Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lost Cities: The Original Card Game (Thames and Kosmos)

Lost Cities: The Original Card Game is a game that has been around almost 20 years. It is a two-player game for ages 10+. It takes approximately 30 minutes to play and retails for $20. In this game, you and your opponent are rival archaeologists seeking to mount the most profitable expeditions by unearthing civilizations from long ago.

Setup
1. Lay out the game board.
2. Shuffle the 60 playing cards, comprised of five colors with each color made up of cards numbered 2 through 10 and three wager cards.
3. Give eight cards to each player face-down. Place the remaining 44 cards in a face-down draw pile next to the board.

Game Play - The goal of each player is form expedition routes that after subtracting expedition costs (20 for each expedition started) earn you the most points. On your turn, you take two actions:
1. Place a Card:
a. Place a card in one of your own columns. Each card placed in a column, must have a higher value than the previously placed card. (Note: If placing a wager card, it must be placed before you playing any numeric cards. You may also place multiple wager cards in the same column.)
b. If you don't want to or choose not to play a card in one of your columns, you must discard a card from your hand (face-up) into the corresponding color's discard pile.
2. Draw a card and place it in your hand. The card can come from the face-down draw pile or one of the five discard piles.

The game ends when the last card from the face-down draw pile has been drawn.
Scoring
Add up the value of each card in the column. Subtract the expedition costs of 20. See if a column has any wager cards in it. If one, two, or three wager cards were placed in the column, then multiple the results by 2, 3, or 4 respectively. (Example: One column is composted of two wager cards, the 8, 9, and 10. 8 + 9+ 10 = 27 - 20 = 7 x 3 = 21 points.) Do this for each column. Some columns might net you negative points. (Note: Any column with eight cards in it, gets you a bonus 20 points. Any columns with no cards in it scores zero.) Add up all five of your columns and the highest score wins. Play two more games and then sum all three of your game scores. Highest score is the winner.

Review
This game, rightfully so, is one of the best and highest rated two player games, and has been for a while. With only 5 columns of colors, you usually figure out early on which two colors you are focusing on and which two colors your opponent is focusing on. Then, you and your opponent basically fighting over that fifth color, providing just enough tension to be enjoyable without overburdening. The game play is simple enough and the game is quick enough that you can teach it to kids younger than the recommended 10. This will teach your child number sequences, risk management (wager cards), and when its better to not pursue something, over pursuing something. However, what I really liked about this game was the artwork. It's got a nice, classical archaeological feel to it. And when you arrange each set of colored cards in numeric order, they form a complete picture of what exactly it is you're on your expedition for. If you're looking for a fun two-player game that will stand the test of time, I highly recommend Lost Cities: The Original Card Game.