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Lords of Waterdeep Buildings Analysis

Lords of Waterdeep is a rich game. Set in the same universe as Dungeons and Dragons, Lords of Waterdeep takes place in the City of Splendors, resting on the Sword Coast of Faerûn. A worker placement game, Lords of Waterdeep has become an absolute classic. Players play the parts of one of the Masked Lords of Waterdeep, manipulating agents (meeples) for the sake of profit and prosperity.

Throughout the game, players send their agents to various locations around the board to hire Clerics, Fighters, Rogues, and Wizards. Those beings are used as resources for completing quests in five different areas – Arcana, Skullduggery, Piety, Warfare and Commerce.

Of course, completing quests is not the only thing that players can do in the City of Splendors. Players can also invest in the city, building additional structures and spaces on the board by visiting the Builder’s Hall. Those buildings offer long term bonuses to the builder so long as they keep getting used. They also offer new spaces for agents to use to gain resources. It’s all very smooth and very nifty.

Well, having analysed the individual Lords in Lords of Waterdeep already, and the individual quest types, it’s about time we look at one of the other aspects to the game – the buildings, and what they offer.

So, with that in mind, let’s break these buildings down and discover the secrets of the Lords of Waterdeep.

What are the Buildings in Lords of Waterdeep?

Before we start, there are 24 different buildings in Lords of Waterdeep, so let’s quickly take a look to see what they are. In order, the buildings in Lords of Waterdeep are:

  • Caravan Court
  • Dragon Tower
  • Fetlock Court
  • Helmstar Warehouse
  • Heroes’ Garden
  • House of Good Spirits
  • House of Heroes
  • House of the Moon
  • House of Wonder
  • Jesters’ Court
  • New Olamn
  • Northgate
  • Smuggler’s Dock
  • Spires of the Morning
  • The Golden Horn
  • The Palace of Waterdeep
  • The Skulkway
  • The Stone House
  • The Three Pearls
  • The Tower of Luck
  • The Waymoot
  • The Yawning Portal
  • The Zoarstar
  • Tower of the Order

At the moment, some of those names may seem familiar, especially for those who have read about the wider D&D universe (most notably the Legend of Drizzt series by RA Salvatore and books like Blackstaff Tower by Steven Schend); however, on their own they don’t necessarily mean a lot. Throughout the course of this article we can now break those buildings down to understand them on a deeper level.

Cost Breakdown of the Lords of Waterdeep Buildings

Let’s start off with the easy aspect to analyse. Each one of the 24 buildings has a certain cost associated with it. That cost is in gold, one of the core resources of the game, and it ranges from 3 gold to 8 gold.

Actually, there are only three levels of building in Lords of Waterdeep when it comes down to cost. Buildings cost either 3, 4 or 8 gold.

Out of the 24 buildings, there are only 5 buildings that cost 3 gold each. Those are the Dragon Tower, Helmstar Warehouse, House of Good Spirits, House of the Moon, and Northgate. They are an eclectic group of buildings, ranging from taking one Cleric and a quest, to taking one Wizard and an Intrigue.

Likewise there are 5 buildings that cost 8 gold each. Those have slightly more in common:

  • House of Heroes – One Cleric and two Fighters.
  • The Tower of Luck – One Cleric and two Rogues
  • New Olam – One Wizard and two Rogues
  • Fetlock Court – One Wizard and two Fighters

Those are every combination of Wizards/Clerics and Rogues/Fighters. There is one odd building out – The Zoarstar – allowing players to use a space with an opponent’s agent in it – mimicking the plot quest effect of Return the Magister’s Orb.

Okay, so let’s start visualising this data –

It kind of goes without saying, when looking at that graph, the Average (Mean) is around 4.625. The Median is 4 and the Mode is 4. On average, if you buy a building, odds are it will cost you about 4…or…you know…3 or 8.

Building Rewards

Okay, so you’ve bought your building – now what?

Well, now you get to reap the rewards, and potentially watch other people reap the rewards only for you to also get rewarded. When looking at rewards there are a few ways of breaking this down. First though, we are going to look at the rewards the buildings offer to agents, and then we are going to look at the reward for owners.

Building Rewards for Agents

Agents, when they go to a building, get rewarded with resource. That resource may be Clerics or Wizards or Rogues or Fighters; however, it can also be getting rewarded in gold, Victory Points, Quests, or Intrigue Cards. All-in-all, there is a lot of good that can come from a building. What is more, generally speaking, buildings at the Builder’s Hall tend to be better than those around the board – giving a real incentive to put them into play.

When talking about buildings in this game, we are going to ignore potential points put on buildings in the Builder’s Hall in between rounds. Instead we are looking at the straight up bonuses.

Firstly, if we break the buildings down, we can see what it is that the buildings provide.

So, as we can see, there are 5x buildings that offer Clerics, and 6x buildings that offer Fighters. Meanwhile, there is only 1x building that offers an Intrigue Card. That building is Dragon Tower. You’ll notice that there is a lot of crossover. For instance, Hall of Heroes offers both Fighters and Clerics, so in the above graph it is counted as being a building that provides Clerics and Fighters. Likewise, anything that offers an “either or” choice is counted as providing both for the sake of the above graph.

Interestingly, there are four buildings that allow for players to choose their own cube – so they get to choose between which one of the four adventuring resources to take.

Out of the above buildings, there are 6x buildings that have cumulative effects. These are buildings where, if the resource isn’t collected, they build even more resource each turn. Those buildings are (along with their resource in brackets):

  • Spires of the Morning (Clerics)
  • Caravan Court (Fighters)
  • Jesters’ Court (Rogues)
  • The Waymoot (Victory Points)
  • The Golden Horn (Gold)
  • Tower of the Order (Wizards)

Of course, when we break the buildings down by the resources they give, the story changes somewhat. The above graph shows the total number of resources given on buildings. This comes with two caveats – firstly, this isn’t taking cost into account, as some buildings have a cost to using them. Secondly, for the cumulative buildings we are assuming a value of 2 (or 3 for The Waymoot) as that is the only amount you can actually guarantee in using the building.

As we can see though, Rogues are the most likely resource to get from buildings. There are 6 buildings that provide Rogues, with a grand total of 13 potential Rogues up for grabs. Unsurprisingly, you are least likely to get Intrigue Cards from buildings in Lords of Waterdeep.

Rewards for the Owner

One of the great perks about owning a building in Lords of Waterdeep is that it can give you a steady stream of income for the rest of the game. Once you’ve built a building, you get a bonus every time a player uses that building.

Those rewards come in the form of the basic resources. A few buildings give you either/or options; however, the majority of buildings will give either one resource (Cleric etc.), two gold, or two victory points.

If we break the buildings down in the same way, we can see how many building tiles of each type of resource –

Okay, so there are a couple of really interesting points here. Firstly, if pointing out the obvious – the rewards aren’t as balanced between the resources as we have previously seen with the agent placement rewards.

Secondly, if you want to get a lot of Intrigue Cards, then owning buildings stands the potential to get you twice as many as Intrigue Cards via owning buildings than just using them.

There’s a really interesting dynamic between being a property owner and property user with Lords of Waterdeep. Both are great ways of getting resources, however, they do it in different ways. A strong building can help with all kinds of resource generation. Building a building early on that synergises with your Lord can seriously help with the game. Get something like Hall of Heroes with a Warfare Lord for instance will give a steady source of Fighters to aid with the quests.

Seeing this kind of graph is really interesting. Going by what is rewarded the most, it is possible to judge the kinds of quests a heavy building strategy may assist with. For instance, a building strategy won’t necessarily help with Arcana quests, as there are only 3 buildings where the rewards will help generate Wizards – two specifically Wizards, and one that is any. That being said, Fighters are aplenty as building rewards. This could mean that a building/Warfare strategy could go hand-in-hand more easily.

In a game you will, on average, see less than half the quests. Teaming up building and Warfare would be more reliable than trying to adopt an Arcana/buildings strategy from the get go.

The Lords of Waterdeep Buildings

The buildings are a dynamic aspect to Lords of Waterdeep. With one building having the ability to change the game so radically, they can make every single game of Lords of Waterdeep completely different. With that in mind, when playing Lords, it is important to find buildings that synergise with your strategy, whilst also finding buildings that won’t benefit your opponents too much. Remember that a game can be tight when it comes down to points, and even a few VP every round can make a difference.

So far as analysis article go, this hasn’t been the longest one tonight – that being said, it is interesting to see the data. Since you only every see buildings in small collections (what is the collective noun for a group of buildings?) it can be hard to truly understand what they are doing beneath the surface. Now we are one step closer to understanding that.

Now, over to you. What are your thoughts about the buildings in Lords of Waterdeep? Do you like to play the building game or do you prefer to focus on quests? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Great game! Wish I could get it to the table more. (Too many other games too. Good problems to have.) I do like to employ a building strategy. From the get go if possible. I look at my Lord, and the types of quests I’ll be trying to get. Then I try to acquire acquire a structure that will either generate income or cubes that work toward my quests. If I’m going to need clerics or wizards especially I prioritize those buildings. There are so few ways to get those cubes. With that all said, I absolutely grab The Yawning Portal whenever I can. That “any” cube reward? Fantastic. That’s up to eight times in the game where you don’t have to plan for a space in order to get a useful resource. It doesn’t matter that others also get resources and advance their cause. It helps you more. And I’ve been known to grab first player for the 7th or 8th turns (or use Ambassador or Lieutenant if I have them) _to use my own building_.

    That said have you played with the expansions? The both expand options and add many more interesting possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the buildings really aid with the Wizards and Clerics! Same with Intrigue Cards (although, probably less useful in the long run due to the randomness).

      You know, we haven’t played much of the expansions, despite owning them. Which do you enjoy the most?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Both! After you’re comfortable with the game, add in the first supplement. Play 5-7 times. If you are having fun, do it again. If not add the second supplement. See Undermountain adds a sixth player and lots of interesting locales and Lords. It’s a neat game update. Then, go to Skullport. Whoa. Corruption mechanic. Great steaming turds Batman! It throws the whole game out of whack and you have to recalibrate.


  2. The most obvious thing you’ve missed is that most of the buildings make getting priests and wizards easier. This makes a one turn action, which yields two fighters / rogues or one wizard / priest initially, multiply into 2 turns if you consider specifically going for priest and wizard purposes. Piety and arcana are hands-down the best quest types to have as a bonus for this reason, and the drow is the best lord. None of the other minor differences are as important as multiplying the efficiency of your turns.


    • You raise an interesting point. The turn efficiency is a really valuable aspect with the buildings, especially with the Wizard/Cleric generation. It’s incredibly useful with the Piety and Arcana quests. Interestingly, on that point, I actually did an analysis of the Lords a little while back to see which quests aid with the completion of other quests to understand the synergy between different quest types. Piety and Arcana do help each other out a fair amount. Warfare and Piety actually have the best synergy, but it is more one way (Warfare helps Piety, Piety kind of helps Warfare), but Piety and Arcana are a pretty close second and far more consistent. You raise a really interesting point though. Thanks for the comment.


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