Tag Archives: Lords of Waterdeep

16th December 2021

Ivory, always excitable when it comes to Christmas, was first to arrive, shortly followed by Blue and Pink, with armfuls of crackers, parcels, party poppers and Golden GOAT voting forms. It was our first visit to The Jockey since the retirement of the Charles and Anna, but Michelle and John made us very welcome on their first full day, and were very understanding of the noise mess we inevitably made.

"Un-Christmas Party" 2021
– Image by boardGOATS

We started with the crackers, frantically chasing dice, chocolates, and meeples all over the place, and then suffering the flock of appalling goaty jokes with which they were filled. As people munched the chocolates from their crackers they filled in their Golden GOAT voting forms, then Pine and Pink collated the results.  There were lots of nominations for GOAT Poo, but the runaway winner was Dingo’s Dreams.  This is probably quite a clever game that we would normally enjoy, but we played it online with lots of people, none of whom had any idea what they were trying to do.  As a result, the complete chaos made for a very un-fun experience all round.

Dingo's Dreams
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

Discussion surrounding the Moment of the Year included reminiscences of the time Lime accidentally joined an online game of 6 Nimmt! with a bunch of Frenchmen, but that was last year and therefore not eligible this time round.  Pine and Pink fondly remembered the pasting they gave to Burgundy and Blue when they played Ticket to Ride: Heart of Africa, but the winner was the online game of Niagara when Pink won by stealing gems from everyone else—an event that still lingers in the the memory of those who were robbed and are even now dreaming of revenge.

Niagara
– Adapted by boardGOATS from image by
BGG Contributor El_Comandante

With all the online gaming, there was less competition than usual for the Golden GOAT award.  Indeed, the 2019 winner, Wingspan, was very nearly the first game to win the Golden GOAT award twice, but much to Green’s obvious delight, it was just pipped to victory by Praga Caput Regni – quite an achievement given that only four people in the group had even played it.  We spent our winnings from the quiz on appetizers and with some having a full three-course dinner, we weren’t finished till quite late.  There was just time for a game or two though…

Golden GOAT - 2021
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine was keen to play Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, but after the Heart of Africa experience nobody else was enthusiastic to join him.  Ivory was keen to play  the “Feature Game” which was Santa’s Workshop, so Pink, Blue and Burgundy joined him.  This is a medium-light weight worker placement game, similar to Stone Age, Lords of Waterdeep or Viticulture, but with a festive theme.  Players operate teams of elves making presents for Santa to deliver on Christmas Eve.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

On their turn, players can send elves to collect wish-list items, mine for coal, visit the metal, wood, fabric, plastic and assembly workshops, or train their elves so they work more efficiently.  Players earn Cookies for every gift they make, and every three days, Santa carries out an inspection and the teams that have made the most gifts get more Cookies.  The elves can also visit the Reindeer Stables to get help and more Cookies—the player whose team of elves has earned the most Cookies by the end of Christmas Eve is the winner.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is played over the nine days before Christmas, appropriately from 16th December (the date of our “Un-Christmas Dinner”) up to and including Christmas Eve.  Each gift card shows what it is made of and how much assembly it will need, as well as how many Cookies it will earn when it is completed.  One of the things that makes this game a little different to other worker placement games is that players are unable to store resources:  elves must first acquire the gift card, then the materials to make the gift (wood, plastic, fabric and metal), and only then can the elves assemble the gift.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

The idea is that the elf is taking the pieces to the assembly room and making it there, so timing is everything.  If a player visits receives five pieces of wood, but can only use three, the other two go to waste. Players can improve their situation by getting some of their elves trained—this costs a turn, but a visit to the School Room means they can use this additional skill to produce more material or assemble things more efficiently.  The question is whether this is worth the effort as the game is played over just nine days with only three turns per day (or four at lower player counts).

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

Blue and Burgundy started fast and took the bonus Cookies for the most productive team at the end of the 18th December, but by the end of the Christmas Eve, Ivory and Pink were getting the most Cookies for being the most productive while Blue and Burgundy’s attentions were elsewhere. Ivory started out making a lovely wooden music box, but then moved rapidly into making plastic tat.  Selling coal to Santa was also highly lucrative (Santa always needs coal to give to naughty children).

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

Blue did the reverse, starting by making Lego bricks with lots of plastic and then moving on to making dressing up clothes and a lovely teddy bear which she failed to assemble.  Burgundy also struggled with his assembly and spent quite a lot of time visiting the stable and petting Comet (to take the first player marker) or Donna (to obtain the assistance of Zelf to get extra material).  Pink similarly struggled and felt it was important to prioritise being the first player at certain points during the game.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

It was a very close game and the final few turns were really critical as players tried to make sure they completed everything they could and most realised they couldn’t finish  what they wanted to.  Ivory thought he might just make it and gambled on getting enough visits to the assembly room to do what he needed.  In contrast, Blue pragmatically took the Cookies from Dasher’s stable and gave up all hope that she might be able to assemble her gifts.  And that made the difference, giving Blue victory, finishing ten Cookies ahead of Ivory, with Pink just behind in third.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

Although not an exceptional game, Santa’s Workshop is unquestionably one of the best festive games we’ve played—all the more so as it has a genuine Christmas theme rather than simply being “snowy”.  Sadly, the pieces lack a little something, especially Santa, but we made up for that by stealing the bits from Christmas Penguins, which we played a couple of years ago and had great bits, but lacked something in the game-play.  The game itself was purchased in a couple of years ago and sent on by a friend in Australia, but first got caught in the bush fires there and then playing it was delayed by Covid when last year’s Christmas Event was online; the verdict was that it was worth the wait though.

Santa's Workshop
– Image by boardGOATS

On the next table, the rest of the group settled down to play Carcassonne: Winter Edition.  This is essentially the same as the original “blue box version” of the tile playing game, Carcassonne, but with a pretty snowy scheme, which everyone agreed they preferred to the usual version.  So, as with the original, the game play is very simple:  on their turn, the active player plays a tile, adding it to the map (ensuring all the edges agree) and then optionally place a meeple on the tile before scoring any completed features.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

The features on the tiles include city segments, roads and cloisters.  Players score two points for each tile in a city or road they own if it is completed during the game, or one point at the end if incomplete.  Similarly, Cloisters score nine points when completely surrounded or one point for the central tiles and each surrounding it at the end of the game.  The clever part of the game is that while players cannot add a meeple to a feature that is already owned by another player, these can be joined together and then shared so that both players score.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, the group also included the the Lebkuchenmann expansion.  This consists of additional Gingerbread Man tiles mixed in with the base game; when drawn, the player moves the brown Gingerbread Meeple to an unfinished city of their choice.  Before he is moved, however, the current city containing the Gingerbread Man is scored.   Each player receives points for the number of meeples they have in the city multiplied by the number of tiles in the city.  Thus, even players that only one meeple in the city when their opponents have more get a few points.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

The Gingerbread Man also leaves the current city when someone adds the tile that completes it and the Gingerbread Man is scored just before the normal scoring.  This means it is sometimes desirable to finish someone else’s city, in order to move the Gingerbread Man or to make them earn fewer points for it.  The clever part about the Lebkuchenmann expansion is that it can be played in both a friendly and a spiteful way.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Very early in the game, Green, Purple and Lilac all found themselves with cities which looked all but impossible to close out.  Black went for an early “Farmer”, making snow angels and Green followed suit.  “Farmers” only score at the end of the game, giving points for the number of cities the field supplies, but they tie up the meeples for the rest of the game and, if placed early can end up being cut off yielding a poor score.  So, only time would tell whether this would prove to be a master move or a waste of a good meeple.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Lilac was building herself a nice big city, obtained the first Gingerbread Man and placed it into her growing metropolis.  This attracted the attention of Pine who set up camp in a small city across the open divide.  On his next turn he got exactly the tile he needed (a city tile with two opposite open ends), and joined the two together.  When the city was completed shortly after, both Pine and Lilac scored, not just for the city, but for the Gingerbread Man too. This put them both out into a commanding lead on the score board, with Pine half a dozen points ahead—a lead he would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

In the meantime, the rest of the group kept drawing road tiles.  The Gingerbread Meeple was very handy to get some of the awkward, incomplete cities to score at least something, as he hopped around the board giving out gifts.  As the snowy scene expanded and grew, more farmers were placed, more cities were completed, and roads wiggled their way round the landscape joining areas previously separated.  As one of his last moves, Green found the one tile that would fit into the gap next to his first city to complete it. This did something else, too, that would have a game-changing impact, though nobody realised it until scoring.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

With the last tile placed everyone scored their uncompleted cities, roads and cloisters.  At this point Pine was still in front, with Lilac not too far behind in second—the Farmers were going to be key.  Black and Green had managed to maneuver two Farmers each into the same massive field, but sadly Purple’s lone farmer got booted out.  Lilac had a couple of farmers on the other side of the board, one gave her two cities and the other gave her three, just enough to push her ahead of Pine (who had eschewed the whole farming in the snow business as being too cold for him).

Carcassonne: Winter Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

Green’s and Black’s Farmers had amassed a total of huge total of ten cities for their shared field, which brought them right into contention.  Scores were just about to be added to the board when Black pointed out that his (and Green’s) field went further round and actually swallowed Lilac’s farmer with three cities due to the tile placed by Green to complete that city.  So Lilac lost nine of her points and Green’s and Black’s new field total was for thirteen cities giving them thirty-nine points each.  This leapfrogged both of them ahead of Pine and Lilac, with Green coming out a few points on top.  A close game, everyone enjoyed.  This edition is a worthy edition with the Lebkuchenmann expansion a perfect little festive addition too.

"Un-Christmas Party" 2021
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  ‘Elf and Safety is everyone’s business.

28th November 2017

The “Feature Game” was to be Lords of Waterdeep, and with a nearly full turn-out, it was simply a question of who wanted to play it.  Some were a little put off by the Dungeons & Dragons theme, but Burgundy, Green, Ivory, and Purple were keen to give it a go, with Ivory and Purple new to the game.  Each player is a secret Lord of Waterdeep, who uses their agents to recruit adventurers to collect gold so that they can complete Quests to advance their cause.  Each player in turn places one of their “agents” on a building space on the board and immediately resolves the effects of that building. A player may not place his agent on a building space if it has already been taken; the round ends when all agents have been placed, and a game is exactly eight rounds long.  Most of the buildings on the board give money or adventurers. The adventurers are represented by coloured wooden cubes: orange for Fighters, black for Rogues, white for Clerics and purple for Wizards.

Lords of Waterdeep
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor mikehulsebus

The adventurers players collect are exchanged for completing Quest cards. These cards can range from only a few points (four to six), but an extra advantage or some adventurer returned (a bit like a cash-back scheme), to some that give a massive amount of points (over twenty).  This is not the only source of points as there is also a substantial reward given to each player for completing the requirements on their secret Lord of Waterdeep card.  Despite the Fighting Fantasy theme, Lords of Waterdeep is really just run of the mill worker placement game, with adventurers instead of resources.  Unlike many games of this genre, “resources” flow in quite readily, but unfortunately they also flow out just as easily too…

Lords of Waterdeep
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor mikehulsebus

When Green completed a twenty point Quest early on, he looked a long way in the lead, but although it took a couple of rounds for his advantage to be quashed, quashed it duly was. It didn’t take long for everyone to work out which Quest card types everyone had for their secret goals, with Green and Ivory both wanting Commerce, and Green and Burgundy both chasing Piety. Only Purple remained more elusive to work out which was not surprising since she was actually scoring for every building she built and not scoring for Quests completed at all. No-one guessed, even though she managed to build six out of the maximum ten built. To be fair to Green and Ivory, Green had only played the game once before and that was four years ago, and Ivory had never played at all. Burgundy was at least aware that there was such a task, but after the game commented that he never does well at this game (unusually for him), though he enjoys the challenge.

Lords of Waterdeep
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor mikehulsebus

Throughout the game, Purple employed an interesting strategy in that she built up a number of Intrigue cards without using them. She turned that round in the last two or three rounds as her pile of Intrigues got whittled down, gaining her bonuses at everyone else’s expense ( and occasionally to their benefit as well), until she ended the game with none.  Ivory put a lot of effort into trying to get the big scoring quests and at one point was holding out for one on display to use with the building that would gain him an extra four points if he could complete at the same time as picking it up. In the end he bottled it and took it a turn earlier in case it was lost. It turned out he was right to do so, as shortly after he had taken it, all the quest cards were replaced. Ivory also managed to gain a number of bonus points as he too was a prolific builder.

Lords of Waterdeep
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor kilroy_locke

Green was trying to get as many Commerce cards as he could figuring the low scores would add up (Peity cards, his other bonus challenge, were in rather short supply in this game). About half way through, he built the extra worker building that when used allows the player to choose an action before anyone else. Green then used this to great effect taking this piece regularly and combining it with the first player marker to get the first two turns.  In a game where white Clerics were in such short supply (and many of the Quests that appeared later required lots of clerics), this really scuppered the plans of Ivory and Burgundy in particular.  Peity cards need more Clerics than most, Burgundy’s game was often frustrated by the lack of white cubes, and although he kept the first player token in the early part of the game and made good use of it, he just couldn’t quite get his engine going.

Lords of Waterdeep
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor mikehulsebus

The intrigue cards added an extra layer and interaction into the game. Many of them gave a benefit, but also gave a lesser advantage to another player of choice. And some were downright mean to a player of choice, and so alliances were made and broken throughout the game. Reasoning and pleading were a regular feature—an enjoyable interaction which is not so direct in other games.  In the end, it was a close game, but Ivory came out on top, just three points ahead of Green.  Everyone enjoyed it though and would be happy to play it again, but there was general agreement that with five players it would get crowded and might begin to drag.

Lords of Waterdeep
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor mikehulsebus

Meanwhile, on the next table, they had a bit of a problem:  almost all the games they had were four player games and there were five of them!  That afternoon, Magenta had expressed an interest in playing The Climbers again and, as it plays five, it was an easy choice.  This is a great three dimensional strategy game that we first played about a year ago.  It looks like it is designed round a set of children’s building blocks, but it’s appearance belies its true nature however, and, although it looks like a kiddie’s dexterity game, it is really a strategy game with almost no dexterity component at all.  The game is played in turn order with each turn comprising three steps. Firstly, the active player can move a block, any block so long as there isn’t anything on it, and they can place it anywhere, in any orientation as long as there is sufficient space. Next the active player can move their Climber as far as they like within the rules.

– Image by boardGOATS

Climbers can climb up any step below their head height unaided as long as the face they are climbing onto is grey or their own colour. They can also use their long and/or short ladders to climb larger distances, but they are fragile and therefore single use. Before the end of their turn, the active player may place their blocking stone, which prevents a brick being moved or used until that player’s next turn.  These are also single use though, so timing is everything, in fact that is true for almost everything about this game which was amply demonstrated by Blue. Nominated to go first by random draw, she made the most of it using her long ladder and getting as high up as she could as quickly as possible, much to everyone else’s disgust.  Black got himself somewhat stuck on a ledge, but Red, Pine and Magenta quickly caught up.  Then it became a real game of chess with everyone trying to outmaneuver everyone else.   Red accused Blue of using “Dubious Tactics”, but they proved to be winning tactics as she finished just higher than Red in second.

The Climbers
– Image by boardGOATS

With the Matterhorn conquered, and Lords of Waterdeep still going, it was back to the search for a five-player game, and Santo Domingo fitted the bill.  This is a light card game of tactics and bluffing with a pirate theme set in the world of one of our more popular games, Port Royal.  The idea is that in each round player one character card from their hand which are activated in character order and then are placed on a personal discard pile.  The characters are designed to maximise player interaction, with their result dependent on cards that other players have chosen, similar to games like Citadels and Witch’s Brew.  For example, the first card is the Captain who can take a victory point (from a track on a central game board) up to a maximum of twice. The second character is the Admiral who also takes one victory point, but this time up to a maximum of five times, but this is only possible if there are enough points available. This means players have to play “chicken” and try to time playing their second card when other players play something other than the the Captain or the Admiral.

Santo Domingo
– Image by boardGOATS

Players have to be careful though because the third card is the Governor which gives players goods (rather than points) for every player who played either a Captain or an Admiral card. This means players are trying to maximise their return by reading everybody’s minds and saving their Governor for the round when everyone else is playing the Captain and the Admiral.  Cards four, five and six are the Frigate, Galleon and Customs are roughly analogous to the first three characters, except the Frigate and Galleon yield goods (instead of points) and the Customs card gives points (instead of goods).  Goods are very useful as they can be turned into victory points using the Trader (the seventh character card). Timing is key here too though as the potential return increases for every round that nobody uses the Trader; the return also depends on the number of people to play the card though, so even if everyone waits and then plays the Trader at the same time, players may get less than if they had played a round earlier.

Santo Domingo
– Image by boardGOATS

The final card is the Beggar which allows players to pick up their discard pile so that they can re-use them in the following rounds. At the end of each round, players check to see if anyone has passed thirty points and if so, that triggers the end of the game where any residual goods are converted to points at the minimum rate and the player left with the most points is the winner.  It was about half way through the game that Blue realised that there was something missing.  When the Trader is played, the return is dependent on the yellow track and how many players play the same card.  The problem was that once someone plays the Trader, that triggers a reset of the yellow, trader’s track.  Unfortunately, we forgot the reset bit which meant that players who were prioritising goods were finding it easy to get a good return whenever they wanted.  As a result, the game was very close and finished very quickly.

Santo Domingo
– Image by boardGOATS

Magenta took the first place with thirty-one points, just two ahead of Black in second.  As we had time, we decided to give the game another go, playing correctly this time.  Second time round was still close, though there was a better spread and the Beggar (who also gives goods for every Trader card played in the same round) suddenly became a bit more interesting.  After doing well in the fist game, Black got his timing wrong and failed to trade his goods.  Magenta was extremely efficient the second time round as well, but this time was beaten into second place by Blue.  With the game finished, Red and Magenta headed home and Blue, Black and Pine began a game of Azul.

Azul
– Image by BGG contributor JackyTheRipper

This is a new release that Pink and Blue picked up at Essen this year and so far has been popular with the group as well as receiving a lot of buzz further afield.  The idea of the game is that players are tile laying artists decorating a wall in the Palace of Evora with “azulejos”.  On their turn, the active player can either take all the tiles of one colour from one of the factory display (putting the rest in the central market) or take all the tiles of one colour from the market in the centre of the table.  They then place the tiles in one of the five rows on their player board.  The catch is that each player only has five rows, each with a set number of spaces, one to five. Players can add tiles to a row later in the round, but once a row is full, any left-overs go into the negative scoring row. Once all the tiles have been picked up, players evaluate their board, and, starting with the shortest row, one of the tiles from each full row is added to the player’s mosaic and scored.

Azul
– Image by BGG contributor JackyTheRipper

Players score one point for a tile that is not placed adjacent to any other tile, whereas tiles added to rows or columns score the same number of points as there are tiles in the completed row (or column). The game continues with players choosing tiles from the factory displays and then adding them to rows, the catch is that as the mosaic fills up, it is harder to fill the rows as each row can only take each colour once. The game is actually much more complex to explain than to actually play, and as such is just the sort of game we really appreciate.  Blue and Black had both played before, but Pine was new to the game.  Last time he played, Black had commented that this was “just the sort of game that he really liked, but wasn’t any good at”, so it was left to Blue to lead the way.  Pine didn’t need much showing however, and soon had a very fine wall of his own.  So much so in fact, that when Blue was forced to pick up five black “azulejos” she didn’t have space for he was in prime position to take a well deserved win.

Azul
– Image used with permission of boardgamephotos

While Azul was still underway, Lords of Waterdeep had come to an end, so Green, Ivory, Burgundy and Purple decided there was time for quick game of Lanterns: The Harvest Festival.  This is a straight-forward, light tile laying game, where players are decorating the palace lake with floating lanterns and competing to become the most honored artisan when the festival begins. Each tile is divided into four quarters, each of which has a colour, red, orange, blue, green, purple, black and white. On their turn, players choose a tile from their hand of three and add it to the central palace lake. Every player then receives a lantern card corresponding to the color on the side of the tile facing them, with the active player receiving bonus cards for any edges where the colours of the new tile match those of the lake. At the start of their next turn, players can gain honour tiles by dedicating sets of lantern cards, three pairs, four of a kind or seven different colours. Each tile is worth honour points and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
– Image used with permission of boardgamephotos

Purple, Burgundy and Ivory went for trying to collect for the full colour set, while Green was content to begin targeting the “two-pairs” or four of a kind. Purple was a late starter to exchange her cards, forcing Burgundy to go for a couple of two-pairs, and Green got stuck with three orange lantern cards with none left to collect. Part way through the game, they suddenly realised that the six point scoring taken was actually a nine point scoring token and everyone had to work out who should have earned what. There weren’t too many already taken, so the correction was worked out quite easily. Purple seemed to not only hoard the cards, but was also building a large collection of bonus discs, such that the others thought that she wasn’t going to be able to use them all.  As usual there was the normal mutterings of the tiles being the wrong way round. Later on with shortages of some colours, tiles were placed in such a way to prevent some players collecting anything at all.  As the game wore on Purple started to exchange her cards and use her discs. By the end of the game she had actually used them all, and it turned out that she’d used them to perfection, proving that hoarding can sometimes be a winning strategy.

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

Just as they started, Azul finished so Blue suggested Black might like to give NMBR 9 a try since he had been quite intrigued last time when Pine, Blue and Purple had played it. Black was Keen and Pine had enjoyed it, so Blue explained the rules.  The idea is that players will play a total of twenty tiles, numbered zero to nine, with each one appearing twice.  One player turns over a card and calls the number and players each take one tile of that number and add it to their tableau.  Tiles must be placed such that at least one edge touches a previous tile.  Tiles can be placed on top of other tiles as long as there are no overhanging parts, and the tile sits squarely on more than one other tile.  At the end of the game the number tiles are multiplied by the level they sit on minus one.  So, a five on the third level scores ten points (5 x (3-1)).

NMBR 9
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

The game followed the usual course, but it wasn’t long before the the bingo calls started.  Pine began, but Ivory on the next table soon joined in: “Number eight,  garden gate”; “On it’s own, number one”.  Pine finished with, “This number’s smaller, Ivory’s the caller!”  And finished the evening just about was, with only the maths left to be sorted out.  Both Blue and Black had managed to sneak a nine and a one onto the third story.  Pine had more than Black on the first story, but Blue had more than either of them and finished with a grand total of fifty three, some five points more than either of the others.

NMBR 9
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

Learning Outcome: Don’t be misled by an unpromising theme.