Lords of Waterdeep: Board Game Review

Lords of Waterdeep: Board Game Review

Lords of Waterdeep: Board Game Review

Lords of Waterdeep is a strategy board game, for 2-5 players, designed by Peter Lee and Rodney Thomson. Players take on the roles of secret rulers of the city of Waterdeep, the most resplendent jewel in the world of Forgotten Realms. Each ruler is concerned about the city’s safety but also has a secret agenda and is willing to do whatever it takes to gain power and control the city. What can’t be gained with legal procedures, can always be gained through treachery or bribery. In order to succeed with their secret plans, rulers hire adventurers to take on quests on their behalf and earn rewards. They can also expand the city, by buying new buildings that open up new available actions in the game or play Intrigue cards that may hinder their rivals or advance their own plans. By completing quests and buying buildings, players earn victory points. At the end of the game, the player with the most victory points, is the winner.

The game uses a carefully designed board, depicting the city of Waterdeep and its various locations. There are special spaces reserved on the board for city expansions (new buildings that players can buy), the Quest Deck, Quest cards and discarded Quests, The Intrigue deck and discarded Intrigue cards plus available buildings to buy and the building stack.

At the start of the game each player chooses a color and takes the corresponding player mat in front of him. The mat has special places reserved for the player’s agents (the Agent pool), hired adventurers (the Tavern), completed quests and the player’s Lord of Waterdeep card.

Players are dealt a random Lord of Waterdeep card, which defines their character and secret agenta. It is placed at the bottom of the player mat, face down.

Each player starts out with a predetermined number of agent tokens (according to the number of players) which he can assign to different locations in the city and use them to hire adventurers. Hired adventurers are represented by wooden cubes of different colors, each one representing a different type of adventurer:orange (fighters), black (rogues), purple (wizards) and white (clerics). During setup, each player is also dealt 2 random quests face up, 2 intrigue cards face down and some gold. Each quest, in order to be completed, requires certain numbers and types of adventurers and sometimes also some gold and rewards players with victory points and sometimes gold or adventurers. After being completed, quests are placed on a special place on the player mat. Some quests have the notation “Plot Quests” which indicates that they have ongoing effects in addition to providing rewards. These are placed face up near the player mat to remind the player the ongoing effect. Intrigue cards can be of three types: Attack, Utility or Mandatory Quest. Attack cards hinder or penalize opponents while helping the player who played them. Utility cards just benefit the player who played them. Mandatory quest cards are given to opponents and must be completed before other active quests this way slowing them down. Intrigue cards may be played when agents are asigned to a certain building, “The Waterdeep Harbor”. After all agents are assigned by all players, Agents placed at Waterdeep Harbor are reassigned to another empty location on the board.

The game consists of eight rounds. In each round, players take turns and each turn can assign an unassigned agent to an unoccupied location in the city. The action of that location is immediately performed and then it is also possible for the player to complete a quest, providing he has gathered all prerequisites. There are 9 basic buildings in the city where agents can be assigned, but more can be purchased in the course of the game. Actions that can be performed in buildings include: hiring adventurers, gaining gold, buying buildings, gaining or playing intrigue cards, taking new quests, hiring an extra agent “The Ambassador”, taking the first player marker, gaining victory points and more. When buying a new building, players pay a cost in gold indicated on the building tile, gain some victory points, position the new building tile in one of the reserved empty spaces on the board and place one of their control markers on that tile in order to indicate that they own the building. Whenever another player assigns an agent to that building, its owner will benefit too.

First Impressions

The box of the game is quite big, with the front cover artwork depicting some of the famous Lords of Waterdeep (unfortunately the image can’t be described as very tempting). Opening the box, reveals a whole lot of beautiful components of high quality and a special storage tray, rarely seen in standard game editions.

The rulebook, very impressive indeed, stands out with its elaborate design, beautiful artwork and clear text. Next comes game setup, which doesn’t take too long: a little shuffling of the intrigue and quest cards, placement of cards and buildings, distribution of player mats and agents and ready we go! Gameplay is pretty simple and runs smoothly: Assign an agent, perform the action of the building, possibly complete a Quest. Next player please! I was much excited when I completed my first (2-player) game and eager to play many more games. That’s a pretty good first impression, isn’t it? Let’s get down to business and analyze individual aspects of the game:

Components

Components are of high quality as could be expected of a major publisher like Wizards of the Coast. The game board is huge and impressive with basic buildings drawn on the map of the city of Waterdeep and empty spaces around the board for city expansions. There are special locations on the edges of the board to place the quest deck and quests available for purchase, discarded quests, the Intrigue deck of cards, available buildings for purchase and future buildings. In general there is a place for everything and the board is very well organized and totally functional. The cards’ artwork is awesome (let’s not forget that Wizards of the Coast is the publisher of “Magic the Gathering), with elaborate designs and made of high quality, thick paper. However, sleeving the cards is recommended, especially for Quest and Intrigue cards that will soon suffer from repeated shuffling. The building tiles are made of thick cardboard and are cleverly designed, leaving a special place on their southeast corner for the player’s control markers to be put. This way the markers don’t hide the building text nor interfere with the placement of Agents. Agents have the shape of meeples which is most convenient and are made of wood. So are the first player token as well as the Ambassador and Lieutenant tokens. Score markers are also made of wood. A special mention to player mats must be made: Each player takes a player mat that matches his/her Agents color. The mat is beautifully designed and has separate spaces reserved to place Agents (the “Agent Pool”), adventurers (the “Tavern”), control markers, completed Quests and the player’s Lord of Waterdeep card. Awesome work! Adventurers are represented by wooden cubes of different colors. There is a sense of failure here, as players are used to think wooden cubes mostly as resources: wood, stone, gold etc. After a short while, you start to forget that cubes are adventurers and can easily be caught saying things like “I place an Agent here and get 1 orange and 1 white cube” and think of them as materials instead of saying “I place an Agent here and I hire 1 cleric and 1 fighter”. It’s obvious that some other kind of tokens could be used to represent adventurers, something that would at least have the shape of a human being. The use of miniatures would be great but I guess that would rise the production cost and subsequently the game price too much. 9/10

Gameplay

Playing Lords of Waterdeep is a very entertaining experience. The game has easy rules and runs smoothly. You can think about your next agent placement while opponents play. There is a huge amount of strategic thinking involved in your decisions about agent placement and luck only plays a small part in the game, mainly in available quests and drawing of Intrigue cards. There is also decent amount of player interaction, through Intrigue cards. The game scales excellently with any number of players and that’s a huge plus. When playing with 2 players, all 4 agents are available from the start f the game, plus one that comes into play on the fifth round. With 3 players, each player has 3 agents and with 4 or 5 players 2 agents. This is a clever way to bring balance to the game. The game’s duration is about an hour, which is an ideal duration for me. Not too fast, not too long. Without introducing something innovative, Lords of Waterdeep is one of the most interesting and entertaining games I’ve played this year. 9/10

Learning Curve

The rules of the game are simple in general and you won’t have to read through them again after the first time, except maybe for some clarifications on specific buildings or Intrigue cards. An official rules FAQ has been released with answers to most common questions players may have. Players will learn the game quickly within the duration of the first game, so it’s equally suited for experienced gamers and non gamers. 8/10

Theme

Wizards of the Coast is a publisher renowned for their emphasis in theme and Lords of Waterdeep is no exception to that. The theme seems present in every aspect of the game, from the illustrious analysis of the organizations in which Agends of each color belong to, in the rulebook, to the flavor text on Lords of Waterdeep cards and quests. The game board also promotes the sense of theme in the game. The only important objection regarding the implementation of the theme is the representation of adventurers with cubes. An important aspect of the theme is lost here: the hiring of adventurers. As mentioned earlier, players will eventually tend to forget what cubes really represent and will think of them as some kind of resource which has this form in most other games. 7/10

Replayability

I am never bored to play a game of Lords of Waterdeep and I think that tells everything about this scoring category. An ideal game for gamers and non gamers, for 2,3,4 or 5 players alike with no compromising on fun. Games are fun, challenging, with some player interaction and a lot of strategy and they last just about the right amount of time. What else could one ask for? 9/10

Fun:

Well, it won’t make you laugh but it will always make your time worth it. Some interaction between players through Intrigue cards is a plus for the fun factor. 8/10

Pros:

  • I want to play that game again and again. I’m addicted!
  • Scales perfectly with any number of players
  • Rich and deep gameplay
  • Much strategy, almost no luck
  • Excellent components
  • Very functional storage tray
  • Easy to learn

Cons:

  • Adventurers represented with wooden cubes!

Overall: 8.3

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7091020

Carcassonne: Board Game Review

Carcassonne: Board Game Review

Carcassonne: Board Game Review

There are some games that truly define their times and Carcassonne is one of them. Designed by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and published in 2000 by Hans im Glück, it made a huge impact on the board gaming industry and brought many people who had lost contact with board games back on track. Now in 2012, after more than a decade, and with dozens of expansions being available, Carcassonne still shines and proves what good games are made of. Let’s take a plunge into its wonderful world.

Game Overview

Carcassonne is a small town in South France, renowned for its formidable fortifications that still stand and is part of Unesco’s list World Heritage Sites. It is encircled by a huge double row of fortified walls that run almost 2 miles long, accentuated by 56 watchtowers.

That was probably the inspiration for this game which evolves around building castles, roads, farms and cloisters in the area of the famous town. Carcassonne is a tile laying game for the whole family. There are 72 land tiles that depict farmland, roads, cities and cloisters. Each player starts out with 7 followers (meeples) which are his supply and can be used as farmers, thiefs, knights or monks during the game by placing them on a newly placed tile.

At the start of the game, each player places one of his followers on the score board to be used as a score marker.

The game begins by placing the start tile (the one with darker back) in the middle of the table. The rest of the tiles are shuffled and placed in several face-down stacks. Each player, in his turn takes a tile from a stack, reveals it and places it on the table, so that it has one common edge with an already played tile. Then he can decide if he wants to deploy a follower on that tile. Followers can be placed on road segments as thiefs, on farmland as farmers, on cities as knights or at cloisters as monks. Whenever a city, road or cloister is completed, the player with most meeples on it scores victory points and takes all meeples placed on the construction back to his supply. That doesn’t apply to farms. Farmers are dedicated to their land until the end of the game, when each farm serving a completed city is scored. In the case that more than one players have meeples on the same road or city, then the player with most meeples gets all the points. When two or more players tie with the most thieves or knights they each earn the total points for the road or city.

The tricky part of the game is that another player can try and take control of your city, road or farm by placing there more meeples than you. Because no one can place a meeple on a city, road or farm with an existing meeple, that can be done only indirectly. That is by placing e.g. a knight on a tile near the city you want to take over, in hope that the two city parts will eventually merge.

The game ends when all tiles are placed on the table. Players score for their incomplete cities, roads, cloisters and last but not least farms are scored. Whoever has the most followers on a farm, takes all the points from that farm and other players that also have followers on that farm gain nothing. If the number of followers from each player is the same, all these players get the same points.

First Impressions

Opening the box of Carcassonne, reveals a nice bundle of beautifully illustrated cardboard tiles, some wooden meeples, the scoring track and a 6-page rulebook. The rules of the game are pretty straight forward and the illustrated examples help clarify any questions. Within a few minutes you can start playing the game, which lasts about 45 minutes. Playing the first few games was much fun for all players and I should note that most of us felt quite addicted and were eagerly inclined to play again (in order to pay revenge or refine our techniques). First impression, thumbs up! Since then I played the game several more times and here is my judgement on our usual scoring categories:

Components

All components of the game are quite fabulous and leave nothing to be desired. The tiles have elaborate designs and as they are placed adjacent to each other and begin to form a greater picture, it really feels great looking at your creation. They are made of hard cardboard, very difficult to suffer from use no matter how often the game is played. The meeples, oh that meeples!! I simply love them. They are your wooden little followers, always ready to devote themselves to whatever task is decided for them. The scoring track is nice but could be a little bigger as for the counting. Score on the track is till 50 points but more often than not, the score exceeds 100 points, something that may be a little confusing. The first time the meeple marker crosses the end of the track, it can be placed on its back so as to know we have reached 50 points. But what about the second time around? 9/10

Gameplay

The heart of each game! Although Carcassonne is a simple game with simple rules, there is a lot of strategy involved in it. At the start of the game, choices are limited and available positions to place your tiles are restricted. But as the game progresses and the map expands, you are presented with ever increasing options and challenges. You will have to think carefully and decide: Is it better to attack an opponent’s city or start building your own? Should you place a farmer or a knight? Maybe you should be more conservative and not place a follower this turn. A big advantage of all tile-placement games is that you get a different map in each game and that eliminates the possibility of boredom due to repetition. The truth is that the game is very addictive. Once you play a few games and get the hang of it, you don’t want to stop. You want to try different strategies, different approaches, explore the multitude of options. And with all those expansions out there, fun is practically guaranteed. Another plus is that the game appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike. The rules are simple and anyone can learn to play within a few minutes but gamers will also find enough strategic elements here to attract them and keep them satisfied. Let’s not forget that a World Championship of Carcassonne is held every year at Essen. That proves how competitive it can be. 8/10

Learning Curve

As mentioned earlier, the game has very simple rules and can be learned within minutes. The 6-page rulebook is very well-written and is actually a 4-page with one page being an overview of all available tles and one an illustrated example of farmer scoring. 9/10

Theme

Well, the game theme is all over the place. As the map grows and expands a wonderful world of medieval castles, cloisters and roads unravels and it really feels you are in Carcassonne. Although there isn’t really a story behind tha game, just a city, components of the game fulfil their role of communicating the sense of developing the area around Carcassonne. 7/10

Replayability

Due to the ever changing layout of the tile-formed map, every game of Carcassonne will always be different. Moreover many different approaches in strategy can be tried out by players. The game is simple and takes no more than 45 minutes to complete. All the above elements guarantee that the game will frequently find a place on your board gaming table. 7/10

Fun:

Player interaction is what makes this game fun. Take control of your opponent’s cities, farms and roads with devious ways. And if you can’t, just make it impossible for them to finish that huge city of theirs, trapping their knights. They will be furious but they will recognize your strategic skills as well. Discussing about the best placement of each tile will also trigger interesting conversations during the game. All in all, not pure, clean fun but you will spend many pleasant hours with it. 7/10

Pros:

  • Beautiful components
  • Easy rules and a lot of strategy
  • Can be played by gamers and non-gamers alike
  • No two games are the same
  • Addicting

Cons:

  • Hardcore gamers may find it a bit simple though it really isn’t.

Our overall scoring system changes from now on so that scoring categories have different weights. Components have 15% weight, Gameplay 40%, Learning curve 5%, Theme 5%, Replayability 25%, Fun 10%. According to this system and the above scoring in each category, overall weighted scoring of the game is: