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Subject: A couple of gamers: Review of Lost Cities rss

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Josiah Shanks
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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First, an introduction to me and my gaming partner, Amanda. We took up the hobby around February of 2014 after purchasing Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. We really became fanatics after attending a Tabletop Day event in 2014 and tried Dominion and Carcassonne. We primarily focus on games with 2 players that tend to be on the lighter side and shorter side (less than 60 minutes for 2 players) due to the fact that we have a 1 year old.

Number of players: 2
Time: 10-30 minutes (depending how many hands you play)
Complexity: Low
Style of game: Hand management/Set collection/Press your luck

This is part of the Kosmos 2 player collection and is recently back in print. It is designed by Dr. Reiner Knizia and is pretty addicting. You and your opponent are going on adventures to have a profitable journey. But be careful, each adventure that you seek costs you 20 points.

Each of the five colors on the board have cards numbered 2 - 10 with three handshakes of each color. Each player is dealt 8 cards at the beginning of the game. During your turn, you can either play a card under the journey color or discard a card by placing it in the card row. After you played your card, you draw a card either from the deck or take a card from the card row (you can't take the card that you just placed there). The game ends when there are no more cards in the deck.

Your goal is to score more than 20 points on each journey that you start. You do this by playing cards under the journey color in ascending order, starting with the lowest number and going all the way up to 10. At the end of the game, you add up the total of numbers in each journey you started. You subtract 20 from your total in each journey you started. Then you add up the total number of points for each card row.

The handshake cards allow you to gamble to earn even more points. You can place the handshakes under the journey color before you place any numbers down there. There are three handshakes for each color. For each handshake you place, you can have a multiplier for your journey. The first handshake will take your score (after you subtract 20) and multiply it by 2, two handshakes will multiply it by 3, and three handshakes will multiply it by 4. Be careful, though, a handshake also indicates a journey starting so if you don't get up to 20, you have to minus points with the same multiplier.

There is one other bonus, if you are able to play 8 cards in one color (including handshakes) you receive n additional 20 points at the end. I believe the rules call for a game to last three rounds with the highest total score winning but we usually best 2 out of 3.

Pros: The game is quick to setup and quick to play. we typically get our best 2 out of 3 done in about 15-20 minutes. The rules are very simple, as well. It's really up to you as the player to decide when your journey should start, do you only start when you have 20+ or do you start with much lower numbers hoping you can work your way up to 20 by the end. You also have a lot of say in how quickly the game goes. If you don't have your 20 and the deck is getting smaller, you may want to take cards from the card row to slow it down. Or if your opponent doesn't have his/her 20, you may want it to go quicker. The cards for the game are fairly large and really easy to shuffle which is a huge positive compared to such games as Ticket to Ride (without the 1910 expansion) or Thebes: The Tomb Raiders.

Neutrals: The game can be a little confrontational, at times. If you see your opponent struggling to get to 20 and you have the card that they need, you can hold onto while watching them suffer. It can be a pro or con depending how you feel about that.

Cons: There is a lot of luck involved that you can work to negate as the game goes on but if you can't get the handshakes, your opponent can build a more profitable journey. If you're really big into themes (which we're not), it may be knocked down a bit as it is not the most thematic game out there.
Overall: The game is fun, easy to learn, and just the right amount of strategy for a quick game. Plus it is specially designed for 2 players. After nearly 60 plays since we got it in April of this year, we still haven't gotten bored of it. It is our favorite 2 player only game and is played all the time.

Final ranking: 97/100
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Todd Kauk
Canada
Winnipeg
Manitoba
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Solid game, have you tried Battle Line. It replaced Lost Cities for me. Arboretum is a 2-4 player game that plays somewhat similarly to Lost Cities too. I prefer that one to LC as well. Give them a try if you haven't!
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Josiah Shanks
United States
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Nebraska
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I've heard good things about both. Arboretum will probably be next on my list to try as it's come so highly recommended from the BGG community. Maybe I'll have to convince Amanda to try Battle Line, as well. Thanks!

I love getting recommendations to try. We love playing new games and are always looking for great two player games.
 
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Todd Kauk
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Both of those games are a little more thinky than LC, and I prefer Arboretum with more than 2 players. Maybe Trambahn would be a good fit...it's another game compared closely with LC.

Thanks for the excellent review!
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Josiah Shanks
United States
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Nebraska
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That sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out!

Thank you!
 
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Jordan White
Canada
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British Columbia
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thejollysnowman wrote:
If you see your opponent struggling to get to 20 and you have the card that they need, you can hold onto while watching them suffer. It can be a pro or con depending how you feel about that.


Good point- and this is a definite con for me:

I always feel really bad watching my opponent hopefully drawing cards in search of the one in my hand.

I can't say why it is...

Nice review!

-Jordan
 
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Patrick C.
United States
Milford
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Since others were making suggestions, I'd like to add the more advanced versions of Lost Cities/Keltis:

Keltis: Neue Wege, Neue Ziele
Keltis: Das Orakel
Keltis: Das Kartenspiel

All three are 2-4p games and all are great at 2p. If you get Neu Wege, Neue Ziele you also get the base game Keltis on the other side of the board.

I do think the Lost Cities card game for two is a good game, but I just found that over time I wanted something a little more such as Battle Line, as others have suggested, or one of the games I mentioned.
 
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Josiah Shanks
United States
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Nebraska
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Thank you! At least 30% of the reason why I'm doing these reviews is to get more game recommendations - so thanks! We'll have to check out some of these games.
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Paul McKinney
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I enjoy Lost Cities quite a bit and think that there might be more skill to the game than most people believe though I am not by any means a good player and have not played enough to make a fully informed opinion.

Interestingly I've just played though several 2 player card games with a co-worker I was introducing to some of these types of games to. My thoughts:

Lost Cities - This is the first one I taught him and after playing he mentioned that he enjoyed playing more than he thought he would. I chalk this up to being his first Euro game and maybe comparing it favorably to other games he might have played in the past. It is a great game though IMO.

Biblios - We both enjoyed the game and played it twice. I still don't know how much control I really have as there are so many cards that are discarded at the start of a two player game. At least in Lost Cities you might a chance to play every card in the deck except for the last one drawn which ends the game. Maybe Biblios might play better with three... I don't know.

Battle Line (without tactics cards) - Played twice. Much more tense overall but at the beginning of the game I felt I didn't have many meaningful decisions to make but toward the middle and end there were increasing options for control. Very good game and I think my co-worker liked this the one the best. I look forward to playing this again along with the tactics cards.

Times Square - Played twice. Very good game which seemed to be opening up different options for clever play the more it was played which to me is really the mark a very good game. I think I enjoyed this one the best and hope to play some more in the near future as I can seem a lot of room for improvement in my play. My co-work liked it as well. If you decide to every play this one make sure you refer to some of the rules clarifications on BGG as the rules translation to English left some things open to interpretation. Much better than a the similar game Duell.
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Stephane Cloutier
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For those who could be looking for an easy way to keep scores of the card game, here's a link to an app I created for that:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ACNE.LostC...
 
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