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Board Game Review: Lords of Waterdeep

game #10 of Katie's 100 board game challenge

By Katie KieslingPublished 2 months ago 5 min read

Over the Christmas break, my fiancé and I were introduced to Lords of Waterdeep - a game I've been intimidated by for awhile, believing it would be too complex. It's not simple, but it's certainly not as complex as I led myself to believe!

This was one of my fiancé's favourite games of the ones we played in December, so I added it to the list of games to order through our local game store (where I work), and it arrived the day before my birthday ... so I surprised him with it, and played it right after Cascadia!

I did express to him that I liked the game better with 4 people, as opposed to 2 - it felt more mean, having to direct all my intrigue cards at fiancé instead of "each opponent" or "opponent of choice". That said, I wwill try not to let this 2-player experience affect my overall score for Lords of Waterdeep.


I LOVE quest games - especially when there's more than just an objective. Lords of Waterdeep gives each player an objective card, and they are typically related to the quest types you can take. For example: My lord cared about Piety quests and Skullduggery quests, so I focused on those two and typically stayed away from others (not that there would've been consequences for trying others ... it just wouldn't have been as beneficial to branch out). I actually managed to get 40 bonus points at the end for sticking with Piety and Skullduggery, and ended up winning against fiancé by 4 points - it was a big deal!

I guess, technically, this game mechanic is called "contracts" - I've recently been trying to study mechanics from BoardGameGeek. But yes, quest/contract games are a lot of fun for me. I prefer having a bunch of mini goals to work on, as opposed to the long game of trying to get ONE major goal done and potentially not complete it. (Although, this game has both, and I can live with that - in fact, this is the one scenario where end-game objectives are good, if they relate to contracts.)

Worker Placement

Fiancé and I both enjoy worker placement games (and until we played this one over Christmas break, I hadn't realized we didn't have many in our personal collection). There's something satisfying about claiming an action - especially an action space with very limited room (which, most of the Lords of Waterdeep actions are limited to one worker per round). There is also the downside of someone getting to the action space you need before you ... which is why it's nice, like in this game, when there's a space specifically for taking the first-player token away from someone, meaning YOU get to start the next round.

The other tricky bit is having a limited number of workers. When we first played, it was a 4-player game and we only each received 2 (although we do gain one halfway through the game). It was nice to learn, when fiancé and I played it 2-player, that we receive 4 workers (and again, gain one halfway through). It's not ALWAYS fun having to really consider your placements when you have so few workers to work with ... but I also think that's one of the appeals of worker placement games - the mental challenge it takes to strategize with limitations.

One of the best parts though about Lords of Waterdeep, to combat the limited number of action spaces, is the buildings. One worker each round can pay for a building, and fly it under their banner. This means, if anyone else places a worker there, the builder gets some compensation as well. (If you go to your own building, you just get to take the action - no extra reward.) This is especially great though when each player receives their extra worker, and the spaces become even more limited - the more buildings there are available to players, the less stress there is about trying to get to certain action spaces. Some of the buildings available mimic the action spaces of the ones on the board, or rather, are slightly better. For example: One action space on the board allows you to collect a Cleric (a white cube) ... one of the buildings we had in our game this weekend allowed the player to collect a Cleric AND a face-up quest!

Waterdeep Harbor

This is probably the most unique space on the board. Waterdeep Harbor allows up to three players to play an intrigue card (which typically messes up another player and/or rewards you with something). THEN, when the round is over, anyone who placed a worker on the Harbor gets to replace those workers to other available action spaces - it's like having extra turns! Obviously, players are still limited if there's already a worker at the spot they want ... but it's still nice to be able to do extra things, maybe prep for upcoming rounds somehow?


I think I love this one so much because my fiancé expressed his love of worker placement games, and particularly this one, over the Christmas break - it's certainly the reason I purchased it immediately when I saw it come into the store. Now, obviously, I don't love every single game he does ... but part of my enjoyment of playing board games comes from seeing him get so into the strategy, or to make moves just because they're fun (depending on the game). I loved board games before I met him, but he is the reason I've gone out of my shell and acquired higher-strategy board games and pushed myself to become better and (slightly) more competitive. And to watch the joy in his eyes when he achieves certain things - even if it's just collecting a bear (sorry, wrong game - Cascadia though, fiancé loves collecting those bears!).

Therefore, I believe this game deserves a 9 out of 10 - it's not perfect, but it's up there.

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About the Creator

Katie Kiesling

* 29, she/her, Canadian

* Reader, writer, lover of language

* Board game enthusiast, and wannabe board game designer

* Fiancée currently, Wife in May 2023

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