Monday, 17 February 2014

Betrayal at Waterdeep

Both Lords of Waterdeep and Betrayal at House on the Hill have seen repeated play at the Ribs in recent weeks. I always seem to be playing something else when they appear, so was pleased to get to try both in one session.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a super thematic game where the players are exploring a spooky house. Tiles are laid out as new rooms are entered and players contend with all the usual sort of things you’d find in a haunted mansion – encountering strange events, collecting items and revealing ominous omens along the way. Finally, one of these omens will trigger the end game where one of the characters betrays the others. A scenario is randomly determined and the traitor goes off to another room to read his objectives (usually kill all the other players) while the rest of the players look up their part in the corresponding scenario - how to survive and/or defeat the traitor.

The game rattled along at a brisk pace even with six players. We played a particularly long game, with lucky haunting rolls (which determine the end game) prolonging the exploration part of the game. By the time we’d determined Richard as the Assassin – keen to murder us all and stop young Clive, the heir to the mansion, from claiming fabulous wealth – most of the mansion had been revealed. This played in our favour and we got Clive to the throne room with the requisite items and still in one piece. We did lose Nicky and Pete II along the way, but they were only ever assassin fodder in my eyes.

It’s a pretty simple game. Easy to drop new players into. It really shines if players get into their roles and treat the other players to a bit of theatrics when reading the omens and descriptions on the cards. If you’re not into that sort of thing it can still be fun, but you’re really just waiting for the end game to trigger so you have an objective, rather than wandering the halls tooling up your character. Plus coming in at 90 minutes it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

This meant we had time for Lords of Waterdeep. A game based on the Forgotten Relams D&D franchise, this sounds like it should be a thematic romp with high adventure in the port city of Waterdeep. It's not. Those with cold and calculating eyes (and even those with just plain old seeing eyes) will look past the stock D&D pictures and see a game about buying and spending cubes to accrue victory points. If you need to get into a role and pretend to be a mighty Lord of Waterdeep and crave nothing but adventure, walk away now. This will disappoint. It's not bad, it's just that Accountants of the Lords of Waterdeep is probably more of an accurate title. So if you like euro/efficiency style games and aren't sniffy about the theme then there is an enjoyable game to be had.  And coming in at between and hour and 90 minutes, it doesn't linger in your hallway boring you with tales of its arthritic feet.

Thanks to Richard IV for bringing along and explaining both games to me. I had a lot of fun with both.

The rest of the pub was crammed with NoBoGers  playing all manner of games.  I think there were five tables in all, with 23 gamers. Four intrepid gamers drowned as they failed to beat Forbidden Desert. Twice. There was a five-player game of Blood Bowl Manager with the Sudden Death expansion. Suburbia got a look in. As did Grimoire, Kingdom Builder, Race for the Galaxy, Libertalia, and Skull and Roses.  And Pete got his rather nice looking Space Game prototype out for some more playtesting. Once again the playtesters let it be known that they still disliked the “If your name is Pete re-roll the dice” rule. We shall see if their concerns make it into the next rules re-write.


Peter Chinkin said...

Ha ha! People also seemed to enjoy the game. There's a few cards that are a bit overpowered and a couple of strategies that need a boost but it's all coming together. I should have all the right colour bits soon...

Mr Bond said...

Good stuff. It looks neat. You need to let it into the wilds of the group and let it have some unsupervised play. Or at least some play where you're not one of the players.