During the summer of 1940 a French teenager discovers the entrance to a cave. He enters the cave with some of his friends and finds that the walls are full of prehistoric paintings.
What you get for your money:
54 cards, 50 stones, 30 markers and the rules.
How do you play the game:
During the game you are going to collect sets of animals by bidding on them. At the end of the game you will receive points for the animals you have more from than any other player.
There are 6 animals (Deer, Mammoth, Ibex, Horse, Aurochs and Rhino), 9 cards of each. On every card, besides a painting of these animals, there are two different colours (brown, yellow, green, pink, white or blue).
Every player takes a set of six markers, with their player symbol on one side and one of the six colours on the other, and some stones (twelve or ten).
Then, seven (or less) cards are drawn, players look at them and choose which colour they want to bid on. When you bid on green, you might get an Ibex and a Horse and when you bid on pink, you might get an Ibex, an Aurochs and a Mammoth. You choose your colour in secret and place your corresponding player marker, player symbol side up, in front of you.
Then the auction phase starts. One by one players choose; put one stone in the bowl or take the stones that are already there. When you the latter, you pass and you have to place your chosen marker in the middle of the table. The next player who passes, places his marker on the top of the other one. When there is only one player left, he reveals his marker colour and takes the cards with that colour, then the marker on top of the stack is revealed and that player takes the cards of the colour they have chosen, if there are some, and so on. Claimed cards are placed in front of you and must be visible to everyone.
Unclaimed cards remain in the middle of the table, new cards are added, colours are chosen and a new auction round begins.
The game ends when every card is claimed. Players check who has the most cards of an animal type. Only a player (or more players) with an animal majority receives the points. So, when you have five Rhino cards, you have the majority and you will receive five points, one for every Rhino card. You get an additional point for every six stones you have left and the one with the most points, wins Lascaux.
The game has a lot of flavour, but its theme, prehistoric cave paintings, is totally superficial. The mechanisms, bidding on colours, collecting sets of animals, have nothing to do with that theme.
Lascaux is a quick set collection and auction game. It’s easy to teach, the rules are very straightforward, and it’s quite easy to play.
You have to keep in mind that while you are bidding on a colour, you are really bidding on the animals cards that have that colour on them. Winning one yellow card might be worth more than winning four green ones. It just depends on the animals that are on the cards. You have to be able to get the majority of an animal type, otherwise your collection is worthless.
I really like the idea that if you play it right and guess the colour of your opponents markers correctly, you can come in second, third or even last in the auction phase, get a lot of stones and still get the card(s) you need.
The rules state that you have to keep your stones visible to everyone, but I prefer the variant where you keep them hidden. It’s adds a bluffing element and with it some tension to the game. You sort of know how much stones everyone has, but nobody knows exactly how far someone will go to win an auction.
The cave painting theme is only reflected by the artwork of the game. This game could have easily been a game about shapes and colours only, but they poured a prehistoric sauce over it and it definitively gives this one more flavour. I like it. The stones (or shells) are really nice and the hands on the cards are colourful.
The animal paintings are cool, but they are sometimes very hard to distinguish.
Quality of the game parts
Nice linen cards, thick cardboard markers, very good quality. Plus, the stones are fantastic.
I think Lascaux is a very fun filler game. The set collection, the bidding, combined with a little bluffing when you keep your stones hidden, it just works.
You can go for the obvious colour, most on the table, or you can try to outwit your opponents, get a lot of stones and still get some cards. You are constantly looking at other players, who has what and how many, what do they probably want and how many cards do I need myself to get a majority?
Everyone can play this. It’s quick, interactive, light, but not too light, you still have to make some tactical decisions.