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Board Game review – Lords of Waterdeep

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Lords of Waterdeep is a resource placement strategy board game for 2-5 players. My brother first introduced me into this game in December 2019, and I have since gone on to buy my own copy, play it with anyone that comes to visit and even bought the online version to play with friends online because of the pandemic. So it’s safe to say I enjoy the game! 

Welcome to Waterdeep, the City of Splendors! You are a Lord of Waterdeep, one of the secret rulers of this great city. Through your Agents, you recruit Adventurers to complete Quests and advance your agendas. The Lords of Waterdeep all have the safety of their city at heart, but each one is also laying his or her own plans! Through backdoor dealings, mercenaries, and plain old bribery, can you guide the city to become the greatest Lord of Waterdeep?

The game is set in Waterdeep, a fictional city in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Each player takes on the role of one of the masked Lords of Waterdeep: the secret rulers of the city, vying for the control of its treasures and resources. The players use their agents to recruit adventurers to complete a number of quests, which earn rewards (usually victory points and other rewards) and increases that lord’s influence over the city. The various adventurer resources, represented as orange, black, purple, and white cubes, are based on the four classic D&D character classes: fighters, rogues, mages, and clerics, respectively. There are also five different types of quests, each typically favoring one type of adventurer; they are Warfare, Skullduggery, Arcana, Piety, and Commerce, which has a focus on the in-game currency.

Each player is dealt one of the Lords of Waterdeep, which is kept face down. They are allowed to look at the Lord at any time. Each Lord gives a player points at the end of the game for completing certain types of quests or controlling buildings. We did however remove the “builder” Lord card from ours as the dynamic of the game didn’t seem fun when this was being used, which I do recommend when playing with the same people each time because it just becomes a case of denying them the buildings instead of playing to win! Lords of Waterdeep is primarily a worker placement game with elements of card drafting. Players place their agents on various spaces around the city which allows them to take actions like collect money (gold), gather adventurers (resources), draw or play Intrigue cards (single-use special abilities), or gain Quests (the fundamental way to earn Victory Points). After eight rounds of worker placements, the player with the most Victory Points wins the game.

There was an expansion introduced in 2013, called Scoundrels of Skullport, and while I don’t have the physical copy of this, I do own this expansion on the online version. It adds more levels to the gameplay which helps when you’ve played the game enough times with the same people, and I feel suits better for games with 4 and 5 players. 

I will say this however, if you want a game that is easy to understand resource placement, this is a great game. It was the first resource placement I played and continue to play to this day, with my eyes on many other games of similar styles now! 

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