Lost Cities Review

The Lost Cities need to be found. You, a great explorer, are going to try that. You travel through hot deserts, damp forests and over Himalayan mountains.

Overview:

What you get for your money:
60 cards, one small board and the rules.
How do you play the game:
A simple game about rows of cards. Five expeditions in five colours with cards numbered from 2 to 10 and with three investment cards per expedition. 

You try to get as far as possible in your quest to the famous Lost Cities by laying expedition cards of the same colour, from the lowest to the highest number, in front of you. For instance, a red 2, 5, 8 and a 9. At the end of the game these cards will give you points. Every expedition starts with -20 points, so in this case the red expedition will give you 2+5+8+9-20=4 points. You can begin an expedition with one or more investment cards, when you have a lot of faith in that mission or you’re a daredevil. These cards will double, triple or quadruple your score, positive or negative. When a expedition is made up of 8 or more cards, you will get 20 bonus points.

You start the game with 8 cards in your hand and in your turn you will play a card first (add a card to one of your expeditions or discard a card and put it on the board in the middle of the table) and then draw a card (from the draw pile or the game board). When the draw pile is empty the game ends. Add up or subtract the points and the one with the most points wins the game or the round, your choice!
Review:
Theme
This game should be about exploring dangerous places to find these mythical Lost Cities, but it’s not. Just cards with numbers. The illustrations are a little bit thematic, showing different stages of the expedition, but the whole game is not.
Gameplay
This game can be taught in (less than) a minute. Very easy mechanisms. Play a card, take a card. It’s all about managing your hand of cards and knowing what you opponent is trying to do. In this way, you can play or discard cards at the right time.
You, also, have to push your luck with the investment cards and the timing of the start of an expedition. Can you get enough points to make the expedition a worthy investment? How long do you wait for a certain low card or to start an expedition? That eighth card is worth 20 points!
Withholding and discarding specific cards at a certain moment and speeding up the end of the game by only drawing from the draw pile makes the game a bit interactive. You don’t directly mess with each other, though.
And of course there is luck of the draw.
Lost Cities is not a very innovative game in terms of mechanisms, but it is easy to teach, it’s intuitive and has enough decisions into it that it kept me interested (at least for a short while).
Looks
I think the card illustration are nice. The lowest card shows the start of the expedition and on the highest one you arrive at the ruins of the these cities you were looking for.

 

The board is also nice, with the magnifying glass and the different manuscripts.  
I don’t think the game as a whole looks very impressive when it’s on the table.
Quality of the components
The board is OK, totally redundant, but qualitatively fine. The cards, super-sized, could be better. Just average.
Fun
It is said that this game would be played a lot because wives and girlfriends like it. And how stereotypical it may be that is also the case with me. When I got the game I thought it was fine the first couple of games, not that special. My girlfriend liked it and without her I probably would have put the game aside much earlier than I have done now.
26 Games in 2013, mostly played in the first half of the year, is quite a lot. There must be something about this game?
Or was it just love…?
Luck and pushing that luck brings tension to the game and the game needs that. Without that tension, the game would be too boring, because the mechanism aren’t that interesting, at least not in the long-term.
This tension is nice, but it also causes a lot of frustration in my case (sometimes). The game itself, in terms of mechanism is, as I said, OK, but nothing more than that. Adding the frustration and the limited interaction, ensures that I find Lost Cities not very enjoyable. I liked it the first couple of plays, but now, I would only play it if my girlfriend really wants me to or a non-gamer friend is visiting for instance.
It was love after all..
Currently, I have a big enough collection with much better two-player games or games that can be played with 2 players. Therefore you would never hear me say:”Let’s play Lost Cities!” and luckily, my girlfriend hasn’t been asking for it in a while either.

 

One thought on “Lost Cities Review”

  1. Hi there,

    One great thing about Lost Cities is that it pleases almost everyone. OK lots of regular board gamers will not find enough meat on Lost Cities’ bones, but what about the others? My mum liked it, my dad loved it, my brother-in-law loved it, even the dog loved it. Well maybe not the dog but you get the point :). The game is easy to learn and it has lots of tough decisions. And people want to play it again. It is very addictive too.

    The only downside about the game really is the scoring system. It is not overly complicated but it is easy to make mistakes. So you need a pen and paper to make sure everything is right. That’s why the game is even better when played with a computer aid. Well of course, it is always better to play face-to-face. What I mean is that you spend more time playing and less time counting when playing the game online. You can also get a real-time counting of points and remaining cards in the deck. Both help tremendously to speed the game.

    There are a few ways to play the game online. I would like to recommend Happy Meeple (http://www.happymeeple.com/en/) because this platform comes with a tutorial and artificial intelligence. So not only you can learn the game quickly, but you will also be able to play without waiting.

    Enjoy Lost Cities! It really is a fantastic board game! (well fantastic card game is more accurate). But beware it is very addictive!

    PS: Rowdy, if you find Lost Cities too simple, try Keltis the card game. It is an advanced version of Lost Cities with more options. It can also be played online on Happy Meeple actually as well as an unpublished Keltis dice version (quite different this one).

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