In anticipation of International Table Top Day on Saturday, March 3oth (the same weekend as WonderCon, I know!) I am sharing one of my all-time favorite games Lords of Waterdeep! I know I’ll incidentally leave out a few key things about the game because I’d like to keep this a little simple. I’ll do my best to explain the game, tell you why I love it, and convince you to try it for yourself, or even buy it! ;)
I’m Too Intimidated to Play
The reason I’ve been able to play Lords of Waterdeep every week since it was given to me is because it’s one of the less intimidating board games I’ve been introduced to, even though it is part of the Dungeons & Dragons empire. Granted, I never read game manuals (don’t hate me!) and just jump into the game on my first encounter so that I’m able to get a handle on how to complete tasks, earn money, and create a strategy. I use a general list of rules, and categorize things to help me better understand any game:
- How and When to Purchase?
- How to complete Tasks?
- How and When to Attack?
- How can I defend myself?
These simple rules have helped me become more flexible about what kind of board games I’m able to play and try for the first time.
A VERY Short Overview of the Game
One of my many joys is setting up the game. Placing all the tiny pieces in the right places and handing out all the cards and agents. It gives me endless delight to setup the game every time I play with friends. It’s my OCD coming out of it’s neurotic shell. :)
After the board is setup you randomly choose a Lord of Waterdeep which will inform you what type of Quests (Arcana, Skullduggery, Warfare, Piety, or Commerce) you’ll need to complete and gain Victory Points (VP) at the end of the game. The rules state who ever has traveled the farthest goes first at the beginning of the first round. Once everyone is in place you have a few goals to keep in mind:
- How do I acquire VP (I call them Gems or just Points when I play)?
- How do I acquire Adventurers (colored cubes) to help me complete a Quest?
- How do I purchase Buildings to get more VP or Adventurers?
- How do I get Gold to help me complete Quests, buy Buildings, and get VP?
Every player receives Intrigue Cards which can help you acquire Gold, block someone from completing a Quest by giving them a Mandatory Quest, or steal Adventurers (your agents “hire” a Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, or Wizard) from other players, if you like to play offensively. Intrigue Cards can also give you a small advantage when many of the buildings are already occupied by other players and available actions are limited. All players are also given Quests to complete; some of the great ones give you VP’s and ongoing rewards (like Adventurers, Gold or Intrigue Cards) after they are completed. Ideally the goal is complete as many Quests as possible according to what Lord you drew.
The board is an array of buildings that allow you to acquire different types of Adventures, purchase a Building, draw an Intrigue Card or Quest, and only a few allow you to receive Gold. There’s even a Castle Waterdeep that lets you go first on the next round! Pretty sweet if you’re stuck going last during the first few rounds. Builder’s Hall is the only place on the board that allows one player per round to purchase a Building. My favorite Buildings are ones that allow you to have an extra turn (use of the Ambassador or Lieutenant) once per turn, or once per round. Other Buildings give you Adventurers, Gold, VP’s, and Intrigue Cards as an Owner Reward when another player lands on your building (similar to paying an owner in a game of Monopoly when you occupy their property).
If you play with a large group of 4-5 players spots (or buildings) become more limited as other players attempt to block your move, or just fill up the board before it’s your turn. Obviously thinking a step or two ahead will help you become more strategic with your moves over time (which I happen to suck at). I often play a 2 player game and it gives us more flexibility to play and acquire items more easily than a larger group would. However, the more familiar players are with the game the more quickly it will end since there are only 8 rounds.
Lords of Waterdeep is a simple strategy game for beginners, like myself and all the friends I’ve introduced to the game. I was not a fan of RPG’s before, and once I got into playing fantasy based board games my biggest fear was not being able to understand the strategy. Now that I’ve given myself a few general rules to follow it’s helped me come out of my shell and be more adventurous with all sorts strategy games.
Keep it fun! Everyone has that one friend who likes to win at everything! My fiance and a friend’s boyfriend are notorious for playing offensively against each other because they are, “In it to win it!” My friend and I play for the joy of the game and generally stay away from obstructing other players unless we have no other cards to play, or it’s the last few rounds of the game and we’re trying to gain more points. Lords of Waterdeep is also a great introductory game for people with “Beginning’s Luck.” I was on a long winning streak as I fumbled through the game my first few times, but I didn’t miss a beat when the time came to gloat that I had won. :)
Every Tuesday night after dinner my fiance goes off to play DnD, and I grab a few friends that night and play Lords of Waterdeep. My strategy is not very solid and I always wing-it when I play. We don’t always follow the rules (who needs rules!?) to the letter, but depending on our moods, and who’s winning, we try to be forgiving and flexible so everyone has a chance to win, and most of all, enjoy the game.
I’ll never stop recommending this game to people. It truly has widened my horizons and allowed me socialize more with friends. It amazes me how many of our friends have become board game fiends in the past year, and even more enlightening to see others become more open minded about playing these types boards games with us. Let your inner geek out at the end of the month and start your own Table Top Day!
Feel free to follow my tweets on Tuesday nights about my ongoing Lords of Waterdeep excursions! ;)