Sunday, 25 January 2015

Lords of Waterdeep

Every alley has a knife, every palace a cup of poison.

Type: Strategy / Resource management / Board
Players: 1 to about 6
Time to explain to others: About 5 to 10 min
Time to play: About 30 minutes, possibly bit more
Difficulty: To play 3/10, Game difficulty 4/10
Portability: Very Low. Dozens of tokens.
Overall: 9/10

In one of the multitude worlds of the Dungeons and Dragons universes, there is a place. A city of gleaming temples and shady ale-houses. Of slimy alleyways and fetid harbours. Stretching from the sunny Field of Heroes to the murky labyrinthine corridors of the Undermountain.

The city is called Waterdeep.

Lords of Waterdeep is a resource management game. It might look a bit odd at first, but when boiled down to its core, it is actually fairly simple. You are one of the titular Lords of Waterdeep, vying for control of the city. To grow in power and influence (in our case, victory points) you need to complete missions, ranging from assassinations to helping other inhabitants, to fighting invaders, to exterminating pests, to breeding Owlbears (bears with the heads of owls, cuter than it sounds).

Being a son (or daughter) of the nobility, you will of course NOT get your hands dirty. Of course not, perish the thought! You will send your agents, to hire fighters and wizards, to then do the job for you.

This is how the game works. Each turn, you have a number of agents (about 5, as it can increase or decrease). In turns, you will send your agents to different areas of town (Ale-houses, The University, The Temple, etc), and in each place you will hire a number of people (represented by small coloured cubes).

Each mission will require a number of these cubes. When you have the corresponding numbers and colours, you can claim that mission (and its victory points).

The only problem is that, although there are a number of cards that actively impact your opponents (negatively), the main issue of the game is one of the locations on the board. Only one agent can be in any location at any one time. So it is really easy to block the opponents and make it as hard as possible to get those coloured cubes (either by accident or on purpose).

And this is pretty much it. Some other elements add the all important element of randomness, like the lord you play will have a bonus for some missions and not others, and The Builders Guild, that will introduce new and different buildings and locations in every game.

Rui's conclusion: Although heavier than other games, LoW is still simple enough to explain in a few minutes. The resource management is a new dynamic, but one that is straightforward. You don't need to waste too much time on the intricacies if you don't want, just collect the cubes you need! It will please both newbies and veterans. Highly recommended.

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