Lords of Waterdeep - A 5-Player Solo Session Report - Failed
First let me say that I find Lords of Waterdeep to play very well solo. It is definitely not the same experience as multi-player but the game-play is entertaining and intriguing even though nothing can be hidden which leaves many of the goals of the individual lord characters and the tactics of Intrigue Card use to fall by the wayside. What I mean by a failure of this session was a combination of insurmountable bookeeping errors near the end of the game and a series of missed turns do to the first turn marker changing hands and my placement of the taverns on my right and left hand sides.
From the beginning this game session was marked by some very interesting character and card combinations. The five characters in original turn order were Brianne, Larissa, Nymaras, Blackstaff, and Mirt.
Brianne drew some good quest cards that matched her arcana and skullduggery but her intrigue cards were both piety utility cards and fairly useless. She started first so lowest amount of starting gold. Even so the Ambassador building was one of the three face-up tiles and I began the game with her taking the builders and claiming it, but even though it was taken each turn the fortunes of chance were not with her and her competition had very powerful cards to begin with. By mid-game she was in a bad position. She'd drawn starting quests that required too many resources to be easily completed while her competitors did amazingly well in their combination of intrigue and quest cards. She continued to get good quest cards but nothing simple and all the while several of her opponents were establishing themselves exceptionally well.
Larissa the builder drew some middle of the road quest cards but her two intrigue cards gave her the gold she needed and the ability to use the builders hall even if she did not hold it with an agent. When Brianne took the hall on turn one and put the 'Ambassador' into play Larrisa sent her agent to claim him and assured herself the hall for the next turn. Since her main goal was simply to get money and buildings it worked out perfectly. By mid-game she had enough buildings to be a serious threat to the other leading players, but even then fortune was making this a very challenging game for some characters and burying others from the start.
Nymaras began with two amazing quests. The Lieutenant and Placate. Simple intrigue utility cards were a great aid to her and by round two she had her extra agent. Even with this advantage she was struggling by mid-game and as the end loomed near she just couldn't get the quests that had either the victory points or the intrigue cards that might have helped her. If I hadn't flubbed the end game I don't see how she could have hoped to pull ahead of either Larrisa or, as it turned out, Blackstaff.
Blackstaff with his arcana and warfare seemed to have drawn some poor cards; A seemingly resource heavy skullduggery card worth a whopping twenty-five victory points and a commerce plot-quest that would reward him with rogues when he received gold. The skullduggery needed eight rogues and other adventurers. The rogues seemed to favor Blackstaff as his intrigue card allows him to draw five quests and his choice is another skullduggery but this one allowing him to 'Recover the Magisters' orb which he uses to devastating effect. By mid-game Blackstaff has gathered four quests of twenty-five victory points each and is reeling in groups of three or four rogues or fighters at a time. While no builder he uses the buildings that Larissa has placed to fill his tavern with adventurers and complete weighty quest after weighty quest. As the game neared its conclusion he was in the lead with heavy victory point laden quests gathered and his opponents struggling to stop and overcome him.
Then comes poor Mirt. Mirt's hand was dirt from the beginning. He could not get near the decent piety or commerce quests or intrigue cards that could help in much if at all. His gold couldn't by him love or buildings and although he snatched the first turn it was snatched back from him before it could do him any good. By mid-game Mirt was in last place, by end-game he was clearly in last place. He just didn't have the numbers. Only my slip-ups saved him from a most ignoble defeat.
As round seven was underway with the ambassador and sixteen agents in motion at some point I missed several players and found the wrong number of agents unused and had no idea where the wrongness began. At that point I was too tired to back-track and too confused to call anyone a winner. A fun game, even solo, but it was time to put the pieces back in the box and consider a rematch some other night.