Last Friday was my birthday, and seemed like an appropriate time to bust out my copy of Lords of Waterdeep.
It has been a while since we’ve been able to get together and play boardgames, so I figured this might be a good opportunity to write up a quick review of the game.
The game has been out since March of 2012, so I wont go in to an oppressive amount of detail, as its very likely you know a good deal about it already.
It was Bob, George, and I that sat down to play that night, and I think its fair to say that represented a TON of boardgame experience (which is almost always something to keep in mind when reading a review I think). For me, the characteristics I find most important when reviewing a game are: Ease of Rules, Theme, Style of Gameplay, and the quality of components. A positive mix should hopefully add to the fun and ultimately re-playability of the game.
- Ease of Rules — Wizards of the Coast is on a pretty good streak of well-written boardgames, and this one is no exception. The rulebook is short (13 pages, including cover and component list with glossary) and each of the building tiles gets its own writeup and explanation of what it does. We had a couple moments where card phrasing blurred the lines between “Flavor” and “Keywords” that left interpretation to be a bit vague, but we just went with what made “sense” and I think it wasnt a huge deal.
- Theme — This is easily what first got me interested in this game. D&D is my first love, and of course Waterdeep is one of the most iconic places in the Forgotten Realms setting…so it wasnt too hard to stop and make me look. The flavor to this game is great, and finds its way in to almost every aspect of the game. Each player represents one of the (many) powerful factions vying for influence in the fictitious city (in many ways, I can’t help but believe that Waterdeep served as inspiration for Ravnica). Iconic NPC’s and places of interest find their way all over the quest and intrigue cards in the game. For me, they succeeded with D&D immersion and for Theme that was all I was looking for.
- Style of Gameplay — This game uses a much more “Euro” style to determine a winner. It comes down to making efficient use of your turns and completing quests that maximize your secret (to the other players) path to victory. For a game that can attain pretty high amounts of victory points (I think our ranged from 150-120) I dont think any of us ever felt that scoring was a tedious process. Sometimes games like Carcassonne or Cave Troll can slow down a bit to make sure points are scored correctly. I like both those games though! However, in Waterdeep part of me wish there was a bit more interaction going on with the other players. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely opportunities to jam the other players with a well-timed intrigue card to disrupt their plans some…and having limited resources to fight over inevitably leads to some really fun jockeying for position, but largely you can just sort of plug along with your plan and its more an issue of being delayed, than derailed. Depending on the group of players you have, its really just personal preference for how much you want to be able to “screw over” the other guys at the table so this may be the exact amount of that you’re looking for. You can probably guess that we here at Generation d20 have an affinity for games that let you just completely hose each other and encourage passive taunting.
- Quality of Components — This will be rather short as I loved the bits that come with the game. The adventurers are all colored wooden cubes that have a very retro feel to them. The cards are nice micro-dimpled card-stock with a slightly glossy finish to them. The board seems to be pretty durable and folds up without any issue. One of the nice things WOTC has been doing with their games is providing a little map to show how to store all the pieces in the molded plastic bottom provided in the box. I have to end by saying that I love the fact that the gold coins in the game are die cut and designed to look like the “real” currency from Waterdeep fluff.
Unlike most games of this kind, I actually think a 2-player matchup would still be a really fun experience because of the less direct interactions.
The rules are simple to learn and turns are very straightforward. Its the ‘exception-based’ nature of the design that really adds complexity to the game.
Let me know if you have any specific questions in the comments below. Hopefully we can get a chance to play more games like this soon. Highly Recommended!