July 1st. I had finally gotten past the financial year. There was a few work fires to put out, and I was hoping I could monitor that everything was still running. Well, that didn’t work out. But while I was holding out hope, I tried to squeeze in a cheeky game of Lords of Waterdeep.
There is a good chance if I ever did a top 10 list of my favourite games ever, Lords of Waterdeep would be on the list. It’s guaranteed going to be in my top 20. But Lords of Waterdeep isn’t for everybody, for a few reasons.
Lords of Waterdeep has been around for quite some time. I am not saying ‘old’ games are bad, but there are newer games that refine the game mechanics. Then there are the mechanics themselves – not everyone likes secret points allocation. Not knowing how you are scoring compared to your opponents can frustrate players.
Then there is the theme. I hear the argument that Lords of Waterdeep shouldn’t be a Dungeons and Dragons game, because “it has nothing to do with D&D”. To me, that is an argument by people that don’t play D&D themselves.
But what is Lords of Waterdeep? Players are given a secret Lord character. These give players secret objectives that affect end-game scoring. During the game, players (the Lords) send their agents to collect money and/or resources. Why should a Lord dirty their own hands, after all?
These resources are better known in Dungeons & Dragons as players. Fighters, Clerics, Mages and Rogues. They are collected to go on adventures on the Lord’s behalf. This is where I disagree that Lords of Waterdeep has nothing to do with D&D. Instead of being the player character going on adventures, in Waterdeep you are the unseen force that sends those players on their way. It’s all in how you look at the setting.
Is it a strong narrative motivation? It depends on how you look at it as well. Ultimately you are just collecting cubes and fulfilling requirements for points. However, if you are one of the high and mighty Lords of Waterdeep, then would you see adventurers as disposable fodder?
I only got the one game in, and that was very delayed as work intruded. Well, that is what happens when you try for a cheeky game during work hours! One thing is for sure, I will be giving Lords of Waterdeep another go in the near future. It’s been far too long since I played it in any form.