|Game Name:||The Lords of Waterdeep||Published Year:||2012|
|Game Publisher:||Wizards of the Coast||Player Scale:||2 – 5|
|Game Designer:||Peter Lee & Rodney Thompson||Run Time:||60 – 120 minutes|
In this Dungeon & Dragons board game tie-in, players assume the mantle of one of titular city’s hidden oligarchs in a bid to outdo, outwit and generally outclass their opponents to become the true ruler, or Lord if you will, of the resplendent city of splendours; Waterdeep. There are many routes to victory in this straightforward, thematically rich strategy game of resource management and worker placement; making it not only a great “pathway game”, but a very replayable game for more seasoned gamers. If you’ve never played D&D with this game you’ll play an interesting strategy game in a city with cool and weird things going on or if you’re a fan of the RPG you’ll play the same game, just with a knowing smile.
Across the large, intricately illustrated board key locations from D&D lore are picked out as areas where Agents of your secret society can be sent to recruit adventures, which in turn you dispatch on Quests, earning you: Victory Points, more adventures and of course Gold. Players can also assign their Agents to the Builder’s Hall, allowing them to add new buildings to the city. These then become another resource location accessible to any player and also provide a “rent” to the building’s owner. Alternatively, Agents can be sent to the Harbour, allowing players to use their Intrigue cards, and potentially scuppering a rival Lord, or gifting them a little boost in some way.
The four types of Adventurers (represented by noticeably chunky 1
0mm cubes) are your main resource; Clerics, Fighters, Rogues, and obviously; Wizards, along with
gold (unique holey cardboard chits) you will “spend” to complete quests. Quests are divided into quests types, ranging from Arcana (Wizard heavy) to Skullduggery (the rogue speciality) and each has a range of victory points to be earned. The type of Quest you choose to complete is based upon not only which adventurers you have, or based solely upon the riches its completion bestows, but also your Lord’s penchant. Each player at the beginning of the game receives a hidden role card of their Lord, and each will grant bonuses if certain conditions are met.
Lords of Waterdeep is a very accessible game; it has a simple worker placement mechanic and a simple resource management mechanic which combined to make
complex options beyond their simple appearance. The randomly assigned Hidden roles in this game grant a focus to an otherwise widely open Euro style game but also allow a secret scoring system, so that ascertaining the winner during play is far from easy or certain. All of this creates a diverse and interesting playscape to enjoy the game in. On the whole, turns are quite simple and quick with each player assigning one of their Agents until no one has any Agents left, the next turn begins and so on.
The large deck of Intrigue and Quest cards means you’ll have to play a fair few games
before you start seeing much repetition, and the vast array of buildings available to add to the city changes each game significantly to make each play through noticeably and strategically different.
The wooden meeples and cubes are slightly larger and chunkier than most other games and with such an established theme there are plenty of options to pimp your copy should you feel so inclined, this even extends to the coins, which are brilliant and unique if not really annoying to punch-out when you first buy a copy. The artwork across the board and cards is all that you would expect from a D&D tie-in game, it is detailed and of a very, very high fantasy art quality; however, when the board is laid out and the game is in play it does all look a little drab and muted – if you were to take a sepia effect photo of an in-play game, there wouldn’t be much difference without the effect.
There are multiple routes to victory in this game, you could take a very aggressive route, attacking your enemies, restricting and blocking their Agent assignments, or you can do none of these things and simply try and outsmart them, or a combination of the both, or take on the “builder” role and try and control the city’s infrastructure of resources etc. With very quick turns, plenty to think about and high variability, this game will come to the table repeatedly, whether you know what an Owlbear is or not.