Design by Reiner Knizia
Published by Kosmos
2 Players, 30 mintues
Review by Greg J. Schloesser
Lost Cities was first published back in 1999. I vividly remember my first encounter with the game, which was that same year at Gulf Games 3 in New Orleans. Jay Tummelson of the then fledgling Rio Grande Games was in attendance and had brought several games that he was considering releasing under the RGG label. Lost Cities was one of those games. My good friend and fellow gamer Lenny Leo explained the rules to me, and I kept thinking, “Is that it?”. The game seemed way too simple to offer any depth or challenge. Boy, was I wrong.
The basic theme of the game (yes, it is very thinly pasted; so what else is new?) is that players are funding and embarking on various expeditions into the Himalayas, to Atlantis, through the desert, into volcanoes, etc. A deck of cards contains five different colors (representing the expeditions) with numbers of 2 – 10 each. There are three ‘wager’ cards in each color, which have the effect of doubling, tripling or quadrupling the ultimate total of the appropriate expedition, be it positive or negative. A long board depicts the five expeditions, with room for a discard stack for each one.
Each player is dealt a hand of eight cards. On a player’s turn, he must place one card face-up along his side of the board, placing the card by the appropriate color on the board. Alternatively, he may discard a card face-up onto the appropriate discard stack for that color. He then refills his hand from the draw pile, or by selecting the top card from one of the face-up discard stacks.
Once cards are laid for a particular expedition (color), a player may not add any cards whose value is lower in value than the previously laid card. Thus, if a player elects to begin the Atlantis expedition with a ‘4’ value card, he may never, ever lay a 2 or 3 value card on that expedition. Further, in order to play one or more of the wager cards (which multiply the ultimate point total), these cards must be laid before any numerical cards are played by that player on that expedition. Thus, it is a bit of a gamble.