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What is the Lords of Waterdeep about?

The Lords of Waterdeep isn’t your typical D&D game. While it takes place in the D&D universe, you and your gaming group take the roles of various Lords that are working to gain dominance by assigning agents to go out and hire adventurers to go off on various quests.

As part of assigning your agents, you can also (1) buy buildings that offer adventurers, gold, or other rewards, (2) play intrigue cards that will always benefit you in some way and may either benefit or hinder other players, (3) acquire additional quests for your faction. Each Lord has specific victory bonuses that are kept secret from other players, such as a Lord may gain extra victory points from completing any Arcane or Warfare quests.

The game is played over eight rounds and at the end of the eight rounds, the player with the highest victory points (VP) wins. VP is earned by completing quests, having adventurers in your tavern, having gold, and completing certain types of quests that are specific to your Lord.

Each quest will have a certain requirement in terms of the type of adventurers that are needed to complete it. As you play the game, you will notice that many of the quest cards make sense in terms of the type of adventurers they will need. A combat-heavy quest will need more fighters and rogues, whereas a quest that deals with cleansing of evil or magic may require more clerics or wizards. The art on the cards also looks fantastic and each one has some flavor text to add to the immersion.

What do I like about the game?

One of the things I really like about LoW is that it’s easy to learn and easy to teach to new players but there are so many subtle complexities that you never feel like you’re settling for a light game just to appease to the non-gamers that you’re trying to play with. This is, to me, the quintessential gateway game.

The complexities wonderfully open up to you and your gaming group the more you play. For example – do I pick up these high reward quests now that will require me to save up a ton of resources before I can cash in, or do I take quick quests that I can complete faster for smaller rewards but will give me extra points for Lord affinity at the end of the game? Do I use my Intrigue cards now for an early advantage, or wait to see who’s leading before assigning them with mandatory quests? Do I focus on using my gold to acquire buildings or do I hoard my gold to complete the bigger quests? There’s always a ton of options available to every player.

Also, the components are top-notch – excellent board, fantastic art, pieces, cards are nice and thick, and everything just oozes of the overall theme. Storage in the box is also excellent and the rulebook has a storage diagram to help with it.

Closing comments

Overall, this game is brilliant. I have been getting my wife into board games and this and King of Tokyo are the two games I have been using to win her over. If you need additional proof as to how awesome this game is, check out Wil Wheaton’s Table Top episode on this game. I was sold after watching it. I highly recommend getting this game if you like a non-traditional fantasy theme with some truly engaging resource management thrown into the mix.

P.S: If you want to throw in some additional atmosphere, I recommend playing some irish pub music in the background while you play (the World of Warcraft Tavern music soundtrack is a good option too). Also, if you get this game, I highly, HIGHLY recommend getting the expansion game Scoundrels of Skullport, as it adds a whole new level of awesomeness to an already awesome game, by adding in some really crazy quests, new lords, new buildings and areas, an additional faction and a Corruption track (basically you get these quests or buildings with really good early rewards, but if you choose to undertake them, your player gets corrupt and as more players get corrupted, the overall corruption level serves as negative victory points at the end of the game. Fantastic!).

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