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Subject: 7.35 out of 10: A lost theme, but an excellent two-player mechanic rss

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Tyler Heasley
United States
Vancouver
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For quick one-on-one action with a spouse, sibling, or friend (or enemy, even), Lost Cities employs sequential numbers and encourages careful planning to score the most positive points—and avoid the dangers of negative points—as you choose between five categories (or, lost cities) to explore. While the theme only provides appeal and impressive artwork, it feels like an adventure every time you play, perhaps mostly because the range of points can be anywhere from devastatingly low to astoundingly high.

ARTWORK (weight: +1.25 )
1234
It took some brief examining to realize the locations of the blue and white expedition maps on the game board. As all five expedition maps are yellowed (as old maps should be, of course) and not in stark contrast to each other, it happens that blue and white look similar. (How do you draw a white map without putting some color to it? Maybe the blue should have been more blue?) Also, I would have chosen a different backside for the cards as it is ever-so-slightly unappealing with the light wood background. Mostly though, the artwork looks amazing, especially the cards' faces, and is a fitting style for the game design.

QUALITY (weight: +1.25 )
12345
Box fits everything nicely and board and cards are of genuine quality. Cards are large, do not appear to wear easily, and feel good and firm in your hands.

LEARNING (weight: +0.50 )
12345
Rulebook is four square pages with a format that is easy to follow and that allows you to find things rather quickly. Example of scoring at the end clears up misconceptions. Very easy to learn game and can be explained to a newbie very quickly.

BALANCE (weight: +0.50 )
12345
The range of card face values from 2 to 10 presents a challenging mechanic when you're trying to decide where to start and how many points to try to accumulate for a given expedition. The points range for an expedition, which is -80 to 156, presents its own challenge as well. After a bad first round, there's still possibility for recovery, and the cost of an expedition (-20) makes for a well balanced game that appears to be very well play-tested.

INTERACTION (weight: +1.50 )
1
Not necessarily a bad thing, but interaction for this game is rather low. Players don't ever need to speak to each other and don't ever play on each others' expeditions, so the only form of "interaction" may be in the use of the discard piles.

WAIT TIME (weight: -1.00 )
1
Usually a 30 minute game for three rounds, with very low wait time for each player. Basically, this is not the kind of game you can just get up, go to the kitchen, and not have to worry about what your opponent just did. Turns come quickly and must be given attention from each player.

REPLAY VALUE (weight: +2.50 )
1234
Shuffled cards means variability in each game, as do strategies to out-perform your opponent. Will you try to limit your number of expeditions or will you confuse/frustrate your opponent by engaging in all of them? Or something in between? Since it's only cards and no other components, there could be a drawback present for some.

APPEAL (weight: +2.50 )
1234
Occasionally I want a game with more components, more paths of strategy, and a theme that is more central to the game mechanic; but this is an excellent, quick card game for two players.

OVERALL: 7.35/10
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Craig Somerton
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North Ryde - Sydney
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Personally, I think the wait time is a plus. Turns can often be so fast, the game is over in minutes, meaning you can play several games in quick succession.

This is one of my wife's favourites, because she trounces me as often as not.
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Yee Keat Phuah
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You have a strange system of ratings and the weight stars, care to explain a bit how they work?
 
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Eric Brosius
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Needham Heights
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theasley wrote:
WAIT TIME (weight: -1.00 )
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Usually a 30 minute game for three rounds, with very low wait time for each player. Basically, this is not the kind of game you can just get up, go to the kitchen, and not have to worry about what your opponent just did. Turns come quickly and must be given attention from each player.

Tyler, welcome to BGG! I'm happy to see reviews from new reviewers.

I do have to make a comment about your Wait Time criterion:

If you want wait time, I suggest checking out Case Blue. You'll have time to go on a business trip while you're waiting for your wife to make her next move!

[Just kidding!]
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Tyler Heasley
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anomander64 wrote:
Personally, I think the wait time is a plus. Turns can often be so fast, the game is over in minutes, meaning you can play several games in quick succession.


Your comment is helpful because I didn't realize I made the wait time sound like a negative point. To the contrary, I love that the game moves so quickly. I suppose next time I should just come out and say it . Wait Time by nature is a negative category for me, and it got a low rating, meaning it's a very low negative thing. Hmm...sounds kind of weird now that I write it out.
 
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Tyler Heasley
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ykphuah wrote:
You have a strange system of ratings and the weight stars, care to explain a bit how they work?


Excellent question. I tried to select the categories of interest for me personally. ARTWORK, QUALITY, LEARNING, BALANCE, INTERACTION, REPLAY VALUE, and APPEAL are all positive things that I look for in a game, but they are important to me at different levels. The most important element in most games for me is Replayability, which I divided into REPLAY VALUE (how different the game is every time) and APPEAL (how much I am drawn to the game again and again). Hence, REPLAY VALUE and APPEAL get the greatest weights whereas LEARNING and BALANCE don't as strongly decide a game's strength to me.

And then there's WAIT TIME, which is a negative thing by nature (again, to me), so its weight goes in the opposite direction.

The OVERALL is a representation, arithmetically speaking, of these weights—a calculation obtained by multiplying each weight by the rating for its specific category and then summing all categories. For instance, ARTWORK above is given four dice and it is a category weighted at +1.25 . Hence, in the OVERALL for this game it contributes 1.25*(4/5) = +1 . Done this way through all categories, I arrived at 7.35 out of 10 .
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Tyler Heasley
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Eric Brosius wrote:
theasley wrote:
WAIT TIME (weight: -1.00 )
1
Usually a 30 minute game for three rounds, with very low wait time for each player. Basically, this is not the kind of game you can just get up, go to the kitchen, and not have to worry about what your opponent just did. Turns come quickly and must be given attention from each player.

Tyler, welcome to BGG! I'm happy to see reviews from new reviewers.

I do have to make a comment about your Wait Time criterion:

If you want wait time, I suggest checking out Case Blue. You'll have time to go on a business trip while you're waiting for your wife to make her next move!

[Just kidding!]


Thanks for the welcome! I briefly looked into Case Blue a few minutes ago and it looks crazygonuts. One time I played Chess with a friend who was about 200 miles away by texting. I'd get a text in the middle of the afternoon the next day that told me where she moved her piece. Unnecessary wait time, I guess, but sometimes I like having the drawn out game to give me time to think about all possible scenarios.
 
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Serious? Lee
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Coppell
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Lost Cities » Forums » Reviews
Re: 7.35 out of 10: A lost theme, but an excellent two-player mechanic
That is quite a methodical and well thought out review. Well done! I look forward to other reviews from you.

While I agree with your assessment, the low interaction score is a bit misleading as one is forced to make decisions on whether to discard or keep hold of cards based on whether a discard will be useful to an opponent. This may be a subtle form of interaction, but an important aspect of this game.
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Tyler Heasley
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leemc13 wrote:
That is quite a methodical and well thought out review. Well done! I look forward to other reviews from you.

While I agree with your assessment, the low interaction score is a bit misleading as one is forced to make decisions on whether to discard or keep hold of cards based on whether a discard will be useful to an opponent. This may be a subtle form of interaction, but an important aspect of this game.


Thank you!

I agree with you on that. In fact, it's an essential aspect in terms of making the game unique. My low interaction score is mostly based on the fact that players don't play on each others' game components (in this case, cards) at all. And since discussion is unnecessary and the game can basically play like Chess in that way, I gave it 1 die. I'm willing to give something 0 dice if the category is weak enough, so I justified the score above in my head since discarding provides the only unavoidable interaction. At the same time, I think you make a great point.
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Eric Brosius
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The other very important interaction is that players can influence the speed of the game (if you draw from the deck, you speed it up, and if you take discards, you slow it down.)
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Tyler Heasley
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Thanks so much,
Serious? Lee
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for the donation! I really do appreciate your generosity as we head into a new year.
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Lloyd
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This game is bullshit.
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theasley wrote:
Mostly though, the artwork looks amazing,


Just wait 'til you see how the cards fit together...
 
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