Lords Of Waterdeep Review


Squad goals – Box art for Lords Of Waterdeep


So when I was first into this kind of stuff I never really fucked with board games, I stuck to Games Workshop stuff for the most part and Dungeons and Dragons. I didn’t really see the merit in a game where you hadn’t funnelled hours of work into building an army and painting it up or having your own narrative/fluff involved. It’s only really since I came back into it I’ve seen the merit of dropping 50 bar or less on a game, spending 20 minutes flipping through a short rulebook and then get cracking, and being done with a game in an hour or so. How else are people supposed to catch up on what’s popping off in the group chat about Bake Off or what kind of curry Mark had for his tea without that kind of convinience? In absolute honesty me and my brother picked this game up like 3 years ago or so now so this review could have been on here sooner. Nate’s latest push to action made me think it was probably a good idea to actually type up bunch of article ides instead of doing fuck all about them. He can be very motivating both in and out of the geography classroom.


If you’re going to play a resource acquisition based game, its going to need either a clever mechanic or a cool as fuck premise because otherwise you’re probably a dry as fuck individual who needs to put themselves in the bin. No one wants to be that guy who likes games where you assume the roll of a 14th century timber merchant. You probably order the lasagne when you eat out. Fortunately Lords Of Waterdeep has a premise that’s right up my alley. You’re basically an unseen hand in the city of Waterdeep trying to gain enough influence in the city to be top dog by the end of a day. There’s a whole bunch of ways to achieve this aim as you send your agents out into the city to recruit warriors, rogues and the like to your service in order to complete tasks and quests on your behalf. Maybe you’re the kind of wetty boy that enjoys merely fulfilling your potential by keeping your head down and getting on with the matter at hand while occasionally tossing odd Cleric to another of these faceless controlling elements of the city. Hopefully you’re the kind of person that likes being a conniving, stealing, Machiavellian mother fucker that enjoys cutting everyone else down at every given opportunity though. I can thoroughly endorse and also fully condone the latter. Be Harley Flannigan on bath salts not Wes Eisold vanity publishing your own poetry.

No skill? Just crowdkill

As far as game play is concerned its actually confusing if you’ve never played it. The rules are simple enough but it just sounds like a head fuck until you actually start playing then it all just clicks into place. The rules are tight enough that it’s not open to abuse by Mountain Dew swigging game breakers and simple enough that casual game players can pick it up easily. There is a small chance element but this is largely overridden by your ability to plan and play the long game. Wait for your opportunity and smash fuck out of everyone at your chosen time, kind of like when you wait for that last beatdown before touching pit. Like realistically the only way to give yourself a massive advantage is to have a photographic memory and unless you and your mates are all Rain Man you’ll probably be fine. It’s a bit like that card game Deutsch (often known as ‘Shithead’), the key isn’t so much to play the hand you get dealt but more to remember what your opponent has and then play around that. In terms of balance this game does that perfectly too. No one resource is too available or harder to come by than it needs to be. The more of these masked over lords are playing the fewer agents they’ll have at their disposal and the tighter things will be as people scramble to get hold of stuff. Personally the two player game is where it’s at for me, you have to think far enough ahead to keep on top of the other player without having to cover other player’s outcomes and this gives you the opportunity complete more interesting quests and key some combos in. As for new players Vs. experience I’d played this game a bunch of times before me and my brother got it, first game he played he wiped the floor with me.


The fluff is admittedly kind of light in the rules but has enough to explain what you’re doing while you’re moving counters around from a narrative stand point. The more you play the more this can get forgotten about but the more you concentrate on it the better it links in. Like if you complete the quest ‘Bolster The Griffon Guard’ all you’re doing in terms of game play is swapping some counters for victory points and a kicker ability but in terms of narrative you’re sending some of the warriors from your tavern to help them out and in return more warriors will come to your aid later at you’re agents request. In the interests of fairness I think that they could of pushed that narrative side of things more but its good that its there if you want it but can be easily ignored if you want to. Either which way round I would describe this game as competitive. I’ve played light hearted enough games of it with beers and that but the more you concentrate on both competitiveness and fluff more you’ll get out of it.

This is where all your conniving shithousery takes place

The real crux of this game is in the last 2 or 3 rounds. At the start you’ve probably pegged out your camp, you’ve set yourself up either very well or at least to the extent you have a shot of winning. You’ve got a plan for your mid game and maybe even your possible end game. By round 4 or 5 you’ve probably figured out who the other player’s characters might be and what their goals are and everyone’s about to set their end game in motion. From here you’ve got 3 rounds to really stake your claim and to stop everyone else doing it. Your agents have recruited enough wizards and other fantasy tropes to attempt some bigger quests or maybe even a chain of smaller ones. You might be short a few pieces of gold but if you try and earn some is some other snake fuck going to do you over on getting hold of something else. Sitting there you’re a loaded gun waiting to go off. Those last rounds are nearly always tight and calculated. Even in a one on one game you’re going to need to have a couple of alternatives planned out otherwise you’ve had it. All the players are clamouring to get in there and drop their own tactical nukes while you’re trying to get your almost certainly genius plan in motion. You’re probably going to call someone a cunt in the last round. Probably not the best game to take round your nan’s for after Sunday lunch. But yeah you could cut the atmosphere with a knife in those rounds during a more competitive game. For the most part I’d like to think of myself as pretty lax and along for the ride when it comes to games. However something about Lords of Waterdeep gives me flashbacks to those tense childhood family board game sessions which breakdown family units as years of unspoken pent up resentment are released in the space of a few dice rolls. It puts me in the mindset of that 14 year old kid that plays a week long game of monopoly, nearly going bankrupt on multiple occasions, only to beat his dad for the first time ever despite the fact his dad stole over 5k from the bank over the course of the game. Fuck you Dicky.


As far as that first game goes I’d play two instead of one. It takes a minute for the rules to click and the second game when you’ve got fair grounding is much more enjoyable. Plus its maybe like 30 or 40 minutes a game tops and it just flows a lot better the second time around. I’ve played with people who’ve never really been into ‘nerd’ games and they’ve enjoyed it too. Once you explain it’s basically monopoly but with more dick moves they’re usually in. Price point is pretty reasonable, you can pick up a copy for about £35 quid or less and you get a lot of replay ability from it. It has two expansions that come in one box for another 30 bar as well. Shout out to other sad bastards like me who will appreciate the way the box is designed and laid out too. Artwork and overall design is great, if a little of a ‘standard WOTC’ vibe not like that new D&D rules book where they went  little different. And of course you get at least one reference to a fucking Belholder, the worst D&D monster. It’s for 2-5 players and while I enjoy it most one on one it works with multiple players just as well. If you’re a fan of games like Splendor but want little more complexity and fantasy narrative then this is for you. Or just in general buy it or try it. In summary; Great game, fuck Boxall’s shoes.