Lost Cities is ideal for introducing new players to something different from classic card games. While it has a unique flavour and custom cards, it also has just enough familiarity to be easy to understand for anyone who's played with a deck of cards.
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The aim of the game is to go on “expeditions” to lost cities in order to earn points. There are five possible expeditions, each with their own coloured cards to identify them. On every turn, a player must play or discard a card, then draw a new one from either the deck or the discard piles. You must play cards in numerical order to go on expeditions. Each card you play earns you that number of points – but at the cost of 20 points for each expedition! If you begin an expedition with a $ card, the cost for that expedition is doubled, but so are the points you earn back. The game ends when there are no more cards to draw from the deck, and the player with the most points wins.
This game has many things going for it. It is designed for two players, and there are variations available to increase that to three or four players if you have an extra deck. The game is well balanced between both strategy and luck, giving any player the ability to win, no matter how much playing experience they have. This balance also exists between the strategy of gaining points and preventing your opponent from gaining points – focusing on just one or the other is likely to fail, making the game more of a challenge.
The good does not entirely mask the bad, however. Like many other games by the designer, Reiner Knizia, this game is all about the numbers. This can be a bit of a turn-off for people who don't want to spend their game time working with maths. It is also notable that due to the mechanics of scoring, it is entirely possible – if not likely – to end up with negative scores, which can be a frustrating experience at best.
If you like card games and are looking for something quick to play and easy to learn, Lost Cities may be just what you're looking for. If you want to give the game a try online, it is available when you register a free account on the Happy Meeple website.
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