoring quest which they have to complete before they can complete any other quest, or giving you more, yep you guessed it, wooden cubes or coins. As I said, we missed a rule that probably would have seen a lot more Intrigue cards getting played so maybe in future plays the theme will become somewhat more opaque.

But hey - even with such a tacked-on theme, I really like the game. It's ridiculously easy to explain, by far the best gateway worker placement game I've seen. It moves very quickly, as most turns take almost no time - just place your meeple and take whatever reward is listed. My only real complaint is that the tiles have a glossy finish to them, and I'm not a fan of glossy tiles. I much prefer matte finish. However, that said, the quality of the tiles is very good, and the coins are awesome. The ones worth 1 gold are square with a hole in the center and the 5 gold coins are crescents, also with a hole. I love unique currency in games and these are probably the single game component that really shine thematically here.

So overall, after one play, I'd rate this game a solid 8/10. Not sure yet how it will hold up over several plays, but I suspect that it will do quite well, and I am looking forward to a chance to play again.
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Paul DeStefano
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pkreynolds wrote:

So overall, after one play, I'd rate this game a solid 8/10. Not sure yet how it will hold up over several plays, but I suspect that it will do quite well, and I am looking forward to a chance to play again.


It actually gets better...
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Noble Knave
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You need some of these bad boys: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/807557/custom-meeples-up...
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Matt Smith
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A well-written summary of the game. This could have been in the review forum.

And I agree with Geosphere, the game does get better with more plays, as will your strategy. I've gone from finishing next to last in my first 3 games, to finishing first or second in my most recent 3 games.
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Patrick Reynolds
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thenobleknave wrote:


Those custom meeples are incredible! But, I'm not sure I'd spend an additional $30 just to bring out the theme a bit. I'd be tempted though (I did buy all of the replacement wooden vegetables, resources and animals for Agricola...).
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Scott Alden
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The rule you missed was pretty major - I hope you still like it after playing again correctly. One of my favorites this year.
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Patrick Reynolds
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Aldie wrote:
The rule you missed was pretty major - I hope you still like it after playing again correctly. One of my favorites this year.


I can only imagine liking the game even more with that rule in effect.
 
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