Of the 50 games in the tournament this year, 47 were 4-player. (Note that all statistics provided in this report are for 4-player games.) The winning scores this year ranged from 106 to 159 with an average of 133.28 and standard deviation of 12.59. This is compared to the 328 4-player games that can be analyzed across the 7 years of the event which has winning scores ranging from 91 to 176 with an average of 133.13 and standard deviation of 14.66. Thus, winning scores were average this year with slightly lower variability than typically seen. Margin of victory this year ranged from 0 to 33 with an average of 11.09 and standard deviation of 8.49, which is compared to the overall margin range of 0 to 41 with an average of 10.77 and standard deviation of 9.38. Nine games were decided by 2 or fewer points and there was one extremely close game where the difference between first and las was less than 10, which happened to be the final were the range was 8.
There were five ties this year all broken by gold, of which two were between 1st and 2nd, one between 2nd and 3rd (which occurred in the final), and two between 3rd and 4th.
As for attendance, the number of unique players increased from 96 to 104 (8.33%), and the number of player starts increased from 179 to 197 (10.06%). Compared to 2022, Heat 1 player count increased by 3 from 63 to 66, Heat 2 player count increased by 9 from 55 to 64, and Heat 3 increased by 6 from 41 to 47. To everyone that participated in the Lords of Waterdeep tournament this year, a big THANK YOU for attending.
The advancement rules remained as Heats: Most Wins - Points (HMW-P), although the board made some tweaks. Typically, I have given the guidance that you will need a win, a second, and help with the 3rd tiebreaker to qualify for the Semifinal; with the caveat that a win and a second has normally gotten you into the Semifinal and I’ve always needed alternates. All the qualifiers showed up and I didn’t need an alternate for the first time. There were 11 double heat winners, two people with a win and two seconds, one with a win a second and a fourth, and four people with a win and a second (two of which didn’t make it into the Semifinal). It seems that my advancement guidance will need to change to indicate that a win and second will put you on the bubble and you may or may not make it into the Semifinal
Generally speaking, the advantage or disadvantage of certain turn order positions are often discussed in gaming. For Lords of Waterdeep, the initial player order is randomly determined, and for subsequent rounds, the first player position can be taken. Thus, one might think that the initial player order doesn’t matter much, and that thought seems to be true when looking at the statistics over the seven years of the event:
- Win % by initial position: 19.15%, 17.02%, 36.17%, 27.66%
- Average Finish by initial position: 2.74, 2.60, 2.13, 2.53
- All seven years
- Win % by initial position: 24.70%, 26.22%, 25.30%, 23.78%
- Average Finish by initial position: 2.56, 2.47, 2.47, 2.50
This year, the win percentage by initial position indicates that seat 3 was the hot seat winning 36.17% of the time, followed by seat four winning 27.66% of the time, and seats 1 and 2 are well below expected (25%) with win percentages of 19.15% and 17.02%. Overall, it does not appear that any initial position has any significant advantage or disadvantage;,although I do think it can be advantageous to have the 1st initial position in case there is a good 3 or 4 cost building or plot quest in Cliffwatch Inn in the initial setup.
Before we go into the lord statistics, it should be mentioned that there were two house rules in effect for the tournament for this year:
If all players at a table agree, then Larissa Neathal (the builder lord) can be removed from the game before dealing out the Lord cards. (introduced in 2017) Apparently, this is a very popular house rule with Larissa Neathal having no reported plays for 2018 and 2019, and generally a very low number of appearances each year
- If all players at a table agree, then two lords can be dealt to each player, from which players will choose one (right before the game start) to be the lord they use for the game (introduced in 2018)
Thankfully the non-response rate for reporting the lord played fell significantly from 25.63% last year to 1.60% this year, which is well below the overall average of 13.49%. I would like to thank all the players for doing a great job in filling out the lord reporting section of the score sheet.
||2023 Win %
||7 Year Win %
||2023 Avg Finish
||7 Year Avg Finish
|Mirt the Moneylender||45.45%||32.67%||2.27||2.37|
|Piergeiron the Paladinson||27.27%||20.00%||2.59||2.60|
|Durnan the Wanderer||17.65%||25.23%||2.65||2.45|
Apparently, a doppelganger did impersonate Mirt the Moneylender last year when he won none of his nine games and had an average finish of 2.78, while this year Mirt won 5 of the 11 games he was in (45.45%) and had an average finish of 2.27 (both of which are much closer to his overall stats). It seems the doppelganger moved on to Larissa Neathal who won none of her three game this year (when she normally wins 1 out of 3) and had an average finish of 3 (well below the typical 2.13). Besides the above, other notable win percentage changes year-on-year are Nymara (46.15% to 23.08%), Caladorn (25% to 8.7%), and Khelben (33.33% to 18.75%) while on the positive side there is Piergeiron (8.33% to 18.94%) and Sammereza (22.22% to 38.89%).
To assign lords to tiers I have historically considered both win percentage and average finish, mainly by averaging the ranking in both. (Note that this paragraph is using all seven years of data.) By that metric: Larissa is at the top; followed by Mirt; then Brianne, Sammereza, Durnan, and Khelben share a tier; next Nindil and Kyriani in a tier; then Nymara and Piergeiron in a tier; and finally, Caladorn who is last by both win percentage and average finish and warranted a new tier to inhabit alone. Kyriani and Nymara both fell one tier, while Sammereza gained a tier and had the best overall improvement on the back of a strong 2023. Another way to look at this is due to the advancement tiebreaker’s focus on wins and second places, is to look at the percentage of wins or second places. In which case we have the following table. Either way, Larissa is at the top, Mirt is in the top three, and Piergeiron and Caladorn at the bottom. The percent for 1st and 2nd for each Lord is as follows: Larissa Neathal 66.67%, Khelben Arunsun 59.63%, Mirt the Moneylender 55.45%, Durnan the Wanderer 54.05%, Brianne Byndreath 51.59%, Kyriani Agrivar 47.37%, Nymara Scheiron 46.49%, Nindil Jalbuck 46.36%, Sammereza Sulphontis 45.00%, Piergeiron the Paladinson 44.76%, and Caladorn Cassalanter 43.40%.
As for lord appearances (leaving aside Larissa), the range is from 100 (Sammereza) to 126 (Brianne) with an average of 109.6 for the 7 years of the tournament. Larissa has 39 appearances in 7 years, but 30 of those appearances come from the first 2 years of the tournament when the two house rules weren’t offered.
Before play began, I started with a quick FAQ review to make sure everyone was on the same page rules wise. During that discussion the players collectively decided to use the following clarifications (which I plan to add to the tournament rules next year):
- When using the Quest and Intrigue card spot in Cliffwatch Inn, the Quest and Intrigue card can be chosen in any order.
- The official FAQ indicates that an agent gained during the Waterdeep Harbor phase is assigned immediately. This question is: is the assignment on the same turn as the current one or is a new turn taken right after the current turn (this matters for quest completion)? The table decided that the agent is assigned as part of the current turn, although it didn’t come up during play.
Note that a “bomb” in this context means a quest that is worth a large number of points (normally the 25 and 20 point quests, although Commerce has an 18-point quest and a 15-point quest that could also qualify).
The initial player order was Joseph Carrick, Marcy Morelli, Lisa King, and Eugene Yee, who had the following lords respectively: Nindil Jalbuck (Piety/Skullduggery), Kyriani Agrivar (Arcana/Piety), Caladorn Cassalanter (Skullduggery/Warfare), and Piergeiron the Paladinson (Piety/Warfare). The players agreed to use both house rules allowed in the tournament: removal of Larissa Neathal (“The Builder Lord”) and deal two lords and choose one before the first player takes their first action.
Round 1 started with Joseph building Smuggler’s Dock (Pay 2 gold, get 4 warriors or rogues in any combination), which oddly was the same first move as in the 2022 final. Marcy completed a quest, and Lisa completed the plot quest Bribe the Shipwrights (get a rogue every time you take an action that provides gold), which is one of the best plot quests in the game and great to get so early. Round 1 ended with Lisa leading with 10 points, Marcy with 6 points, Joseph with 1 point, and Eugene with 0 points.
Round 2 started with Joseph continuing his building spree with Spires of the Morning, which put The Yawning Portal into Builders Hall. Marcy completed another quest. Marcy and Lisa picked up a bomb each (25-point Arcana for Marcy and 25-point Warfare for Lisa). The only other thing of note was that Eugene took first player. Round 2 ended with Marcy leading with 14 points, Lisa with 10 points, Joseph with 3 point, and Eugene with 0 points.
Round 3 started with Eugene building The Yawning Portal, which is the best building in the game. Lisa completed the Install a Spy in Castle Waterdeep (+2 points when completing a Skullduggery quest) plot quest, picked up first player, and also got a bomb (20-point Warefare) from playing Bidding War. Round 3 ended with Lisa leading with 20 points, Marcy with 14 points, Joseph with 5 points, and Eugene with 1 point.
Round 4 was rather busy. Lisa built the Caravan Court and continued to pack her bomber (this time with a 25-point Commerce quest). Joseph completed the plot quest Fence Goods for Duke of Darkness (get 2 gold every time you take an action that provides a rogue), which is another of the best plot quests in the game and combos brilliantly with Smuggler’s Dock. Marcy took first player and completed two quests, one of which was the Defend the Tower of Luck (each round get a cube of your choice) plot quest. Eugene got in on the action by completing two quests. Round 4 ended with Lisa leading with 24 points, Eugene with 19 points, Marcy with 18 points, and Joseph with 11 points.
In Round 5, Marcy completed the plot quest Explore Ahghairon’s Tower (get 1 Intrigue card every time you take an action that provides a wizard) and along the way took first player again. Eugene picked up a bomb (20-point Piety), while Lisa dropped one (20-point Warfare). Joseph completed a quest and showed how important Smuggler’s Dock has become by playing the hyper-situational Sample Wares Intrigue card to make use of The Zoarstar in Builders Hall to target Smuggler’s Dock. Round 5 ended with Lisa leading with 44 points, Marcy with 24 points, Joseph with 23 points, and Eugene with 19 points.
In Round 6, Eugene, Joseph, and Marcy complete quests, although in Marcy’s case it was a bomb (25-point Arcana). Lisa takes first player, so she can guarantee usage of the Smuggler’s Dock next round; The question now is canning Lisa drop all the bombs she has collected? Joseph builds Heroes’ Garden and played one of the most comical Bidding Wars I’ve seen: Everyone except Eugene got a bomb in Lord (Joseph 25-point Piety, Marcy 20-point Arcana, and Lisa 25-point Skullduggery), while Eugene got left with Safeguard Eltorchul Mage (which is one of the most pathetic quests in the game particularly when not in Lord). Round 6 ended with Marcy leading with 51 points, Lisa with 44 points, Joseph with 38 points, and Eugene with 28 points.
Round 7 started with Lisa making use of Smuggler’s Dock. Lisa, Marcy, and Joseph all dropped bombs this around (25-point Skullduggery, 20-point Arcana, and 25-point Piety respectively). Joseph completed another quest, while Eugene completed two (one of which off of Heroes’ Garden). Towards the end of the round Lisa takes first player (aiming for Smuggler’s Dock again) and hit Joseph with a mandatory quest (Stamp Out Cultists). Unfortunately for Lisa, Eugene builds The Palace of Waterdeep and uses it to get the Ambassador. Round 7 ended with Joseph leading with 75 points, Marcy and Lisa tied at 71 points, and Eugene with 55 points.
Round 8 started with Eugene playing the Ambassador on Smuggler’s Dock and dropped a bomb of his own (20-point Piety). Eugene completes a quest, Marcy completes a quest off of Heroes’ Garden, and Lisa drops another bomb (25-point Commerce). Unfortunately for Lisa at this point she is unable to get the material to get another bomb out, but she does give the mandatory quest Placate Angry Merchants to Eugene. Joseph completes the mandatory quest, and later completes Lure Artisans of Mirabar, which brings The Zoarstar into play. Marcy then uses The Zoarstar to pick up and complete the plot quest Establish New Merchant Guild. Round 8 ended with Lisa leading with 96 points, Eugene with 90 points, Joseph with 89 points, and Marcy with 87 points.
Final scoring saw Joseph, Marcy, Lisa, and Eugene gaining 8, 2, 8, and 6 points from material and 20 (5/6 quests), 28 (7/9 quests), 12 (3/5 quests), and 28 (7/7 quests) points from Lord bonus, which leads to the final score of Eugene winning with 124 points, followed by Joseph and Marcy with 117 points and Joseph winning the tiebreak on gold, and Lisa with 116 points.
Congratulations to Eugene for being the first repeat and back-to-back winner for Lords of Waterdeep. Congratulations to all finalists for a hard and closely fought Final.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the event. I hope to see you all next year and please continue to bring your games!