A game of bureaucracy and backstabbing

‘Lords of Waterdeep’ review

By Ed Appleby, Illustrator

Do you love the myth and magic of high fantasy, but dislike crawling through dungeons getting your silk doublet all musty? Then consider Lords of Waterdeep, designed by Peter Lee and Rodney Thompson and published by Wizards of the Coast, for two to five players.

In the game, you use your agents to collect gold and send your adventurers on quests to increase your own power and influence. Points are collected throughout the game’s eight turns by completing quests, building structures, forging alliances, and betraying other players.

Some players may be leery about the game due to its Dungeons and Dragons pedigree and Forgotten Realms setting, but the setting is purely cosmetic and the gameplay has its roots in euro-style board games that emphasize strategy and economics while keeping play very even until the end. Although points are scored during the game, the majority of points are calculated after the game has ended. That’s where you see if your long-term strategy and surreptitious plotting have really paid off.

Lords of Waterdeep does suffer from a “surplus of strategy,” where strategy plays such a large part that players are often waiting for someone else to make a move, which can lead to frustration and distraction. This problem exists with most euro-style board games and games of strategy like chess. But if there is one problem for a game to have, this is a good one because it means players need skill to succeed.

If you love strategy, this game is amazing! Not only have I played this hour-long game several times, I also have never lost. But I know it is only a matter of time until I am unseated as the Lord of Waterdeep.