Monday, 13 July 2015

009. The Cardboard Cartographer issue 9.

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Welcome to issue 9 of The Cardboard Cartographer.

Editorial.

In this issue of The Cardboard Cartographer we'll be reviewing 'Lords of Waterdeep.'

But first I'd like to thank you for visiting our website!

Each issue we hope to post some news, a game review and talk about topics relevant to table top games, such as mechanics, conventions, Kickstarter and so on.

I'd also like to mention that all opinions in this issue, and all subsequent issues, are those of their respective authors.
Please don't feel like they are a personal attack or an attempt to undermine or void the opinions of others.
Feel free to agree, disagree, debate and discuss, or simply ignore any or all that is written here.
Whatever you do, be civil. Thank you.

If you have any suggestions feel free to comment, email us, or hit us up @TCBCartographer on twitter.

News.

Spiel Des Jahres Winners.

In issue 6 we briefly covered this year's Spiel Des Jahres nominations.

Since then the winners have been announced.

Colt Express was named the Spiel Des Jahres,
Broom Service was named Kennerspiel Des Jahres
Spinderella was nameed Kinderspiel Des Jahres.

Personally I just don't see how Colt Express came out on top.


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I feel Machi Koro is more successful and accessible, while Colt Express suffers from low replay ability and very few satisfying choices, or opportunities to make said choices.
Going one step further, I'd argue Patchwork; a game on the 'highly recommended' list, deserved the title over each of the nominations.

Despite our personal opinions, we congratulate each and every winner for their fantastic achievements.
There are many different types of gamers out there, and they clearly enjoy these games, so keep at it.

The Cardboard Cartographer on TV.

Slightly sensationalist headline, I'll admit, but a photo of the Twitter Bingo gang playing Orctions at the UK Games Expo was shown on Norwich Television.
Thanks to The Orctioneer (Elliot aka @Quirkative on twitter) for spotting this for us.

You can check out the conversation about it over on Twitter.

Age of Sigmar.


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We don't usually cover Miniatures games in a big way here on The Cardboard Cartographer, but for this we'll make an exception.
Warning: This post may contain spoilers in regards to the Warhammer Fantasy storyline/ The End Times.

Age of Sigmar is probably the biggest shift of paradigm in Games Workshop's long and illustrious history.
After the conclusion of 'The End Times' saga, the world of Warhammer Fantasy was essentially destroyed and engulfed by chaos.
However, Age of Sigmar poises the question '...when a world dies... what happens next.'

It looks set to completely change how the game is to be played.
The most notable difference is that models are on round basses.
In addition to that the rules seem to be quite different too.
If you're into rumours and such, here is a some of the 'leaked rules' for competitive play.

The focus seems to be on balance: making it harder for 'big monsters' to dominate the game.
We'll know more as details flood in, and when the core book is released by itself on July 18th.

Until then, we have pictures of awesome models to look at.


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Kickstarter.

This Kickstarter section we're doing something a little different.
We'll still be covering a few projects, but not in our usual way.

We're going to talk about Game Salute.


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Game Salute has a bit of a reputation on Kickstarter, it always has.
Recently, however, this has started to get out of hand.
This was first brought to our attention by Heavy Cardboard on Twitter (@HeavyCardboard).

To start with we're going to look at a game called '9-Shooter Quick Draw.'


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Successfully funded on March 31st 2015, '9-Shooter Quick Draw' raised $4,967 which was 3 times the original $1,500 target.
Just to reiterate, this game was 300% funded.

A project on Kickstarter has a funding goal for a simple enough reason: this is the required funds for this project to be designed/ produced/ manufactured and delivered in its entirety.
This would be 100% funded.

So imagine a backers surprise when this project, this 300% funded project, is delivered incomplete.
Taking to the Board Game Geek forums, one backer expressed their shock and disappointment when 9-Shooter Quick Draw was delivered without a box.

Not only did Game Salute not provide a box for their game, they also neglected to mention the game was not going to come with a box in any of their direct communications with backers.
instead they did so on the Kickstarter comment section.

Understandably annoyed, the backer endeavored to find out what the deal was.
According to Game Salute they did not have enough funds to make the boxes for the game.

Yup.
A 300% funded game, and they did not have enough money.

This points to two things.
Sheer incompetency in calculating business costs, and/ or a complete disregard for the funding goal system.

Before we jump to conclusions, I'd like to point you to Keyflower.


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Ending on August 11th 2015, Keyflower is game that was originally released by HUCH! & Friends in 2012.

Game Salute have taken to Kickstarter to reprint it as the initial print run was very limited.
At the time of writing the game has already racked up over $51,500 in funding.

That makes this game over 51,500% funded.
Yup.
The funding goal is $100.

Before the rage sets in, let me present their Kickstarter project 'Princes Bride: Prepare to Die! Again!!'


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Ending on July 23rd 2015, 'The Princes Bride,' is 1,120% funded with just under two weeks left to run on the project.
Wow, that's a lot, right?

Nope.

Their funding goal is $100, meaning this game has secured $1,120 at the time of writing.

Now, we could give Game Salute the benefit of the doubt; they have produced a great number of Kickstarter projects and should theoretically have the experience to deal with any problems that should arise, meaning they don't really need funding targets.

If this is the case, they don't need Kickstarter.
Get a damn shop and/ or web store and leave Kickstarter alone.

However, I refuse to believe they are this organised.
No organised enterprise would deliver a product incomplete en-masse.
No organised enterprise would communicate this information through a comment section on a crowd funding website, as opposed to informing their customers directly.

If you want to see a tonne more examples of their complete lack of professionalism, then check out this thread on Board Game Geek.

Our pick of the issue is Keyflower, but do yourself and everyone else a favour.
Try and pick a copy of the 2012 version from ebay, the Board Game Geek marketplace or elsewhere.

Game Salutes business practices on Kickstarter are exactly what is wrong with board gaming on Kickstarter.
They disregard the system, trying to cheat it wherever possible, their fulfillment is shoddy at best and they have terrible customer service.

I wont say don't give them your money, but I will say this.
Be vary careful.

Only pledge what you can realistically lose if the worst happens.

'Lords of Waterdeep' Review by 'DarKHaZZl3.'


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Google - Fu.

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement and resource management game based on the city of Waterdeep from the 'Dungeons and Dragons' Role plying Game system.
Designed by Peter Lee and Rodney Thompson, Lords of Waterdeep was published by Wizards of the Coast in 2012, going on to pick up the award for Best Board Game at Origins in 2013.

For more information head over to the Lords of Waterdeep page on the Dungeons and Dragons section of the Wizards of the Coast website.

Alternatively you can check out the game's page on Board Game Geek.

Contents and Impressions.


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• Game board
• 5 player mats
• 100 Adventurer cubes:
o 25 Clerics (white)
o 25 Fighters (orange)
o 25 Rogues (black)
o 25 Wizards (purple)
• 33 wooden pieces:
o 5 score markers
o 25 Agents (five of each colour)
o 1 Ambassador
o 1 Lieutenant
o 1 First Player marker
• 121 cards:
o 11 Lord of Waterdeep cards
o 50 Intrigue cards
o 60 Quest cards
• 170 die-cut pieces:
o 24 Building tiles
o 45 Building control markers (nine of each colour)
o 50 1-Gold tokens
o 10 5-Gold tokens
o 36 Victory Point tokens
o 5 100 VP token (1 of each colour)
• Rulebook

The components of this game make help drive home that Euro-esq game feel.
Everything is quite simple and functional.

The 'Taller than the average Meeple' Agents and victory point makers are plain and in distinct colours that do the job.


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The 'Adventurers' are just different coloured cubes and while the victory point gems and coins have a bit of flair, they don't detract from that functional character the game has.


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The little theme this game has is driven home by the various cards in the game.

The Quest cards and Intrigue cards have fantastic artwork and a little bit of flavour text to make them more interesting.


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The player mats and game board also share this nice balance between functionality and aesthetics.


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Overall the game treads a fine line between interesting and boring to look at.
Bland and functional for the most part, the speckles of colour mixed with the nice card art makes it not altogether than boring to look at.


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It isn't going to win any awards for outstanding graphic design, but in full flow it is interesting and detailed enough to look at without being too busy.

Game Play.

The objective of Lords of Waterdeep is to gain the most influence over Waterdeep.
To do this players deploy their agents into the city to perform actions at various locations; gathering adventurers and money in order to complete quests.
All of this is done in order to gain victory points, and the player with most at the end of the game, wins.

With a good variety of options, Lords of Waterdeep can seem quite complex to look at, however like most Euro-esq games it is fairly simple to play.

One of the best ways to see how the game works is to watch the Lords of Waterdeep episode on Season 2 of Tabletop.

If you prefer a text and picture explanations then read on!

This game takes a little bit of time to set up; placing all the cards in the right places, separating the coins, gems and cubes and setting up the player mats.
But once this is done, each player receives 2 quest cards, 2 intrigue cards and a secret 'Lord of Waterdeep' card.
This card gives the player certain types of quest to aim for in order to gain bonus points at the end of the game.
In addition to this players also receive a number of Agents depending on the number of players in the game.

Our example is a 4 player game, and as such each player starts with 2 Agents.
Once the first player is decided that player receives the first player marker and 4 gold pieces.
The player who would be 2nd; in a clockwise fashion, then receives 5 gold and so on until all players have gold.


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Once this is done the game is ready to play.


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The round sequence in Lords of Waterdeep is very simple to follow.

At the beginning of each round, the 3 victory point gems are taken from the current round marker and evenly distributed amongst the available buildings.


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These victory points will continue to stack until the building is purchased.

Starting from the player with the first player marker, players take turns placing Agents in locations on the game board and completing the action in that location.
This is done in a round robin fashion; clockwise from the first player, and continues until every player has placed all of their agents.

To help explain how this process works in practice we are going to player through 1 round of the game.

In our example round the blue player places first.

Blue places their first agent on the Blackstaff Tower location.


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This location allows the blue player places 1 purple wizard cube in their Tavern.


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The next player, Red, places their first agent on the Builders Hall location.


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Players who chose to go to the Builders Hall location select 1 of the buildings from the 3 available and pay the cost in gold located in the top left of each building.
Once this is done the player places the building in one of the available building locations along with their control marker.
This opens up a new possible location for players to go to.
When a player who is not the controlling player visits one of these locations they must pay the Owner cost located in the bottom left corner.


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In our example the red player has built the House of Wonder and placed it on the game board.
Any player who visits this location must pay the Red player 2 gold pieces.

In addition to having control over this new location, red also gains the victory points that were stacked on that building when built.


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The next player, Yellow, places their first agent on the Waterdeep Harbour location.


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When a player places an agent on Waterdeep Harbor they may use one of the Intrigue cards from their hand.
Intrigue cards allow plays to gather extra resources and victory points amongst other actions.
These cards come in 3 forms:
Attacks, which target other players,
Utilities, which give all players a boon,
Mandatory, quests which force another player to complete said quest before continuing to complete any of their other quests.


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In our example the yellow player has player the attack card 'Assassination.'
This requires each opponent to remove a black Rogue cube from their Tavern.
For each player that could not do so, yellow receives 2 gold for a total of 8 extra gold.


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The next player, Green, places their first Agent on the Castle Waterdeep location.


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Castle Waterdeep allows the player to take 1 intrigue card from the deck as well as well taking the first player marker.
By taking the first player marker green is ensuring that they can go first in the next round.


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So far each player has placed 1 Agent, so it comes back to the first player again.

The blue player places their second Agent on the Cliffwatch Inn location.
The red player and Yellow player also place their second Agents on Cliffwatch Inn.

Cliffwatch Inn works in a slightly different way to other locations.
Most locations only have 1 slot available.
Waterdeep Harbor has 3 open lots, however they all perform the same action.

Cliffwatch Inn has 3 slots and 3 different Actions.

The slot occupied by the blue player and red player work in similar ways.


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Blue's slot allows them to choose one of the 4 face up quest cards and add it to their own pool of active quests, in addition to this blue gains two gold.
When a quest is taken, it is immediately replaced with another form the quest deck.


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Red's slow aloows them to take a quest in the same way, but also gain an Intrigue card.


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Yellow's slot on the other hand is slightly different.


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Each of the 4 face up quest cards are discarded, and 4 new quests are dealt face up.


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Yellow than picks one of the quests and places it their active quest pool.


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Quests are a vital part of the game, as they allow players to send out adventurers to gain victory points and other rewards.
There are 5 quest types available,
Arcana, Piety, Skullduggery, Warfare and Commerce.
These give an indication of what is needed to complete the quest.

Within these quests are two types of quests; Standard quests and Plot Quests.


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Standard quests reward a player only once, while Plot quests give a smaller payment in addition to an ongoing effect.

To complete a quest a player must first have placed an agent, after this they may complete 1 quest.
This means you can complete a quest per agent you have.


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In this example green has just placed an agent on the Field of Triumph location and gains 2 orange Fighter cubes.


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Green then decides to expend 2 black rogue cubs, 2 orange fighter cubes and 4 gold pieces to complete a Plot Quest.


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In addition to 6 victory points green will also gain 4 victory points whenever they buy a Building for the rest of the game.

When a Standard quest is completed, it is placed face down in the 'quest' area of that players mat.
Plot quests are placed on the right hand side.

Continuing with our round, the green player's second Agent is placed on The Grinning Lion Tavern location, and they place 2 black Rouge cubes in their tavern.


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With this action complete the round is over, and all agents are returned to their respective players agent pool.


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Each round happens in the same way.
Round 2 would start by distributing the victory points to the available buildings, and then agents would be placed starting with the now first player green.


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The only exception to this is at the start of round 5.
At the start of this round each player receives an additional agent to use.


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Once round 8 has been completed the game ends.


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To determine the winner, players add their current victory points to any bonuses they receive at the end of the game.


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For each adventurer a player has remaining in their tavern they gain 1 victory point.
For every two gold a player has in their tavern they receive 1 victory point.
In addition to this players revel their Lord of Waterdeep cards, adding the bonus points they grant to their total.
In the case of a draw the player with the tied player with the most gold wins.

In our example Green is winning at the end of the game with 66 points.


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Once all bonus point are taken into account however red storms to the lead gaining an additional 18 points for a total of 80, while Green only manages 13 bonus points finishing on 79 points.


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Personal Opinion.

Let's get this out the way first; the game is not the prettiest.
While some of the artwork is great it doesn't make the game awe inspiring or beautiful to look at.

Nor does it have very much of theme.
You almost can't tell that this game is based on the Dungeons and Dragons universe; something which is dripping with theme.

So if these are criteria you look for when deciding whether to play a game, you'll probably be disappointed.

These are not necessary for me.
Personally a game must work first and foremost.

If the game does not function well no amount of polish or theme will save it.
I think I proved this in my Samurai review in issue 2.

A game must also be engaging, and no amount of tacked on theme or pretty visuals will keep players engaged forever.
What makes a game engaging is how the mechanics make the game progress and develop; how they tell a story or create an experience.
I love Warhammer 40,000, but just by sticking that theme to Talisman and calling it Relic doesn't make it any better.
The games mechanics are not engaging or interesting.
On the other hand, abstract games like Chess demand your attention.

Lords of Waterdeep does this, because it works.
The mechanics provide achievable goals mixed with competition and intrigue.

As players complete quests and build extra locations in an empire building-esq fashion, coupled with the release of additional moves midway through the game, make the game feel like the it spirals onwards and upwards the more it progresses.

This expansion works fantastically well with the worker placement mechanic.
The competition for locations and their resources helps drive some intensity and passive conflict into the game; denying players locations in order to slow them down.
It isn't afraid of this conflict either.
Intrigue cards can simply attack other player, without being too overpowered; mandatory quests are annoying but not crippling.

There is satisfaction in this game too; the feeling of completing a series of moves allowing you to rack up points is extremely fulfilling.

Another factor that drives engagement is feeling as if you are involved in the game.
By spacing out the placement of agents, a players next move is always fairly close at hand.
Downtime should not be a huge problem.

Also, because of the secret Lord of Waterdeep card you never really know what points people are really on.
This adds a little tension to the game, without unfairly swinging the game with overpowered bonuses.

Lords of Waterdeep is balanced, well made, function and actively engaging.
The lack of theme, soundness of mechanics and plethora of cards give the game a decent amount of replay ability too.

Needless to say I would happily recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of Euro style games with a bit of bite, worker placement games or resource management games.
Or just something that works.

Expansions, Reprints and Different Versions.

Since the initial release of Lords of Waterdeep in 2012 there has only been a single expansion released.

Scoundrels of Skullport was published in 2013 and designed by Peter Lee, Rodney Thompson and Chris Dupuis.


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The expansion allows for a 6th player to play the game as the Grey Hands faction, as well as introducing new modules which alter the way the game can be played.
The biggest changes are the introduction of 3 new game boards and the corruption mechanic; trading off large rewards for penalties at the end of the game.


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The expansion is very interesting and certainly worth checking out if you want to add more to Lords of Waterdeep, or play with an additional player.

In additional to this expansion there are a handful of promo cards.
These take the form of Intrigue cards, and while interesting and slightly more powerful than pre-existing cards, are easy to live without.
I'd only suggest tracking them down if you are a huge fan of the game, or a collector/ completionist.

Digital Spotlight.

There is an ios version of Lords of Waterdeep available.


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The app has the ability to play online, and you can purchase the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion from the in-app store, although it comes in the form of two relatively expensive mini-expansions.

It seems fairly well made, has a fairly decent rating and is only £4.99.

Alternatively, it can be bought as part of the playdeck bundle which also include Agricola, Tanto Cuore, Fluxx and more.
The bundle is £13.49 for all 8 apps.

If you like the game, or like worker placement games then I would check this app out.

Of course, there is a tabletop simulator version of the game available which seems to be incredibly well detailed.
You can find it on their Steam community page.

Outro.

What did you think of this issue? Pro's, Con's?

Have you dealt with game Salute in the past?

Are you looking forward to Age of Sigmar?

Have you played Lords of Waterdeep?
What do you think?

Feel free to comment on this post, or alternatively hit us up on twitter @TCBCartographer

Thank you for reading this issue of The Cardboard Cartographer, until next time!