A to Z Gaming: Lords of Waterdeep

We recruited adventurers to complete quests in Lords of Waterdeep, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

Basic Info: Lords of Waterdeep
Players: 2-5
Time: 60-120 Minutes
Designers: Peter Lee, Rodney Thompson
Artists: Eric Belisle, Steven Belledin, Zoltan Boros, Noah Bradley, + 29 more
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game where players take on the role of one of the secret rulers of Waterdeep sending out agents to recruit adventurers, earn rewards, and increase their influence over the city. This is done by completing quests, constructing new buildings, and causing intrigue. Whoever ends with the most influence…or points…wins the game.

The game is set up with the board in the middle of the table. The buildings tiles, and quests and intrigue cards are shuffled and each placed on their spots. Three rubies are placed on each of the round spots on the board. Players chose their color/family, take the player board, take the number of agents appropriate for their player count, place an additional agent under the round counter (which they’ll get at the beginning of round five), and take their building markers. In addition, players are given a face-down lord, two face-up quests, and two intrigue cards. They receive coins based on the player order.

The game is played over eight rounds. Each round, players take turns placing their agents on locations of the board. These locations give the players adventurers (i.e. cubes that represent rogues, warriors, clerics, and wizards), money, buildings, new quests, or intrigue cards. One location allows players to play their intrigue cards. Once all players have placed their agents for the round, they look at the Waterdeep Harbor location, and agents played there are moved to other locations on the board to take those actions.

On their turn, after a player places an agent, they have the opportunity to complete one quest. This is done by turning in the indicated adventurers and money. They then receive the reward listed on the card, which can include points, additional adventurers, or other things. Normal quests are then placed face-down on their player mat. “Plot quests” are placed face-up on the right side of their mat. These plot quests represent ongoing abilities that the player now gains, like getting additional points or resources when they take specific actions.

After eight rounds, players reveal their secret lord card and total up points earned based on this card. In addition, they receive one point for every adventurer left in their tavern, one point for every two gold pieces, and any rubies they’ve collected. The player with the most points wins.

We picked up this game several years ago, after one of our guests brought it to our regular game night. I believe this was my first worker-placement game, and as such it has a special place in my memories. While I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons in the past, I’m not a huge RPGer, but I still like the theme. It’s fun to read the quest titles and look at the art on each.

This is one game where I will nearly always play with the expansion. The Scoundrels of Skullport expansion adds corruption tokens (skulls) that you can get at certain locations and by completing certain quests. The locations where you earn skulls also give you so. many. resources that it’s hard NOT to use them. However, the skulls are worth negative points, and the more skulls that have been claimed by players, the more negative points they’re worth. This adds a fun element of balancing how many skulls to take and finding the routes that allow you to return some of them so you don’t get dinged too hard at the end of the game.

How is it as a 2-player game? It’s not bad as a 2-player game. You get an additional agent at the beginning of the game, so the board fills up a bit faster than it would otherwise, but you still aren’t generally fighting the other player for spots. That meant we could each just play our own game, trying to complete as many quests as possible without messing around too much with the other person. And, frankly, I liked that.

How about the art and component quality? The wooden pieces are fine…though the “adventurers” are just cubes. The cardboard pieces are decent quality. The playermats, though, are kind of flimsy. I like the art, and it is unique on each quest, which makes it fun to look through them.

Will this stay in my collection? Yes. While this is a fairly basic worker placement game, I enjoy the theme and gameplay, and it works well at every player count. It may not get to the table as often as the newer games in my collection, but I have fun every time it does come out.

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