Lords of Waterdeep deserves the acclaim it’s getting in the boardgame world. For detailed reviews, see Boardgame Geek and elsewhere on the net. Rodney Thompson and Peter Lee created the design in their free time before selling WotC on the idea. The published game lives up to their original vision.
I had to wait a bit longer than I liked to play my first game. But after my first two-player game, I arranged games four days straight. The last [non-narcissistic!] boardgame I wanted to play so steadily was Dominion. I’m as fond of Lords of Waterdeep.
If I have a problem with the game it’s that I’m better at it than I am at Dominion. I've won five of six games of LoW, though that might qualify as ludicrous trash talk given some of the two and four point margins of victory I’m crowing about. Even so, that’s a victory record that makes games harder to play in my family. Lisa loves Dominion because she can count on a better than 50% chance to kick my ass.
I've played LoWwith friends who know little about the Forgotten Realms and in a couple cases nothing about D&D. They talk of the adventurers in the game as ‘orange’ and ‘black,’ the colors of the cubes, instead of calling them fighters and rogues. When I asked my brother if he was going to finish a quest one turn he said, “Well, it looks like I’m going to Discover a Hidden Temple of Laugh-Out-Loud-th.” But even people playing the game as a series of actions designed to acquire cubes of a certain color and cash them in for victory points enjoy the game immensely.
The more a player knows about D&D the more they catch the flavor. And if you know the Forgotten Realms, you’re thinking “Yeah, hosting a festival of Sune requires two fighters and two wizards who translate into bards singing for the goddess of love and beauty, that’s perfect.”
I’m looking forward to playing more games soon. And I’m OK with that comment about winning too often coming back to bite me on the VP track.