Michael Dow (MD): Mike Gendreau and I both so enjoyed sitting down to try out a game together that we have decided to make a regular thing of it. (I love this job.) This time out, we tried the new D&D-themed board game, Lords Of Waterdeep. It’s a resource management game, in the same vein as Settlers Of Catan, Caylus, Ticket To Ride, Puerto Rico, etc. etc. The game has been well-reviewed, and I have been particularly curious ever since one of our distributor reps insisted that we order several copies because it was just that good.
In this game, you take on the role of one of the Masked Lords of the great city of Waterdeep in the Forgotten Realms, setting for many D&D adventures. Your goal is to amass the most victory points by the end of round eight, which you accomplish by recruiting adventurers and sending them off on quests. Each round, you dispatch your agents to various locations in the city to hire wizards, fighters, thieves & clerics; collect quest cards and resources; buy buildings; and play Intrigue cards. Completed quests give you victory points and other rewards. The twist is that players’ identities, and thus their objectives, are secrets revealed only at game’s end, which makes it harder to thwart one’s opponents.
Michael Gendreau (MG): Having played a few resource management games in the past, I really enjoyed the D&D flavor this game added to the genre. Set-up of the game went relatively quickly (under 10 minutes) and the rules were clear, concise and well-written. The game is divided into 8 rounds and I had a clear understanding of the rules and the way game flowed by the end of the second round. The Lord of the Waterdeep card I drew was Larissa Neathal, whose bonus scoring was based on how many buildings I controlled at games end. I had come into the game with the intent of controlling as many buildings as I could, so this dovetailed nicely. As I said, the rules were very well-written and I quickly had the gist of the game down. In a 2 player game, the rounds move very quickly and the game progressed nicely. I followed through on my plan of controlling as many buildings as I could and I started collecting quests. I felt like I had the game in hand.
MD: I, on the other hand, focused my energies on completing quests, and quickly built a big lead on the scoring track. Since I was Mirt The Moneylender, I knew I would also score an extra 4 points for each Piety or Commerce quest I completed. As with all resource management/development games, balancing exploiting one’s advantages with thwarting one’s opponent is key, and Lords Of Waterdeep offers several means for undercutting one’s rivals, most prominently in playing Intrigue cards at the Waterfront, but also by changing who goes first and clearing the unclaimed Quests from the board. Because I was able to complete six Quests in my particular sphere of influence, when the game ended and Larissa Neathal’s 48 point bonus kicked in, my own bonus gave me just enough to eke out the victory.
MG: Yeah, I was sure my 48 bonus victory points was going to be enough to pull off an upset, but I was sadly mistaken. Hat’s off to Michael for his second consecutive Two Guys & A Board Game victory. I was itching for a rematch and got one a few days later as Michael and I were able to play in a 5 player game. As fun as the game was in 2 player mode, it was a blast in 5 player mode. Adding more players really increased the value of the Intrigue cards. It was also more challenging to plan your steps too far ahead. Ironically, I pulled the Larissa Neathal card again, but trying to gain the same type of monopoly on buildings proved difficult in the 5 player set-up. Again, sadly, Michael was victorious with me settling for a 3rd place finish. Curse you, Mister Dow! Curse you!
MD: One thing I have to add: in addition to being well-designed and well-made (cool map, attractive artwork, good game pieces, etc.), the game box is also superbly organized.
MG: I agree. Wizards of the Coast really out-did themselves with the design of the game board and box. Every one of the pieces and tokens has a secure storage location which makes set-up and breakdown quite simple.
Lords of the Waterdeep is available for purchase at Modern Myths in Northampton. We also have a copy of the game in our Game Library, so if you’d like to try before you buy, let us know!