While the move to Seven Springs resulted in a decrease in participation, that decrease was less than that of the convention overall. The combined effect of the move and the vagaries of scheduling was varied with Heats 2 and 3 down 32% and 20% respectively, while Heat 1 participation rose 78%.
Other than a handful of 3-player contingency games, the rest were the desired 4-player variety. 48 such games yielded winning scores ranging from 97 to 176 with an average of 135. The average margin of victory was 13 points with 11 games decided by three or fewer points, including three ties broken by gold. These results are very similar to last year. As for the exceedingly close games where the difference between first and last place was less than ten points, there was only one instance as opposed to three in 2015.
There were five other ties that determined positions other than the winner. The master of ties this year was Cary Morris who was involved in two deadlocks that both broke in his favor.
Often the advantage of certain turn order positions are discussed, which normally focuses on the first or last player. For Lords of Waterdeep, the initial player order is randomly determined, and for subsequent rounds the first player position can be taken; so one might think that the initial player order doesn’t matter much. However, in 2015 the player in the second initial position won 40.8% of the 49 4-player games analyzed, first won 24.5%, third 20.4%, and the fourth initial position only won 14% of the time. I wondered at the time if there was a second player advantage. This anomaly did not carry into 2016, where the first player in the initial turn order won 29.2%, fourth won 25%, and second and third prevailed 22.9% of the time. Combining the two years of data the win percentages in initial turn order are: 26.8%, 32%, 21.7%, and 19.6%.
As for the lords, combining the two years of data results in the following win percentages (note that not everyone reported the lord played and the non-response rate has consistently been near 16%): Kyriani (42.86%), Mirt (37.04%), Larissa (33.33%), Brianne (29.73%), Sammereza (26.09%), Durnan (25.81%), Piergeiron (20.69%), Nindil (19.35%), Nymara (18.18%), Caladorn (16.00%), and Khelben (9.68%). Another way to rank the lords is to look at their average finish: Larissa (2.13), Kyriani (2.32), Durnan (2.39), Brianne (2.41), Sammereza (2.48), Caladorn (2.52), Mirt (2.56), Khelben (2.58), Piergeiron (2.59), Nindil (2.65), and Nymara (2.85). Lord appearances ranged from a low of 23 games for Sammereza to a high of 37 for Brianne, with an average of about 30. Comparing the lists seems to indicate that Kyriani, Larissa, and Brianne are consistently above average, while Nindil, Nymara, and Khelben are consistently below it. It is interesting to note that Mirt is rather hit or miss with ten firsts, 11 fourths, and three seconds and thirds. Caladorn is basically the opposite: unlikely to win but also unlikely to be last. Poor Khelben, he is best … at being second (42%).
This year I gave each game winner one DnDeeple (Warrior, Cleric, Rogue, or Wizard) of their choice (if they remembered to stop by to get it). Wizards were the most popular (19 taken), followed by rogues (12), and finally priests and warriors (six and five respectively).
One particularly unusual situation occurred during one of the semifinal games. Cliff Ackman brought “Fetlock Court” into play for free, which was then used four times in the same turn.
The initial player order was Michael Shea, Pete Noteman, Ricky Boyes, and Eric Monte, who had the following lords respectively: Nymara Scheiron (Commerce/Skullduggery), Khelben Arunsun (Arcana/Warfare), Nindil Jalbuck (Piety/Skullduggery), and Larissa Neathal (Buildings).
Overall ten buildings were brought into play during the game, mostly by Eric as one would expect. However, it was Michael who led things off by bringing “Jesters’ Court” into play during Round 1. Round 2 saw Eric bringing “Caravan Court” into play via “Builder’s Hall” and then “Fetlock Court” into play via quest reward from the “Lure Artisans of Mirabar” quest. The other item of note during Round 2 was Michael completing the “Install a Spy in Castle Waterdeep” plot quest, signaling a focus on Skullduggery. Round 2 finished with Michael leading with nine points, followed by Eric with eight points. Pete and Ricky did not score.
The first notable action of Round 3 was Eric building the “Tower of the Order”, which made the other players suspect that he was the builder lord and they generally tried to avoid giving Eric any “gifts” for the next several rounds. All this construction led Pete to give Eric the “Placate Angry Merchants” mandatory quest. Pete’s other activity included completing two quests, one of which was the “Explore Ahghairon’s Tower” plot quest. Ricky also got onto the scoreboard by completing a quest. Round 3 finished with Pete and Eric tied at ten points, followed by Michael (nine), and Ricky (four).
Round 4 was mostly Ricky’s show where he built “House of the Moon” (which is the last time someone other than Eric brought a building into play), and completed two quests, of which one was the plot quest “Defend the Tower of Luck”. Pete also completed a quest. Round 4 finished with Pete leading with 23 points, followed by Ricky 17, Eric (10), and Michael 9.
Round 5 was pretty quiet with Eric building “The Golden Horn”, and Michael and Ricky each completing a quest. It was also when I noticed that the warrior supply had gotten pretty low, with only seven in the supply at this point. Round 5 finished with Ricky leading with 29 points, followed by Pete 23, Michael 21, and Eric.
Round 6 is when the game really picked up the pace. Pete completed three quests, Michael completed two (one of which being the “Establish New Merchant Guild” plot quest), and Ricky one. Eric purchased another building, this time “The Palace of Waterdeep”. At one point during this round the warrior supply dwindled to three and I started to wonder if the warrior supply would last, however this was as low as the supply was going to get. Round 6 ended with Pete leading with 65 points, followed by Michael 45, Ricky 39 and Eric 23.
Round 7 saw Eric getting rid of the mandatory quest he had since Round 3 via the “Change of Plans” intrigue card. Then Michael hit Pete with a mandatory quest, which Pete then immediately completed. Overall: Ricky completed three quests (of which two were plot quests: “Protect the House of Wonder” and “Produce a Miracle for the Masses”). Ironically, right after Ricky completed “Protect the House of Wonder”, Eric built the “House of Wonder”. Eric also completed two quests, one of which was “Placate the Walking Statue”, which as part of the reward gave him a building (Northgate in this case) from the top of the building stack. Michael also completed a quest. Round 7 ended with Pete holding onto the lead with 70 points, followed by Ricky 64, Michael 54 and Eric 49.
Round 8 was characterized by two misses, a couple of blocking moves, and an unexpected gift. The “Establish Harpers Safe House” quest (which rewards eight points plus two points per building you control) became available in the Cliffwatch Inn. However, Eric missed that this quest was available and Ricky snatched it up before Eric had a second chance to take it. Late in the round while scrounging for points, Ricky used The Skulkway, which Eric had built during the round, gifting Eric a critical rogue. Ricky failed to notice that Eric’s only active quest was the 20-point “Confront the Xanathar” and Eric was a rogue and a cleric short of being able to complete it, with only one turn left and no way to get both. The other blocking move was Michael giving Ricky a mandatory quest, which Ricky completed a short time later. Quest wise, Pete and Ricky completed two, and Michael and Eric each completed one. Round 8 ended with Ricky leading with 94 points, Pete closely behind with 91, then Michael with 74 and Eric with 70. After final scoring, Ricky won with 137 points, followed by Pete 132, Eric 124, and Michael 109 points.
As happened last year, the player who was 3-0 in the heats finished second overall.
For 2017 I plan to make the following rules change: If all players at the table agree, Larissa Neathal (the builder lord) can be removed from the game before dealing out the lords. While I don’t agree with those that believe Larissa is overpowered (the statistics I have so far don’t back that theory), I have come to believe that Larissa’s presence changes the game dynamics in a way (i.e. the other players having to detect and then work to keep in check the builder lord player) that may make the game less enjoyable to play for some.