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Marriage Is What Brings Us Together - A Look at Lords of Waterdeep

Jason Moslander
United States
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Mechanism: Volume D - Merging Styles

In the past couple of years, I have noticed a merging of ideals and mechanisms in gaming. This merger is most evident in the two distinct styles of American and European games. Recently, there has been a marriage of sorts: the strong themes of Ameritrash and the wondrous mechanisms of a great Euro. In the past, there has been a distinct separation between these two. As more Americans discover Euros and more Europeans discover Ameritrash, there was bound to be crossover. I have chosen the new hotness, Lords of Waterdeep, for this case study. This will be less of a review and more of an overview and analysis of the marriage of gaming styles.

In Lords of Waterdeep, you are a Lord in the Dungeons and Dragons world. This is a worker placement and set collection game where you are taking your workers and gaining cubes to complete quests and build buildings. Completing the quest come with awards, such as more cubes, money, and victory points. Building also gives victory points, as well as giving more spaces on the board, and giving benefits to the owner of the building. Players continue to place their workers and gain cubes, money, and victory points until the end of eight rounds. At the end of the eight rounds, players reveal their special ability and score their end game points. The player with the most points is the winner. Now that you have an idea of the game, let's put it on the table and look at the merger that has taken place.

Let's see what the Yanks have put into this bad boy. The game has Dungeons and Dragons theme which is clearly American to the core. I don't know much about the D'n'D universe since I am not an RPG player, but the RPGers out there can really grab a hold of the theme--something they are familiar with. The game also has cards called intrigue cards. These are used to give a 'take that' aspect to the game. This element isn't overly strong in the game, but it does give a USofA vibe to the game play.

The worker placement mechanic used in Waterdeep is Euro to the core. It's a staple of games ranging from Caylus to Pillars of the Earth. Usually, when this mechanism is used, it is seen in medium to heavy weight Euros. These games are not for the faint at heart since they also tend to be longer games, running in the 90-180 minute range. Now, this isn't true of all worker placements, but it is not unusual. These games also have a dull theme in most cases: buy cubes, sell cubes, trade cubes, build something, and see who did it the best. However, the mechanisms are usually intriguing enough to keep our attention.

What Waterdeep does is gives us is the best of both worlds. There is a solid theme of Ameritrash gaming while getting rid of the random element, and a solid game play experience using set collection and worker placement mechanics to give you a solid strategy game. I believe that this crossover gaming will become more apparent in the future as companies and game designers realize that they can cover more of the market by mashing together these popular schools of thought. What are your thoughts on this lovely union of ideas?

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Subscribe sub options Thu May 17, 2012 11:26 am
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