Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep - Board Game Box Shot

Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep

User reviews, ratings, tips and strategies. Leave your sheep, clay, rails and workers at home. This euro-game seeks those who crave quests and adventure!

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Overview

When Klaus Teuber introduced Settlers of Catan in 1995, the hobby gaming world was captivated by what is now known as the “Euro-game.” Many games using resource management and worker placement mechanics followed. These games were expertly crafted to be well-oiled game machines and often light in theme. On the other end of the gaming spectrum is the world of Dungeons & Dragons – specifically the Forgotten Realms. Originally created by Ed Greenwood and introduced in 1987, this fantasy “universe” offers a rich and vibrant world theme and immersion for role-players. What happens when one game form meets the other? Chemistry!

Gameplay

You are one of several Lords of Waterdeep with a secret objective, and you are vying against other influential lords for control of the city. To gain control you will send your agents out into locations in the city to recruit fighters, clerics, rogues and wizards to complete dangerous quests at your whim. Completed quests give you victory points and gold. Each Lord also has his or her own secret objectives as well. The Lord with the most victory points after 8 rounds of play is victorious.

Lords of Waterdeep lord cards

Each turn, players assign “Agents” (D&Deeples as they have been named) to locations in the city of Waterdeep in order to seek out the adventurers needed to complete quests. If the player has the adventurers and or gold needed to complete that quest stored in their tavern on their play-mat, the quest is completed and victory points and gold are scored. After all the Lords in turn have placed their agents, gained their resources, and completed whatever quests they can, the round ends. Essentially, that’s all there is to a game round.

Lords of Waterdeep player mat

example player mat

As in most “worker placement” games however, the interaction and competitive nature of the game reveals itself as each Lord seeks the same resources from the same locations to complete their quests. Only one Lord’s agent may occupy a building during a round – with some exceptions. So one important building an agent can visit is the Castle of Waterdeep – which give that agent’s Lord the First Player Marker. Being the first Lord to place an agent each round is a big deal.

Waterdeep building card
Lords can also purchase buildings (chosen randomly from a stack) that can provide resources, as well as other game effects for Agents that visit them. Purchased buildings provide not only an additional location for Agents to visit and resources but also grant a resource bonus to the Lord that owns them.

Lastly, Lords can gain Intrigue cards, and by having their Agents visit Waterdeep Harbor can play them on other Lords; often times with negative effects. Intrigue cards add those powerful and unexpected effects and add another level of interaction between the Lords of Waterdeep.

Lords of Waterdeep box interior

Components

The components of The Lords of Waterdeep are as vibrant ad they are useful. Every aspect of the game is expertly crafted and provides a perfect synergy between game play and each component’s functional use. The cards are easy to read and well illustrated with Dungeons & Dragons themed art from a host of staff illustrators. One of the standout aspects of the game is the box insert. Every component has its place, and the insert even has small indentations that allow easy access to cards and tokens with a simple push. It is among best storage inserts to date. (with Airlines Europe) What a pleasure!

Learning Curve

Lords of Waterdeep has a low learning curve. The game can easily be taught in minutes, with an hour playing time – even for new players. Worker placement games traditionally have simple game phases. But the game’s complexity manifests itself in the form of play options or limitations as play progresses. In this game, the choices remain varied but they are manageable and steer the player toward a singular goal.

Who would enjoy this game?

Family Gamer {yes}
This is a game that an entire family can enjoy – even children as young as 10. It can be a perfect bridge for younger players to experience a euro-style board game for the first time and with a cool theme. (Well if you think going on quests is cooler than farming… which it is.)
Strategy Gamer {yes}
The game offers great strategic options. Each turn you assign your resources toward accomplishing goals, while the other Lords are attempting to do the same. It takes planning, a bit of cunning and a well thought out strategy. And you get to boss wizards around!
Casual Gamer {yes}
If you have ever wanted to try a euro and thought they would be as fun as operating a printing press, casual gamers rejoice! Here is a game you can play in around an hour that will give you a taste of what a well-designed euro is like.
Avid Gamer {yes}
Replayability! The game offers several mechanics that offer a rewarding play experience after many games. From playing as one of eleven different Lords to the many quests and buildings available to explore, the game offers great satisfaction for avid gamers.
Power Gamer {maybe}
As one of the most talked about games recently, Power Gamers will probably play Lords of Waterdeep. After that, it depends on each individual gamers level of appreciation for what the game offers. Since the game scales so well from beginners to advanced players, it may find a place on their shelf.

Final Thoughts

Whether we like to admit it, there can be a deep separation between those folks that like to kick back with a good German board game and those gamers that play games to immerse themselves in the deep thematic plots the Forgotten Realms universe can offer. In fact, they are usually found in separate rooms at most gaming conventions. Was the idea to create a game that attempts to appeal to both of these groups? Does Lords of Waterdeep satisfy both these gamers’ itches?

In a word: no. Lords of Waterdeep can only be classified as a Euro-game. It is a derivative of worker-placement, resource gaining, and victory point tracking mechanics from many euro-games that have come before. This is not a D&D board game on the level of Wrath of Ashardalon. And any desire to roleplay, or imagine the small wooden cubes as small questing adventurers will fall a bit flat.

However, contrary to some opinions, the Forgotten Realms theme is not just “pasted on” but tightly woven into the mechanics to provide a fresh thematic journey for control of Waterdeep. So, what kind of game is this?

This is a game for anyone. No, it won’t turn a role-player into a euro-gamer or vice versa. But it strength lies in it’s accessibility. Perhaps the theme could have been anything, but its not. The vivid images and well conceived mix of variable player objectives, random Intrigue card draws and rich Forgotten Realms theme provides a perfect experience for those that have always wanted to try a euro, but found them too dry or technical.

Rarely has there been a game that combines so many enjoyable aspects from several sources, and still keep the game logical, compelling and accessible. Rodney Thompson and Peter Lee have created a gem: not for any one gamer type, but accessible to all. The Lords of Waterdeep is simply great fun.

User Reviews (69)

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I play black
Guardian Angel
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“A Gateway Game Too Good to Be Labelled As Such”

I could write a glowing and accurate review of Lords of Waterdeep in just one sentence: it is a gateway game that’s so good it doesn’t feel like a gateway game at all. But as helpful as that sentence seems to me, I’m guessing most of you won’t agree. So let’s burn some wordage:

Observed Set-Up and Play Time
Waterdeep takes a good five to ten minutes to set up each play, but the good news is that it comes ready-to-go (only requiring you to remove parts from wrappers), so your first play takes no longer than the others. The instruction manual is well written and helpful, and can be navigated in around 30 minutes. But the first game does take some time, and you’ll check back in with that rulebook repeatedly. My first game was 3-player, and it took around 1:45… but by game #2 we were within the publisher’s advertised time of one hour.

My Learning Curve and Teach Time
I feel like I improved at Waterdeep through my first five games, but after that it’s been status quo. The game is pretty marginal on luck, and involves ample strategy… but an astute gamer should be able to piece it all together in a handful of games. I have taught this game to as many people as I have any other game, and it’s quite simple. It takes no longer than 10 minutes to give them the tools they need to play, and the game is balanced such that they probably won’t suffer a discouraging blow-out loss. Games that are designed like this – both elegant and simple – can be played so much more often than games you dread trying to explain to a first-timer.

Group Sizes and Dynamics
The base game plays up to 5 (the expansion can get this to 6), but I haven’t loved my couple of 5-player games. I think Waterdeep hits its comfort zone in the 2- to 4-player range, and shines at 3. My non-gamer friends have loved it – I think they feel like they’re accomplishing something by playing a difficult “non-mainstream” game and fully understanding it. And people who like board games will find loads to love here. The one lukewarm response I’ve gotten was from a “theme-means-everything” friend who enjoyed the game but would rather be playing anything with zombies, monsters or superheroes.

Objectionable Material
I struggle to categorize anything in Lords of Waterdeep as objectionable, but it is a “mature” game. It’s propelled by a story of coercion and underhanded political dealings. People who should be governing together plot against one another and sneakily try to “better” their peers. I wouldn’t want to explain these things to a child, even though they could grab the mechanics by 10 or so. It should be a fun theme to throw at a teenager taking their first class on government, though!

Comparable Titles
As much as it may be doing Lords of Waterdeep a disservice, the group of games I pocket it against are Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne… the classic gateway games. And it smokes ‘em all. Easier to teach, more fun to play… what more could you want? It also shares the basics of worker-placement with games like Le Havre and Agricola… but those games are more challenging to get into than Lords of Waterdeep, and you’ll have a restricted group you can play them with.

I’m at a point where I begrudgingly play most gateway games, but Lords of Waterdeep consistently remains a game I get excited to play. That has everything to do with the fact that I don’t feel like I’m playing a “simple” game at all… I feel like it’s weighty, that my decisions matter and that my experience should give me an edge over my opponents. At the same time, I don’t recoil at the thought of running a new player through the basics because I know I won’t be fielding a hundred questions on points of the game that I feel should be common sense. It’s just great all-around.

 
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“Come on in the Water is Fine!”

The Lords of Waterdeep by Wizards of the Coast is a traditional worker-placement Euro style game set in the famed Forgotten Realms city of Waterdeep that is more than worthy of being added to your collection.

With Wizards of the Coast not known for Euros and Euros not known for adopting D&D/Fantasy themes, wariness was naturally called for when considering this game. Put your worries aside though as this game delivers fun in spades (and of course wizards, fighters, thieves, and clerics).

At the beginning of the game, you are secretly dealt a Lord of Waterdeep identity that will help direct your focus in Quest selection. Played through eight rounds, you assign agents (the number depends on the number of players) to recruit adventurers, secure gold, purchase buildings, and engage in intrigue among other tasks all to gain you power (read: victory points) in Waterdeep. Claiming quests (by securing a Quest card) and completing them (by fulfilling the requirements of the quest card – usually with a set number of adventurers that you have recruited) is the primary way you win the game. At the end of the eight rounds, you will add points to your score based on your wealth, remaining adventurers, and secret rewards based off of your completed quests and your Lord. These points are significant so winning the Lords of Waterdeep is always something determined at the very end of the game rather than the beginning or middle.

Two particularly nice options for your agent assignments deserve specific explanation. One, is to purchase buildings that immediately create a new place for agents to go. The rewards at these sites are typically very attractive but grant benefits to the owner of the building in a mild way as well. Consequently, purchasing these tiles is an attractive option as it either provides you a great place to go or generates resources for you when your opponent does (see my game tip entitled “Locations, Locations, Locations!”). Second, players can also send their agents to a locale that allows them to play Intrigue cards which do a variety of things to help you win the game (sometimes they help you directly while others thwart your opponent). This location is particularly nice because it allows the agent to be reassigned at the end of the round effectively providing a “two-for-one” move option. These sites both speak to another great facet of the game – you are always picking between places you WANT to go rather than picking between worthless choices. Sure, you are not always going to get to go exactly where you were hoping but the game remains constant fun rather than frustrating because you never feel like your turn has been simply wasted.

Reasonably priced, it is certainly worth noting that this game’s components are gorgeous. The board is striking in appearance and very functional in design. Admittedly, one might quibble with the colored cubes that stand in for wizards, fighters, thieves, and clerics but otherwise all of the parts are top notch and really add to the flavor of the game. Both the Quest and Intrigue cards include dramatic artwork that if examined can draw you into the story. The building tiles are nice and come with corner markers so ownership of the real estate is never in question. Instructions on the cards, tiles, and manual are all very clear and intuitive. Not so incidentally, the insert in the box is quite simply the best that I have ever seen – there is a place for everything and everything fits neatly and securely in its place. Everything is designed to pop up when pressure is applied so there is never frustration with getting out the sizeable number of pieces required to play. I am anticipating expansions for the game and if these come they will not fit in the original box, but otherwise if there is an award for best insert, 2012’s winner has been found.

This game offers tremendous replayablity through the nice collection of Quest and Intrigue cards, the differing emphases provided by the host of different Lords, and a fun mechanic that means choices are always going to be different depending on the opponent (s). Nevertheless, I will say that a Lords of Waterdeep expansion also seems a natural. Additional Quest and Intrigue cards would be an inexpensive and welcome way to expand replayability.

Some have and will complain that the theme is “pasted on.” However, I frankly think of this as a positive not a negative. The “pasted on” nature of the theme allows the many folks who don’t care for the fantasy theme still to fully enjoy this easy to understand strategy Euro. For those, who do love the fantasy theme, the names of the quests and components, the tremendous artwork, and the beautiful board etc. should provide more than enough grist for imagination mills (something fantasy and D&D enthusiasts should have well developed already). In other words, this game is tremendous for it is possible to either ignore the fantasy theme or embrace it depending on your preference.

The game serves two to five players and appears to scale well with all groups. I have played primarily in a two-person format and have found it very enjoyable. With only two players, many, many quests will be completed but players still have to thoughtfully prioritize their moves. The game allows and encourages player interaction but at the same time, you primarily concentrate on your own efforts so the environment is a fun competitive one rather than hostile. The game moves along quickly and time even faster with the game.

Don’t just stick your toe in, dive right in to The Lords of Waterdeep!

 
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Baron / Baroness
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“Lords of Waterdeep- A New Favorite”

I finally got a chance to sit down with my new copy of ‘Lords of Waterdeep’ last night! Lets take a look at the game in some detail:

COMPONENTS:

Lords of Waterdeep has EXCELLENT components.Evrything from the box itself to the bits you play with is very well made. One of my favorite things to do when I get a new game (and don’t get a chance to play it for awhile) is to sit down and organize the bits. Whether it is bagging them or seperating them into Plano boxes, I enjoy organizing them. Lords of Waterdeep has such a thoughtful/useful insert that I didn’t get the chance to do anything with the componenets but put them into their respective and completely useful places in the insert tray, and leave them there. Sigh. Everything fits well, is super easy to get back OUT of the tray, and is very well organized. Though if you sleeve your cards they won’t fit quite right. The cards aren’t handled a great deal during the game so I don’t have any problem with this personally.

The components themselves are very nice wood and cardboard bits, a sturdy game board with excellent art and some very nice(if a *bit thin) linen textured cards. The agent tokens and counters are smooth and feel nice to touch, and the cardboard is thick and durable. This game will last for many, many games.

Overall I would give the components a 10.

GAMEPLAY:

Lords of Waterdeep is an easy to learn, but surprisingly strategic game. My wife always taunts me when I say a game is ‘easy to learn’. Since she doesn’t play a ton of boardgames, some of the concepts that we gamers understand quickly are lost on her. In this case, when I say the game is easy to learn, I actually mean it! Here is the quick rundown:

1. Everyone has an oversized player card in front of them that is broken into 3 areas- Agent Pool, Tavern, Completed Quests. At the start of the game every player gets a specific number of Agents that they will send out into the city. The number of agents varies based on the number of players. These Agents will sit at the top of your player card in the “Agent Pool” area.

2. The players are all assigned a starting bit of gold, with the starting player getting the least amount, and each subsequent plyer getting one more gold than the person he is following. Everyone also gets a Lord card that has a secret goal listed on it. This is kept secret from other players, and if the goal is achieved will give you get bonus victory points at the end of the game. This hidden victory point mechanic keeps the end game scoring pretty tense. Two Quest cards and two Intrigue cards are also given to each player. Quest cards give you in game goals to complete for rewards, and Intrigue cards are ued to gain extra resources and occasionaly do bad things to your fellow Lords.

3. In turn order, everyone places one of their Agents on a different area of the city. Most areas are allowed only one agent per round, but there are a few that will hold multiple Agents at a time. Some of these city areas give you resources (different colored cubes that represent the different class types in D&D. I.E. Purple cubes= Wizards, Orange= Warriors, White= Clerics and Black= Rogues.) These cubes are used to fulfill the requirements listed on the Quest cards. The collected…people cubes…are placed into the tavern area on your player card, and collected until you spend them to complete quests. It’s that easy. Some areas allow you to build new buildings, which then become new spaces for players to place agents on, but the owner of the building (the person that paid to build it) gets a reward whenever another player uses that building. This is a very fun mechanic.
The last few city spaces allow you to either get new quests, play your Intrigue cards, and even steal the first player token.

4. When all Agents are placed, the round is over and the Agents go home and await the start of the next round. Rinse and repeat. You play for eight rounds, and then the game is over.

The winner is the person that scores the most victory points by the end of the game. There is a pretty cool scoring track that borders the city and lets everyone get a quick glance at where scores stand at the moment. With the exception of the hidden VPs that will be applied at the very end of the game.

Lords of Waterdeep plays very elegantly and smoothly and the rules are very wll presented and easily understood. As our first game, I think I consulted the instruction manual two or three times during the game, and that was it. We all figured out the flow and some of the strategy of the game by the second round and were off to the races after that.

I would give the gameplay a 10. It is complex without being complicated, easy to learn, and the playtime is surprisingly quick. (We played with 3 people, first game ever, and were done in about an hour and twenty minutes.)

THEME:

This is where a lot of people take issue with Lords Of Waterdeep. I would say that on the surface, the theme is pretty thin. Using blocks to represent people, and spending those people like currency to complete quests does not let you form much of a connection with your subjects. We had many jokes during the game about suicide missions and the like. Killing your tavern customers off is not very good for repeat business! BUT, the theme really didn’t bother me at all personally. A bit of imagination goes a long way in this game and the three of us that played were able to give some personality to our suicidal little cube adventurers.

The look of the game, and the theming on the board, tokens, coins and cards is solid though. The coins are shaped like squares and half-moons and are just fun to hold. The card art and quest titles help to build some sort of story, and the building names help immerse you as well. Not everyone will see these things as immersive, but the good thing is that there is a solid game underneath it all regardless.

I would give the theme an 8.

CONCLUSSION:

After reading all of that I am sure you can see that I really liked this game. It plays fast, is easy to learn, has great components and sets up quickly. There is a lot of strategy and choice, but not enough to cause analysis paralysis. I am going to play this with my kids next weekend (ages 11 and 13) to see what they think, but I am pretty sure they will grasp the concepts and gameplay pretty quickly. I would say it is a good gateway game with enough meat to keep serious gamers coming back for more. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading and have fun playing!

 
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Eminent Domain Fan
Knight
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“Lots of fun in a short amount of time”

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game that doesn’t necessarily do anything really new. Players take turns placing their Agents on various buildings in the City of Waterdeep to acquire resources (adventurers, gold, or intrigue cards) or to get Quests. They then use those resources to complete the Quests they have acquired.

While some say the theme is “pasted on” (and in many ways it is), if you use your imagination it can feel like you are recruiting and sending out adventurers to do your bidding. Most of the Quests make sense thematically, but you have to look for it. For example, the “Heal Fallen Gray Hands Soldiers” Quest requires 2 clerics, 1 mage, and 4 gold. The reward is 6 Victory Points and 6 Fighters. If you think about it, it makes sense that you send healers in and spend some resources, and you are rewarded with volunteers to help your cause. (The Victory Points reward are always abstract but seem to be fairly balanced based on the resources required to complete them).

But the beauty of this game is that it can appeal to those that like a heavy theme (even if it is “pasted on”–like myself) and those who don’t (like my wife). It drives me a little batty when she says, “I’ll take a purple please”… Doesn’t she know that’s a WIZARD! :)

But she actually enjoys playing the game, and that’s what counts. The game is extremely easy to teach, and plays very quickly. It plays well with 2 and 3 players (and probably with 4 or 5 as well–I haven’t had a chance to try it yet). The random buildings, quest, and intrigue cards provides a lot of replayability.

The components are fantastic, though the cards will probably show some wear and tear from shuffling (they have black borders). If you sleeve your cards they will not fit in the well designed interior of the box.

If you are a hardcore gamer, this game may not feel “deep enough” for you. But if you like to take a little break from games that cause “brain burn”, this game may fit the bill. It plays smoothly and quickly and can appeal to casual gamers as well. With its short playing time, I expect this game to hit my table very often.

9/10

 
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It's All About Me
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“Play This Game. Often. With Friends. ”

Wizards of the Coast’s Lords of Waterdeep came as a complete shock to me when I first heard about it. A Euro-style game from my favorite hack-and-slash enablers? I wasn’t really sure they could pull it off. Then again, with the decades of focus they have had creating a variety of mechanics in both Magic and D&D, I shouldn’t have been surprised by how they were able to synthesize the pureness of the Euro gamestyle in a simplistic way that lets you dive right into the fun and entertainment side of things.

I freaking love it.

“What’s there to love?” you may ask. Plenty.

1. Variance. In each game, you play a different Lord of Waterdeep, with a different focus. Some are concerned with matters of Piety and Combat, and others focus on Skullduggery and the Arcane. These distinctions automatically give people different overall goals in the game and limit the possibility that players will be competing for every single quest and placement. Various quest types need different adventurers (what do Fighters know about Piety, anyway?), so players are forced to spread out around the gameboard. There are very few buildings that are of greatest benefit to every player at the same time each round.

In a game like Puerto Rico, if every player decides on a shipping strategy at the beginning, it can be tough for anyone to ship efficiently. In this game, your options are pre-defined. Of course, how you choose to meet your goals is still up to you…

2. Competitiveness. As victory points are given every turn a quest is completed, a player’s score will increase in spurts throughout the game. Which means that “first place” switches hands many times throughout the game. While some players may lag behind, I have yet to see a game where I knew who would win before the end of the final round. Every single time, it takes revealing the Lords of Waterdeep at the end of the game to determine the winner. As long as players are invested in playing the game strategically and efficiently, every game can be a close one.

3. Accessibility. Every single time I teach this game to new players, they play a single round and then hardly ever ask for help again. The actions and goals are so easily defined that people learn this game fast, and are making solid strategic decisions on their own within ten minutes. Last time I played, the newest player won, and I had to fight to take second against some other relatively new players.

4. Fun. The pieces are bright, shiny, and well-designed. Finishing the quests gives you that surge-of-victory feeling multiple times within a single game. Late game, there’s that tension that comes when you silently beg everyone not to put their meeple in the specific spot you want… I could go on and on. This game never ceases to entertain me. There aren’t any times I wish I was off playing something different. I just love it.

Play this game. That’s my end recommendation. Play this game, and then make other people play this game. Especially for those who aren’t familiar with the worker placement genre of games, this is too much fun to miss.

 
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“Addictive Worker Placement Game Achieving Greatness Through Mediocrity”

Overview: Dungeons and Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game for 2 to 5 players in which they manage resources to complete quests in an effort to gain control of a fantasy city.

Gameplay: Players take turns placing “Agents” on different locations on the board. Each location has a limited number of available positions, and once they are occupied, may not be selected for the remainder of the round. The player receives various resources based on what location was chosen. The most common are “adventurers”, represented by wooden cubes, and gold which are used for completing quests, the game’s main source of victory points. Other locations allow you to choose new quests, acquire or play “Intrigue” cards, and purchase new buildings.

New buildings provide additional agent placement options with increased benefits compared to standard locations. They also give the player who built them a benefit as a form of “kickback” when others visit them. Construction and use of these buildings is key to much of the strategy in this game, always being aware of what resources your opponents require and how to either lure them into giving you free benefits or to deny them the ability to find what they need.

After placing an agent, a player may spend his resources to complete a quest, which will provide victory points and sometimes other bonuses. Each player has his own secret “Lord” card which provides extra victory points at the end of the game for finalizing specific quests. Players continue placing agents until all have been used. The board is cleared and a new round begins. The winner is the player with the most victory points at the end of eight rounds.

The theme of this game is present if you choose to accept it. The requirements, and rewards, for the quests do make sense thematically for a player that wants to enjoy the fantasy genre. However, a fan of abstract games can completely ignore the theme and enjoy the game just as well.

Pros:
– Short, simple rules make this accessible to almost anyone, causing this to be an excellent choice for introducing worker placement games.
– Eight rounds enable enough strategic choices to be made but ends the game before it drags on.
– Player turns are fast, preventing major periods of downtime.
– While not standing out in any area, the game supplies “just enough” in almost all areas.

Cons:
– The bonus provided by the Lord card almost forces you into specific quests, which can feel confining.
– The theme is very thin and will disappoint players expecting a combat oriented dungeon crawl.
– The Dungeons and Dragons property carries a few stigmas which may prevent some gamers from trying this game.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Goldilocks

Dungeons and Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep utilizes many slightly better than average elements to deliver an extraordinary game. It is neither too much nor too little. Almost everyone that plays it finds something they like and looks forward to playing again.

 
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“Climbing the Charts”

This is a game that is quickly climbing my charts becoming one of my favorite games in my collection. I am very happy I took a risk and made the purchase without ever playing the game myself. Let’s dive in and see what we are getting into.

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game that is set in a town from the Dungeon and Dragon theme, but that doesn’t really matter because outside of the names and flavor text this game has nothing to do with D&D.

Game Play:
In the game you are completing quest to score victory points and win the game. But to complete these quest you need a number of recruits and resources. In the game you are sending your agents to gather these recruits and resources by playing them in different parts of the city. For instance, you can send an agent to the arena to recruit two fighters, aka orange cubes, to your cause. When you gain the requirements necessary to complete a quest you do so on your turn resulting in a reward usually of victory points or some other benefits such as additional resources.

There are a few other aspects of the game that I think are very intriguing. My favorite are the buildings. You can build different building that provide the players with more places to send their agents. The great thing about this is when someone else sends an agent to your building there is a reward that you get every time as the owner.

The other mechanic is in intrigue cards. These cards allow you to interact with the other players some. Sometimes you are attacking them, sometimes helping them. The great thing about this is to play a card you have to send an agent to the harbor. At the end of the round, eight rounds in total, you get to take your agent from the harbor and send him to another location. Very beneficial!

Components:
This is one aspect that I feel the game has generated a good amount of buzz about. And they are pretty great pieces and top quality, but nothing is really mind blowing. What I have heard a lot about is the box and holder for the pieces. Honestly, it can be frustrating. All the pieces have their own place which is great, but some of the spaces are a little tight and I have more than once shot gold tokens all over trying to get them into a slim space. Over all though good to great.

Two to Five Players:
I’ve played this game with different numbers of people; maybe not three, but the game scales great. I really appreciate when a game plays well with just myself and my girlfriend, but also with the guys. I also like that it plays more than four, I think it adds a lot more chances to get to the table and get your money’s worth out of a game when you can play it with more people.

Ease to Learn:
One of the things that really drew me into this game was how easy it was to learn. The first time I saw it in person I was late to a game night and game in at the middle of the game. I sat at the table and just starting watching. Pretty quickly I was able to figure out the game play just based on the action players were taking and the icons on the board. I didn’t have to ask too many questions to be ready to play, everything just kind of lines up.

Blemishes, Not Flaws:
Some of the negative things I would say about the game is that it may not be very deep. I’m not sure if there are more than one or two routes to victory. It would also be nice if some of the lord cards you get that influence play were a bit more varied in what they did. They are all the same minus one. I also think this could make the game a bit deeper. One idea I had was a lord who earned bonus points for completing quest over 20 vp. Another would be extra points for when you end the game with left over money, maybe the most or recruits.

Overall:
As I’ve stated this game is quickly climbing up my charts and I don’t have any real flaws with the game after a multiple play through, only ideas to improve. It can easily fill multiple rolls with a good amount of strategy, play length being about an hour, ease of learning and number of players. This is a game that I’m very happy to own and would suggest to many.

 
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3
Novice Reviewer
8
59 of 66 gamers found this helpful
“When a euro tries on Dragonscale armor.”

Oh lordy
Thanks to a brilliant move by Wizards of the Coast, players and people across the globe can now enjoy a euro game without moving to medieval France or getting a degree in accounting first. Lords of Waterdeep is a loving marriage between Caylus and a thieving Dwarf.
Gamerules are explained perfectly above, so I will not spend precious space repeating that here. Suffice to say that this game exchanges Contracts for Quests and Masons for Wizards in a fight for the control over the ‘City of Splendor’.

Theme
Not counting the standard wooden cubes that are supposed to represent the rogues and clerics you send out on quests, the game is oozing theme. The currency feels exotic, the player-boards have gorgeous artwork and the main board is a beautiful map of the city you want to exercise your influence on.

It are the Quests however that make you feel like a scheming Lord pulling strings from the shadows. For instance the Skullduggery Quest ‘Take over rival organization’ requires you gather a fighter, two rogues, a wizard and a hand full of cash to topple your rival. After you’ve completed this, next to VPs, you’ll get 4 rogues in return, who of course switched to your side as soon as their former employer got canned.

Completing Plot quest will not earn you as much VPs as you’d like, but they do stay in the game to give you an advantage for the rest of the game. Most often this makes full thematic sense if you bring some of your own imagination to the table.

Interaction? Meh
For me, often the biggest problem with cubepusher games is lack of player interaction. Other than, ‘I hope he doesn’t take the spot I want’ or I’ll take this space to prevent her from taking this’ there is very little back-and-forth. This is also a problem here, albeit more obvious since it’s a game about powerful organizations vying for control over a fantasy metropolis and not about vegetable farming.
I miss the scheming, fighting and plotting with or against others.

The ‘secret role’ element of the Lord cards is not really that interesting. There is no real advantage in figuring out what the roles of the other players are. It is simply a way to keep scoring the last VPs at the end of the game a bit more exciting.

Expansion
Lords of Waterdeep is a game I love to play, but I cannot help to hope that they will introduce some more elements to the game if there will ever be an expansion (and considering its succes there will be). More intriguing role cards so it is far more interesting to guess which puppeteers are played by your opponents. More plot Quest so there is more of an ‘Engine’ to be build during play. And hopefully it will somehow introduce more interactivity between the players.

That being said…
Lords of Waterdeep has something very important, Flow. With only one action per turn and few actions to pick from that make any sense, that game gallops around the table. It goes tadum-tadum-tadum *ding* end of the round. That’s a good thing. You can still plan ahead, but the game never stagnates on people rubbing their forehead for minutes on end.

Closer to Zen than nail-biting and closer to Puerto Rico than Neverwinter, this euro dressed in dragonscale is a one hour plan and plot fest I can recommend.

 
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2
Gamer - Level 2
9
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“Approachable Euro with Great Theme”

After reading many reviews on this game I wasn’t confident my wife, who would be the one playing this with me a lot of the time, would like it or not. Once we finished our first game though it was apparent that this is our type of game.

Being new board gamers we are exploring many different genres and this was our selection for worker placement with the added benefit of being placed in my favorite D&D campaign setting.

This game is great looking. The artwork and components are very nice looking and mesh with the overall look and feel of the game. The cards also carry this same quality and don’t feel out of place at all. There are a fair amount of components, but it seems the insert could have been designed slightly better as the pieces are a bit hard to put back in they way that it came. There is likely a method that I haven’t discovered yet but not the greatest design.

The gameplay is fairly quick, and you don’t have to wait a long time for your turn. With the right players this game can be completed in 30 minutes or so. For those that get analysis paralysis it could be longer.

I’ve played this several times already but it appears to have a lot of replay value. There is a fair amount of diversity in all the buildings that can be put out that procure different things like adventurers, gold, and abilities. There are different Lord cards that score extra victory points if specific conditions are met. With all that I can say we will be playing this a lot without much repetition.

While it’s well balanced, i feel that there is not many cut-throat tactics that you can play as a Lord. There are some extra victory points, but the gameplay seems identical no matter who you are playing, so it makes being a specific Lord seem not that important.

While it’s solid as a 2 player I think this game will shine as a 3 player. After that it would probably run longer than my liking. Smart gamers that understand basic mechanics and like to play in fantasy settings will love this game.

Pros:
1. Great design and top quality components
2. Quick turn taking
3. Theme is great and set in a very popular D&D environment with lots of history
4. Great replay value
5. Balanced
Cons:
1. Box insert could have been designed better
2. Needs more interesting Lord cards to give specific advantages to being a Lord.

 
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7
Gamer - Level 7
Explorer - Level 4
Novice Reviewer
9
49 of 55 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Brilliant Worker Placement with more Theme than you might think”

At the end of my first game of Lords of Waterdeep I knew it was an insta-buy for me. From the components to the gameplay I am very impressed by the quality of LoW.

Lords of Waterdeep is a 2-5 player worker placement board game set in the city of Waterdeep, which is located the world of Dungeons & Dragons, specifically from the Forgotten Realms settings. You take on the role of one of 11 different Lords. Your goal is to send out your agents to recruit adventurers to your tavern and then send those adventurers out to complete quests in return for riches and glory (victory points). The game is played over 8 rounds, the player with the most VP at the end of the eighth round wins!

What’s In the Box?

LoW has some fantastic components. The rulebook is a good starting place. It is 23 pages long, but about half of that is glossary, quick reference, and specific component information. The game is simple to learn and the rules are very clear. Plus the rulebook has plenty of images and illustrations. The board itself is beautifully illustrated to resemble a map of the city. All of the spaces and symbols are clear to understand. You will also find a multitude of different components; gold, cards, building tiles, wooden adventurer, agent pieces, etc. All of the pieces fit neatly into the plastic container within the box, no need for making a mess on your table when playing. The artwork on all of the quest and intrigue cards also looks great. There’s nothing incredibly bright, flashy, or overly spectacular within the art, which is good. The art is some good flavor to the game but it does not distract from the important information on the cards, all of which is laid out neatly with clear symbols. Finally, the building tiles are incredibly sturdy and clear to read and understand. There’s no artwork on the buildings but once again the important information is easy to understand. Also, each building tile has a little notch in the corner where you will place your control marker on once you purchase that building (one of my favorite parts in the design). Enough ogling over the components, let’s move on.

How to play:

Before you begin Lords of Waterdeep each player is given a Lord Card that will be kept secret from everyone else. These Lord Cards will help determine your overall strategy because at the end of the game you will reveal your Lord and receive VP depending on how you played throughout the course of the game.
LoW is played over 8 rounds. In each round the players will go around the table placing one agent at a time on a building in order to collect adventurers, gold, quest cards, or intrigue cards. Once everyone has placed their agents the round ends, everyone collects their agents, and you begin anew! The goal is to score Victory Points (which is counted through the use of a score tracker around the board). You score VP predominantly by accomplishing quest cards that you have. You complete quest cards by turning in adventurer cubes and gold. Rewards from quests may vary, from flat victory points, to getting some adventurer cubes or gold back, or the quest may give you a continuous effect for the remainder of the game.
Players may also buy buildings with their agents. This is an important part of LoW; buildings open up new locations for everyone to place their agents, and the owner of the building get’s a little payment for people using them.
Another important aspect of LoW is Intrigue Cards. These are basically action cards that either give you a couple bonus adventurers, or may hurt your opponents by forcing them to pay a price.
At the end of eight rounds, play ends, and each player reveals their lord cards and the winner will be determined.

When explaining LoW to people I sometimes compare it to Ticket to Ride in terms of gameplay. The way you need to collect specific colored adventurers (train cars) in order to complete quests (routes) is similar between the two games. Because so many more people have played TtR I use this tactic to perk their initial interest. Obviously the themes are quite different between LoW and TtR.

Theme:

Being set in the Dungeons and Dragons universe many people may first be cautious of LoW. There is certainly a fantasy theme within the game, but it’s relatively mild. There be no dragons or trolls here, and there isn’t any actual combat in LoW. Does that mean there is no strong theme in LoW? Not necessarily. Yes, the theme may not be oozing out of the box compared to other D&D games. I feel that this is strongly due to some of the abstractions within the game. All of the adventurers are represented by colored cubes, and if it’s not explicitly stated what each are (Purple=Wizard, White=Cleric, Orange=Fighter, Black=Rogue) it is hard to grasp that these are people you’re collecting and not just some colored resources.
So, for casual gamers who are just looking for an easy game to pick-up then LoW can work. The theme is not in your face, but it’s still not absent.
When you start to look at the quest cards and imagine sending out your agents to different buildings there is some good thematic work. Each quest is categorized into 1 of 5 different types of quests. This not only has an affect on the gameplay but it also influences the theme. You begin to realize that “Skullduggery” quests require quite a lot of rogues in your tavern to complete them, and the title of the quest/artwork always fits the theme of stealing or spying.
For example the quest “Raid on Undermountain” requires you to gather a large band of different adventurers, each with their unique skillset that will aid your little group in their journey into the dangerous Undermountain. You may not know what Undermountain is when you’re playing, but the idea of a large scale raid is easy to picture and you begin to understand why you need so many adventurers. And the rewards are great at the end of the quest, with 20 VP and some looted gold. Each card also has flavor text on it to further immerse the player.
Even the buildings match the theme. You can imagine sending your agents to the “House of Heroes” to recruit some noble fighters and clerics for your cause. If you dive into the rulebook once again you will find flavor text for each building, each of the agent factions, and each of the Lords you will be playing. You begin to get a feel for character motivations and history.
So on the surface there may not be a lot of theme going on within LoW, which is okay. It allows players who aren’t a fan of the fantasy genre to enjoy the game. However if you want a little more immersion then there are plenty of opportunities for that within LoW.

Final Impressions:

So should you play Lords of Waterdeep? Absolutely YES! It appeals to a large range of players. There is strategy involved in term of when and where to place your agents or what quests to focus on first. There are plenty of opportunities to mess with your opponents plans as well. All active quests are visible so you can see what your opponent needs and you can either jump on it first, or you can play some fun Intrigue cards to mess with their plans.
Lords of Waterdeep is easy to learn and people will quickly understand the overall strategies and goals. It is a great worker placement game but it has the potential to be much more through the use of it’s established theme and minor story telling. I was lucky to have read some Forgotten Realms novels before I played, and while many of the specific names were foreign to me I was still able to appreciate many of the ideas and activities that occur within Waterdeep.
Overall I’m a big fan of Lords of Waterdeep.

 
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2
Critic - Level 1
9
56 of 63 gamers found this helpful
“A cool Euro game camouflaged as D&D”

Lords of Waterdeep (LOW) is a mechanically simple, but otherwise rich and satisfying game that takes 10 minutes to learn but gives an hour of enjoyment with each play-through.

I was initially surprised that a D&& themed Wizards of the Coast game could be so… UNLIKE D&D… Wrath of Ashardalon, for example, bored be after a few plays; LOW, however, keeps me coming back for more.

Thematically the game if pretty nifty. Who wouldn’t want to be a scheming politician in a fantasy city, wrangling to gain influence and control? You build and control important locations in the city of waterdeep, plot and scheme against your opponents, and recruit adventurers to go complete quest for you. You also don’t know EXAcTLY who the opposition is: each player has a secret scoring condition that only they know; you have to be observant to figure out what it is…

the game mechanics themselves are fun and intuitive. Basically it’s about two things:

1) Resource management: should you use up your three difficult-to-get wizards to complete a quest that gives you an ongoing, passive benefit, or should you save up for a quest that gets you a large victory point payoff? Players have to make decisions about how and when to spend what they have

2) Differential turns: players have to be on their toes and adapt their gameplay quickly, as turn order affects what subsequent players can do. Should you try and become the first player, giving up the chance to hire warriors now for a possible increased payoff later, or is it more important to try and hire adventurers as fast as possible right now?

Replayability is high: you’ll be a different Lord in each game with different secret goals and different quests and buildings will come up (which can substantially change the game, actually) leading to new tactics and strategies

Components are simple and nice. Nice wooden pieces reminiscent of Carcassone, a few elaborate cardboard pieces, nice art.

An easy-to-learn game that’s a big bang for your buck!

 
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2
Rated My First Game
 
48 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Great intro worker placement game”

Lords of Waterdeep is one of the best new games I’ve played in a long time. While worker placement games are nothing new, Wizards has taken a popular genre and put a fresh of coat DnD paint on it. While at its core, quests are the best way to accumulate victory points. But by playing intrigue cards and owning buildings, you can affect others resource collections which in turn can hinder their ability to collect victory points.

There isn’t a lot of luck to the game except the quest cards that are revealed at Watchcliff Inn. Sometimes you’ll miss the opportunity to claim a high reward quest. But if that happens, you can hinder that person that claimed that quest by trying to starve them of adventurers or playing mandatory quests on them.

Lords of Waterdeep is one of those games where your strategy may have to change as the game is played. So it’s be important to be able to adopt a new gameplan mid-game.

The components in this game are top notch. All the buildings and tokens are made of heavy stock cardboard and the cards have a textured surface to them which gives them a high quality feel. In addition, Wizards has provided a well designed storage tray to hold all the pieces once the game is done.

Gamer Geeks – This game was immediately liked by my gamer geek friends.There’s enough depth and strategy to keep a player interested. And due to the many intrigue, quest and building cards, there is a good replay value to it.

Parent Geeks – After just one game played with the family, they all were anxious to try it again. My wife, the casual gamer, had no problem understanding the rules and developing a strategy over the course of the game and even won our first game. As such, this is good game for the casual gamer and a great introduction to the worker placement genre.

Child Geeks – My three sons, ages 9, 12, and 15, had no problems grasping the rules and after one round the rulebook wasn’t referenced again. While my 9 year old understood the rules, he had a little trouble developing a decent strategy. I think that will develop over time. But child geeks below 8 may lose interest in the game over time. In addition, good reading comprehension is needed to understand the quests and intrigue cards.

My biggest knock on the game is that once we got several rounds in the game, the theme of the game started to be lost. Over time we stopped calling the adventurers rogues, wizards, fighters and clerics and instead called them black, purple, orange and white cubes. We also started to gloss over the quest flavor text and just started looking at the quest requirements and rewards.

But aside from that, I’m very pleased with this game. In the multiple games I’ve played, long after we finished we continued to talk about the game, the strategy, what to do in the future and when we were going to play again. For my family and gaming group, this game is going to have some staying power. Waterdeep, City of Splendors, is a city well worth visiting again and again.

 
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2
9
48 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Fun Theme in a Euro Game”

This was first exposure to a worker placement game, and I really enjoyed it! This may have had something to do with the simplicity of the mechanics in addition to how much I enjoy the D&D theme.

Game Components
As long as you don’t want to store this game in its side, the components and box design in this game are excellent. The cards all feel like solid quality card stock with a nice feel in your hand. The artwork is engaging with sufficient variety. The board and player mats all clearly delineate where everything is placed, which dramatically cuts down on messy table tops. I’m the type of person that likes for everything to be nice and neat on the table, and this game clearly accomplishes that. And when it’s time to put the game away, everything fits clearly and snuggly in the box. As long as you don’t store it on it’s side in which case everything is likely to get mixed up.

Mechanics
This is a simple worker placement game where you gather resources (wizards, clerics, warriors, rogues, and money) and use them to complete quests with a variety of awards including victory points, more resources, and sometimes recurring positive conditions. For people not familiar with Euro style games, this is a great introductory game although more experienced Euro gamers may find themselves getting bored with the simplicity of the mechanics.

Theme
This really is a Euro game with a little bit of a theme thrown on top. You are “shadowy” Lords of Waterdeep (hence the title) working to complete quests that will enable you to take control of the city with know other players knowing who you are playing as. This makes for a fun reveal at the end and some nice artwork, but the theme is a minor enough element that it’s easy to forget about while placing your workers.

General Game Play
Every turn you begin by placing an agent on any one of several spots on the board that each give you different resources, allow you to gain quest cards or intrigue cards, or to play intrigue cards. After you collect your resources/play your cards, you can then complete one quest (this simply involves paying the required resources) and collect any rewards. Everyone takes turns placing their agents until they have placed all available agents. Then the round ends and everyone collects their agents again. The game ends after the completion of 8 rounds. At that point, victory points are totaled to determine the winner. It’s nice to have a limit of 8 rounds for controlling game time.

Overall, I really enjoyed this game as an introduction to a worker placement game as well as the theme even if it wasn’t a major component of the game. I have also played it with both the minimum and maximum number of players and enjoyed it both ways.

 
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7
Advanced Grader
Novice Reviewer
Knight
9
48 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Pros, Cons and Catan Comparison”

Lots of people have already experienced being adventurers in D&D, where a rich noble hires you to take on quests that provide you with treasure and gold. Now what if you actually played the noble that hires the adventurers? You get Lords of Water Deep.

Note: This is not a D&D adventure game for those of you who were hoping for one.

Summary:
In this game, everyone represents a noble with agents. Your identity is secret to only you until the end of the game and your agents are used to do your bidding whether it be investing in buildings, recruiting adventurers, seeking quests, or even doing your dirty work (intrigue cards). Each player takes turns placing these agents around the city to help achieve their goals. These goals usually entail making buildings or completing quests of a certain type. To win, you need to have the most victory points by the end of the game. These victory points are “usually” given by quests and making buildings, but there are a few exceptions such as intrigue cards and some buildings can give you VP if your agents occupy them.

Pros
– Let’s start with the amazing box and layout. This is the most organized game to play and clean up that I have ever seen. Every slot is made for good fitting and easy removal. Plus when you play the game, the layout is exact to where you leave all your pieces and cards.
– This game is very dynamic. Your lord is random, so your strategy and objective change. There are buildings that are permanent on the board, but as players make other buildings, it gives you more options to utilize your agents with. The quests available are constantly rotating as well. Then just as you think you have everything, the intrigue cards can let gain supplies, attack players, and force lords to focus on annoying side quests.
– While this isn’t a D&D game, for D&D fans this game holds a lot of flavor text and lore within the cards. I will admit, I usually get straight to the point of my cards but it’s always there if you want to take the time to review them.

Cons
– The adventurers are represented by colored squares. I’ve read some reviews where people are upset about this. This doesn’t bother me as much but it’s worth mentioning since I’ve seen several bring it up (it is D&D afterall).
– There’s no interaction between lords, other than to thwart one another with intrigue cards.
– While the Instructions were very good for the most part, I did get confused on the sequence of turns. The instructions tell you that you can place one agent on your turn, but they don’t tell you that the actual turn/round isn’t over until all agents are placed. In a separate area of the booklet, it does tell you that all agents go back to the agent pool at the end of the turn. Very small issue, but still should have been included in the turn walk through.

Catan vs. Waterdeep

Let me be the first to admit that these probably shouldn’t be compared against each other, because they are different beasts in their own right. But both are Euro Games and Catan is one of the most famous. That being said, I feel that Catan has a good edge on Waterdeep when it comes to player interaction. Catan is a fun game, but the real meat of that game is the bartering with other players to get what you need. This forces others to be more social to achieve their goals.

As for Lords of Water Deep, I love the fact that this game is dynamic. The city evolves because of the buildings being made and quests are always changing, depending on the type of quest. Sometimes you need to raise an army and sometimes you need to include money with your adventurers. I will admit that I’m also a little bias towards the theme of this game. Yes you are still gathering “supplies” to win, but the D&D side of me enjoys knowing I’m recruiting adventurers to do my quests.

Overall Catan will always have a special place in my heart and I will continue playing it, but I feel that Lords of Waterdeep is a more fun and enjoyable Euro game. I was very impressed with it, and I would recommend it to anyone who like this type of game.

 
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5
The Gold Heart
I Am What I Am
Strategist
10
48 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“One of My New Favorites!”

Lords of Waterdeep Details:
No. of players: 2-5
Time to play: 45-60 min
Age:12+
Set-up: 5 minutes

Lords of Waterdeep Description:
Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game set in the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms. You are one of the rulers of the town Waterdeep and score victory points by accumulating adventurers to complete quests.

Lords of Waterdeep has a game board with buildings that allow you to add adventurers to your tavern, build more buildings, gather quests and play intrigue cards. On your turn you place on agent on an unoccupied building space and then you may complete a quest. You start the game with two to four agents based on the number of players, two quests and two intrigue cards.
Each quest card earns a reward and requires a certain number and type of adventurers to complete. There are four types of adventurers: clerics, fighters, rogues and wizards. Rewards usually consist of victory points and gold, but sometimes include intrigue cards or adventurers. Some quests are plot quests that grant you a bonus for the remainder of the game.
You also begin the game as a specific lord of Waterdeep. This card is kept secret and each lord grants you a bonus for completing specific quest types.
The game consist of eight rounds and the player with the most victory points wins.

Review of Lords of Waterdeep:
Lords of Waterdeep brings many classic worker placement mechanics together to create a great medium weight game. This game is very streamlined and plays quickly. Most games will take between 45 to 75 minutes regardless of the number of players.
Lords of Waterdeep looks fantastic and the components are of excellent quality. The box is unique and the interior tray is amazing. The tray has a place for organizing everything and all the components fit perfectly in the tray.
I really enjoy worker placement games and Lords of Waterdeep is one of the best I’ve played. It is not as complicated or deep as Agricola, but it is still a lot of fun. The unique scoring abilities of the lords keep things interesting. And trying to chain quests together, getting adventurers for your next quest by completing a different one, is great when you can pull it off.
The rules are well written and teaching the game is easy. The simplicity, depth and play time of Lords of Waterdeep guarantees it will hit your table often. Players new to gaming and non-gamers alike will enjoy Lords of Waterdeep. This is one of my new favorites.

 

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