Have you explored Waterdeep’s maze-like alleyways with your party? Completed a heist or two?
Waterdeep is a massive port city in the Forgotten Realms setting. Most adventuring parties will stop there at some point or another to restock on supplies or even pick up a quest or two.
Ready to explore a little more? Why not change it up and instead take on the role of the Waterdeep’s most powerful lords in the tabletop board game, Lords of Waterdeep.
I’m incredibly happy to bring in my friend Bryan Truong to share everything about this fun board game with you.
Bryan Truong is the co-founder at GameCows, a board game review site featuring reviews from DnD, Warhammer 40k, and many other games!
With that, let’s get into it!
Lords of Waterdeep is a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired worker placement board game.
Unlike a traditional game of D&D players won’t be controlling an individual character. Instead, they’ll take control of one of the Masked Lords of Waterdeep where the true power of the city lies.
It’s a Euro-style board game where players accumulate points by acquiring resources to complete quests.
What’s in the Box?
There are 5 player mats. Each one corresponds to a different faction like the Harpers, Knights of the Shield, City Guard, Silverstars, or Red Sashes. They’re a nice touch that are all custom to their relevant faction.
There are also 4 different colored wooden tokens in the box that correspond to various adventurers and mercenaries. These are the adventurer cubes that act as resources in the game.
Instead of going on quests, players will be gathering up adventurers represented by wooden cubes and sending them off to complete quests for the glory of your faction, and of course victory points.
Each player will have color-coded meeples that represent the player’s agents. The board is well done and a nice rendition of the city.
Overall, the components of the game are solid and nothing feels too cheap or flimsy.
Quest Cards and Intrigue Cards
The game has 60 quest cards ranging from the generic “help the city watch keep the peace” to the oddball ones like “Train Owlbears”, and they all have amazing artwork.
First up, you have Quest Cards.
Quest Cards are the primary way players will gain victory points. Each one has a cost in adventurer cubes and once completed players gain the victory points or bonus immediately.
Each quest card has its own category, Arcana, Skullduggery, Commerce, Piety, or Warfare. Different quests have different synergies and will grant bonus points depending upon which category they’re in.
Then there is the Intrigue Cards.
These are one-time use cards that either give you a bonus or hinder another player. Some may give you a handful of resources, and others may give a mandatory quest to another player that makes them waste time and resources.
How to Play
At the beginning of the game, every player is given a player mat and is dealt a Lord Card.
You can look at the Lord Card, but keep it hidden and leave it under the player mat until the end of the game. It won’t come back out until final scoring.
There are 2 phases to every player’s turn.
Placing Agents & Completing Quests
The first player puts an agent down on one of the spaces of the board and then performs whatever action is on the space.
Once they complete their action, they can complete a quest card they have in their possession. If they don’t have a quest card or they can’t complete it yet, the turn goes to the next in line.
After everyone has placed all their agents and there are none left, everyone picks up their agents and resets the board. That completes the round and there are 8 rounds to a game.
As a worker placement game, players have several different options to choose from when assigning their agents. Let’s go over each of those options!
Assigning an agent to a building allows the player to gain the resources shown at the building.
Most will either give the player money or one or two adventurers to add to their pool. However, more advanced buildings will later be placed on the board and can grant more resources than the originals.
When assigning an agent at the Builder’s Hall, the player buys one of the available tiles that are face up on the board. They have to pay the cost shown on the tile then they can put the building tile in play on the board. The building then gets a little token indicating that your faction owns it.
Each building is now available for other players to send an agent to and use like any other space.
There are perks to being the owner though!
Whenever another player uses your building the building owner gets a reward (indicated on the tile) as well. Typically, it’s not as good as putting your own agent on the space, but the owner will get free resources for doing nothing.
This is an important space in Waterdeep.
Cliffwatch Inn is where players will send agents to pick up quests. Naturally, without quests, you won’t win the game.
Because this space is so important, more than one agent can be placed here on a turn. One of the options also allows the players to pick up Intrigue cards which are one-time use bonuses or abilities.
Speaking of Intrigue cards, they can’t be played at will. You’ll need to send an agent to Waterdeep Harbor if you plan on using any of your collected Intrigue cards!
End Game & Winning
There’s an end-game timer built into the game after 8 rounds. There are several things left to count for end-of-game scoring.
- Each Adventurer left in the tavern is worth 1 victory point.
- 2 gold is worth 1 Victory Point
- Lord Cards
Remember the Lord card hidden underneath the player mat? You should. It just may win you the game!
It’s time to pull it out for final scoring.
You should be aware of your Lord Card throughout the entire game, but it’s only revealed at the end. Each Lord Card gives the player extra ways of scoring end-game points that they can work towards throughout the game.
Typically, the Lords all have an affinity for one type of strategy and they’ll give a ton of bonus points if you’ve completed quests with their affinity.
For example, Lord Brianne Byndraeth gives 4 extra bonus points for every Arcana and Skullduggery quest they’ve completed. Throughout the game, you should be making it a priority to acquire and complete as many of those quests as possible.
All the Lord cards have 2 different quest types they’ll give bonuses for. The exception is Larissa Neathal. She gives 6 points for each building you’ve built.
After all the Lords are revealed and points are tallied up, the player with the most points wins.
Lords of Waterdeep is an interesting mix but I’ll give you the short version first: Come for the D&D theme. Stay for the awesome board game.
Lords of Waterdeep is an all-around solid board game.
It’s a great reimagining of the D&D world and lets players get a birds-eye view of the world. It’s also a little funny to think that the little color-coded cubes could be an adventuring party running around the city completing quests.
It’ll be a refreshing change for veteran D&D players to switch roles and become the mastermind quest giver instead of an adventurer.
Whether your gaming group members are huge D&D fans or just tabletop enthusiasts, Lords of Waterdeep has plenty of replay value, fun gameplay, and an awesome theme.
It stands alone as is still compelling for players that have no experience with the D&D world. For players that love everything D&D and are familiar with the roleplaying game, it’s a fun perspective shift to be the overseers pulling the strings for a change.