Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Infiltration": It Sneaks Up On You

Being a huge fan of all things cyberpunk, Mike picked up a copy of Infiltration at Hal-Con this year.  Needless to say, there wasn't much doubt as to what Mike was gonna pick when his game turn rolled around last Wednesday night.


Before we dive into the session report, here's Fantasy Flight's elevator pitch for the game:

"It is the future, and beneath the flickering glow of the sprawling New Angeles skyline, immense corporations seek every advantage in the burgeoning field of synthetic humanoid technology. On the brink of a revolutionary innovation, CyberSolutions Inc. is poised to become the next global powerhouse, threatening the profits of well-established conglomerates Haas-Bioroid and Jinteki – but unfortunately for CyberSolutions, security at their New Angeles branch has just been compromised.

"Set in the dystopian future of
Android, Infiltration is a tense card game of futuristic larceny in which two to six players take the roles of thieves, competing to steal valuable secrets from a highly secured corporate facility.

"The most vital information lies deep within the complex, but each step inward takes you farther from escape. Worse yet, corporate mercenaries are closing in! How long will you push your luck as you avoid security patrols, surpass rival thieves, and try to download the most data before the building is locked down?
"

Still looking to hack into the rules mainframe?  You can take the red pill by clicking on the following link

The Roles

Andrew...John "Animal" McEvoy - The Honey Badger
Chad...Gabriel Correa Santiago - Nerd Prototype
Me...Hugo Cash - Bearded Fat Man
Mike...Mr. White - Evil Obama

GAME ONE

We all started in the entrance to the complex, which turned out to be the Locker Room.


In a protest against THE MAN, Mike set off a Semtex Charge in the Executive Meeting Room (destroying all the Tech Locks in the adjacent Hazmat Depot and the Infirmary).  After the dust settled,  I eventually joined him there.  Andrew elbowed past us and probed deeper into the facility, eventually locating the Infirmary.  Chad decided to lower the property values by hanging out in the Locker Room for awhile.


In addition to chain-smoking, John "Animal" McEvoy's other hobby appeared to be throwing rocks at hornet's nests.  Here he is pissing off Officer Ballbuster in the Security Station:


Meanwhile, Chad broke the Hazmat Depot's Tech Lock, springing six Data files.  Lured by all that cheddar, I decided to use my Qianju PT mobility scooter to backtrack to the Depot.  Unfortunately, Chad also released some kind of weird Sludge thing into the room which glued us like pennies to a theater floor.  Meanwhile, Mike casually strolled around and picked up Meeting Room Data Files like E.T. yoinking Reese's Pieces.


Then Mike was kind enough to come to Andrew's aid, blowing Officer Dickwad away with his unregistered Gauss Pistol.  Fight the power!  


Now free to move, Andrew located the Secret Brain Scan Station via the Halo Conference Room.  This gave him exclusive access to eight big Data Files as well as the ability to Interface with the room and cherry pick from the Item Deck.  I can't be one-hundred percent positive, but I'm pretty sure that Andrew touched himself inappropriately at that moment.











































                                                                                           
Unfortunately Andrew's secret transit ramped up the already-inflated Proximity Dial by 10 points.  Things got even more frantic after I played "Secretaries" for the option to either increase or decrease the alarm dial by two points.  Naturally I opted for the former just because I wanted to "see what happens".  This would prove to be an unpopular decision.         

Meanwhile, Mike kept running around, decapitated chicken-style, picking up Data Files like Easter eggs.  As Chad began to wring the last vestiges of value out of the Security Station, I played Sub-Dermal Data Drive and mowed his digital lawn.  I'm pretty sure that he appreciated the assistance!  


Oblivious to how quickly the Proximity Dial was going up (and apparently suffering from a case of the "greedies"), Chad and I kept pressing our luck in an effort to snatch up the last of Mike's table scraps.  Mike was the first to read the writing on the wall and began hauling ass back to the Entry Room.  After languishing in the Brain Scan Station for w-a-a-a-a-y too long, Andrew realized that he was proper fucked, so he decided to spend the rest of his limited time exploring the upper floor.  In his travels he stumbled upon the Neural Interface Workshop, which drove the Alarm Dial up by another two points.  To make amends he quickly broke the room's Tech Lock and dropped it back down to four again, but this was akin to patching up a hull rupture on the space shuttle with masking tape.


With the Alarm Dial now set at four, we knew that we were gonna run out of time really friggin' fast.  Mike and I tried to make a mad dash for the exit while Chad and Andrew made peace with their maker.  


The only person vaguely close to the exit was Mike, but even he got mired in the persistent Sludge of the Hazmat Depot.  Ignoring the gravy in his veins, Hugo strapped on a pair of "Frictionless Slippers" and frantically skated towards the Locker Room.  Cool as musicians aboard the Titanic, Chad and Andrew serenely explored the top floor, revealing the VP's Office and professional whistle blower Leah Bailey, who promptly ran screaming for the exit.


In a move likely designed to punish me for fucking with the Alarm Dial, Mike played "Sub-Sonic Emitter", driving me back a room and negating the headway I'd achieved with my "Slippers".  I'm pretty sure that if a quick poll was taken around the table, everyone would have said that no court in the land would have convicted him for this petty but justifiable act of revenge.


Even though none of us technically got out of the facility, Chad and Andrew still managed to map the entire upper floor, Mike got all the way back to the Locker Room and I got "Sludged" in the Hazmat Depot.  Everybody's happy, right?  Right?  No?

Man, I am such a tool.  

During the game, Andrew had collected 27 Data Files, Chad and I were tied with 14 and Mike had scored 6.  Pity that this fact is completely and utterly moot.  


Since Game One only took about an hour or so to play, we quickly reset things and had another crack at it.  Duly warned about the snowball-rolling-downhill-effect of an Alarm-inflated Proximity Dial, we tried to play it a bit more conservative this time.

Everybody except for Andrew, of course.

GAME TWO

The Brain Mapping Lab served as our communal Entry Room, but it turned out to be occupied by the rogue data evacuee Tyrone Kent.  Even though he would have harmlessly moved off the board on the next turn, I decided to blow him away with a Flechette Pistol just for shits and / or giggles.

    
Mike and Andrew picked up some Data Files in the Research Admin Office.  In addition to cranking up the Alarm Dial, their discovery also revealed a path to the Secret Room.  Chad bypassed all of this to investigate the Showroom where he pondered the benefits of switching on the CSX-13 drone.  After reading the NPC's uber-violent text, we quickly came to the conclusion that this robot has the exact same disposition as the Killbots in Chopping Mall.  Meanwhile, I decided to Interface with the Brain Scanning Lab to try and steal Data Files from Mike and Andrew which was a dog dumb idea since they didn't fucking have any!  And with that, I was off to a brilliant start!


Mike surged ahead and discovered the Motion Performance Testing Area.  After helping himself to some of Data Files there, he performed an Interface Action and propelled himself three rooms ahead to the Research Station.  Unfortunately this resulted in a three point bump in the Alarm Dial.  Meanwhile, Chad and Andrew decided to play rock, paper, scissors for the remaining Data in the Testing Area while I stumbled into the Research Admin Office and soaked up the few remaining Data Files there.

   
It was at this point when I began to wonder why no one else had opted to use the Admin Officer's entrance to the Secret Room.  Did they know something about it that I didn't?  In the end I decided to throw caution to the wind and squeezed my fat bloated carcass into the Secret Prototype Lab.  


Meanwhile, Chad opted to linger back at the Showroom to unlock and then plunder a few stray Data Files.  Andrew chose not to use the Testing Area's turbo option, choosing to explore the facility the old-fashioned way.  Although he wisely kept that pesky Hazmat Room Sludge contained, his disappointment was palpable after leaving behind some Data Files in lieu of uncovering the boring ol' Locker Room.  Finally, Mike rushed through the upper floor, first revealing the Chassis Assembly Line (cranking the Alarm Dial up to an ungodly seven in the process!) and then stumbling into the Data File-laden Server Farm!


Without any rivals to contest me, I began the slow, methodical process of draining the Prototype Lab of every single Data File in there.  When it came time to decide whether or not I should Interface the Lab for a Prototype I was immediately torn.  Even though my escape route (via the Research Admin Office) was only two spaces away from the exit, I could also see that the Proximity Dial was accelerating very quickly.  Mercifully, Mike was courteous enough to pop into the Transformer Hub and decrease the Proximity Dial by ten.  This gave be just enough incentive to stick around for one final turn, score a Prototype Card for ten more points and then waddle my ass outta there.

Meanwhile, Chad gambled that the rest of us would get stuck inside the complex and got out while he could, taking eight Data Files with him.  Taking the opposite approach, John "Animal" McEvoy took off all his clothes and started rolling around naked in the Server Room's Vault o' Data.  Just like Honey Badger, "Animal" don't care.  "Animal" don't give a shit.

Elsewhere, Mr. White finally managed to reach the top floor window which was revealed as the Computer Lab.  En route, he poked around in the Prototype Storage room and inadvertently tripped the Alarm Dial up by one.


Laden down with my spoils, I wheezed towards the exit and eventually joined Chad outside for a smoke.


With his escape route secured, "Magic" Mike spent his last few turns hastily stuffing some last-minute Data Files into his pants.  The accelerated Proximity Clock pretty much signaled the death knell for Andrew but, as previously mentioned, like a certain mustelid native to Africa not a single fuck was given.  He just kept sucking up Data Files like King Cobra blood.


With the Proximity Clock now at ninety freakin' seven, Mike jumped out of the second story window (presumably landing in a dumpster).  Seconds later a final Security Phase roll of "6" put the clock over the top and ended the match.  Even while he was being clubbed to death by goons armed with truncheons, Andrew kept slurping up Data Files like Mellivora Capensis chowing down on a hive full of bee larvae.

  
FINAL SCORES

Me...35
Mike...24
Chad...8
Andrew...Arrested and presumably sodomized daily in prison
  
***

Infiltration turned out to be a surprise hit.  It takes the "press your luck" mechanic of an Incan Gold and marries it with a create-your-own-map-with-random-cards-function of Elder Sign.  The components are great, the rules are crystal clear and the multitude of Item Cards and Room options really boosts the theme and the sense of adventure.  The ingenious Proximity / Alarm Clock countdown mechanism also makes for an intense and frantic end game.  

The only demerit I can think of is that the characters don't have any innate special abilities to set them apart from one another.  Sure, you can pimp 'em out with the optional "Specialist" equipment but it really would have been cool to give each character a unique skill.

Granted, designer Donald X. Vaccarino hasn't created a completely new genre of game here like he did with Dominion.  Instead he's took some appropriate pre-existing mechanics, tweaked them and ended up serving the game's theme very well.  Overall, Infiltration isn't earth-shatteringly awesome but it certainly does its job very well.    

Infiltration scores four pips out of six!   



***

Wanna have a bash at breaking the data bank?  Click on the link below to purchase Infiltration from Amazon and help support the blog!       
      

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Boot To The Head: "Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition"

I was kinda pissed that I didn't get a chance to play Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition when Andrew ran it at Hal-Con this year.  But I got my chance during Game Night a few weeks ago after we finished Lords of Waterdeep in just over an hour, giving us plenty of time to break it out.


Here the description of the game right from the Bad Horse's mouth:

"Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative, fixed-deck card game with a comic book flavor. Each player plays as one of 10 heroes, against one of 4 villains, and the battle takes place in one of 4 different dynamic environments.

"Each player, after selecting one of the heroes, plays a deck of 40 cards against the villain and environment decks, which 'play themselves', requiring the players to put the top card of the appropriate deck into play on the villain and environment turns. On each player's turn, they may play a card from their hand, use a power printed on one of their cards in play, and draw a card from their deck. Each round starts with the villain turn, continues clockwise around the table, then concludes with the environment turn. Each villain has various advantages, such as starting with certain cards in play, as specified by the villain character card. Play continues until the heroes reduce the villain to 0 or fewer HP, or until the villain defeats the heroes, either via a win condition or by reducing all the heroes to 0 or fewer HP.


"This re-release of Sentinels of the Multiverse comes in a larger box with space for the cards from the core game as well as the Rook City and Infernal Relics expansions. Besides the full set of dividers cards, HP tokens, modifier tokens, and improved artwork throughout the game, it also includes updated card rules to fix a few mechanics from the original print run, as well as to include the (H) mechanic introduced in the Rook City expansion, which balances the game for 3-5 players."

If that left you feeling more confused then Spider-Man after a scrap with Mysterio, check out this handy gameplay walkthrough.

THE HEROES
Andrew...Bunker
Chad...Haka

THE VILLAIN

THE BATTLEGROUND

***

ROUND ONE

"Terraforming" came out during Omnitron's first Villain Turn, which would have flushed all of our existing Environment Cards.  Since we didn't have any in play, we just ignored it and moved on.

Bunker received an "Ammo Drop", Haka got his "Taiaha" weapon and The Wraith scored a "Micro Targeting Computer".

During the Environment Turn, "Rooftop Combat" made battle even more lethal, adding +1 to all damage.  
  
ROUND TWO

Omnitron probed our weaknesses with an "Interpolation Beam".  

Seeing the threat inherent in this, Bunker activated his "Auxiliary Power Source" and dealt four damage to the Beam, destroying it.  With the way now clear, Haka used "Dominion" to deal three damage directly to Omni.  Then the Wraith piled on, using "Razor Ordinance" to blast the digital villain with six whopping points of damage.  

ROUND THREE        
  
Right from the start of the round, the Heroes were forced to contend with an "Electro-Magnetic Railgun".  

Moments later, the first of several "585 Repair Droids" rolled off Omnitron's assembly line.  After Bunker co-ordinated another "Ammo Drop", Haka used his "Taiaha" to destroy the newly-minted "Drone" and drop an "Elbow Smash" on Omnitron.  After the wily Wraith produced a "Utility Belt" for her "Impromptu Invention", she blasted Omni right in the hard drive for six points of damage.

The battleground then got considerably more complicated after a "Plummeting Monorail" was thrown into the mix!


ROUND FOUR     

An "Electropulse Explosive" quickly replaced the destroyed "Railgun" as a new threat.  


Bunker used his "Gatling Gun" to deal two damage to it while Haka performed a "Ground Pound" to distribute three damage to both the "Explosive" and Omni.  The Wraith suddenly produced "Throwing Knives" from out of nowhere and spread three more damage around to each enemy, taking out the "Repair Drone".
















Finally, "Impending Casualty" came out as a new Environmental effect.  

ROUND FIVE    

During the Villain Phase, Omnitron produced a nasty-looking "583 Assault Drone" as well as a brand, spankin' new "585 Repair Drone".  

The Hero team kept piling on the hurt.  After engaging his "Maintenance Unit" to heal up a bit, Bunker used combined fire from his "Gatling Gun" and "Flak Cannon" to deal two damage to the "Electropulse Explosive".  Feeling decidedly surrounded, Haka went on a one-shot "Rampage", inflicting a whopping five points of pain to every enemy target.  He immediately followed this up by nailing Omni right in the monitor for three points of damage with his "Taiaha".  From her "Combat Stance",  The Wraith clobbered the "Plummeting Monorail" for five points of damage. 

Another "Impending Casualty" threatened to undermine the Hero's efforts while the "Plummeting Monorail" forced us consider a few heart-rending discards.  In my guise as The Wraith, I had no issue chucking out a spare "Targeting Computer" if it would help turf the clearly-dangerous "Monorail". 

ROUND SIX

Omnitron's next turn had to be the TSN turning point of the entire game.  With the simple appearance of "Tech Singularity", Bunker was forced to turf three cards and take six damage as a result.  The equipment-heavy Wraith also got nailed for four points of damage, even after her Stealth was exhausted.  Haka's Taiaha also vanished, inflicting two add-insult-to-injury points of damage.  To make things worse, Omni also squeezed out another damned "585 Repair Drone".  And then, to put a turd-shaped cherry on top of this shit sundae, Omnitron developed an "Adaptive Plating Subroutine" for itself.


This completely and irredeemably threw the Heroes off of their game.  Bunker tried to begin the healing process by re-deploying a "Gatling Gun".  Haka's "Savage Mana" inched him towards a modicum of recovery.  He then played "Crush" on the Drone, which The Wraith finished off with a surgical "Throat Jab".  How this could possibly damage a freakin' robot, I have no idea.  

The "Plummeting Monorail" made its presence felt, dealing a vicious five damage to both Omni and Haka.  

ROUND SEVEN  

As if to underscore just how much of a prick he (she?  it?) is, Omnitron dropped another "Adaptive Plating Subroutine" and "Electro-Magnetic Railgun".


Bunker's "Maintenance Unit" helped him regain one Health, which was the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound.  Haka leveled a "Crush" attack, desperately trying to eliminate the "Monorail".  Feeling pretty beat up, The Wraith played "Suture Self" to regain three Hit Points.  Meanwhile, Haka's "Ground Pound" managed to prevent the "Monorail's" impending damage.















Finally the Heroes got some positive news as "Police Back-Up" arrived during the Environment Turn!     

ROUND EIGHT

Omnitron kept on comin', ladling on another "Assault Drone" and fixing our Heroes with an "Interpolation Beam".

Meanwhile, our Heroes did what they could to stem the tsunami of foes.  Bunker leveled one of Omni's minions with a three-point blast from his "Gatling Gun".  He also used a one-shot effect to pull out a "Flak Cannon" and deal three more damage to the "Monorail".  Haka underwent a "Vitality Surge" to get two Hit Points back and then polished off the damaged "Drone".  Finally getting back up to speed, The Wraith served up three Projectile Damage to the "Monorail" via "Razor Ordinance".

After the "Police Backup" dealt one point of damage on Omnitron, "Paparazzi Arrived on the Scene", further complicating things for the Heroes.  

ROUND NINE   

Omni's "Electro-Magnetic Railgun" cut loose, delivering two damage to Haka and The Wraith.  The bad news just kept coming as "Sedative Flechettes" peppered every Hero with four points of damage, forcing Haka to turf both "Dominion" and "Savage Mana".  

The Heroes tried their best to counter-attack.  Bunker added "Heavy Plating" for defense and then blasted Omnitron for two points of damage with his "Gatling Gun".  The native New Zealander conjured up his eponymous "Haka of Shielding", allowing him to discard two cards in order to regain four Hit Points.  Targeting Omnitron's predominate Adam's apple (?), The Wraith delivered a well-placed "Throat Jab" (!) to the maniacal super-computer.

During the Environment Turn, the Heroes all discarded a card to shoo away the "Paparazzi".  As a  bonus, more "Police Backup" arrived to aid the Heroes!

ROUND TEN   

Refreshed after getting two Hit Points back from a "Repair Drone", Omnitron celebrated by producing a newborn "Assault Drone".  

Bunker entered "Turret Mode" and got two Hit Points back from his "Maintenance Unit".  Somewhat fortified, he blasted away at the "Repair Drone" with his "Flak Cannon".  Haka joined in with "Ta Moko" and a two-point "Ground Pound".  Meanwhile, the Wraith contributed three points of damage via "Razor Ordinance".

A "Traffic Pile-Up" occurred during the Environment Turn while the double "Police Back Up" inflicted two damage on Omnitron.  


***  
But then, all of a sudden, something very unusual happened.  I stopped taking notes on the game because I realized that I was bored.  Really friggin' bored.


I don't know if was because we'd just come off playing the stellar, innovative, elegant Lords of Waterdeep, but Sentinels of the Multiverse left me completely cold.  After playing the former title and experiencing virtually no breakdowns in the action, Sentinels quickly wore out its welcome as we paused incessantly to debate how a card or rule should be interpreted.   


I know that co-operative games don't often provide a huge wealth of options from turn to turn, but I really felt hamstrung while playing Sentinels.  In fact, every choice I made was about as deep as deciding to press the fire button while battling an end boss in Smash T.V.


Sadly, there's no narrative or motivation here.  I was hoping for missions and objectives.  I was hoping to battle minions while working our way up to a final confrontation with THE BIG BAD.  Instead, after all of the characters are laid out in what passes for an "Environment", they just start bashing each other over the heads with different types of clubs.  Sorry, but that's not particularly complicated nor is it  very interesting to me.    


Admittedly there is some notable distinction amongst the characters: Bunker feels like Iron Man, The Wraith plays like Batgirl and Haka is, I dunno, like who?  Thunderbird, I guess?  But this just made me pine for the real McCoys instead of a bunch of generic facsimiles.  The cutesy artwork also did very little for me and failed to lend the game any sort of gravitas.


So how did the game end?  Well, how do you think it ended?!?!  We lost!  In fact, we never quite recovered our momentum after that "Tech Singularity" card wiped out our collective tableaus.  Although, in the end, we did manage to make the game fairly close, our Hit Point hemorrhaging never stopped.  As the game's final result became abundantly clear, the three of us kept getting more and more distracted.  I, for one, became a lot more interested in watching Mike and Dean finish up their game of Space Hulk then dealing with our own inevitable defeat.
  

I need to play Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition one more time before I pass final judgement on it, but I have to admit: my first impression ain't very good.  In fact, it kinda reminded me of a justifiably defunct CCG from the late Nineties.     


As it stands right now for me, the game scores three pips our of six.  



Diggin' the straight-up head-bashery?  Click on the link below to order Sentinels of the Multiverse: Enhanced Edition from Amazon.com and help support the blog!         

    

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.  

AGENT ASSIGNMENTS

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...

IN-TAVERN VICTORY POINTS
Andrew...2
Chad...14
Me...5

IN-TAVERN GOLD
            
Andrew...12
Chad...4
Me...6

IN-TAVERN ADVENTURERS

Andrew...4
Chad...3
Me...4

LORD CARD BONUSES

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

FINAL SCORE
Chad...161
Andrew...143
Me...135



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.   



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