Ender Wiggins
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The 100 in 25 Challenge

This session report is part of a series known as The 100 in 25 Challenge: 100 Games, 25 Weeks, as a fellow GamerBuddy and I are on a quest to play at least 100 different games in less than 6 months.

The Masked Man had never played Lost Cities before. Perhaps one should pause to reflect for a moment on this point, and observe two minutes of silence. Yes you heard it right: the Masked Man has never played Lost Cities before. That is remarkable, first of all, because the Masked Man is married. It is even more remarkable because the Masked Man has a game collection approaching 100. But what makes it most remarkable is that the Masked Man's wife plays games with him, and they've never played Lost Cities? If BGG is to be believed, isn't this the game that all gamer's wives play? Apparently exceptions can be made in the case of Masked Men. But that might change, after the enthusiasm he had acquired for the game, and perhaps Mrs Masked Man might get it for her birthday.

But you don't want to know about Mrs Masked Man, you want to know the story of Mr Masked Man going hunting for Lost Cities! Well, let me get on with it!

Round 1

After explaining the rules, which just took a few minutes, and demonstrating a couple of hands, we were ready to play. The Masked Man seemed to enjoy the prospect of taking risks, and soon had 2 white investment cards, 3 red investment cards, and 1 yellow investment card in play. I was getting nervous. I didn't have any investment cards, and I didn't have great numbers. Time to play conservatively!

But perhaps the Masked Man had over-extended himself. He managed respectable scores with White (triple scoring 10 points), and Blue (triple scoring 12 points), but got minus 4 for Yellow. And then there was Red. Yes, the Masked Man had played no less than three investment cards for Red. That's a score multiplier of 4! Only thing is: he only managed 8 points worth of cards. So that is -12 x 4 = -48 points! Fortunately his positive points still outweighed this, for a final score of 14. Mr. Ender, on the other hand, with his conservative play managed only a measly 3 (Red) + 1 (White) + 7 (Yellow) + 7 (Green) for 18 points. The battle lines had been drawn, and with a 14-18 score, this was going to be an exciting contest!

Masked Man: Red -12x4, White 10x3, Blue 12x3, Yellow -2x2, total: 14 points
Mr Ender: Red 3, White 1, Yellow 7, Green 7, total: 18 points

Round 2

Round 2 began with a shocking hand for Mr Ender. Of the eight cards in hand, I found myself with 3 yellow investment cards, 1 blue investment card, and 1 green investment card. On my first two plays I discarded two of them, only to draw two more! What were the odds?! Of the first 16 cards, 9 were investment cards, and the others were a 2, 2, 3, 3, 5, 6, and 8!

The Masked Man, however, was still continuing his fatal love affair with expeditions to Red hot volcanoes. I guess he hadn't yet learned his lesson from Round 1. Hoping to draw some Red cards, he found himself well short, although expeditions into the Yellow and Blue territories would prove quite fruitful. Not bad considering that he had ventured into all 5 colours! Mr Ender, however, had played conservatively and found himself with an even more miserable outcome: a score of zero! Yes, zero! Nil! Zilch! Nada! Nix! Here's the breakdown:

Masked Man: Red -11x2, White 2, Blue 10x2, Yellow 8x2, Green 5, total: 21 points, subtotal: 35
Mr Ender: Red 12, White -9, Yellow -3, total: 0 points, subtotal: 18

Suddenly the Masked Man had stretched out to a handy 35-18 overall lead!

Round 3

In the third game, however, the cards began to finally go the right way for Mr. Ender. Investing deeply in green, he was rewarded with a lovely series of draws that filled his hand with precisely the cards he needed, at precisely the right time. It would prove to be the difference in the end.

For the record, the Masked Man scored his highest round yet, using big investments in Blue and Red to score very well. The demons of previous horrors experiences with Red were firmly exorcised! But his excellent score of 49 would not prove to be enough, with the 51 points Mr Ender obtained in Green alone swinging the pendulum his way. Along with points in Yellow and White, I managed a score of 74, bringing my final total to 92, which was just enough to pip the Masked Man with his respectable 84 point total. Under the circumstances, however, I think I can consider myself fortunate to escape with the win, since luck was definitely a factor here!

Masked Man: Red 6x3, Blue 11x3, Yellow -2, total: 49 points, subtotal: 84
Mr Ender: White 12, Yellow 11, Green 17x3, total: 74 points, subtotal: 92

Challenge Points: Mr Ender 1, Masked Man 0.

Final reflections about Lost Cities

The bad:
- The theme is pointless. How this game has anything to do with lost cities is a real stretch. And anyway, didn't Chuck Norris find the lost cities before Knizia even realized they were lost?
- The board is unnecessary. It looks cool though. But I suppose if we didn't get a board, we'd be complaining about not getting enough game bits for our money.
- The math is a pain. Yes I know it's not rocket science, but it is a nuisance adding individual colour scores and then subtracting 20s and then calculating multipliers at the end of the game. At most, however, this is just a minor weakness.
- Colours aren't The Masked Man's strongest point. He doesn't have many weaknesses, and in fact a research team at Harvard is still trying to find evidence of any of them (besides his obvious facial disfigurement). But there are unconfirmed reports that his inability to correctly distinguish between colours is one of his established weaknesses. To be precise, he's somewhat colour blind. And the yellow and green cards of Lost Cities are hard to distinguish. Fortunately, the game has a saving grace that the artwork is different, so he was able to use this to keep them apart.

The good:
- It's simple and easy to learn.
- It plays quickly.
- It's addictive. It offers constant and tense decision making. There is a definite luck element, but it adds to the tension and decision making, and makes the game what it is.
- It's great for husbands and wives. Yes we all knew that. But the Masked Man uncovered the REAL reason why this game has proven such a hit with couples: It has a picture of a husband and wife on the cover! Subliminal advertising! Well it works, you certainly get $20 of value out of the contents of the box.

The outcome? The Masked Man may have conceded a point to the competition, but he may just be purchasing Lost Cities for his wife in the near future. Stay tuned to hear more about his exploits, as The 100 in 25 Challenge continues next time!

The 100 in 25 Challenge Progress Log: Games 2, Weeks 1
Games played: Jambo (25/11), Lost Cities (25/11)
Challenge Overall Points Leader Board: Mr Ender 2, Masked Man 0
Other pictorial reports & mini-reviews in the Masked Man series: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37038
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