Game: Lords of Waterdeep
Designer: Peter Lee, Rodney Thompson
Published: Wizards of the Coast
Players: 2-5 players
Playtime: 1-2 Hours
Play Type: Worker Placement
You are a masked lord of Waterdeep, one of the rulers of the powerful and influential cities in the Swordcoast. Your goal is to become as powerful as possible, and you will gain this power by sending your agents out to various parts of the city to gain access to adventuring parties and finding quests that will increase your power. At the same time you may be working on building power through real estate by expanding the city further or by using your intrigue you may decided to hurt the other masked lords to keep them in check in the race for power.
Lords of Waterdeep provides a fairly simple worker placement experience. Each turn players will place one of their workers on a provided space on the board, and take the action listed. If you are playing on a player built card from the Builder’s Hall, make sure you also pay the cost to the owner of that building. Once the player has taken that action, if they have a quest they can fulfill they are allowed to play that card and gain any rewards listed. This continues until all players have played all their available workers. Once players have no remaining workers, any players who placed workers at the Waterdeep Harbor may reassign their agent to a new available space and gain that reward as well. Then the players will reset the board and begin a new round. There are eight rounds in total.
The main way in which players get points in Lords of Waterdeep is by completing questions, however at the end of the game players will also get points for adventurers (cubes) in their tavern, gol ( 1 point per 2 gold rounded down) and their lord card. The lord card will specify a certain task that the player must complete to get points at the end of the game. This is hidden knowledge. Some examples of lord cards would be “After the game score 4 points for each Arcana Quest and each Warfare Question you completed” or “After the game ends score 6 points for each building you built”.
Lords of Waterdeep’s components are great in that they are easily identifiable and make for each to read and understand iconography. Players can easily identify each of the symbols on the board, even if it is there first time playing LoW or any worker placement game. That being said, nothing about a little purple cube screams wizard to me. The componenets used do not add to theme, so it makes the Dungeons and Dragons theme feel somewhat plastered on. If you are looking to add more theme I suggest maybe adding these wooden adventurers from Top Shelf Gamer. They add just a touch more immersion.
Otherwise the components are high quality. The game comes with four different colors of cubes and 5 different colors of workers representing the five different factions. The player mats for each faction are very thin, but are not handled much during game play. The coins in this game as especially cool, and constitute as one of my favorite board game currencies in any game. The come in cardboard but can be upgraded to metal.
- Very Easy to Learn
- Intuitive Design
- Variety of Lords, Buildings, Intrigue Cards and Quests Give Replayability
- Quick Turns
- Accessible to Non-Gamers
- Theme is Not Clear Throughout
- May Be Too Light for Hardcore Eurogamers
- Box Should Not Be Stored Vertically
Lords of Waterdeep is arguablely one of the best worker placement games to start a new gamer on. The game play is streamlined with a clear winning objective and clear iconography on the board. The mechanics are easy to learn, and the turns are quick with only two steps. The intuitive iconography makes it so that even a non-gamer can sit down at the table and very quickly understand how to play. That being said the simplicity of Lords of Waterdeep may not appeal to those looking for a heavier Eurogame experience. It is one of the lighter worker placement games on the market.
Lords of Waterdeep is a game that will likely always remain on my shelf, because it is so easy to teach and play. It also provides a lot of replay-ability with the different kinds of cards, and the hidden masked lord goals. Each time a player plays they will have a different goal in mind, and with that a different play style. I do wish that the theme went further than just the cards though. The masked lord cards and the quests cards add a lot to the theme of the game, but it would have been nice to see that transfer to the other components as well.
If you are someone who is looking to try a worker placement game for the first time, Lords of Waterdeep would be my first suggestion to you. You may also like Lords of Waterdeep if you enjoy Dungeons and Dragons or similar worker placement games like Viticulture, Stone Age, Yedo or Caylus. If you have already tried and enjoyed Lords of Waterdeep I highly suggest adding the expansion Scoundrels of Skullport or trying Yedo. Additionally, if you enjoy Lords of Waterdeep, I suggest trying the app out for playing on the go. You can even play with me by adding MackotheMeeple!