Playing Time: 1-2 Hours
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
The rule book (downloadable pdf) is 24 pages long, although only eight are about rules and explaining the parts of the game. There are 12 pages of appendices that give details about each building, the agents and each of the Lords and it wraps up with a glossary and the storage diagram. The back cover is a summary of the rules and a turn sequence reference.
The game is played in eight rounds, the player with the most victory points at the end of the eight rounds is the winner. Each round consists of a number of turns equal to the number of agents a player has. Once all agents have been assigned the round ends. Each turn has two steps 1) Assign an Agent and 2) Complete a Quest. If you have agents left when your turn starts you must assign an agent, otherwise you are skipped and the next player who still has agents plays their turn. Completing quests is optional, if you have the resources to complete a quest you may, but you are not required to.
The Quests are the main source for gaining victory points. Quests are completed by collecting gold and recruiting adventurers, which are represented by small colored blocks of wood. Clerics are white, fighters are orange, rogues are black and wizards are purple. Each quest is of a type that relates to which resource is primarily required to complete it. Piety quests will require more clerics than the Skullduggery quests which will require more rogues. Likewise warfare quests will see more fighters than the arcana quests that call on the magic of wizards. Commerce quests rely on gold and, generally, fewer adventurers. Each player gets a Lord card randomly, and that card will tell you which quests (in most cases) you need to complete to gain victory point bonuses.
Gold and adventurers are gathered by sending out your agents who go throughout the city to one of nine buildings. Most buildings will provide your agent with your needed resource, which then gets placed in your Tavern, which is located on the player mat. There are four buildings which are not primarily about gathering resources. One of the buildings that you can assign your agents is Builder’s Hall, where you are able to purchase new buildings that will add to the possible locations to gather future resources, in addition to giving the owner a special bonus for controlling the new building. Another unique building allows you to take the first player marker, and an intrigue card.
Intrigue cards are the main way you are able to interact with the other players. They come in three fashions; Attack, which usually has a positive benefit for you while negatively effecting your opponent's, Utility, which always benefits you and may benefit an opponent or two, and Mandatory quests, which are quests you give to your opponents that they are required to complete before completing any other quest. Intrigue cards can only be played by assigning an agent to Waterdeep Harbor. The harbor has three numbered spaces for the agents to be assigned, you then play an intrigue card. The round continues as normal, however before the next round begins, each agent in the harbor gets reassigned to another building in order of the numbered spaces. The last, non-resource-giving building is the inn. Here you get one of the four face-up quests that are on the board, as well as gold, an intrigue card or you reset the quests and take one of the new ones.
Finally, victory points are tracked along the edge of the board with a small round wooden disc that is the same color as your agents. If any player pases the 100 space there is a 100 victory point token you get to signify that you are rounding the track a second time.
The game is fairly simple to learn. There are only two things you can do on each turn, so getting that down is relatively simple. The complicated part of the game comes in trying to outmaneuver your opponents. The quests you choose, the buildings you buy, the intrigue cards you play, will all impact the number of victory points you get. Figuring out what you should do on each turn is the hard part.
The number of players determines the number of agents each player gets. Two players start with four agents, three with three, four and five start with two. In a two player game you have more to do each turn because you have more agents. Each player is also more likely to earn more victory points overall than in a game with fewer players. But this is a strategy game and the more players you have, the more you are going to have to plan.
The Bottom Line
I really like this game. I downloaded the rules and as I read them I could totally see where they were going with the theme of the game and was very anxious to get and play it. I think the theme is what really makes the game. At its core, this is a resource gathering game, and if you approach it simply as such you will, I believe, really enjoy it. But if you limit yourself to viewing it as only a resource gathering game you are going to miss out on the richness of the well thought out theme. This is, after all, a D&D based game. Get into it, roleplay a little. Don’t say “I need two orange ones” call them fighters. Read the flavor text on the quests, complete the quests with some flashy description of what your adventurers accomplished. Have some fun with it. Like I said, aside from the theme its a fun game, but the theme is what makes it a great game. Highly recommended, lots of fun, definitely worth getting.