I’m going to call it: We’re in a board game renaissance. Every day I seem to get Kickstarter project alerts for new physical and digital board games. Tablets make a perfect platform for digital versions of board games, and Lords of Waterdeep is the new gold standard for the genre. So, I bid you to cast aside your D20 and enter the Forgotten Realms for one of the best board games I’ve played in a very long time.
Lords of Waterdeep casts you as, you guessed it, a Lord of Waterdeep vying for power against rival leaders. The vast city of Waterdeep is filled with adventurers, riches, and opportunities for glory. Your goal is to gain power and influence by recruiting classic fantasy heroes such as Clerics, Warriors, Rogues, and Wizards. These heroes fill your Lord’s tavern and are at your command to complete quests that increase your influence.
At the beginning of the game only you know the true identity of the Lord you control. The identity of the Lords assigned to each player is a secret, because each Lord gets unique bonuses. This macro view of the city of Waterdeep gives some wonderful perspective as opposed to the often narrow individual experiences in other fantasy media.
The game is played in eight rounds in which you assign “Agents” to various points on the board. Each location offers you a different resource, such as adventurers, quest cards, or influence cards. As the game progresses and your Agent pool increases, the battle for resources gets tense, so you’re going to have to think a few steps ahead of the current turn.
To win the game you must have the most “Victory Points,” which are earned by completing quests, purchasing buildings, and amassing resources as well as gold. There can be up to five players (human or AI); more players means resources are even more scarce. The beauty of Lords of Waterdeep is that is it easy to learn and fun to master.
Playdek deserve immense praise for capturing not only the detailed mechanics of the game, but for brining the art design to life. The game board is animated, and while playing you’ll see ships sailing, creatures flying, and candlelight sweep through the streets of Waterdeep at night. It adds a welcome polish to already fantastic game.
Waterdeep supports pass-and-play and online matches. The online matches are stable and I haven’t experienced any lag or dropped games yet. Overall, the game runs smoothly and feels very polished. If you enjoy boardgames, D&D, or both, then Lords of Waterdeep is an experience you don’t want to miss.