Date of review: December 2nd, 2014

Current personal ranking: # 4

Time to play (in my experience) 50-90 minutes

Difficulty level: 2 (5-10 minutes to teach, 90 minutes or less to play)

Age level: It always depends on the “gaming ability” of kids, but I’ve played this game with kids as young as 8. This might be best to start at about 9 or 10.

Type of Game: Worker placement. This means that you have a certain number of pawns (workers) that you get to place on a central board. These placements will get you some sort of benefit and/or penalize other players. At certain points in the game, these workers return to you and you get to place them again.

Game setting: Dungeons and Dragons fantasy universe.

Brief overview of how to play: You obtain points, for the most part, by sending out your adventurers (they are different colored cubes so you have to use your imagination a bit) out on quests. Each quest requires different combinations of adventurers, clerics, rogues, wizards, and fighters (or white, black, purple, and orange cubes as you will probably call them). The game ends after 8 rounds of worker placement. Halfway through the game you get another worker (or agent as they are called in this game)

A game of Lords of Waterdeep about to begin!

How many players does it play?: 2-5

Ideal number: 3 or 4. 5 runs just slightly long, perhaps, but it is still a good option for 5 players.

How do you win?: Acquire the most points mostly through quest cards as well as your bonus that you get through your Lord (you get a Lord or Lady at the beginning of the game, which you keep secret throughout the game that gives you a bonus for certain types of quests completed or buildings built).

Why do I love/recommend this game?

1) Streamlined worker placement. Worker placement might be my favorite mechanism in board games. And this is worker placement in one of its most “pure forms”. You put your worker out, you get something for it. You need a couple fighters? Great, go to the “Field of Triumph” and get them. You want to be first player next turn? Fine, to “Castle Waterdeep” and it’s yours!

2) Building extra building tiles. Each game starts off with basic building on which everyone place their workers. One of those spots is “Builder’s Hall” which allows you to take one of the three face up builder tile and build it around the edge of the board. These buildings all are better than the original buildings (like maybe you get 2 fighters and 1 wizard instead of just 2 fighters) Now everyone can place a worker there on their turn, but they will have to pay you some price to use it since you own it (a bit like "Monopoly" there).

3) Clear goals to accomplish. Sometimes games suffer from “well... what am I supposed to do to win?”. Because of your own private Lord and your quests, the game gives you direction. For instance, if a quest says that you need 2 purple cubes, 2 white cubes, and 3 coins, well, then you just go around Waterdeep and collect those things. Normally, you don’t ever feel like you are out of the game, because you have your own goals that you are working on.

4) Fast turns. Usually this is the case with worker placement games. On your turn, you just have to decide where you are going to place your worker, and then take the printed benefit. Additionally, you might also complete a quest, but that is also quick, you simply remove the cubes and possibly money from your own player board and place them back in the center of the board, and then take the victory points to which you are entitled.

Is there anything offensive in the game? Anything at all? When I was growing up, “Dungeons and Dragons” had a stigma attached to it. Some claimed that the role playing game was the work of the devil. I heard that so much as a kid that I still hesitate to recommend this as a priest, thinking that some people might have some pre-conceived notions about “Dungeons and Dragons.” Let me first say, that “Dungeons and Dragons” (the role playing game) is simply a game where people pretend like they are going off on adventures in a fantasy setting. There are monsters, dwarves, wizards, and other creatures you would find in such a world. It has nothing to do with the occult.

Even so, this game has very little to do with the role playing game, and critics of the game say that the theme is “pasted on” (meaning that the game could have been about anything, it just a series of mechanisms with a skin put on to it rather than having the theme dictate what the mechanisms do). So if someone has a moral problem with “Dungeons and Dragons”, then they might have a problem with the game. Nothing in the game play itself is ever immoral that I can see.

Final Word: If you want a smooth playing worker placement game, that is easy to pick up and clear to play, this is my highest recommendation. There is an expansion called “Scoundrels of Skullport,” which is fun if you find that you want something to give some more variety and complexity to the game. For most casual gamers, the basic game will be plenty.

Amazon.com price at the time of this writing: $33.98

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