For the purpose of this review I will assume you know how to play Lords of Waterdeep the base game. Continue reading if you wish to know more about the expansion. This Expansion is actually quite great, it is two expansions in one. You can play them separately or together, I will explain the pros and cons about using them separately vs together.
The Undermountain Expansion:
Undermountain adds 3 new action spaces and room for a 6th player, at first glance it is boring and much more of the same but look deeper and you will see reason to play it on its own.
They made things more interesting by adding a third tier of quest cards, you now have really big quests worth 40 points and the previous big/long quests become medium. There is now more flexibility to individual strategy as players have more choices to make.
The Undermountain also puts more attention on the Waterdeep Harbor by providing players with an action that yields 2 Intrigue cards. You also have another way to play intrigue cards although you wont get your man back.
Out of the 15 new buildings in Undermountain many of them allow you to play intrigue cards making the game have more player interaction. This also means that everyone will get a chance to play Intrigue cards even if you are playing with 6 players. They eliminated the chance that there would be no available action space as well.
All in all Undermountain is a good expansion and anyone experienced with the base game will be able to jump right in. In my opinion you should never play LoW without Undermountain, even when introducing new players it provides a lot more options and interaction and I think does a better job of selling the experience than the base game.
Skullport is the expansion you want to use if you want to really change things up. You will be introduced to a new type of "currency" Corruption which award players with negative points at the end of the game. The value of each Skull (currency of corruption) is determined by how many total skulls are missing from the shared Corruption board. Players will gain corruption for using buildings that provide above average benefit when used.
|The 3 new action spaces provided by the Skullport Expansion all force players to take a Corruption skull.|
It is possible to return corruption but remember that could be also helping out your opponents by making each skull less harmful.
I enjoyed the corruption mechanic because it lowers the chances that your last turn will be next to worthless, it also leaves you with a bit tougher decisions to make throughout the game. Ultimately the Skullport Expansion adds a lot of variability to your strategy as well and gives players the option to tailor the game towards their play style. However I would not recommend playing this without experienced LoW players as with greater risk comes greater score and bigger gaps between player scores unless everyone knows what they are doing.
Using either expansion on their own is a nice addition to LoW but still leaves it feeling kind of light or not different enough from the base game. When combined they make Lords of Waterdeep a game that I constantly want to play, using both expansions adds a ton of table talk and expands the social feeling of the game while at the same time increasing the options and complexity of the game, in my eyes it is hard for a game to accomplish both of those at the same time and Scoundrels of Skullport is a fantastic expansion to the base game.
Regardless of which expansion you use you will have access to 6 new Lord of Waterdeep cards.
Final Verdict: If you are looking for something more out of your Lords of Waterdeep and don't mind a bit of extra playing time then pick up Scoundrels of Skullport for sure. However the basics all stay the same and if you weren't able to see the coloured cubes as more than cubes before then you wont be able to now, not that theme is important to everyone. From a Worker Placement standpoint, adding both expansions definitely brings it up out of intro/light but there is still really only 1 route to victory, finishing quests but now you have more flexibility about which quests and when you will complete them, with both expansions you also have more options to mess with your opponents as playing also adds 50 new Intrigue cards. I will leave you with some example Intrigue cards.
Oh one last thing, if you are playing with both expansions as a way to combat the added time and keep things balanced/not too up to luck, there is a list of cards and buildings you must take out of the base game. You can find this list here on Board Game Geek