Game: Lost Cities
Designer: Reiner Knizia
Our first encounter with Lost Cities was actually through the board game which we found in a charity shop and bought based on the Rio Grande label rather than actually knowing of the game. The game was OK, but just wasn’t that interesting to play, so after a few games we traded this one away. However, through looking into the board game I was eventually led to the 2-player card game that The Game Shelf are reviewing this week. It seems people have many more good things to say about the card game over the board game, but what do we think?
Lost Cities is a two player hand management and set collection game. The theme is barely there, but I believe you are each an explorer choosing whether top travel on 5 different expeditions and will be rewarded or penalised based on how far you have travelled. In reality there are five colours; blue, red, yellow, green and white and each have cards number 2-10. Each player starts the game with a hand of eight cards and on your turn you must either play a card to an expedition or discard a card and then you can pick up one card, either blind from the top of the deck or from the top of one of the 5 coloured discard piles.
When playing cards to an expedition you must play them in ascending order, although there can be gaps. When starting out on an expedition you can decide to first play a card which will double your score from the expedition or even play two or three of these cards to triple or quadruple your future scoring on that colour. However, you also need to think about how many points you might be able to play. If you play less than 20 in total on one colour then points will be deducted equal to how far under 20 points you are (and these can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled). If you manage to play over 20 points worth of cards then you score for the amount of points you are greater than 20 by. Finally you need to be mindful of what your opponent is playing because there’s only one of each card in the deck.
|The game in progress. The game ends immediately when the draw pile is empty.|
The game is really simple and easy to teach – I have played this with both my parents which definitely proves that point! However it can be really tactical when you’re holding back from discarding cards that your opponent will snatch up. There is a certain amount of luck in the game which can be frustrating when your opponent is obviously drawing and holding back all of the cards that you need, but I do like how this can push you into a corner where you can either no longer wait for some of the cards you need or you have to discard something beneficial for your opponent. More often than not this luck comes out in the wash because you play the game over 3 rounds and luck usually sways between players and it can also be a great leveller since I have won and lost this game equally with all different opponents.
Lost Cities is a great two player card game for any collection. It is quite simple, but even for gaming couples I think there is enough there to enjoy. It’s definitely a keeper in our collection and the Yellow Meeple gives it a 8/10.