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Lords of Waterdeep is a board game from Wizards of the Coast. The games takes place in the town of Waterdeep, which has been the setting for many adventures in the past – or so I’m told. I’m not a D&D player. Luckily you don’t need to be to pick up and play this excellent game.
Lords of Waterdeep takes a more strategic view than a typical game of dungeons and dragons. Players are a couple of steps removed from the travails of the everyday adventurers. Each player takes on the secret role of a Lord of Waterdeep. Working through a catspaw organisation (such as the Harpers or even the City Watch) you seek to advance your own position and blunt the progress of your fellow lords. Lord cards are given to each player at the start of the game, and are not revealed until the end.
The player with the most victory points after 8 rounds is the winner. There are several ways to gain victory points during the game.
This is a game of agent placement. The number of starting agents per player changes with the number of players in the game (2-5). This way there is always competition for the more popular squares on the board, which represent buildings where you will find willing adventurers. You send your agents into the city of Waterdeep to recruit adventurers, either Fighters, Rogues, Wizards or Clerics. You then form these adventurers into parties and use them to complete Quests. Completed Quests are your main source of victory points. Some quests, called Plot Quests, give you a bonus for the rest of the game after you complete them. If you find yourself with a Plot Quest, complete it early to gain the maximum benefit.
Quests have types; Piety, Commerce, Skulldruggery, Warfare and Arcane. Each Lord (with one exception) will award you bonus victory points at the end of the game depending on the types of quests you have completed. The exception is the Lord who rewards you for each building constructed.
With competition for key spaces on the board high, you have the opportunity to construct new buildings during the game. Whenever another Lord’s agent visits a building you have constructed, you receive a bonus. In this way it is best to work out what strategy the other players may be following and build buildings they will want to use for maximum benefit to yourself.
Other than the buildings for recruiting adventurers, the other hub that will attract your agents is Waterdeep Harbour. This is where all the dirty deals are done, and gives you the opportunity to play your intrigue cards to gain further advantage over your opponents.
Lords of Waterdeep will take about an hour to play. The game scales well from 2-5 players and there is an expansion that adds the possibility of a sixth player. As with other agent placement games, the level of strategy is very high, but you can still make progress as a new player while you gain an idea of which strategies are the best in a given situation. I highly recommend this game.
As a bonus, here’s a tabletop video of Lords of Waterdeep being played: