(For those who don't feel like following the video link, Lords of Waterdeep is a D&D themed board game that's a lot like Caylus or a little like Agricola.)
Of course trying to buy a game featured on TableTop shortly after the episode can be a bit of a problem. I called three different game stores last tuesday. The first said they didn't have it and their supplier was out. The second said they didn't have it. The third said they didn't have it but they were expecting a new shipment on wednesday or friday. So i called again wednesday right after work and they said they'd gotten it in, so i drove by and picked up a copy.
First of all i've got to say that i'm rather impressed with the counter tray. (Is there a specific name for that thing? I forget.) I can't remember the last time i saw one that had a specific spot for pretty much every type of piece in the game, and on top of that they made sure for most of them to either make the holder round, or have a cutouts to the sides, or have divits on the bottom, which means it's very easy to get all the pieces _out_ of the tray. The only complain i've got is that the point counters are oblong shaped and the slot for them is designed for them to stand on end. However the pieces aren't _very_ oblong, which means if you've got a stack of them it's hard to straighten them out exactly, and if you don't straighten them out they'll still go in the slot, just at a slight angle. Which means that if you don't get them all straightened out before you start putting them in you won't have quite enough room to fit them all in.
So i got to gaming a little early on sunday, on the theory that if the game is already set up when the others get there they're much more likely to agree to play it :) However the others said they were going to be a little late, so the host and i tried out a two player game first.
I really lucked out for that game. I got the Builder lord, who i suspect is somewhat overpowered in a two player to begin with. I also _started_ with the plot quest that gives you the Lieutenant (a piece that lets you take an extra action every round.) And then almost immediately the "get 4 extra points for buying buildings" plot quest came up in the Inn and i managed to grab it.
The other person pulled ahead for a little bit by getting an early start on regular quests while i was busy getting the two plot quests done (plus one other quest, because it gave me most of the cubes i needed to complete the second plot quest) but after that i started catching up pretty quickly.
I ended up building 8 of the 10 buildings (we didn't realize at the time that the 10 spaces provided aren't intended as a limit, but we never had the chance to build an 11th anyways) and during the last two or three rounds i finally managed to plop down some 20 and 25 point quests and pull ahead even before the bonus points were counted. The final score ended up being 230 to 182.
Shortly after we finished that game the rest of the people showed up and we started a five player game.
Someone else started with the Lieutenant plot quest this time but didn't finish it until about halfway through the game, which is a little late to take much advantage of it. (I really need to do some math on how much resources that quest requires and determine exactly how many extra rounds you need for it to pay off.)
I was the Commerce and Piety lord for that game and didn't really have a plan other than "pick up high scoring quests and complete them." It didn't really help that i started with two Warfare quests, one of which i never completed =P However i managed to edge out a narrow victory, 8 points over the person in second place. (I think we were around the 130ish mark.)
The person who got the Builder lord did pretty mediocre. There was some competition for the buildings, but i don't think he made it his #1 priority. I'm not sure if he would have done better if he'd gone all out on it though.
So all and all the first two runs of the game seemed pretty good, if i say so myself :)
It will be interesting to see how it goes after some replay. The one major imbalance i see is the plot quests. It's not so bad if they show up in the Inn and you have to compete for them, but having players start with some of the better plot quests seems a little odd. I could see a variation where you take out the plot quests while distributing the starting quests and then shuffle them into the deck. Alternately if you wanted to get things off to a quick start you could deal one regular quest and one plot quest to everyone at the beginning. However that would only moderate the luck factor somewhat. No one would be without a plot quest in that case, but some people would get one that worked well with their Lord's ability and some wouldn't.
The Intrigue cards also offer a bit of luck, since they're randomly drawn both at the start and during the game. Some of them are pretty awesome and some of them are rather "meh". Most of them are significantly more useful in games with more players. (The "take two cubes of color X and choose one opponent to receive one cube of color X" cards were kind of a joke in the two player game.)