False Economy

False Economy

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False Economy

Well, I couldn’t not make a pyramid joke. I am only human, and a pyramid scheme joke while playing ‘7 Wonders’ is as inevitable as a wood for sheep joke during ‘Catan’. Except of course, being a pun, I would argue that the pyramid scheme gag is a far, far higher form of humour.

In a continuing theme of playing our way through some of the more glaring omissions in our board gaming lives, we finally got to play ‘Lords of Waterdeep’ a few nights ago. I was dubious going in. As much as I had heard what great game it was, I had also heard that it was a rather average worker placement, and it was just the D’nD dressing on top that got people so excited.

After one playthrough, you could categorise my level of surprise as ‘pleasant’. It looks top notch, with a very nice board, solid components, and enough artwork and flavour text to make the theme feel more than just mere set dressing.

We played a six player game with (I believe?) all of the expansions rolled in. There were enough options open every round to keep your mind on the board during down time, and the ratio of players to spaces available on the board was just about enough so that while you couldn’t wholly rely on your plans, you didn’t find them in tatters every other turn.

On top of vying for board space, there were a few player interaction elements – although more than some of these might have come from the expansions. Again, the balance between being able to hamper your opponents while not being able to completely derail their game seemed to be finely tuned.

Despite lacking the opportunity to use pyramid-based puns, it is a game I want to try again. One play is enough to interest me in more, but I don’t yet feel I have a handle on its depth or replayability.

13 Comments on False Economy
  • Dexter Ó Thuithear

    I felt the same about Lords of Waterdeep. There was something off putting about the game, both in how it looked to play, and the theme. That said, I’ve regularly seen it and been tempted to try it because my collection does lack a worker placement game (or rather, one that I can get people to play… Manhatten Project remains unloved due to its theme, it seems).
    I picked up Champions of Midgard a few months ago, however, and that really scratched the itch. The theme holds well, and the art is gorgeous. It’s not so deep as to be intimidating, but certainly deep enough that you could approach it from dozens of angles on each play through. There’s some solid strategy in there, but not so much that it’s off putting to a casual player. It really rises to the play level of your group.
    A couple of weeks after I got it, it appeared on Tabletop, so it immediately became rare… but I highly recommend it if you do manage to find a copy.

    • I remember you mentioning Champions before: I looked it up and really liked the look of it. And lovely dice as well. Manhattan Project is one I have always wanted to play as well, actually. The theme is certainly odd, but appealing in its own way as well.
      Are you playing in any of the XWing regionals? My weekends have started to be consistently tied up, so I haven’t made any yet, nor will I make it to Warpcon. But I’m still hoping to make it to Limerick in February.

      • Dexter Ó Thuithear

        I cannot sell anyone on Mahattan Project. It’s sitting on my shelf, unloved. One day…
        There’s actually a new version of Mahattan Project that is getting high praise, called Energy Empire. I thought it was an expansion when I saw it first, so dismissed it, but it’s a stand alone game about building up your energy industry in competition with your opponents. Similar idea and mechanics, but the theme seems a bit more accessible than “we’re building nukes, but it’s more arms race that actual war”.

        I missed the regionals in Dublin due to work, and the likelihood is that I’m going to miss the Limerick one too. I’ll even miss Warpcon because… well because I’m writing this at almost 3am instead of being in bed. Nightshift is a killer. Still, I’ve gotten so few chances to play either Xwing or Armada since last October, I’m not even sure what I could have brought. I had a silly idea to maybe take four Bombers and just have fun; I’m sure it would have been at Warpcon, but I doubt that would be anything but frustrating for Regionals…

        • I think I now have the time off to go to Limerick after having missed Dublin and Warpcon, but I am in the same boat as yourself. I think November was the last time I got a game of X-Wing in, so I might give it a miss in Limerick. Having said that, I might still go to the Games Day itself, maybe try some new stuff -RPGs, Bolt Action. Might still be fun.

          • Dexter Ó Thuithear

            I was honestly thinking of doing the same. I booked the day off work a few months back, but given how little I’ve played since, I’m sort of on the balance of either entering with a really dumb list that I think is funny (4x Bombers, anyone?), just going and checking out what else is on, or going and helping out (either with the tourney itself, or demoing games).
            I’m leaving it a bit late to decide, I guess.

  • Ben Thorp

    Lords of Waterdeep was one of the earlier games that I bought, partly because of having seen it on Tabletop. Although I don’t play it as much as I used to, it’s still a great game, particularly when you add in the expansion – having those negative-point skulls can be so crucial, and the new Lords are far more interesting than the original set.

    At the moment, though, we tend to pull out Asking for Trobils as a worker placement (although that’s probably in part because it’s visible on the shelf). The other one that I would really like to own is Kingsburg, which apparently is getting an anniversary edition this year.

    • Man, Trobils looks like silly, colourful fun. I really want to play that now, and I had never even heard of it.
      Having only played LoW with the expansion I am not sure which Lords cards are which, but the corruption track was really interesting. That was a mechanic I liked a lot.

      • Ben Thorp

        All the cards in the expansion have (tiny, hard to notice) icons on them 😉

        All the base level Lords were of the “score points for these 2 types of quest” apart from the single “score points for buildings” one.

        Trobils is a great little game that I got from Kickstarter. It has 2 really clever worker placement mechanics that I like:

        1. You have to spend a turn to retrieve all of your workers. But you can also “bump” people from the spot that you want to use, but this then becomes a worker that they can place again. So it makes for interesting decisions.

        2. Over time you add “connections” to your ship, which means that you gain extra resources for going to different spots. So everyone starts off symmetric, but gradually gets more and more asymmetric as the game goes on.

  • Rabid Rogue

    Man, I am in the minority when it comes to Lords of Waterdeep. I think my level of vitriol rises the more overrated a game feels to me. I recently ranted on Reddit on this topic, on the off-chance someone cares about my reasoning:

    …it sort of boggles my mind that this game is so highly rated. The mechanics do not match the fantasy theme at all, it feels like a worker placement game that was just slapped with a fantasy skin. The quests are just collecting different colored tokens. There’s nothing that makes a priest feel like a priest for example.

    Contrast this with Agricola, where it totally feels like you’re farming because you get grain, plow a field, and eventually sow it. For animals you build fences, get animals, breed them and eat them.
    Both games you’re placing workers, but one game feels like it makes sense and the other just feels thrown together. Then at the end of Waterdeep you reveal your lord and show that you were targeting Skullduggery THE WHOLE TIME!! Ok, I guess that’s supposed to be a fun mechanic?

    I hear the expansions are good, but as it stands I feel that LoW is a pretty sucky base game. It’s one of those games that I think people confuse “understanding the mechanics” with “having fun with an enjoyable game”.

    • I don’t think revealing your Lord at the end is meant to be fun, as much as it is meant to make the scoring less of a certainty up until the very end. A game where you know someone has already won before the end is never fun. Having not played Agricola (yet) I can’t really speak to that, but it does seem like the theme fits very tightly to the mechanics. I do think that in LoW, pulling back from playing as adventurers and setting the game in a city with the players playing as Lords ‘behind the scenes’ allows the game to fit cleverly into the world of D’nD without worker placement feeling too out of place.
      Having said all of that, though, I have still only played one game, so time will tell how I feel about it.

  • cdaveb

    I love Lords of Waterdeep and I love introducing it to new people. It’s not for everyone, but these here are some of the reasons it appeals:

    – It’s really easy to learn- you can feel like you know what you’re doing without having to play very far into the game and the early decisions won’t necessarily doom you. Even new players have a good shot at winning. There may be a lot of pieces, but the basic mechanics are pretty straightforward (I’m not a big fan of the corruption mechanic in the expansion though as it tends to way overcomplicate things)

    – It’s not obvious who’s winning. You have some idea of how people are doing, but between late game large quest completions and the hidden lords, it can be a big surprise how the final results turn out (and a slow start doesn’t mean a loss). This makes it more fun for me than other games where if I am falling way behind I feel frustrated and am not enjoying myself as much, or if I’m completely dominating the other players I feel kind of bad about it

    – There are a few cases where players can outright mess with other players, but for the most part you’re focused on pursuing your own goals and not on trying to keep other players down. This makes for a more friendly experience (although I have seen people hold a grudge about a stolen resource or mandatory quest the entire game)

    – It feels like there are usually interesting choices to make- you rarely feel railroaded into a specific strategy (although the lord and the quests available tend to tilt you into a direction)

    I find one of the biggest problems with more complicated games is it’s so hard to find people willing to spend the time to learn them and playing them with a mix of experienced and new players tends not to be as much fun. So I’m a bit prejudiced towards games that are easy to learn.

    • I actually think how winning works in Waterdeep is really great as well. It is very frustrating having to play a game that you know somebody has already won and you have no way of catching them, but Waterdeep keeps some information hidden until the end, which keeps the game interesting for everyone.

  • wr00t

    Always wanted to try out Lors of Waterdeep (after seeing reviews of it and live plays). Though i think since then there are a few better choices for worker placement, like Champions of Midgard. But LoW might still be the best for introducing people to worker placement.