Lewis and Clark - Board Game Box Shot

Lewis and Clark

| Published: 2013
101 13 8

On November 30, 1803, the United States purchased Louisiana from Napoleon. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson decided to send two explorers – Meriwether Lewis and William Clark – to discover this huge terra incognita.

Lewis & Clark is a board game in which the players manage an expedition intended to cross the North American continent. Their goal is to be the first to reach the Pacific. Each one has his own Corps of Discovery that will be completed by the Native Americans and the trappers met during the journey. He has to cleverly manage his characters and also the resources he finds along the way. Beware, sometimes frugality is better than abundance.

Lewis & Clark features dual use cards. To be activated, one card must be combined with another one, which becomes unavailable for a while. Thus, players are faced with a constant dilemma: play a card or sacrifice it. During the game, each player acquires character cards that enlarge his hand, building a crew that gives him more options but it needs to be optimized as he will recycle his cards more slowly. This new "handbuilding" mechanism fits strongly the historical background.

Since the aim of the game is to be the first on the Pacific coast, the timing and the opportunistic use of the other players' positions are crucial.

User Reviews (3)

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41 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“Lewis and Clark: My Impressions”

Based on the historical exploration across America the game expands on this by making players part of competing exploration teams racing to reach the goal first. Along the way they will recruit other adventurers and Indians to aid them on their quest, all of the cards represent real people from that time and the rule book provides a brief description of their history as well as their ability in game terms. This makes it quite interesting but does not distract from the game itself as you can read all this additional text at your leisure.

Components:
I have the the 2nd edition reprint which apparently has some component changes from the original, like a smaller gameboard and changes to the card stock as well as a different sized box. I can’t comment on the quality of the original print run but I can certainly say that I am generally pleased with the quality of this version. This is a **** pretty game with lots of colour and attention to detail, the artwork throughout is superb with the resource tokens being wooden hexes. The cards are decent quality stock, though a little on the thin side so as they will be handled a great deal would be prone to bending. I have sleeved mine, which I always do if the cards are likely to get a lot of handling, and this makes them feel a lot more robust. The player boards and their upgrades are a decent thickness cardboard and well illustrated which is nice.

Gameplay:
The cards themselves have multiple uses and the players start with the same basic abilities 4 x resource gathering cards, 1 x movement card and 1 x Interpreter. On a players turn they have a compulsory action and two optional actions, the optional actions can be done before or after the compulsory. The compulsory action is to either play a card for its action or use an Indian in the Village on the board to activate one of the actions there. To power the cards action you will need to either use another card (flipped over and slid under) and/or use Indians. The optional actions are to camp (take your cards back) or recruit Characters.

I like the mechanics of this game and it causes you to make harsh choices fitting the theme of the game. Whilst this can be described as a race game, it is so much more than that with a good feeling of tension as players try to make efficient use of their actions to keep up with the other players.

Essentially you need to build an efficient card engine that allows you to move and camp progressing you up the river route to your destination. Overloading your boats or keeping too many cards in your hand when you camp causes you Scout to be moved backwards down the route undoing all your hard work. Though your camp can never go backwards, you Scout certainly can hindering your progress. There are actions to be taken that can help strip unwanted cards from your hand helping you to streamline your options. It is also worth noting that partway through the river the terrain turns to mountain meaning you need to switch what resources and methods of movement you need. This provides a great catch-up mechanism in the game as players have to adapt their strategy to cope with the new requirements. The game also comes with tokens to change the layout of the mountains and river to enable you to make the game easier/harder for future games making for a lot of playability.

Conclusions:
The first couple of games feels like the game is a little over long but this would be doing the game an injustice. I say that because there is a lot to take in when you first run through this game and I feel it takes a game or two to really appreciate what you can do with the right combination of cards. With experienced players the game turns will be a lot slicker and the overall gametime will reduce. All that said it never really feels like it outstays it welcome and in fact you hardly notice the time ticking by as you are constantly looking at your options in between turns. This is another game that manages to engage the players in its theme allowing you to feel the tension and pressure as you try to make your expedition the first to reach the goal.

Fantastic game, which always results in a close end game, the fact there are always different cards out each game keeps it fresh and interesting.

 
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Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
oddball Aeronauts fan
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21 of 23 gamers found this helpful
“Beautiful looking euro, but it'll make you think... a lot. ”

We’re heading downriver in our canoes fortunately this involves very little banjo playing and definitely no pig squealing. Lewis & Clark follows the expedition of 1804 that saw Meriwether Lewis and William Clark sent off to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Territory, in a slight historically inaccurate tweak its proposed that a few more hangers on joined the party.

The game is a mash up of deck builder, worker placement and race with each player assuming the role of an expedition leader charged with trying to reach the pacific before your rivals.

To accomplish this you will be juggling resources and space on your little flotilla of canoes as you try to decide what equipment and supplies you take on to accomplish your goal whilst still progressing along the route ahead of your rivals.

Once you get to grips with the myriad of options you are faced with each turn this is actually a pretty simple and straight forward game, the complexity comes from the choices you are faced with and boy are there a lot of them. Anyone suffering from terminally AP need not apply.

The action takes place on a beautifully designed board, I’ll stop here and get the fawning out of the way now, all the art in this game is top notch, Vincent Dutrait has a style that evokes a comic book feel and each of the cards in the deck are individually illustrated and each is fantastic.

Every game turn you have to perform a compulsory action. That will either be playing card from your hand or an Indian onto the game board.

Everyone starts with the same basic deck of cards each allowing a separate action, be it gathering resources or using them to progress along the river. You play them by flipping one of your other cards and on the reverse they have strength which equates to how many times you can repeat that cards action. So you have to use sensible hand management about what you use when, because if you use the reverse strength of a card early in your turn you won’t have the action that it gives later. You can also use Indians in your party to play on these cards to increase the strength of them as well but like the cards these are in limited supply.

You can also forgo using a card and instead play one of your Indian’s onto the board and use the actions available, like most worker placements the spaces are limited and the only way to retrieve them back is by using the card in the starter deck. Again these are mainly about gathering more resources. But you can also build more boats to add to your little convoy or convert other resources into canoes and horses the fuel as it where to progress along the route.

You also get a couple of optional actions. There is Recruitment that will allow you to buy new cards to add to your deck, these spill out along the side of the board and have descending values of resources and get shuffled along as they are picked up or discarded. Many add some very powerful options or multiple choices and one tactic can be to slowly discard the weaker starting cards for these power cards, many also come with greater strengths doubling there usefulness.

The other option you have is to set a camp, what this basically does is allow you to pick up all the cards that you have played, however there is a penalty to this. Some of your boats have a sunshine symbol on them and any resources piled in these will cause delays in your travel, once you’ve calculated how many of these you have you also count how many cards you have left in your hand. This number is how far back you drift along the river, thematically this is a nice touch with a simple mechanism that equates to overloaded boats and too many crew slowing you down. It does turn into this push me pull me situation where you may go thundering up the river only to drift backwards through poor planning. wherever you come to rest your camp comes up to meet you. And you can’t just race ahead ignoring the camp because you need to get that to the finish to win.

Now that may all have boggled your brains and I hate to splurge out tons of rules, after-all this is a review not a thesis on game theory but there really is no down and dirty easy way to do this otherwise. On the plus side that is pretty much all of the rules, I’ve skipped some of the finer details but at least that should give you the basics.

This isn’t a short game I’ve played with 4 and that was a good 3 hours of game, bearing in mind I was the only one that new what was happening, the original expedition took over two years to complete so a couple of hours isn’t a bad representation. Be warned there is an awful lot of decision’s to be made in this game, you may only get one of two actions a turn but they both have a lot of thought needed before making, and as some of the resource collecting is also linked to cards other players have put down there is the gambling when to collect what, and forgo another action, or worse the player makes camp to your right taking with it all the lovely resources you’d counted on taking.

As you near the end of your journey there are mountains to cross and this also tips the apple-cart up and then stomps all over them, because you can’t progress without having the resources to do it. This can be a nightmare, if you’ve constructed a sleek engine to whiz you up the river you have to suddenly change gear to a completely different resource. Thematically it works a treat slowing everyone down as a range of mountains would, the original expedition took months to cross these. Its also neat catch up mechanic because it will slow down even a run away leader.

Taken as a piece of historic gaming its applied a dubious hollywood veneer to history, the Indians are all playing nicely and everyone is one happy family which was far from the case for that time period, but as a resource gathering and worker placement this is something special. There are some real crunchy mechanics happening below the surface and a **** of a lot going on, and it balances all the disparate elements wonderfully.

So i’d highly recommend this for lovers of the worker placement genre looking for something with a nice twist, its not a light game and can run on a tad with a larger group, and has the potential for some brain seizing AP issues with those prone to over analyzing everything, I love all the ideas that this brings to the table and how well it all just seamlessly works as a whole.

It also plays as a solo and this actually works really well and is an equally challenging puzzle as you try to race another automated expedition that just slowly moves along the river like some 1800’s clockwork terminator as you fight to race ahead of it. I strongly advise giving this a go before trying to teach the game to others as all the main mechanics are used. So yes well worth a look, its sweet on the eye, light on the wallet and chock full of inventive stuff happening below the surface.

 
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8 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“Very interesting game”

Very impressed with the components, I would even say the board is quite beautiful. Game takes a long while to learn, but once that hurdle is crossed it is quite fun and has much replay value. I can honestly say that there is a ton of hidden strategy involved that I did not pick up on until playing through 2 or 3 times. The correct time to use resources and Indians play a huge role in the winner. I would recommend that this be played with experienced gamers and please follow the age guidelines to teenagers only.

 

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