Who Is The Best Lord In Lords of Waterdeep?
Lords of Waterdeep has become a classic game. The D&D themed game has become a well respected entrance to the worker placement genre on the shelves of gamers. In it you take control of one of the masked lords of Waterdeep, secret overlords behind the scenes of the city, controlling what goes on around you. You send agents each turn to gather adventurers to send on quests. quests are worth points, and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
In theory, all of the lords in Lords of Waterdeep are equal. Thus, it may seem like a bit of a redundant question to ask “who is the best lord in Lords of Waterdeep”. They are all, after all, dealt out randomly at the start of the game. That being said, since when, on this blog, are we afraid to shy away from redundant questions? Never, I tell you! Thus – let’s work out who the best lord in Lords of Waterdeep is!
Please note that this is not a surefire point to winning. This is just the theoretical Maths as to which Lord is best. Don’t blame me if you don’t win by picking who is mathematically and theoretically the best lord.
The Eleven Lords
There are eleven lords in Lords of Waterdeep that the players could play as. These are dealt out randomly at the start of the game, so you never actually get to control who you play as. Each lord is an expert in two things bar one example – Larissa Neathal, who specialises in building buildings and not a lot else.
In essence they are:
Nindil Jalbuck – Piety and Skullduggery
Nymara Scheiron – Commerce and Skullduggery
Piergeiron the Paladinson – Piety and Warfare
Sammereza Sulphontis – Arcana and Commerce
Brianne Byndraeth – Arcana and Skullduggery
Caladorn Cassalanter – Skullduggery and Warfare
Kyriani Agrivar – Arcana and Piety
Durnan the Wanderer – Commerce and Warfare
Mirt the Moneylender – Commerce and Piety
Larissa Neathal – Buildings
Khelben Arunsun, the Blackstaff – Arcana and Warfare
To be even clearer we can break this down further. We can look at the number of quests and maximum modifiers (quests of their preferred types in the game) per Lord in Waterdeep.
The eleven lords are, from the looks of it fairly well balanced and so immediately we see one lords that stands out – not for being the best but for being questionable. Larissa Neathal seems to be the worst at first glance, only having the potential of gaining 60 addition end-game points. That being said, this isn’t so bad when we consider how many quests need to be completed by each lord to outdo her maximum.
To compete – Larissa needs to build two buildings for every four specific quests all the other lords need to build. To guarantee a one up on Larissa, the other lords would need to complete 16 specials if she has managed to get all 10 building spaces on the board. That being said, that is incredibly difficult to do, for both parties.
Although Larissa feels unbalanced, the odds of any other lord getting a substantial benefit over her head are astronomically small. In the average game a lord may get 10-12 specific quests of their type, meaning Larissa needs to build 6-7 buildings. It’s not impossible, although it is made harder. As Larissa builds she makes it easier for herself to win the game by getting the end game points; however, the abilities of the buildings also make it easier for everyone else to complete quests. This needs to be kept in mind with Larissa as a Lord. It’s not always best to buy useful buildings.
But I digress. If we assume all lords are created equal in most environments then we need to look at the specific quests themselves. There are 60 of these in total, 12 of each type.
Breaking Down The Quests
The best way to figure out which lord is the best, just off pure points, is to look at each quest, have a look at what it takes, how much it is worth, and have a look what two types of quest complement the other types of quest. This means looking at what each quest needs and what each quest gives as a reward.
To do this I spent an evening inputting data into Excel before spending three evenings analysing it. Now that I look at it, it was time very well spent.
First, we need to break down the points per quest type. All the quests are worth the same amount in the end game, but how much their base worth is will show how far that Lord could be on the points tracker before the end game starts. Where this doesn’t show us which Lord is best, it does give a hint at which has the most potential in points if they focus on just their two types of quests and manage to complete all of them.
Since all quest types have the same number of cards, the above graph is somewhat surprising. Please note the Y axis starts at 112, so the gap between Skullduggery and Warfare/Piety is only 13 points – but 13 points is more than enough to win the game. Looking at that we can look at how much each combination is worth.
So, from the get go, it looks like Warfare/Piety has a hand up in regards to potentially ending the game with the most points. Adding on the end game points, of 94 points in end game value, doesn’t dissuade this. Of course, quests give rewards and need resources, and so we might find that what is worth the most points has quests that really don’t help from a completion perspective.
Secondly, we need to collectively look at the needs for each group of quests. This means looking at the costs for all of the Commerce quests together, the cost of all the Warfare quests together, etc. These are the requirements for each quest group. The goal of this is to find synergy between quest types.
To almost no surprise, the Commerce quests require the most money, and the Warfare quests require the most fighters (etc.). What we can also see though is what each quest type requires least of, and this can tell us just as much.
You see, the goal of this analysis is to find a synergy between two different types of quest. This should then, purely in theory, tell us which Lord is the best of the Lords of Waterdeep to start the game with. Of course, since they are dealt out randomly, this won’t change the game, but it’s interesting analysis nonetheless.
Next, we can look at the rewards. What are the rewards each quest group gives the most of?
Coins (or Money or Gold) is the most common reward, followed by fighters. What is interesting though, with that relationship, is that Commerce is the only quest type to not give fighters out as a reward.
Using these two metrics, and although unsure if this is useful at this point in the analysis, we can look at the percentile relationship between the need and the reward of the resources. Once again, we are looking for the best relationship between the two.
So, what the above graph tells us is that most coins are needed for quests; however, you are also likely to get coins back in return. This gives them a percentile relationship of 35.48%. On the flip side, a lot of thieves are needed in the game, and yet very few are rewarded (and we are not taking plot quests into account with this yet) in return. This gives thieves a percentile relationship of only 8.51%.
Finding the Right Relationship Between Quest Types
Using the above mathematics as a basis, one thing that may be worth looking at is the percentile relationship per quest type and resource. Now this resulted in a giant sheet, which I have pictured below, showing the need of each quest type along the top, and the reward of each quest type down the side.
So, there are 25 rows and columns in the main sheet and 25 rows. This is because there are five quest types, five rewards, and five needs. The quest types are obvious (Commerce, Warfare, Skullduggery, Arcana, and Piety) and the rewards are the resources in the game (Coins, Fighters, Thieves, Wizards, and Clerics). This meant we can aggregate each quest in each column, giving us an overall correlation.
So, on the below graph, the X axis is the primary quest and the Y axis is the percentage correlation. What this means is that the first quest type mentioned in each bar on the X axis is the quest being solved, and the second one is how well the rewards of the other quest correlate to what is needed. So, the very first bar, as an example, shows how well the Warfare rewards help the Commerce quests. This graph is after the raw table.
- Primary Quest = The quest being solved. The quest for completion.
- Secondary Quest = The quest providing rewards to aid the primary quest. This is the rewards given.
The aim of this is to find a synergy between quest types. The higher the percentage the higher the synergy in each one way relationships (you will notice Commerce/Warfare and Warfare/Commerce, switching the primary quest type). This is also not taking plot cards into account. This can be visualised as a table and a graph.
We are now starting to get close to an answer, with Warfare quests offering a strong synergy with other quests. That being said, as mentioned earlier, this treats the primary and secondary quests separately, when realistically they should be seen as one unit.
What this means is we can now aggregate the results to show the strongest correlation between quest types. This will show the overall compatibility and synergy between quest types.
What About Plot Quests?
Of course, throughout this article so far, we’ve been ignoring the Plot Quests and that is for a very simple reason. A lot of the Plot Quests grant additional abilities that are near impossible to put into a mathematical context due to when they are implemented in the game, and how the board can change as the game progresses. That being said, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to try.
What we can do though is look at the number of plot quests per quest type. This gives an idea of, focusing on just the end-game benefit for the Lords you are playing, how many more abilities you could have.
So there are three plot quests per quest type: three Commerce, three Warfare, three Skullduggery, three Arcana, and three Piety.
Of those 15 quests, they can be split into three categories – these are:
- Complete X and Gain X quests. These are quests where you complete a quest of a certain type and get more points, or get more points for building a building. There are 6 of these, one for each quest type and an additional one for Commerce.
- Gain or Do Something with Y and Gain Y quests. These are quests which allow you to, when you gain a resource you can gain an additional resource of that type or when you play an intrigue card you get points. These are 6 of these, one for each quest type and an additional one for Skullduggery.
- Specials. These are completely different and add large benefits to the game. There are 3 of them –
- Defend the Tower of Luck – Once at the start of each round, take one cube of your choice from the supply and add it to your tavern. (Piety)
- Recruit Lieutenant – Add the Lieutenant to your pool of Agents for the rest of the game. (Warfare)
- Recover the Magister’s Orb – Once per round, you can assign an agent to a space containing an opponent’s agent. (Arcana)
Side note – that latter one is my favourite quest in the whole game.
Who is the Best Lord in Lords of Waterdeep?
I must admit, when writing this article I really went in thinking all Lords were created equal in Lords of Waterdeep; however, looking back, I am really not sure that is the case.
IF we focus entirely (and yes, that was a deliberately capitalised “if”) on the quest types for each Lord, and if you play the game looking to complete as many quests as possible (24 is a tall order, meaning three a turn, but I don’t think it’s impossible – either way, completing as many of your specialist end-game quests as you can) then one Lord stands out.
The combination worth most points in the game is, in theory, Warfare and Piety. The combination with the most synergy in regards to resources needed to rewards given is Warfare and Piety. Two of the three special plot quests belong to Warfare and Piety. It is painting a pretty clear picture.
As much as I hate to say it, off this analysis, the best Lord of Waterdeep to have, purely in theory, is Piergeiron the Paladinson.
Purely in theory, according to the numbers. Of course, we know games never really end up entirely as mathematics dictates. Other players could take the quests, or your quests may get discarded or not revealed. A lot could happen in a game of Lords of Waterdeep. As I said, don’t take this as a strategy – but it is interesting to know.
There are strategies and further analysis around this to do with quests and resources and buildings. As I mentioned in my last Lords of Waterdeep blog, I will be writing more about the game in due course.
So there we have it – a complete mathematical breakdown of the lords in Lords of Waterdeep. Maths aside, what do you think? Who is your favourite Lord? Let me know in the comments below.