This week, I wanted to talk about a great gateway game that I’ve had solid success with turning non-gamers and casual gamers a bit more hardcore. (I have quite a few of those… gotta convert more people over to the dark side of geekdom… mwahaha!) This one’s doubly great because it’s also part of the Dungeons & Dragons universe… Lords of Waterdeep by Wizards of the Coast!
To a gamer, I’d describe Lords of Waterdeep as a medium-weight worker placement game with a strong resource management element and player-drafted scoring criteria.
To a non-gamer who might balk at a bunch of “blabbidy blah,” I’d describe Lords of Waterdeep as a game in which players take the role of a secret Lord of the city of Waterdeep, where they have to recruit agents in order to complete quests.
I think this is the main reason Lords of Waterdeep is so successful as a worker placement game. The theme isn’t your traditional “worker placement” fare – assigning actual workers to carry out actual mundane tasks. For a lot of gamers, they don’t want their games to resemble… work. Why play a game where you’re chopping wood, collecting fruit, or working on a railroad when you can be a dark fantasy lord who’s fighting off a horde of dark elves trying to enter your city? Now, that’s not the case for everyone, but it’s a common reason many people are turned off by the worker placement genre.
Lords of Waterdeep succesfully integrates the D&D theme into the game seamlessly – it’s not tacked on, and it feels like an important part of the experience. And as far as mechanics go, Lords of Waterdeep ticks off all those boxes for me as well. It’s smooth and relatively easy to learn (another plus for a worker placement game). The game’s economy is very tight (victory points are fairly earned via the game’s 5 different resources: clerics, wizards, rogues, warriors, and coins; and the ation economy is well-balanced as well). And, there’s just enough player interaction aside from the omnipresent competition over action spaces (in the form of Intrigue cards) without feeling too “take that.”
I’m throwing in the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion with a game this weekend, and I’ve got high hopes for it! What about you guys – what are your thoughts on Lords of Waterdeep? And what are some of your favorite gateway worker placement games?
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky,