Lords of Waterdeep – House Rules

Hi! It’s been a minute since I last posted here, and to try to get back into the swing of things I thought I’d do a quick post about an old favorite, Lords of Waterdeep. My now fiancé and I have played this so much that we’ve adopted a number of house rules to customize the game. Feel free to use any of all of these in your game, or if you have any of your own add them in the comments!

  • Change the crescent-shaped money from being worth 5 to being worth 4. There are so many effects in LoW that use a value of 4 gold that it makes things much easier if you count the crescents as 4 gold instead of 5. Things like The Golden Horn (the building that build up 4 gold each turn) and the spot on the board where you get 4 gold are easier that way. It takes a little getting used to and you have to remember to “convert” whenever a card has a crescent symbol on it, but it’s worth it.
  • Eliminate mandatory quests in a 2 player game (or all games). I understand why the mandatories are there; they give you a chance to slow down the leader and give you a bit of a shot at influencing who is doing well. But in a 2 player game there’s no strategy at all to using them (there’s only one opponent to hit) and let’s face it, the dumb things are really annoying. We’ve taken them out of the deck entirely, and even when we play with a group no one has a problem with leaving them out. As an added bonus it turns the Open Lord and Change of Plans intrigue cards into “nice to have” instead of “the most valuable cards in the game”.
  • Modify/eliminate the Inevitable Betrayal intrigue card. When you play this intrigue card you get to take money and a resource from an opponent…and then the opponent gets the card. So they can play it right back at someone and that person can play it again ad naseum. It’s such an annoying/pointless card that we just took it out for a long time. But then I found the special promo card Rapid Expansion and we decided to use Inevitable Betrayal as a proxy for it. So it’s back in the deck and we just use it as though it was Rapid Expansion (we don’t have Rapid Expansion because it was a special promo-only card that goes for $70+ on ebay)


    The much better version of Inevitable Betrayal

  • Draw 2 lords at the beginning of the game and keep the one you like. It really sucks when your two quests are Warfare and Arcana and your lord is Piety and Commerce. That’s a fairly big disadvantage right from the get-go. Drawing 2 lords and keeping one means you should get at least one quest that matches up at the start of the game.
  • Save time when you reset the quests. When you use the reset quest space, instead of putting four quests at the inn one at a time and then having everybody look at them, just hand the top four quests off the deck to the person who used the reset space. They can look through them and quickly decide which one they want, and leave the rest at the inn. Meanwhile, another player can be discarding the old quests and taking the next (fifth) card off the deck to go at the inn. Not a rule change, but a nice little time saver.
  • Ditch the faction cards. The game comes with a large card for each faction to use. It has (a little) space for resources, completed quests, plot quests, etc. It’s really just a waste of time and space. Leave them in the box and organize your stuff however you want or according to the space you have available.
  • Throw all the resources in a plastic container. Instead of keeping them separate and in the box or wherever, throw them all in a plastic container and keep it within reach of everyone. Or better yet, use the lid as a second container and have two spots with all the resources so everyone has easy access to them.
  • Use resources to mark when you’ve used certain plot quests. There is a piety plot quest that allows you to convert one resource into a white each round, and there is another that allows you take a resource of your choice at the beginning of each round. Remembering to do these or if you’ve already done them each round can be a hassle (one advantage of using the app, it keeps track of all that for you). For the free resource each round we put a resource (of any color) on top of the gems for each round. Then when you go to distribute them at the start of the round that person takes their resource (they can take whatever the want, not the color that happens to be there). For the converter, we place a white next to each set of round markers; when the conversion is used for that round they take the corresponding white, and that way they know whether or not it’s been used that round.

Well there you have it, some little tips that will hopefully make your game a little smoother and more fun. Let me know if you like any of these or have any of your own!



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11 responses to “Lords of Waterdeep – House Rules

  1. Jeff

    Thanks for the update it was awesome to play with you guys, thanks for the game!

  2. Reading this made me want to play, that’s why I mentioned it last night! I love all our improvements to the game. 😀

  3. I know its all about playing the game more effectively, but what about ideas that could destroy game play or game balance? Specifically I was thinking what about a plot card that had a Scheherazade from MTG kind of effect where you have to play a second game that would then have a larger effect back in the main game. Not wanting to really mess up a LOWD game board to play a second game, what about a TDA game to add victory points?

    • dantherpgman

      I like it! I actually like the “game inside the game” idea a la MTG…just got to figure out a way to not make it add on an extra hour to the game time 😉

  4. I play Lords of Waterdeep fairly regularly, and I have to admit these are great ideas. I love the idea of removing the mandatory quests for two players, and we never use the 5 coin pieces, so it makes sense to make them four. I find small kitchen ramekins are great for the resources (and gold, coming to think of it). Great ideas and a brilliant article!

  5. Pingback: One item LoW focus – Defend the Yawning Portal quest | Dan...on games!

  6. Pingback: Misc. house rules | Dan...on games!

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