Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 23 February 2016

I know I built it around here somewhere:- Lost Cities

Game: Lost Cities

Manufacturer: KOSMOS

Designer: Reiner Knizia
 Year: 1999
Greetings! Sir Reginald Featherbottom here! Come with me as we search for the fabled lost city of... blast what’s this one called again. I’m afraid that when you are a famous explorer like me all these ancient ruins start to fade into one. Aha ha ha! Seriously though, today we are exploring the jungle, be on the lookout for dangerous animals such as snakes, apes, and man! Aha ha ha!

Lost Cities is a 2 player card game in which you control an explorer who is looking to discover some of the 5 mystical lost cities. The cities are found in hostile deserts, deep underwater, by an active volcano, deep in the jungle and on a frozen mountain so finding them is no easy task. You’ll discover them by placing numbered cards that represent your progress towards the city, if you are particularly confident you can even place a gentleman’s wager on your success. Just don’t expect any help from your rival explorer who is out to be the first to discover the lost cities too!

The game revolves around a central board with 5 spaces on it, one for each of the 5 cities. On your turn you must play a card, either to one of your exhibitions below the game board, or to one of the discard piles on the game board. After playing a card you draw a card, either from the draw deck or from one of the 5 discard piles on the board. When you play a card to an exhibition it must be a larger number than the existing cards on it, 2s can go on top of bets or empty piles only.
The game board, the central 5 areas are the discards for the 5 colours, one man's trash is another man's treasure, so be careful what you throw away!

You have a hand of 8 cards so you do have a fair choice of what to play each turn, but you’d be surprised how limited your choices can feel. The last thing you want to be doing is discarding a card that your opponent really needs to continue an exhibition, but sometimes that’s a better bet than playing a card that ruins one of yours. The points you earn for each exhibition is the sum of the numbers on your played cards at the end of the round minus 20, so it’s best not to start an exhibition if you can’t get a decent number of cards out. In addition this final score (after subtracting 20) is multiplied for each bet you placed on it plus 1 (2x for 1 bet up to 4x for 3 bets). Finally if you have managed to get 8 cards down for one colour then you get a bonus 20 points after multiplication.
Each round ends when there is no draw deck left to take cards from, so you can extend the game by drawing from the central pile instead if you want to fit in an extra card of two at the end. At the end of the round you score each exhibition for each player, sum up the values for your score for the round and then play 2 more rounds to find the winner.

A selection of the game cards, all of the numbered cards have different art on them, I feel bad that I hadn't really given them much notice until this review as they really are quite pretty
Lost Cities is simple, far simpler than the board game version, but I think this plays in its favour. Compared to the board game version the card game is streamlined, quick to play and drags a lot less when you have that run of bad card luck. Lost Cities is a solid 2-player game with decent tactical depth when it comes to what cards you play/discard when, however you do feel very constrained by your card drawing luck at times, still the quick rounds mean that your bad luck can soon be over/begin anew! I do feel that perhaps the mechanics feel a little aged compared to modern games, but for a pre-millennial game Lost Cities still stands strong


1 comment:

  1. Hi there,

    Lost Cities is a great game, very addictive. Actually, it is even better online, because the need for error-prone computations is removed (the computer gives instant scoring) and there is no shuffling either. You are left with only the good bits!

    I suggest to try Lost Cities on Happy Meeple (http://www.happymeeple.com/en/) where you can learn and play the game within minutes. But beware! It is very addictive!