2nd May 2022
It's a bank holiday Monday and we're round Simon's for some gaming fun.
Waterdeep, famed city in The Forgotten Realms and home to many a adventurer, ready to brave the wilderness in the search for treasure and glory... oh wait... This Dungeons & Dragons setting licensed game is nothing to do with Dungeon & Dragons... It's actually a political-intrigue themed worker placement game!
What's in the game?
There's a lot of excellent art throughout the game. I'm not sure if it's been created specifically for Lords of Waterdeep or sourced from the large amount of Forgotten Realms/D&D artwork that's been produced over the decades but either way, it's good quality and generously used on all the game's cards.
The other piece of significant artwork is the map on the board, it's very well detailed, although it does make the board look a little 'busy'. Regardless of this I still quite like it.
The game does use a fair amount of iconography, for the vast majority of icons, it's pretty clear what they mean and there was minimal need to refer to the rules.
How's it play?
On to play
Lords of Waterdeep uses the traditional turn structure with the active player taking an action and play progressing to their left.
When someone is the active player, they can act in 2 phases.
Firstly they must take their action, a player can only pass when they have no more agents to play.
finally, the active player may complete a quest if possible.
The game ends at the end of the 8th round and goes to final scoring. VPs come from the follwing sources.
Points are tallied, highest score wins.
Now, I'm by no means whatsoever particularly knowledgeable about the Forgotten Realms setting but it's quite impressive how Lords of Waterdeep manages to marry a worker placement game with the flavour of the setting, or at least a part of it that takes place in Waterdeep. It's not vital to the rules or gameplay but conversely, neither is it jarring or hindering.
The game is all about optimising actions to gain required resources as efficiently as possible to complete quests which must also be acquired while at the same time trying to predict and out manoeuvre other players: Most of the locations that confer resources will only have space for a single worker, making it unlikely that players will get all the resources they want in a single round, prioritising is very important because completing quests is very important, not only do quests provide VPs, they can confer useful benefits as well.
This ties in with the Lord cards which are essentially secret objectives.
Not only may players be competing for certain quest types and their respective resources, there's also a higher level of play where resources and quests can be denied to other players, provided their objectives can be guessed of course.
The advanced buildings is an interesting proposition, it adds an element of emergent strategy to the game, changing the status quo, giving players new options and making them re-asses their plans. Constructing a useful building also has the benefit of earning the builder its bonus and inevitably, it'll be used by other players.
There's not much else to say really, the gameplay is solid if somewhat unremarkable; players of worker placements games will find themselves on familiar ground here which may or may not be good thing - depending on your mileage.
Perhaps the playing time is a touch too long for what it is but none of this stops Lords of Waterdeep from ultimately being an enjoyable game.
If the Forgotten Realms setting doesn't put you off for some reason and you want to try a worker placement game, then Lords of Waterdeep is probably worth a look.
I play, I paint.