People, Places & Things
Just Add Dice
It Came from the SlushPile
A review of
Maufacturer: Kosmos (in Germany), Rio Grande Games (in the US)
Designer: Reiner Knizia
Lost Cities is the best of the lot. You and one opponent are mounting expeditions, seeking lost settlements in remote places like the mountains and underwater. Each city is represented by a different color with matching cards. The cards are numbered 2 to 10 for each city, and each has at least one backer card.
The cities are laid out on a strip of artwork placed between the players. You donít have to seek out all five cities, but you get no points for any city you ignore. To search, you place cards next to the target location on the track in numerical order. Thereís no backtracking, so once youíve played the 4 on a particular city, for example, you wonít be able to use (or score points for) cards 2 or 3 of that color. You can discard such cards, but then your opponent has the opportunity to snatch them up and use them in his expedition. The game ends when you draw the last card, so you have to be careful about holding back, say, the 9 card, hoping the 7 or 8 will turn up.
Any city you play cards on starts off being worth -20, so youíve got to place number cards equal to that just to break even. A backer card is optional, but it helps ďfinanceĒ your expedition, doubling the score on that city. It has to be the first card played, though, and it doubles any score - even a negative one. These scores are totaled at gameís end to determine the winner.
Lost Cities is quite simple and straightforward, but the option of deciding how much risk youíll engage in is nice. The game is inexpensive and fast, requires no setup, and the card artwork itself is a nifty secret. Itís only a shame more people canít join in.
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