We were sent a copy of Lost Cities recently and I was asked to review it, despite GamersUniversity.com officially being on hiatus, it was important that I fulfill this obligation and write this review:
The premise of the game is that each player is trying to decide if they want to invest in expeditions to any or all of five different cities, each differentiated by color. Cards numbered 2 through 10 for each color plus three special multiplier cards. Players take turns playing a card and then drawing one. Players can place cards into color-specific discard piles, or place them into their expedition to that city. Once you play a card into an expedition, you can only play cards of a higher value into that expedition from then on. When you start an expedition, it is worth negative 20 points to begin with, from there the value of each card adds positive value back to the expedition until you (hopefully) overcome the initial 20 point “investment”.
There are also special multiplier cards that must be played onto expeditions before any numeric cards are added that will increase the multiplier of the end result for that column. Each column begins with a multiplier of x1. Each multiplier card increases this by 1, so with one card your column counts as x2, if you have all three multiplier cards you get x4 on that row. But keep in mind that if you cannot overcome the 20 point investment with numeric cards, that multiplier applies to the negative value which can have a devastating effect on your score if you are not careful.
This a great strategic game for two people. It comes with a board, but it isn’t really necessary. All you really need in order to play are the cards and something to keep track of scores between rounds (best score after 3 or 5 rounds wins). I wish the game would have come with a special score pad of some kind, it didn’t really seem like there was much of a reason to put it in a box as large as it has without anything like that included. Some people on Boardgamegeek have made some really nice tracker boards which you can use with a couple of cubes or bits to move along the track.
All in all, this is a great game for two-players that like lightweight games with strategy and some luck involved. Most places seem to carry Lost Cities for about $20, so it is a pretty good value, it also no language dependency within the game itself, a rules translation is all you need. This game has been around for over a decade as well, so it has demonstrated some lasting power. Give it a shot!