Posted on January 7, 2014
Lords of Waterdeep, Friendless Shut-in Edition.I picked up the iphone game Lords of Waterdeep last week, in part to see me through trips down to Northfield. It is one of those games like Ticket to Ride and Elder Sign that seem like they transition perfectly from boardgame to phone game as long as they give it a decent AI. The thing about AIs is that they are a) rarely as much fun to play against as actual human beings and b) terrible at trash talk. But other than that, I think they work well. LoW is an Agricola-style game of decision-making about resource-gathering at its core, but it has a bit more to it than that. Each player has a few quests, and on any given quest you are told what resources you will need to complete that quest and what you will receive for completing them. Placing an agent on most of the locations on the board (taverns mostly) recruits adventurers to your cause and you move those wee blocks to YOUR tavern, to be assigned to quests. From the basic board, you can pick up Rogues and Fighters two at a time, whereas Wizards and Clerics are one per recruitment.
So in the above quest, you need “spend” 3 rogues and 6 gold to complete the quest. Once they are spent, they don’t (usually) come back. When you do, you’ll get 8 victory points and two intrigue cards. Easy, right? More complicated quests may be worth more VPs but they’ll require Clerics, Wizards and/or Fighters too and collecting essentially a hand of adventurers to complete the quests is what you spend the game doing. Like Agricola and Dungeon Lords, your faction gets two agents (and another one halfway through the game) and they place them on the location in Waterdeep that they want to harvest adventurers from. Once that option has been chosen, it can’t be chosen again in that round. This can be the same type of frustrating as Agricola if you remain to dependent on one strategy. There are a couple of neat twists with the placement options: 1) You can buy buildings. There are 10 building slots and each of these becomes another place to place agents. They usually pay out pretty well: better than the basic placement options. But the kicker is that the owner of the building (who built it) gets something every time it gets used, whether it is adventurers, gold or VPs. So building the Skulkway allows anyone to place an agent there, picking up 1 Fighter, 1 Rogue and two gold, but every time they do the builder/owner gets to take either a Fighter or Rogue too. Being a property magnate and letting the adventurers come to you by way of rent is a viable game strategy. 2) There is a special location, Waterdeep Harbour where up to three agents can be placed. Once you place an agent there, you can play an intrigue card. Some of these attack your competitors, some aid you, some are a mix. After all agents are placed, you get back any Agent placed there at the end of the turn and can place them again as long as there are open placement slots. The quests themselves keep things interesting as the result of completing one quest can set you up neatly for completing another. When you run out of quests you can select more from an array at the Cliffwatch Tavern. You also start the game with a Head Honcho that you are technically playing-as: each of these doles out extra points for quests of certain types completed or for buildings owned etc. essentially this card dictates what kind of quests you’ll gravitate towards. There is a decent amount of Intrigue Cards, Buildings and Quest Rewards that change some aspect of the game enough that it’ll be pretty different every time you play it: extra agents, changing the turn order, etc etc. Basically, what I’m saying is that while I enjoy playing this on my iPhone, I want one of my friends to buy it so we can play it IRL too. Failing that, check it out for your mobile device too and tell me if the Easy AI kicks your ass too. Edit: I fixed a couple of misunderstandings I had due to blowing through the tutorials. Also, the game just gave me the “Recluse” achievement for completing 30 games offline. Sniffle.