Lords of Waterdeep: The Scoundrels of Skullport
Designed by Chris Dupuis, Peter Lee, Rodney Thompson
Published by Wizards of the Coast - 2013
Review by Jack Eddy
What’s New: Tons of stuff! An extra meeple for each color, tokens for a 6th grey player, and 2 separate modules that can be combined or played separately. “Skullport” and “Undermountain”. each add new Lords, quests, intrigue cards, an additional location board, and buildings that get mixed in with the base stack.
Skullport adds the corruption track and most of the new content revolves around gaining and losing corruption. The more corruption tokens that are taken from the track by the end of the game, the more negative points each token is worth. lf all players are “dipping in”, these little smurf poops* can be up to -9 points each. Why not avoid corruption you ask? The problem is the skullport locations and buildings and quests provide awesome rewards, and many chances to return corruption to the track.
*corruption tokens are supposed to be blue skulls, but we can all agree they are secretly smurf poops. I bet Gargamel is behind this...
Undermountain, perhaps the less interesting of the two, adds new PHAT & FAT quests and big actions. I’m talking 40 point quests, or quests that put all buildings in builder’s hall into play under your control. Undermountain doesn’t change the fundamental play of the game, other than adding the option to go after really explosive actions that require high investment for high reward.
Why it’s so good: First off, this kit is modular without the hassle. Too often modular expansions are a hassle to deal with if they don’t integrate with each other. Not so here. The insert is beautiful and easy to manage and the components for each module are clearly identified, so integrating and separating is a breeze. Both modules compound the interesting options you have in the game.
Skullport adds a risk and reward element which alters the flow of the game in a really cool way. Early on, you amass a pile of corruption, rarely thinking about the consequences, but later you are desperately searching for opportunities to get rid of it. Or maybe you avoid corruption altogether, and try and find ways to force other players to take more? I almost never play without Skullport EXCEPT when I’m playing with Undermountain.
Undermountain is fun for a change of pace, because completing your aforementioned PH/FAT quests feels really, really good. You’ll relish the-deer-in-the-headlights your friends give as you zoom forward on the point track, only to witness them soon do the same. The lack of corruption doesn’t mean Undermountain is without risk, either; there’s a balance in completing a variety of quests, and not getting bogged down with too big of quests with not enough turns or resources left in the game. The big difference with Undermountain’s risk is that it isn’t punitive like Skullport.
For advanced gamers, or those who want more strategic meat on Waterdeep's bones, Skullport has you covered. Alternatively Undermountain adds more variety and tactical options while keeping the barebones, new-player-friendly nature of the base game intact. For those who just want a sandbox to play in, they can play with both. What’s not to love?