Game Buzz: Lords of Waterdeep

Wizards of the Coast has been making a bunch of board games recently to go into their Dungeons and Dragons line.  The most recent is

image by BGG user RodneyThompson

Lords of Waterdeep was designed by Peter Lee and Rodney Thompson.  It’s a game for 2-5 players aged 12 and up, and takes around an hour to play.  For those of you unfamiliar with D&D lore (and I am among that number), Waterdeep is a city-state that is part of the Forgotten Realms campaign.  This game is all about playing on of the Lords of Waterdeep as you try to increase your influence over the city.  It’s a worker placement game, which is not something we’ve seen in a D&D game – usually, they’re either dungeon crawls or battle related.  So let’s see what it’s all about.

Components - image by BGG user virferrorum

In the box, you get a board; 5 player mats; 100 adventurer cubes (white clerics, orange fighters, black rogues, and purple wizards); 5 score markers; 25 wooden agents; an ambassador; a lieutenant; a first player marker; 11 Lord of Waterdeep cards; 50 intrigue cards; 60 quest cards; 24 building tiles; 45 building control markers; 60 gold tokens; 36 VP tokens; and 5 100 VP tokens.  Each player starts with 2-4 agents in their color (depending on the number of players), with one near the round 5 space.  You also get a mat that will help you keep track of your agent pool, adventurers you have hired, and completed quests.  Each player gets one random secret Lord card, which gives you a different condition for gaining victory points, as well as two face up quest cards and two face up intrigue cards.  The start player gets 4 gold, the next player gets 5, and so on.

Lords of Waterdeep takes place over eight rounds.  At the start of the game, three VP tokens will be in each round space.  At the start of each round, you will take the three VPs there and place one on each face up building in the Builder’s Hall.  Rounds will proceed with each player taking a turn until all agents have been placed.  On your turn, you will assign one agent and complete one quest (if you can/want to).

First, let’s look at agent assignment.  If you have any agents, you assign one to one of the various places around the board as long as it’s unoccupied.  You’ll then take the action of that space.  Here are your options:

  • Aurora’s Realm Shop (one action space) – Take four gold.
  • Blackstaff Tower (one action space) – Take one wizard (blue cube) from the supply.
  • Builder’s Hall (one action space) – Here, you can buy building tiles which add more actions to the game.  You pay the gold cost of the building, then place it in one of the spaces around the board, marking it with a token to let everyone know it’s yours.  You also get VPs.  Anytime someone other than you activates the building, you get a special benefit.
  • Castle Waterdeep (one action space) – Take the first player marker and draw an intrigue card.
  • Cliffwatch Inn (three action spaces) – Here, you can get a new quest card.  You also can do something else depending on which of the three spaces you land on – take two gold, draw an intrigue card, or discard and deal out four new quests before taking one.
  • Field of Triumph (one action space) – Take two fighters (orange cubes) from the supply.
  • The Grinning Lion Tavern (one action space) – Take two rogues (black cubes) from the supply.
  • The Plinth (one action space) – Take one cleric from the supply.
  • Waterdeep Harbor (three action spaces) – By placing in the Harbor, you get to play one intrigue card from your hand.  These can be attacks that affect other players negatively, utilities that benefit you, or mandatory quests that force another player to complete a minor task before finishing other quests.  Once all agents have been assigned in the round, any agents in Waterdeep Harbor can be reassigned to another space.
  • Advanced Buildings – Once buildings have been built, you can activate them for the indicated benefit.  The owner of the building also gets a benefit (unless you own it, in which case you only get the basic benefit).

After you assign your agent for the turn, you can complete a quest (but only one per turn).  To complete a quest, you’ll simply turn in the required adventurers and gold, then collect the rewards.  Generally, this is VPs and other things, like adventurers or gold.

When all agents have been reassigned, you can reassign any agents in Waterdeep Harbor.  After that, the round ends and all agents are returned to their owners.  After four rounds, you’ll get an additional agent to use.  After the eighth round, the game ends.  Each player gets one additional point per adventurer they have left, and one per 2 gold your have left (rounded down).  The player with the most points wins – gold breaks the tie.

It’s a little strange to see a game in the D&D universe that is essentially a worker placement Eurogame.  It doesn’t seem that the theme really matters, but it’s a way to draw people in.  Maybe people who wouldn’t try this type of game will be drawn in by the theme, and will then seek out other games.  It all seems fairly simple – place your worker, collect resources, try to fulfill your goals.  It doesn’t seem very deep, and it doesn’t need to be – if it’s intended to be a gateway game, it’s supposed to be light.  The presentation looks pretty good from the pictures I’ve seen.  Reviews have been a bit mixed – I think maybe people were expecting more, and may have been thrown off by the D&D brand.

At any rate, this is a game I’d like to play sometime.  I know there’s at least one person in my group that has it already, so hopefully I’ll get a chance sometime.  Thanks for reading!

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