Lords Of Waterdeep: Review

Lords of Waterdeep Review

OVERVIEW

Our Rating:

In this game, you are a powerful Lord that is trying to gain control of a valuable city! You must use your trusty workers to go out an collect valuable resources for you. You will use those resources to complete quests, gaining you points and thus making you a more powerful and amazing leader! Be the one with the most points (completed quests) in order to be the ultimate Lord of Waterdeep!

Number of Players

Time to Play

Ages

2 - 5

60 - 120 min

12 +

Want to quickly learn how to play this game? Check out...
How to Play Lords of Waterdeep - Simplified

RYAN'S REVIEW

My Rating:

Likes

  • thumbs-o-up
    Simple, yet fun.
  • thumbs-o-up
    Good for any skill level player.
  • thumbs-o-up
    The right amount of randomness.
  • thumbs-o-up
    Good Overall Theme.
  • thumbs-o-up
    Box Organizer.

Dislikes

  • thumbs-o-down
    Doesn't cost you to go after more quests.
  • thumbs-o-down
    Cubes could be better thematically.
  • thumbs-o-down
    Only 5 players.


Intro/First Impressions

Lords of Waterdeep was one of the earlier Worker Placement board games that I played. I distinctly remember it being different from lots of the other games that I had played, and that was a good thing. The idea of using your resources (Meeples or cubes in this case), to help you gain more assets (cubes, buildings, quests) was a great new concept. In a sense this is the underlying principle in a lot of games, but placing your Meeples/workers is a great take on it.


​I also remember that there was very minimal explanation on how things worked for the game, but that it had a lot of intricacies to it too, such as getting paid ‘rent’ for owning a building, or what happens with certain spaces. It was these intricacies that made the game a little intimidating at first; especially playing with an experienced player. Luckily, after one round of the game, lots of these little extras are crossed, and you get a good feel for the game very quickly. There were a few “oh by the way, this is a rule”, moments, but it didn’t take away from the game in a significant way.


Thoughts

As mentioned, I hadn’t played too many worker placement games, and this game was my Gateway board game into the genre; a genre I thoroughly enjoy. For those that don’t know, basically this means that you place your Meeples on spaces on the game board to ‘utilize’ that space, in doing so, you block other players from doing the same.


The cool thing about this game is that you start with a somewhat limited amount of spaces that you can place your workers, yet it elvolves and grows as players gain more resources and buy buildings. This helps keep the game from being too one dimensional in my opinion. It helps the game progress as well as more valuable spaces become available.


On the same note of progression, at certain point in the game (round 5), you get an extra Meeple to place somewhere on the board. This not only helps speed up the game and progress (more meeples = more resources … which = more quests being done), but it also keeps things tight on the board… As in you are constantly fighting for the prime spots for your Meeples.


In Lords of Waterdeep, you automatically get that worker. However, I have since played a few worker placement games (Agricola ​​​​and Stone Age to name a couple) in which you can gain a worker only if you sacrifice the turn of one worker to get an extra in subsequent rounds. Both are interesting concepts, and it is hard to pick which I prefer. I do think that the creators got it right with Lords, it is more of a beginner board game, so adding the complexity (and stress) of trying to time when to add a worker would change the feel of this game.


I found this game to be very balanced. We rarely play a game when someone totally runs away with it. There are games when someone individually has terrible timing/luck and gets beat pretty bad, but that happens with every game.


This game has more or less one purpose … get quests done and earn points for those quests. That being said, there are a few routes to getting that accomplished. You can start off slow, but collecting as many resources as you can, or go straight away for routes. Maybe you want to focus on intrigue cards, or get a bunch of buildings built. Some have earlier momentum, some later, and your strategy could totally depend on your opponents or the available quests.


In reviewing Lords of Waterdeep, I starting thinking about the theme of the game a little more. While most parts are pretty good, as in you have a ‘Lord’, you are sending your workers out to get you resources and quests, then completing quests to get points. That’s all well and good, but I never once found myself thinking the cubes were anything other than just that cubes (they are in fact Clerics, Fighters, Rogues, and Wizards). In some other games you have to get wood, or stones, or whatever, and it adds to the game. Here, though they have more meaning, I just see them as cubes. This doesn’t change gameplay, but I figure it’s worth noting for those theme enthusiasts out there.


Though, the artwork on the cards, board are fantastic, and the overall theme and story are pretty good. Something you would expect from a game coming from the makers of Dungeons and Dragons.


There is some good player interaction in this game in that you have to pay attention to what other players are after in the ‘quests’, but you also have to watch where they place their Meeples, and when. On top of all that, there are certain quests that allow you to interact with others. You can ‘attack’ people with certain quests, handcuffing them in a way, or you can give other players cubes with certain ‘Intrigue’ cards. It is fun to be on your own path in a game, yet you can still make enemies and allies along the way to spice things up if you want.


One of the things that I didn’t really like about the game is that there is no punishment for uncompleted quests. Someone can takes a bunch of quests, thus blocking others, in hopes of being able to eventually complete some of those quests. While, it is a strategy in itself, it somewhat wrecks the game a bit. If you had to make a decision on whether you really wanted it or might risk a penalty for not finishing it, it might change what you do. Even if it was minus a couple points, but maybe we should make that a house rule and try it out one day.


I really like that there is built in randomness to the game, but also that said ‘randomness’ doesn’t directly translate into luck. The order that the building cards, intrigue cards, and plot cards come up is totally random and can help ensure that no two games feel the same. Yes, there is some luck on the timing of quests as they relate to your ‘Lords’ specialty, but not debilitating luck if it doesn’t go your way.


As you play this game more, you tend to polish a strategy that works well for you, and also works well for the different Lords ‘abilities’. You will learn what to focus on to help yourself win. At the same time, a newbie could pick up this game and fair well for themselves and even win against experienced players. Eventually I assume you could learn to quickly decipher which Lord each person has, but that’s not a big deal since you just watch what they are after during the game anyways, it doesn’t pose that much of an advantage.


Another thing to note in this review is that the box organizer is amazing. It is very easy to set up and take down this game because of it. Sometimes I find myself dreading the cleanup after a game, but not so much with this one. Have a look at the picture below.


Conclusion

While this game can be seen to many as a beginner’s game, I still find it very fun. We went back to it recently to play with a group that is new to board games, and there excitement for it was awesome. I enjoyed myself while playing, not thinking that the game was too easy in any way. So while some reviews of Lords of Waterdeep will tell you that it is too simple, I agree but disagree. This game does what it intends to do very well. It introduces people to Worker Placement games, yet keeps people interested in it for years. It is a great game to add to your shelf since you can bring it out with players of any skill level.


​I recommend buying this one to anyone, though if you have played some deep people/worker placement games, then this one might not stimulate you enough. Definitely worth playing though.

About the author

Ryan

I love playing board games with my family and friends when I am not busy playing sports or working away. Check out my full Bio on the About Us page!

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