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Subject: First Round success no insulation over 3 Rounds rss

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J Kosec
United States
Sioux Falls
South Dakota
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Lost Cities 1-21-06

The set-up
The last time Julie and I got together to play games I introduced her to Lost Cities. She liked it so much she worked up a variant of her own to play with three players and introduced the game to her parents over Christmas break. They in turn loved the game so much they played it to death over the holidays and have been on the hunt for a copy of the game ever since. It was a logical choice for our first game of the evening, and we settled on three rounds.

Round 1
I dealt, and when I told Julie to go ahead she said, “Thanks,” and I was instantly reminded of how the game can force you into tough decisions from the very start. I was dealt a strong set of Red cards from the very start, and within a few turns I was able to pull together a couple investment cards to really push that advantage. Over the course of the game I wasn’t able to get much else started, and both Julie and I puttered around with expeditions of middling quality, investing in each but unable, ultimately, to crack through to a big profit. This, partially, was because both she and I battled over the Yellow and Blue cards, with Julie coming out a bit ahead in those expeditions as I turned my focus to the Red expedition. The multipliers and the 20 pt. Bonus made my Red expedition the run-away winner of the hand, and put me in a good position at the end of the first round.

Round 1 Scores

Julie
Yellow: 44
Blue: 20
Green: 3 (last 3 turns)
Total for Round 1: 67

Justin
Yellow: 14
Blue: 16
Red: 107 (with 20 pt. bonus)
Total for Round 1: 137

Round 2
In this round we saw a reversal of our fortunes, though I suffered most keenly from that reversal. Again, Julie and I waged war over two single suits of expedition cards—this time Blue and Red, and once again she was able to come out just slightly ahead. About a third into the deck Julie was snatching up the White expedition cards I had been discarding in the early portion of the game, and I managed to do the same with the Yellow cards she and I had BOTH been discarding. In a particularly bold move I decided to invest all three cards into Yellow, and this paid off later in the round as I drew an 8, 9, and 10. While I was building into Yellow Julie was forcing her way deep into the mountain territories with her White expedition. She also began to play her low Blue cards, which disappointed me as I had been stalling for a Blue investment card. Far too late in the round I gave up on Blue and began playing into my Yellow expedition, and when it became clear I was running out of time I stalled as much as possible by drawing from the discards. Even so, Julie played out her White cards and then, satisfied, exhausted the draw deck before I could play my Yellow 10. Unfortunately, this meant that I fell 1 point short of clearing the investment cost and suffered had to suffer that –1 multiplier! Dang!

Round 2 Scores

Julie
Blue: 12
White: 101 (with 20 pt. bonus)
Red: 26
Total for Round 2: 139
Total after 2 Rounds: 206

Justin
Yellow: -4
Blue: 15
Red: 1
Total after Round 2: 12
Total after 2 Rounds: 149

Round 3
Coming out of Round 2 I knew I needed to make up serious ground if I was going to be competitive. I felt somewhat confident, bolstered by my first round luck, but this time it simply wasn’t in the cards—the Lost Cities Gods richly blessed Julie and rubbed it in my face by pooping on my parade. I stalled early, stuck with a well-shuffled assortment of low cards in practically each of the suits, and with little to work on I squandered my opportunity to settle on a viable strategy. Even so, I watched, with no little shock, Julie begin to play into EACH of the five suits. By the time we counted our final expedition totals I was surprised to see that she had managed to play the 10 in every suit. While she had no single large expedition, her consistence far bettered my patchy play, and she walked to an easy victory.

Round 3 Scores

Julie
Yellow: 10
Blue: 6
White: 30
Green: 21
Red: 5
Total for Round 3: 72
Final Score: 278

Justin
Yellow: 22
Blue: 7
White: -4
Total for Round 3: 25
Total score: 174

Debriefing
After the game Julie and I discussed the importance of focusing on a single expedition, if one is able to do so. The point gains one can get from a successful expedition cannot be underestimated, and as both our first two rounds illustrated, a single successful expedition can carry you through the entire game. There is something to be said, however, for a consistent strategy, as Julie demonstrated in the third round. But, as is the great pressure of Lost Cities, the knowledge of when to start and stop one’s expeditions is crucial to playing the game well. If I had started to play my Yellow expedition cards even ONE turn sooner it would have made an incredible difference of 56 points—enough to completely close the gap which otherwise opened up between Julie and I in that round (9 points x4 for the multiplier, plus the 20 point bonus!). Ah well, we can only hope that NEXT time, we’ll see another reversal in fortune!
 
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