Exploring Lost Cities: A Review of the Board Game

Lost Cities: The Board Game

Become and adventurer and search for lost cities and ancient ruins, in this adaptation of the Lost Cities card game.

Gameplay

Each player is leading a team of explorers, which includes four adventurer meeples and one researcher. You also start the game with eight cards.

The game board consists of five different paths of different colors which each lead to one of the lost cities. Along each path and at each city are various spaces for event tiles. Players randomize these tiles and place them on the empty spaces. When your meeple reaches one of these tiles, it activates. If it is an artifact tile, you take it (you will earn points at the end of the game for how many artifacts you collected in total). If it is a victory point tile, it awards you points, but you do not remove it from the board, so another player can earn those points as well. The final tile type is the arrow tile, which allows you to move any one of your meeples one space further along any path.

On your turn, you play a card and then you draw a card. Every card contains one color which will match one of the paths, and every card also has a number on it. When you play a card of a new color you have not yet played this round, you place one of your meeples at the start of the corresponding path. To move a meeple further along a path, you must play a card of the correct color and its number must be equal to or higher than the previous card you played of that color. If you do not or cannot play a card, you may choose to discard. Discards are kept in five different piles according to their color. When drawing a card at the end of your turn, you may choose to either draw from the deck or from any one of the discard piles.

There are also bridges marked along each path. Once players have collectively gotten five meeples across bridges, the round ends. The round also ends if the draw pile ever runs out of cards. Points are then calculated — each space on the path is worth a certain number of points, with the early spaces all being worth negative points. How far you get your meeple is how many points you earn for that expedition. Your researcher earns double points.

After points have been calculated, the board is reset and play begins over again. After three rounds, the player with the most points wins.

Review

Lost Cities: The Board Game is for all intents and purposes a remake of the two-player card game Lost Cities. The rules are nearly identical in many cases but have been improved upon. Points are easier to calculate, you can play with more people, and the board is a great addition for making the game feel more thematic.

There are a lot of strategic decisions you have to make about which expeditions to chance and how to play your cards. It almost feels like push-your-luck as you try to decide whether to play higher cards, knowing that they will limit the cards of that color you can play later, or to hold out and hope you draw lower numbered cards. Choosing what to discard is also a challenge, especially when you are playing with three other players and it’s nearly impossible to never discard something that someone doesn’t want. So you really have to decide who’s likely to be your biggest competitor.

The game can run a bit long with three rounds, especially if someone falls too far behind after two rounds and has no hope of catching up during the third. There is a variant suggestion in the rules in which you only play through the game once rather than three times, but this does detract a little bit from the fun of collecting artifacts over the course of all three plays.

Lost Cities: The Board Game has a great theme, looks stunning, and presents simple, straightforward rules behind which are some interesting choices and depth. Even if you already own the card game, it’s worth it to upgrade to the board game.

Pros: Interesting choices, great theme

Cons: Runs a bit long

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.