Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Good 'Lord!' : "Lords of Waterdeep"

After we had such a blast playing Lords of Waterdeep at Hal-Con, we really wanted to revisit the game as soon as possible while it was still fresh in our collective brains.  A few weeks ago Andrew, Chad and I had our chance to do battle again for supremacy over the legendary Dungeons & Dragons "Forgotten Realms" city.  The resulting clash may very well be the reason why the word "epic" was invented.

To give the following blow-by-blow session report a bit of context, I highly recommend that you check out this super-slick instructional video handily provided by the fine folks over at Wizards:


And if you're one of those weirdos who enjoy reading rule books for games that you don't even own, then you could do worse then clicking on this link.  


Andrew...Red Sashes
Chad...Knights of the Shield
Me...City Guard

Round One

I hastily dispatched an Agent to Waterdeep Harbour to play "Call in a Favor", which allowed me to retain the First Player Token and hire a lone Wizard.  Andrew toddled off to Aurora's Realm's Shop to collect four Gold.  Chad followed my lead, sending his first Agent to Waterdeep Harbor to play "Lack of Faith" and score four Victory Points!  

My second Agent ventured off to the Field of Triumph and came back to my tavern with two new Fighters in tow.  Andrew went down to Waterdeep Harbor and played "Arcane Mishap", which jacked my brand new Wizard and earned him a misbegotten Intrigue Card.  Asshole!  One of Chad's agents wandered off to Blackstaff Tower to collect a considerably better-timed Wizard.

On my next turn, I sent an Agent off to the Builder's Hall to construct the House of Wonder for four Gold.  Andrew's Agent popped into the Grinning Lion to be the meat in a Rogue sammich.  Even before the paint had a chance to dry on my newly-minted Wonder House, Chad ducked under the dedication tape and paid me two Gold for the privilege of scoring a similar count of Clerics.  

Round Two     

Two more Fighters were persuaded to join my cause after my first Agent visited Waterdeep Harbor and played "Ambush".  Andrew also retained a pair of scrappers via the Field of Triumph.  Chad dispatched one of his minions to Aurora's Realm's Shop to procure four Gold.  

Looking to become my own best customer, I popped into the House of Wonder and lured a pair of Wizards back to my Tavern.  Andrew put an Agent to work in the Builder's Hall, paying four Gold for the Jester's Court.  After that he turned in one Fighter, one Rogue and one Cleric to complete the "Lure Artisans of Mirabar" Quest, netting four Victory Points and a bonus building (The Spires of Morning).  Chad's Agent took a stroll down to Waterdeep Harbor to orchestrate a "Change of Plans", which prompted a rash of discards.

A quick trip to the Jester's Court earned me a foursome of Rogues who were anxious to "Retrieve Ancient Artifacts" and earn me eleven big Victory Points and four Gold!  Andrew strolled along Waterdeep Harbor and sparked a "Bidding War" by putting some new Quests into circulation.  To keep the options flowing, Chad checked into the Cliffwatch Inn and dumped the current assortment of Quests in lieu of four new ones!  He also managed to "Heal Fallen Gray Hand Soldiers" for six Victory Points.

Round Three   

I nipped down to the Cliffwatch Inn to pick up some new Quest and Intrigue Cards.  Andrew's first Agent swaggered into the Grinning Lion to re-stock his supply of Rogues.  After his Agent entered the Spires of the Morning, Chad acquired the valuable wisdom of several priests.

Badly in need of coinage, one of my Agents managed to wring four Gold out of Aurora.  With re-enforcements levied from the Field of Triumph, Andrew's minions successfully "Spied on the Lighthouse" for six Victory Points.  After a refreshing dip in Waterdeep Harbour, Chad's Agent conjured up four Victory points by "Training Bladesingers".

Wanting to stay on the vanguard of real estate acquisition, I contracted the Builder's Hall to construct Fetlock Court.  After a few casuals at The Grinning Lion, Andrew gained the liquid courage required to "Fence Goods for the Duke of Darkness" and score six Veeps.  Craving more options, Chad's henchmen marched into the Cliffwatch Inn and picked up a new Quest and two Gold to boot.

Round Four 

Unable to to secure a restraining order against myself, I visited Fetlock Court to hire two Fighters and a Wizard.  Likening the current allotment off Quests to the contents of a toilet, Andrew flushed the floaters and took his pick of four considerably more palatable options.  Meanwhile, Chad's Agent pulled a Mike Holmes and constructed the cozy-sounding Stone House.

So cozy, in fact, that I immediately rented a room and inherited a metric shit-ton of Gold in the process.  Andrew paid a visit to my Fetlock Court to retain two Fighters and a Wizard, netting me a free mage in the process.  Still discontent with his current allotment of schemes, Chad dispatched an Agent to Cliffwatch Inn for a new Quest and two Gold.

"Defeat Uprising" gave me eleven Victory Points after my third Agent arrived at the House of Wonder.  Seeking more attractive options, Andrew picked up some new Quest and Intrigue Cards at Cliffwatch Inn.  Next, Chad rushed down to the Jester's Court to snap up a quadrilogy of Rogues.

Round Five  

Annoyed by the dearth of appropriate Quests, my Agent at Cliffwatch Inn rebooted them all.  Andrew took the mercenary route, collecting four Gold from Aurora's Realms.  Chad sent his first Agent to the Builders Hall for help and constructed his House of Good Spirits exactly to specification.  

The six Gold sitting now on the Stone House proved irresistible to me.  Moments later my hirelings "Exposed The Red Wizards' Spies", netting me twenty huge Victory Points!  From the Spires of the Morning, Andrew's Agent wrangled up an entire cathedral of Clerics who "Impersonated Adarbrent Noble" for eighteen Victory Points!  Not to be outclassed, Chad's henchman went to Cliffwatch Inn to get some fresh Quest and Intrigue Cards.  As if this wasn't enough, a mob of his Adventurers successfully "Sealed The Gate To Cyric's Realm" for twenty Victory Points!

Disheartened by my opponent's relentless pace, I sent an Agent to Cliffwatch Inn to ferret out some new plans.  After dispatching an Agent to Winterdeep Harbor, Andrew played an Intrigue Card which allowed him to raid the Stone House for six Gold.  Chad's Agent joined him there, giving him the opportunity to play "Good Faith" and rustle up a pair of vicars. 

My fourth Agent took a dart down to Fetlock Court to recruit two Fighters and a Wizard.  Andrew snagged the equivalent of Xena and Gabrielle from The House of Good Spirits.  Not long after, Chad retained two Van Helsing-types on the Field of Triumph, who went on to "Eliminate a Vampire Coven" for 11 Victory Points!  

Round Six    

I sent my first Agent merrily skipping along to the Jester's Court, which had become a veritable den of thieves in the interim.  Revealing that they may have a drinking problem (as well as a fetish for burglars), Andrew's minions continued to frequent the Grinning Lion.  This also allowed him to "Ally With House Thann" for a truly obscene twenty-five Victory Points!  By Drizzt's Ebony Wang, that's a lotta cheddar for one Quest!

Andrew's next play saw an Agent off to Castle Waterdeep for an Intrigue Card and the First Player Token.  Chad found Aurora's Realms Shop at the end of a rainbow and scored a pot o' Gold.  Andrew also redeployed his Agent to Cliffwatch Inn to pimp his Quests and snag two Gold coins.

Chad then sent one of his drones down to the Builder's Hall to construct the Helmstar Warehouse for three Gold.  Meanwhile, I ordered one of my Agents to go down to the House of Wonder to seek council from a pair of priests.  Andrew hit the jackpot when he sent a representative to the Stone House, hauling in a seven coins.  Looking to shake things up, Chad sent one of his gofers to the Cliffside Inn to generate a new spread of Quests and draw an Intrigue Card.

One of my Agents convinced a pair of Fighters and one Wizard to join my cause in Fetlock Court.  My newly assembled motley bad of Adventurers then went off to "Confront The Xanathar" for another twenty big Victory Points.  After hitting the Field of Triumph, Andrew's peons "Established A New Merchant Guild" for eight Victory Points!  Chad "Requested Assistance" from the longshoremen at Waterdeep Harbour, who provided him with two Fighters.

Since Chad was clearly outpacing us, I dispatched an Agent to Waterdeep Harbor and played a Mandatory Quest on him, hoping to bleed off some of his critical resources and slow him down a bit.  Unfortunately this was like trying to stop a charging rhino with a Popsicle stick and a Styrofoam plate.  All Chad needed to do was send one of his underlings to the House of Wonders, hire the appropriate staff and then swat it aside during his next turn.

I toddled off to Castle Waterdeep to capture the First Player token and draw an Intrigue card.  For their bonus plays, Chad patronized his own Helmstar Warehouse for two Rogues and two Gold while Andrew had to settle for a twin-cutpurse consolation prize via his own Jester's Court.

Round Seven

I started this new round by sending an agent to Cliffwatch Inn to procure a desperately-needed Quest and some cash monies.  Andrew followed suit but ended up with a new Quest and an Intrigue Card.  Chad hit the Builders Hall and paid four Gold to construct the Palace of Waterdeep.

My Agent hit Waterdeep Harbour in order to play "Sample Wares", allowing me to use the still-formative Tower of the Order to score two Wizards.  Andrew sent one of his goons to the House of Good Spirits to secure the two bodies required to "Send Aid to the Harpers" for fifteen Victory Points.  Chad dispatched an emissary to the House of Wonders, finding precisely who he needed to "Deliver an Ultimatum" for eleven Victory Points.

In order to score another Intrigue Card and wrestle back the initiative for next round, I sent an Agent to Castle Waterdeep.  Andrew picked up two burly types in the Field of Triumph.  After Clerics from the Spires of the Morning helped him "Defend the Tower of Luck", Chad gained the ability to cherry-pick his hirelings from there on in; a truly clutch ability.

During our Agent Re-assignments, I went to Blackstaff Tower to beg a Wizard for his table scraps, Andrew visited Fetlock Court for two Fighters and a Wizard and Chad re-set all of the Quests from the comfort of the penthouse suite in Cliffwatch Inn.

Round Eight

My first Agent took a trip to the Jester's Court to acquire the services of some Rogues who promptly "Infiltrated Halaster's Circle" for a crazy 25 Victory Points!  Andrew continued to keep pace, "Raiding an Orc Stronghold" for eight Victory Points thanks to a pair of ballsy pickpockets sourced from the Helmstar Warehouse.  Meanwhile, Chad's Agent returned to the Cliffwatch Inn for a new Quest and Intrigue Card.

Some divine re-enforcements procured from the House of Wonder helped me "Expose Cult Corruption" and score four Victory Points.  Lured by the promise of eight Gold, Andrew ventured off to the Stone House.  After strolling down to Waterdeep Harbour, Chad exacted a measure of revenge on me by playing the obligatory "Stamp Out Cultists".

In reaction, I was forced to visit my own Fetlock Court, hire two Fighters and one Wizard and complete the Mandatory Quest earning a whopping two Victory Points for my trouble.  Knowing that Chad was officially THE RUNAWAY LEADER™, Andrew visited the Harbor to saddle Chad with a Mandatory Quest called "Repel Drow Invaders".  Nonplussed, Chad nipped into the House of Good Spirits, collected precisely what he needed and then drilled this slow-pitch Quest into the cheap seats for two Victory Points.

In a Hail Mary effort to weasel as many last minute Victory Points as possible, I sent my last Agent to the Builder Hall to construct the Tower of the Order and claim a small platoon of Wizards.  Andrew's Agent barged into the Grinning Lion for a dwarven ale and two Gold.  Chad set off to the House of Wonder, gathered up the human resources required to "Discover The Hidden Temple Of Lolth" and then collected a last-minute windfall of ten Victory Points!

For our final Agent Re-assignments, I sent a minion to the Field of Triumph for two Fighters while Andrew went into Aurora's place for four Gold.

And with that, the match was over, leaving us to tally up the end-game scoring...






Andrew's Lord was revealed to be Durnan the Wanderer...28 points
Chad Lord turned out to be Piergeiron the Paladinson...36 points
My Lord Card was Khelben Arunsun...20 points


As for my review, my comments from the Hal-Con post still stand:

This game was a genuine revelation.  Much in the same way that Castle Ravenloft stripped dungeon crawls down to the bare bones, Lords of Waterdeep manages take deep worker-placement Euro-fare like Agricola, Stone Age and Pillars of the Earth and distill it down into a completely immersive, compulsively playable hour long experience.

The components for the game are awesome.  The sheer volume of artwork used on the Intrigue and Quest Cards is impressive.  The building tiles and counters are made of a heavy-gauge cardboard and actually feel substantial.  The game board is gorgeously illustrated and the old-world style map is a joy to behold.  Even the game box storage tray represents a quantum leap in design innovation!  

Is the theme tacked on?  A bit.  Sorry, but whenever I turn in an allotment of tiny colored wooden blocks, I really don't feel as if I'm completing a 'Quest'.  The funny thing is, the flavor of the game would probably have been improved greatly with the inclusion of plastic figures or accurate meeples to represent Agents and Adventurers.  In fact, the way it is now, you could make a pretty lethal drinking by taking a shot every time someone refers to a Cleric, Fighter, Wizard or Rogue by their respective cube color. 

Nevertheless, I absolutely loved this game and it's gone right up on my 'wish list.'  

I will add that I enjoyed my second play of the game just as much as the first, if not a bit more.  I like how new strategies continued to emerge.  For example, I've learned the importance of investing in buildings that you know your opponents will patronize and the value of a well timed Intrigue Card play / Agent Re-assignment.

Honestly, I have no idea how well Lords of Waterdeep will hold up to multiple plays.  So far, I really can't detect any glaringly obvious issues with the game and the rules are all clear, concise and easy to digest.  In fact, I'm desperately anxious to tackle it again, if only to apply what I've learned thus far and experiment with new tactics.  

Lords of Waterdeep handily scores six pips out of six.   


Looking to 'Lord' your mad skillz over your friends?  Click on the link below to order Lords of Waterdeep from Amazon.com and help support the blog!        



  1. There are some custom meeples for the games that were created by an ambitious BGG'er. http://www.fungamescafe.com/fgcIndex.php?command=showgame&gameId=1502

    A bit pricey but they do actually help with the theme of the game. I played a copy that had them the other day at BGG.CON and they are quite cool. We made a point to always say cleric, fighter etc and it's easier with these guys.

  2. Those look pretty cool!

    I just wish that certain games came complete with these things in the first place instead of having to pimp out your copy later. Buying custom components for "Agricola", for example, was a must for me.

    Oh, well, I guess it helps support the after-market meeple trade!