How deep is your game?

Dungeons! Dragons! Not! Quite!

Dungeons! Dragons! Not! Quite!

This week’s session started with a five player encounter at Waterdeep – with the Lords of Waterdeep, to be precise – in a game that is labelled as having a connection to the famous role playing game Dungeons and Dragons. There is a loose connection, but the theme is a facade for a neat worker placement game, with some devilish backstabbing and wrecking potential.

You score victory points mainly by completing quests. To complete quests you have to acquire certain resources. Match the demanded resources to those on the the quest card, and you’re done. However, your fellow players can dump a mandatory quest on you – one you must do before any other – and blow you off course. And your fellow players can also trigger Intrigue cards that see you lose those precious resources, or at least enough of them to sabotage your quest completion for another round. Damn and blast!

I had not played it before, thus obviously explaining my last place finish (ahem). I don’t think Rochelle had played it before, but she picked it up better than me, and did quite well. David was a bit of straggler in the first half of the game, but made up for it with a better second half showing. With a decent lucky break, he could have been up there with the winner. Yehuda sauntered along and finished second. Oh, Laurie won ahead of Yehuda. Well done Laurie!

I did wonder about the skill and luck balance. This is not to take anything away from those who did better than me, but the swings of fortune did seem ferocious. For example, in the last round of the game, I had a mandatory quest in my hand. I could have dumped that on any of the other players and forced them to complete a quest for 5 victory points instead of the likely 15-25 they had lined up and ready to go. And there would be nothing they could have done about it. So my play could have determined the winner.

The funny thing is, I don’t think the game needs these negative actions. For me, there’s enough of a gaming challenge to put together the resources to complete quests in an efficient manner.

Yehuda came up with an interesting suggestion of having a house rule that allowed you to pay a monetary penalty instead of forfeiting a resource when triggered by an opponent’s Intrigue card.

The negatives here did not stop me enjoying the game. It is fun. As I remarked to the others, when it had last been played I was doing something else, and I didn’t especially like what I saw. However, it plays a ton better than it looks, and I really quite enjoyed it. I would play it again, warts and all, but would prefer some kind of smooth solution.

We finished with David, Yehuda and I playing San Juan. David rocketed off to  a great start, and was in a position to build his twelfth structure, end the game, and win. However, he dallied just too long and this allowed Yehuda to build some big victory point buildings that gave him the win ahead of David.

Thanks to all who came. A highlight of the week.