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Subject: Lewis & Clark: Exploring the Louisiana Purchase cutthroat-style rss

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Andrew J.
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Missouri
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What if Lewis and Clark had been not one single expedition, but multiple competing expeditions, all trying to reach the Pacific first? This is the question that L&C asks of its players. In Lewis and Clark, you are all adventurers trying to explore the Louisiana Purchase and make your way towards the Pacific Ocean. First one to Fort Clatsop -- and the Pacific -- wins!

As you move along, you will play cards and ask for the help of Indians to move your camp upriver. You will be managing a hand of your 'crew,' each of which will provide power for tasks and give you tasks to do. Additionally, you'll be competing with the other players for action slots on the board (similar to Lords of Waterdeep or Stone Age) which you will fill by playing Indians from your company. All throughout, you are trying to manage the resources and Indians that are on your boat, so that when you make camp you don't lose precious time.


Making camp is where this game gets brutal. The resources and Indians in front of you are placed in your boats, where they will use up time (unless you have spent wisely, or purchase boats that do not have a time penalty). When you make camp, you will move your scout backwards a certain number of spaces for the time that you have lost as a result of this penalty. You will also lose time for cards left in your hand when you make camp. Thus, it's pretty difficult to move your scout significantly farther ahead of your camp, in order to drag everything upriver when you make camp.

I can see how a lot of people dislike this step. It requires a lot of intense calculations (especially to empty the cards from your hand) and can hurt you if you're not careful. It does feel like a single mistake will doom you for the rest of the game. Some people may like this sort of style of play, others may not. For myself, I found it a great mental challenge, almost like a puzzle, as I thought out how to spend my resources and make use of my cards.

This brings up another potential issue with the game: analysis paralysis. If any game turns normal players into AP-prone zombies, it's this one. However, this can be mitigated by planning your turn ahead of time, so that when your turn comes you mostly have everything in place to just make your moves. Generally I dislike solitaire-style games like this one, but this game has just enough interaction (in the competition for slots on the board, as well as the competition to recruit the crew that you need from the Journal) that I'm satisfied.

Players should know what they're going into from the outset, and hopefully you should be able to avoid a significant amount of AP this way. Those are the two main issues I see with the game, but for me, the benefits of the tense race-like game play outweigh the drawbacks. You may feel differently, so that's what this review is for.

I can see how at higher player counts there would be a ton of competition for the action spaces on the board, as well as the crew along the right-hand side that are available for all players to 'hire' into their hand. I think this is one of the great strengths of the game, and consequently why I really enjoy it despite how prone to solitaire play it is (Other games, such as Dice City, have this similar balance but don't have quite enough interaction to satisfy me).

Solo Version:
I was surprised at what a simple solo system Lewis and Clark has. Alexander Mckenzie, your dummy opponent, moves one space upriver towards the Pacific at the end of every turn you make. I already enjoy the puzzle-like aspect of Lewis and Clark, so that was a fantastic addition to a game I already enjoyed. Playing solo, there's less pressure for character cards and spaces on the board, which I kind of enjoyed but also kind of wished for the interaction of the regular game. But since I wanted to purchase this game to add a few solo options to my collection, L&C hit the mark perfectly.

Overall, Lewis and Clark is very cutthroat, medium-weight Euro that I really enjoyed. I would definitely warn family-style gamers away from this one, as it has a fairly steep and punishing learning curve. But if anyone's looking for that sort of intense, puzzley race game, Lewis and Clark is likely the game for you.

-----

I've played this game 3 times (twice two-player and once solo), which is my minimum threshold for a review. Right now, Lewis and Clark is a solid 4/5 for me, and while I don't see it bumping up to 5/5, I also definitely don't see it dropping lower, so I think it will remain as a solid addition to my game closet.











Gameplay
.. Abstract ----♦------ Thematic
....... Luck ----------♦ Skill
.... Simple ---------♦- Complex
. Strategic -♦--------- Tactical
... Friendly --------♦-- Cutthroat

Other
Graphic Design/Components: 5/5
Insert: 5/5 (great insert)
Rules Clarity: 5/5 (very well-done, especially the card reference)

Overall: 4/5

tl;dr: Lewis & Clark is an excellent thinky race game with worker placement, action selection, hand management, and healthy competition. It's one of my ideal Eurogames.
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Mauricio Montoya
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Re: Exploring the Louisiana Purchase: cutthroat-style!
Probably not enough of an impact to bump up your already high score to a 5, but this game really shines at 3 and 4 players (I found the 5P game way too long). There is more blocking of the village spaces and competition for the unique action cards, more chances to collect extra resources using your neighbor's tokens, and incentives to use the spaces and cards that "copy" the opponent's or use the position of the other scouts.

All those elements feel either too abundant to worry about, or not very useful just with 2 players.
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Joe H
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Re: Exploring the Louisiana Purchase: cutthroat-style!
mearendil wrote:
Probably not enough of an impact to bump up your already high score to a 5, but this game really shines at 3 and 4 players (I found the 5P game way too long). There is more blocking of the village spaces and competition for the unique action cards, more chances to collect extra resources using your neighbor's tokens, and incentives to use the spaces and cards that "copy" the opponent's or use the position of the other scouts.

All those elements feel either too abundant to worry about, or not very useful just with 2 players.


I agree and at 3-4 players there is more of an opportunity to use a "bump" to leapfrog a couple of spaces with a well-timed play of cards. My first experience (learning for all of us) was very long but I've enjoyed my 4 player games immensely.
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Mauricio Montoya
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Re: Exploring the Louisiana Purchase: cutthroat-style!
Of course, there's also those bumps! I was referring to some cards that give you movement or stuff depending on how many scouts there are relative to your position or your camp. On 2-player games it's just one scout (maybe 2 if they count you), so those cards are not that useful.
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Andrew J.
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Re: Exploring the Louisiana Purchase: cutthroat-style!
mearendil wrote:
Probably not enough of an impact to bump up your already high score to a 5, but this game really shines at 3 and 4 players (I found the 5P game way too long). There is more blocking of the village spaces and competition for the unique action cards, more chances to collect extra resources using your neighbor's tokens, and incentives to use the spaces and cards that "copy" the opponent's or use the position of the other scouts.

All those elements feel either too abundant to worry about, or not very useful just with 2 players.


Ouch, this is late, but I'm dying to try this one at 3-4 players. Might try to break it out this next weekend game night.
 
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