I think it’s time for a three-fer on game reviews. This week I go through Lords of Waterdeep and its expansion which is really two different expansions
First the base game.
Ring Side Report-Lords of Waterdeep
Publisher-Wizards of the Coast
TL;DR-An OK intro eurogame with a bit of Forgotten Realms feel. 70%
Basics-Lords of Waterdeep is a eurostyle worker placement game set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons. Players take the roles of different lords and vie for control of the city. Players win by having the most number of victory points at the end of the game. Players typically win victory points by completing quests that require a number of fighters, wizards, clerics, or rogues to complete. Each turn, players place a character on spaces that build more action spaces (buildings), give different cubes(fighters etc), give more quests, let you play intrigue/attack cards, grants the first player token, or give money. Players may on their turn cash in cubes indicated on a quest to get the victory points for that quest. Play continues like this until all units are played and then anyone who played intrigue cards gets to replay their tokens for more actions. Once all the turns are done, players reveal their lords and get victory points based on who they were and what quests they completed.
Theme-The game isn’t bad, but I didn’t feel very lordly. I liked the amount of back story that went into this game. The back of the book give in-depth histories on all the lords that are in Waterdeep and the buildings. But, I never felt like I was sending minions off to do my work. I never really felt like I was vying for power. I felt like I was a guy playing a game in my house moving cubes around. It’s not “bad”, but it’s not great. 3/5
Mechanics-Again, nothing is “bad,” but it’s not amazing. The mechanics felt like an easier to play version of way to many other eurogames out there. I enjoyed myself, but there really isn’t anything new. In fact, this game might be somewhat limited when compared to the other games out there. In other games, you get to try to make more tokens to make more actions. In this game, you automatically get one on turn five. It feels a bit simplistic. Also, some of the mechanics kind of conflict with the theme. In Lords of Waterdeep, when you spend your fighters, wizards, clerics, and rogues, they go away forever when you complete a quest, and you then must get new ones to complete new quests. Why? Do all my characters go on suicide missions when I send them out? In DnD, why would I never work with a quest giver again, but not kill they guy if he screwed me over? It’s small things that kind of separate me from the theme. 3.5/5
Art/Construction– Here I have some real issues. The art is good. Good, old Forgotten Realms art. There are nice touches like having the in-game money be Waterdeep coinage. But the box is pretty flimsy. My copy is beat to hell. And, I don’t think I’ve done anything to specifically damage it, but it does get hurt pretty fast. Also, I hate the plastic inlay that holds the game pieces and how it works with the box. I have more than once had to pick up every piece of this game from my car. When I spend as much time cleaning up the game from my car as I do playing it, something has gone horribly wrong. 2.5/5
Instructions– Honestly, these instructions are awesome. Wizards of the Coast knows how to write manuals, and I felt like this one taught me how to play quickly with no real trouble. 5/5
Final Thoughts– This isn’t a bad game. I’ve had my fun, but for two hours of my time, I typically vote for other games. It’s easy to play, but any veteran eurostyle gamer out there; they will be a bit board. If you want an ok intro game, this is it. If you want something with a lot of meat on its bones, you will end up looking elsewhere. 70%
Now there are two expansions that come in one box. Let’s do them together
Game– Lords of Waterdeep-Scoundrels of Skullport
Producer– Wizards of the Coast
Set-up/play/take-down-2 1/2 hours (with base game)
TL;DR– This makes an ok game into a good game. 80%
Basics– The first expansion to Lords of Waterdeep is a two part expansion. One part is Undermountain, the largest dungeon in the Forgotten Realms. The second is Skullport, a town within Undermountain and under Waterdeep. Both expansions come with new buildings, lords, intrigue cards, quests, and a separate board with new actions. The Skullport expansion also comes with a corruption board. Corruption is a new mechanic that only is part of the Skullport expansion. On the Skullport board, buildings, and intrigue cards, players have the options of getting much higher rewards, but at the coast of losing points at the end of the game. The more corruption that is used, the more each corruption point costs later.
Mechanics-Now we’ve gotten somewhere. The Undermountain board and game is ok. Again, nothing really stands out. It’s got three new actions spots and some new cards. Ok for an expansion, but not enough for the price of the set. However, the Skullport side of the box really makes this stand out! The corruption mechanic is pure awesome. Now you have to make some intelligent choices on what you think you can get away with. In addition, both expansions now allow you to really build engines to make your game truly move. Instead of only choosing the highest point quests for your faction, you might choice lower point ones that give you constant rewards. The game isn’t perfect. The religions quests tend to get rid of corruption, so it’s easier to win that route if that’s one of your lords extra victory point conditions is religion. Also, some of the newer lords are not as useful as the standard set. The beholder stands out as its power is corruption points are worth +4 victory points in addition to their normal value. So you don’t really get extra points like all the other players, but you can still get hurt by corruption. 4.5/5
Theme– This game is better than the normal, but it’s not a completely new game. It does have the same theme breaking problems of the original (disappearing minions etc) that I mentioned before. Skullport really helps with adding corruption by making me dread getting those little blue skulls, ramping up the tension along the way. 4/5
Instruction– Just like before, Wizards knows how to teach people to pay a game. Well done 5/5
Art-Didn’t really fix much here. It’s still a problem and now it almost gets a bit worse. You put cubes/corruption on spaces. The cubes get moved, stuff gets shuffled, and it gets to be a problem. Also, I hate the inlay design! 2.5/5
Final Thoughts-I honestly won’t play this game without the expansion. The expansion really makes this game a real euro game. You get engine building and choice; both of which were sorely lacking before. Lords of Waterdeep wasn’t bad, but now it’s good. Mind you, good not great. I’ve played better but nothing at the intro eurogame level. 80%