Game: Lost Cities: The Board Game
I was introduced to the Lost Cities card game at the local game group. I played some tutorial hands online and enjoyed it. But I didn't really feel a strong connection to the card game version. Then I saw that the board game had been reprinted and was attracted to that version. I liked the integration with the board, and the addition os special pieces like bonus points, artifacts to collect, and spots that five you an extra move. I decided to order the game to try it.
I have taught this game to several people. They usually don't understand it until the first round of the game is complete, which then gives them two more rounds to actually actively play and strategize. My friends and I felt like there were too many pieces to deal with at set-up, so we've gone to using pen and paper for scoring instead of the point tokens. This has increased ease of set-up and reset a great deal. This also helped avoid having to have a banker, and having to get people to swap out coins for different size tokens when the bank is depleted of specific token sizes.
We have squeezed in a fifth player once (using a quarter and four pennies for player pieces; started paths one stepping stone above the normal start to compensate for lower ratio of cards to players), but the game is not designed for that.
The board always changes since the special pieces are randomly laid out each round. The game is easy to learn. There can also be a perception that you are playing against the game instead of blocking, attacking, or beating out other players.
Sometimes the luck of the cards just doesn't pan out, leaving you in a place where your skill can't really help you get far. This can be frustrating for people who don't like luck to outweigh skills in a game.
The Verdict: Play, possibly Purchase
While my friends enjoy this game, and even like to borrow it, it hasn't been as infectious as other games in creating new owners.
I have also found a similar iOS version called Keltis which I like to use for solo or two player games. This game is a purchase for people who typically can have 3-4 players present most of the time. It is currently offered for the iPhone, but I find enjoy it on the iPad too. There is another version called Keltis Oracle, but I found the runes/cards too hard to read (especially colors). Up to four humans can play, and it contains a nice solo campaign mode too.