06 June 2014

Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport review

Lords of Waterdeep is one of my favorite boardgames, equally fun with 2 as it is with 5 players. It's a worker placement game where players compete to become the most prominent lord of the fantasy town Waterdeep by gathering resources and completing quests that require X-amount of resource Y.

The tight balance of resources, players, agents, locations and cards of the core game is imo perfect - so getting the expansion worried me for a long time. Would it screw up the gameplay? I just hate to see a tight and balanced game degenerate with needless expansions that stir things up without reason.
But I finally took a plunge and bought the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion.

The expansion comes in a slightly slimmer but otherwise similar sized box of the core game, and features two small expansions the Undermountain and Skullport. Both come with their own quest and intrigue cards, their own lords and their own buildings. Each of these expansions add 3 new locations on a tiny add-on board, Skullport  features one additional "corruption board" of which I will talk more later. I must also praise Wizards of the Coast for keeping true to the core game box interior as the expansion pack has room for all new pieces and cards and makes it easy to keep the box content separated and organized in a profesionall manner.

So, two expansions in one box, one might say - though they are fully playable at the same time. The Undermountain expansion focuses on difficult high end/high reward quests and many of the new building tiles that you can buy during the game reflect this by providing a richer flow of resources. The quests and intrigue cards also tinker with the difficulty level in ways that add more fresh content without screwing up the basic formula.

The Skullport expansion module and content is perhaps the biggest change as it introduces a new resource type called "corruption". New buildings, quests, intrigue cards and so on can now generate corruption which has a negative effect on player final scores. What I really like about this module is that it comes with new buildings and intrigue cards that allow you to gather resources quickly but penalizing you for using them by giving you corruption tokens. The corruption tokens can be removed from you by finishing quests, using specific buildings and certain intrigue cards - but in the end they add another layer to the game and there is now another option to either get ahead of the competition by playing the corruption smartly - or get screwed over by greed if you happen to posess corruption tokens at the end of the game and see your total victory point number decrease.
Another nice thing with the corruption resource is that the penalty for owning corruption tokens increases drastically as more corruption is taken away from the "corruption board". I can see this adding a lot to a game with 4+ players.

One last thing added in the expansion is a 6th playable faction, bumping the game to 2-6 players. The game also provides additional player tokens for the so called "long game" variant where you combine the core game and both expansions. The new lords are also interesting and their victory point bonuses focus a lot on the newly added features, such as high end quests and corruption. This makes them a fresh addition to the lords of the core game.

I can't recommend this expansion, and indeed the core game of Lords of Waterdeep, enough! The price of both the core game and the expansion combined is very affordable and the gameplay is very solid and can be enjoyed by both veteran boardgamers and newcomers. The rules for the expansion are learned within minutes and everything about the game is as well explained as in the core game.

Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport raises the core game from a 8.5 to a solid 9!

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