Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Lords of Waterdeep

An epic adventure packed into a worker placement game? Lords of Waterdeep seems too good to be true. Does it match up to the hype? After reading lots of mixed opinions I can honestly say I don't really get the debate. Lords of Waterdeep is easily one of the best worker placement games out there and worker placement games are abstract, sorry your box didn't include D&D Minis.

Objective: To be the player with the most points at the end of the 8th round.

Gameplay: The basic gameplay goes like this, players take turns placing an 'agent' onto any unoccupied space. When all players have placed their last man, Agents from the 'Waterdeep Tavern' are reassigned and then the 'round' ends. When 8 rounds have been completed the game is over.
This shows some of the choices available both on the starting board and player constructed buildings.
Once a white agent symbol has been filled, no one else may place an agent in that building/location this round.

Scoring Points: The goal of the game is to get the most points, so lets talk about how you score these points.

Quests: Completing Quest Cards is the main and most effective way to score points. I tend to think of this as the only way to score points, and all the others are just "bonus points" Each quest card clearly states its requirements and then its rewards, your quest cards are not hidden so it is fairly easy to see what a player is trying to complete. It will become important with more plays and towards the end of the game; you may only complete 1 quest each time you place an agent.
The quest type is located above the quest art, these are important
for scoring points with your Lord Card. The red sideways diamond is
the amount of victory points the quest is worth.
There are 3 main ways to gain quest cards, you can only complete a quest card
if you own it, you either get 2 gold or 1 intrigue card with your quest or you
can discard the available quests, flip over 4 new ones and choose one of them. 

Lord Cards: This creates a bit of strategy for picking quests, however I have always scored higher ignoring these and just choosing quests that rewards will help to complete other quests. Most Lord Card will have 2 types of quests listed, each completed quest will grant you 4 points at the end of the game.

The Builder's Hall: Once per round a player may place an agent here, this allows you to place a building on the board with one of your faction's markers on it. If another player places an agent onto a building you constructed (owner) you will get a bonus reward, sometimes this can be victory points other times it is gold or blocks. The victory points mainly come in because each turn 1VP is added to each building that is available for purchase, and when you construct a building you score points equal to the number of accumulated victory points.
The 3 gems that will be placed every turn are placed underneath
the Builder's Hall and represent the current turn, on turn 5 ALL
players receive and additional Agent to keep up with the
growing placement options
These are some of the different buildings you can construct.
Their cost is listed in the top left corner.

Intrigue Cards: What would a worker placement game be without good cards that can alter game mechanics. Intrigue cards do that, but put you in an interesting and unique position. In order to play your intrigue card you must place an agent in the Waterdeep Harbor, luckily at the end of the round players will get to replace any agents that went to the Harbor. This is a rather brilliant mechanic since the Intrigue cards are not super game changing and only offer a small advantage. The Waterdeep Harbor concept is an awesome replacement for super powerful cards that cost an entire action to gain.
When you replace your agents from the Waterdeep Harbor
you place them in the order that you placed them on the
Harbor, this is what the number represents.

Components: This is where the majority of the debate comes in, a LOT of people feel that the coloured cubes take away from the Waterdeep theme. While I will admit that yes, fighters  rogues, wizard and cleric minis would improve the game a ton, the extra 10-20$ would not. As far as components go everything is awesome quality, tiles are nice and thick, the board itself is not over the top but wont break or wear down easily. Your meeples are sort of custom, and you get a first player marker which can be useful as you add beer. Personally I feel better Lord Cards would do more for the theme than custom meeples in place of the coloured cubes, they need some cooler artwork and definitely need better back story for those not familiar with Forgotten Realms.
I am not sure where I stand on the gold, it was really annoying to punch out
since you had to punch the little whole  out of every single one. I also do
not understand why these holes exist in the first place.

Lords of Waterdeep has sure sold me, but who else would enjoy playing?

Family Gamers: Lords of Waterdeep is really really easy to teach, there are not a ton of rules and turns fly by. Surprisingly there really isn't much violent theme, your goal is to gather adventurers and complete quests, adventuring doesn't always have to be violent. I would recommend this game to family gamers over monopoly any day.

Casual Gamers: Worker placement games seem to do great with most casual gamers. Lords of Waterdeep fits this description better than any worker placement game I know, it plays faster and with more interaction than most worker placements and adds an awesome way to screw over your buddy with mandatory quest cards. The apparent 'lack of theme' actually does great here, since you are still pretending your pieces are something else (like in every worker placement game) why not pretend to have a crew of wizards and fighters over primary and secondary colours, over 'resources' such as wood and certainly more exciting than pretending to be farmers. If you are going to pretend, why not pretend to be something exciting, Lords of Waterdeep will do best with casual gamers.

Gamer Gamers: For heavy gamers this light worker placement game is not just another worker placement game that 'lacks theme'. In fact, Lords of Waterdeep leaves you with more choices than most games out there, and does so in a way that isn't confusing, long winded or boring. Although there are multiple ways to win and multiple options to place your meeples at, some choices are clearly better than others. This is usually something that would make hardcore gamers shy away and something that would make a game not friendly to new players, BUT Lords of Waterdeep has mechanics that work to combat this. Adding new places to send your 'agents', and the genius behind the Waterdeep Harbor area do a great job minimizing the poor choices while your Lord Card serves as another way to score points.

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