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Subject: Lost Cities: A fast-paced, easy to learn card game. rss

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Christopher Seguin
United States
Cleveland
Ohio
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Introduction:

Before I write this review, I would like to mention that I just purchased this game last night based on numerous recommendations of various BGG members in response to the thread I posted earlier this week (found here):

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1478046

Today, I played the game with one of my coworkers (and regular game-guys) during our lunch hour. He is always willing to play nearly anything that I introduce, and I have yet to find something that he has not yet liked. Having said that, let’s move to my review and my thoughts.

Review:

The quality of the game contents is very high. There are 60 cards, which are oversized (meaning they won’t fit in a standard CCG card sleeve). However, that is okay, as the quality of the card itself is not conducive to standard wear-and-tear. There is also a hard-stock, trifold, game board that is also of high quality. The instructions are easy to read, well organized, and only 3 pages long (woohoo, no Battlelore books!). The box also contains an insert to hold the cards for storage.

I also like that fact that the cards in each of the 5 colors, numbered from 2 to 10, have pictures of a particular expedition in SUCESSIVE ORDER. So, the #2 shows just a general area of the Lost City that you may be exploring, and by the time you see card 10, you have reached your destination and see a picture of your sucess. Although the artwork is not CORE to the game, it does add a nice touch.

The game itself is very simple to learn. Play a card. Draw a card. However, there is a very distinct game mechanic that takes some getting used to – you have to “play” a card first, THEN you can “draw” a card. This is backwards for typical card games, and giving the high-speed of the game play, takes some getting used to if you are used to typical card games that normally require you draw BEFORE you play.

Scoring is also very unique. You actually lose points when you play your first card of a particular color, and you are forced to “earn” the lost points back by playing cards of a higher number than the last one you played on that color. Of course, you can always choose not to play a color, although unless you keep them in your hand, you may possibly give them to your opponent. Simple enough, except for the fact that it will take at least 3 cards to recover your points, and many times you are competing with your opponent for the exact same cards.

The final twist in the card playing is that there are certain non-numbered cards that must be played first, before the numbered cards. These cards add multipliers to your score (either 2, 3, or 4, depending on how many you can or choose to play), and once you play a numbered card, you cannot play your first or any additional multipliers.

Now, for the strategic part. On the surface, this game plays very straightforward. Play a few cards of a color, get more than the -20 you start with, and you can get some points. But in adding an element of strategy, you have to decide whether to hold out for the multiplier BEFORE playing your color, or do you just play the color knowing that you could run out of draw cards and end the game prematurely? Another element of strategy includes WHERE to play a card. You are given the option of playing a card in your playing field, or discarding a card into the “community” discard pile, which thereby makes it available to your opponent. However, it is still available to you later, so if you opponent decides not to play a certain color, you can use the “community” discard pile as a “holding bin” while you draw cards from the main pile.

The last bit of strategy that makes this game more unique than other “card collecting” games is the end-game features. When the last card is drawn from the main pile, the game ends. I have found that if I need some additional turns to play the last few cards that I have in my hand, I will draw up cards (which I clearly don’t need) from the “community discard” piles, thereby lengthening the time it takes to get the last card drawn from the main deck. This requires some patience, though, as this strategy prohibits you from getting newer, unseen cards into play. It is essentially a delaying tactic to use when you are losing, and since I lost 6 of the 8 games we played, I was delaying as much as I could.

Conclusion:

Overall, I consider this one of the most fun games I have played in a while. It plays very quickly once you get the hang of the rules – we played about 8 hands in less than 40 minutes, although the two of us are pretty fast “speed players”. The other thing that I like about his game is that you can probably play it with out the game board. However, you wouldn’t want to, because the artwork on the game board is as good as the artwork on the cards.

I also wanted to thank all of the people on BGG (and my FLGS owner) for recommending this game. I am going to introduce it to my wife tonight, and I think that she too will enjoy it. This is an excellent game, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a strong, strategic 2-player card game with easy rules and quick play. It earns and deserves my score of 8 out of 10.
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Bart Hermans
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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I am glad you like the game so much. And compliments on the good review, I share your opinion completely. Thumbs up!
 
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Christa Haley
United States
Burlington
Wisconsin
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Nice review. meeple
 
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-=[Ran Over]=-
United States
Pleasant Grove
Utah
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chrisnd wrote:
However, there is a very distinct game mechanic that takes some getting used to – you have to “play” a card first, THEN you can “draw” a card. This is backwards for typical card games, and giving the high-speed of the game play, takes some getting used to if you are used to typical card games that normally require you draw BEFORE you play.
I can't claim to know what's normal, but I can say that in design, draw last is preferred. It allows you to process your new information while the other player takes his turn.
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I play this game with my wife at least 3 times a week and we really like it. My only complaint is the drawing of the last card. I'm trying to figure out if there could be a good variant for drawing the last card and using it, as it just seems like such a waste. Does anyone have any ideas on this?
 
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Jacob Heinikel
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Garland
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In my group....when you draw the last card you do get to play once more. The problem being, what is the point of drawing the last card? It doesn't really alter the game, unless you really needed 1 more turn.
 
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