Lords of Waterdeep is a new Forgotten Realms themed board game for 2-5 players from Wizards of the Coast, which is due to release later this month. In the game the players are one of the secret leaders of the city, controlling everything from the shadows and struggling for dominance.
As with most Eurogames the theme feels like a little bit tacked on, but this time it’s works for me. The intrigue cards add much to the theme, which are really thematic and feature nice artwork all around. Even the colored-cube adventurers are fine by me, as long rogues are needed for robbery quests and clerics against “Lost of Faith”.
While I don’t like the cover (it has a retro feel to me) I mostly like the components. The artwork on the player sheets, quests and the intrigue cards, and the city map are really providing much to the “control the city” feeling, at least for me.
i1m not the greatest fan of generic meeples (it would be great if there were some more specific figures), but they work, along with the wooden cubes. The cards are standard TCG quality, the same as Magic. the Gathering, which is fine by me.
Regardless of the theme, Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement Eurogame, where the success of the player actions is counted in victory points. To get victory points the players try to finish quests and raise buildings, while using intrigue (represented by cards) to hinder the opposition and further their agendas.
There are five different resources in the game, including gold (represented by tokens) and four type of adventurers (Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard all represented by cubes), all which is needed for victory. I think the developers paid attention to turn the wooden cubes to adventurers thematically, so their class is really tied to those quest, intrigue cards and buildings as you would think.
A game is 8 turn long, and in every turn the players place agents on the boards after each other. Each place on the board represent buildings, and enable to collect adventurers, gold, intrigue cards, new quests and other benefits.
As I already mentioned the main path to gain victory points is to complete quests. To complete a quest you must spend some of your collected adventurer-cubes and gold (as it is stated by the quest card) to gain it’s benefit. The reward is often victory points, but could include gold, adventurers or even special benefits (like an extra agent) in some cases.
The game features five type of quests, all of them tied to a particular type of resource : Arcana/Wizard, Piety/Cleric, Skullduggery/Rogue, Warfare/Fighter and Commerce/any+Gold. The types os also important, because all players could gain extra victory points if they complete quests from their lord specialty. There is one exception from this : the lord who gain extra VP for buildings.
The players also gain VP for raising buildings and by some game effects, including building abilities and some intrigue cards. At the end of the game every player gains extra VP for his remaining gold and adventurers, and the player with the most VP win (obviously).
To use our agents we must place them on spaces connected to buildings. Most of the buildings have only one place to use, but some of them enable up to 3 agents to spend their turn there. As you may guess most provide resources, but there are more than one special ones.
At the beginning there are mostly basic buildings available on the board, but players could build more/better ones. This often means a one time benefit to the builder and/or some payment if somebody else use their building.
From the special buildings I should mention the Waterdeep Harbor, which not only enables up to 3 agents to be there and enabling to play intrigue cards, but you could reassign your agents from there to other places later in the turn. This means that playing intrigue is basically free, except that most of the good places will be already conquered when you reuse your agent. Another special place let you gain the first player token, or a temporary agent for the next turn.
Other things to mention
I think I should note that based on various report most Lords of Waterdeep games finish between 60-90 minutes, which is quite good. I also think that the game has high replayability, thanks to the various quests and intrigues, which are drawn randomly from their respective decks. Especially the intrigue cards in other players hands could ruin (or at least slow down) a well laid plan.
I think that Lords of Waterdeep is a good game from Wizards, maybe the best I’ve ever seen from them. I think both the theme, the mechanics and the production value of the product is top, and the price is acceptable at about $50. As a final score I give it 5/5 points as a result.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros