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During the Kickstarter for Pursuit of Happiness I noticed some folks talking about how it was not a true “worker placement” game. I had heard the term a few times, but never really looked at the genre. The same folks stated that Lords of Waterdeep was the quintessential entry-level worker placement. I took a look at it on BoardGameGeek and it seemed intriguing so I put it on my Amazon Wish List (side note: everyone should have an Amazon Wish List, it makes gift giving so much more convenient), and promptly forgot about it until I received it for Christmas.

What is Worker Placement?

According to Wikipedia:

Worker placement is a game mechanism where players allocate a limited number of tokens (“workers”) to multiple stations that provide various defined actions. The worker placement mechanism originates with board games.

Although the mechanism is chiefly associated with board games, the worker placement concept has been used in analysis of other game types. For instance, Adams and Dormans describe the assigning of tasks to SCV units in the real-time strategy game StarCraft as an example of the worker placement mechanic.

So a worker placement game is one in which each player sends a worker to a specific location (often preventing others from using that location) for a specific effect/resource. Generally, each player (in order) sends one worker out until everyone has sent all their workers, at which point the workers will need to be called back.

In Lords of Waterdeep, you are one of the Lords of Waterdeep, the secret rulers of the city; your workers are your “agents” going out to do your bidding. They help you accumulate resources (gold, Clerics, Fighters, Rogues, Wizards, and Intrigue Cards) which you use to accomplish Quests. As you are a “secret” ruler, you have some information that the other players do not, namely a way to get extra points at the end of the game. The bulk of your victory points come from completing quests, but (in general) each Lord has 2 quest types that provide extra VP at the end of the game. Some of our games have been decided because of this bonus, so don’t neglect it!

There is quite a bit of decision making in this game, and the more players you have the more likely that someone else will take the spot you covet. After you play a few rounds you’ll start to realize that you need to have multiple plans: your ideal spot, the spot you take when someone takes that from you, and depending on how many other players there are, a backup plan for when that spot is taken. I’m making it sound more complex than it really is. I’ve found this to be one of the simplest games to teach and have people pick up. We have had a lot of fun playing this.

If you or other members of your group have a hard time making decisions, this game may take a bit longer than the advertised 1-2 hour playing time, but it is still a blast. I predict this game will continue to see play on our table for a long time to come.

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