Version Played: Android (also available on iOS, Windows and Mac)
Based on a board game that was first released in 2012, Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe.
Players take turns placing their agents at different locations in the titular city, hiring adventurers or getting other bonuses that will allow them to complete quests. Agents can also be placed at locations which will allow them to take new quests or build further locations; completing quests with adventurers is the main method of gathering victory points – and the player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.
There’s a lot going on in Lords of Waterdeep, but despite its somewhat complicated look and the different methods of achieving victory, it’s a breathtakingly simple game to learn and play. Getting good enough to win, however, is a different matter – it’s one of those games that’s easy to learn but hard to truly master. There’s just so many different ways of gathering points and so many options available on a turn – not to mention the fact that opponents will often compete with you for the available spaces on the board at any given time, which gives each turn an agonising feel. Do you go for the space that’ll give you the purple wizard you need? Or should you opt for the warriors? If your opponent wants the same things you do, you’ll be slowing each other down and causing each other problems on your way to the end of the eight rounds the game is played across.
This being a review of the app, rather than the physical game it’s based on, means that I do need to mention how well it translates. Thankfully, it’s been thoughtfully handled with lots of nicely laid out menus and an intuitive interface. The nature of having so many moving parts – including Quest and Intrigue cards – means that it’s not always possible to see everything at a glance, but pretty much anything you need to refer to is just a tap or a click away. Having the game calculate victory points, particularly during the end game, is priceless too.
The board game the app is based on really is a fantastic design that’s been perennially popular since it released eight years ago. The D&D theme is applied nicely across all of the art and flavour text, but the game can’t help but feel somewhat abstract, with its representation of different adventurer types by the use of different coloured cubes. It doesn’t weaken the game at all in my opinion, but those players expecting a game with more of a D&D adventure feel will probably be disappointed.
The app does offer the expansions that can be purchased for the physical version too – and these are nicely integrated, with the option to add them at the start of each new game.
I’ve covered a lot of physical board games this week, but seeing as everyone is currently in lockdown, it may be that opponents are hard to come by. With online play and AI opponents that can put up a decent fight even on their lowest difficulty setting, Lords of Waterdeep may well scratch that board game itch without the need for pesky physical contact. Excellent stuff.
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