Assign your agents! Recruit adventurers! Acquire gold! Complete quests! Hide your true identity from your friends! Read the Lords of Waterdeep Review!
Today we are looking at Lords of Waterdeep, published by Wizards of the Coast. Lords of Waterdeep is a Dungeons and Dragons-themed worker placement game for 2-5 players in which players will be competing to see who can become the greatest Lord of Waterdeep by scoring the most points.
Lords of Waterdeep - Gameplay
To begin, each player will choose a color/guild, such as the yellow Knights of the Shield or the green Harpers. Players will then be dealt a card that contains their secret identity as one of the Lords of Waterdeep. Each lord has their own agenda and provides bonus points for the completion of certain quest types at the end of the game. Each player will be dealt two random quests, two random Intrigue cards, and an amount of gold determined by player order. It will then be up to the players to decide how to assign their guild's Agents to best reach their goals.
Lords of Waterdeep is played over eight rounds, with each round seeing players assigning their Agents to open buildings, one at a time, until all Agents have been assigned. At the beginning of the game, the players will have nine basic buildings on the game board available to choose from. These buildings allow players to recruit various Adventurers, acquire money, take on new quests, set themselves as the first player for the next round, play an Intrigue card, or even build an advanced building that will expand the options available to all players.
The act of playing the game is very straightforward, simply place an Agent on an open building and take the action that the building allows. This may initially seem overly simplistic, but in practice, it is streamlined and elegant. While the act of placing an Agent is straightforward, each player must balance where best to place each Agent to accomplish their own goals and block their opponents from achieving theirs.
Lords of Waterdeep - Depth and Piece Placement
The depth of the game comes from the amount of player choice involved. While players will only be placing one Agent on each of their turns, where they place an Agent is vitally important. Each player will need to prioritize which buildings are most important for them to assign an Agent to and be able to adjust their plan on the fly if an opponent beats them to the punch. Players will need to balance resource gathering and quest completion as best they can while attempting to outmaneuver and outscore their opponents.
Lords of Waterdeep is easy to learn, and I recommend it to any group that enjoys worker placement-style board games. If you haven't played a game like it before, it is a great introduction to this style of game. While the game is competitive, there is very little direct player interaction outside of some actions allowed by Intrigue cards. The game offers a surprising amount of depth based on the options available to the players and has high replayability.
Some Notes on Lords of Waterdeep
A note on game length
Lords of Waterdeep generally takes my gaming group about 90 minutes to play regardless of the number of players. The game scales very well from 2-5 players and, unlike many games, adding players doesn't proportionally increase play-time. Play-time can increase significantly though if you play with someone who tends to have "analysis paralysis" as the game does lend itself to strategic thinking.
A note on expansions
Lords of Waterdeep currently has one expansion known as Scoundrels of Skullport. If you like the base game then the expansion is an absolute must have. It takes Lords of Waterdeep from a really good game to a great game and adds the option to play with 6 players.
A note on “chrome”
Lords of Waterdeep has decent components. The factory insert actually holds all of the components comfortably in place which is a rarity for most games. The wooden Adventurer cubes and Agent meeples are all good quality and the coloring is consistent throughout. The cardboard coins and buildings are all thick enough to avoid warping although the cards themselves are a bit on the thin side.
I replaced my wooden Adventurer cubes with Dndeeples and I also replaced the cardboard coins with some metal coins from Campaign Coins. These replacements really up the "wow" factor of the game.
Should I buy Lords of Waterdeep?
Lords of Waterdeep is an excellent worker placement game. The mechanics and theme don't mesh perfectly but do come together to form a very fun game. Even though direct player interaction is limited, players will constantly need to be aware of what their opponents are doing. Lords of Waterdeep is easy to teach while still being deep enough to satisfy players who like to strategize.
The copy of Lords of Waterdeep used in this review was provided by the publisher. This review was originally published on 12-17-2014. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions, and for historical context.