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Lost Cities: The Card Game - Board Game Box Shot

Lost Cities: The Card Game

"For the daring and adventurous, there are many lost cities to explore. They are in the Himalayas, the ever-shifting sands of the desert, the Brazilian rain forest, ancient volcanoes and in Neptune’s Realm. With limited resources the players must choose which expeditions to begin. Those with high confidence may want to up the stakes: increasing the rewards for success, but risking more should the expedition fail. The player who finds the right balance will find victory!"

Lost Cities - box and contents
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User Reviews (38)

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Gamer - Level 6
67 of 69 gamers found this helpful
“Why Lost Cities was Lost on Me”

Occasionally I get asked why I don’t write more negative reviews, I guess the answer I should have been giving was that I hadn’t had a chance to play Lost Cities. Since I do a fair amount of 2 player gaming with the Mrs I figured why not pick up this “classic” renown as a “couples game” or just a generally fantastic game for 2 players I thought what could possibly go wrong. Now don’t get me wrong, this will not be an entirely “negative review” because I do see the attraction, I mean playing the game is pretty fun, you have to make some tough choices and the mechanics are good, even your goal seems feasible, so where does Lost Cities go wrong? I can share the sour taste in my mouth by quoting one sentence from the rule book “Thus, an expedition’s value is between -80 and 156.” In a round, you can have up to 5 expeditions and you must find the total value, rarely do you actually have 5 but you can see how scoring can be a little hard to keep track of. My main issue is that the scoring feels like it is too much work for the actual game you just played, even if you do it quickly with a calculator or pad of paper it is still a chore.

To have the highest total expedition value when the draw deck runs out of cards.

Shuffle the deck and deal each player 8 cards.

You have 2 options on your turn, discard or play an expedition card, after either action you must draw a new card.

Playing an Expedition Card:
You simply place an expedition card of a higher value than the current expedition card on your side of the board where the corresponding expedition is located. You may never go back and add a lower value card, and Investment cards must be played before any numerical expedition cards have been placed.

Discarding an Expedition Card:
Each Expedition has it’s own discard pile, when you discard a card simply place it in the matching discard pile on top of any previously discarded cards..

Drawing a Card:
You have two choices, technically 6 choices as to where you can draw your card from. You can draw from the draw deck or the top card of any expedition’s discard pile. Keep in mind that drawing from the draw deck causes the game to move closer to its end.

Game End / Scoring
This is where you need to get some scrap paper, a calculator and a Tylenol or two because ***** about to get intense.
* First you add the numbered cards in an expedition together
* Then subtract 20 from the sum of the expedition
* Multiply the new value of the expedition by (1+# of Investment Cards)

Note: Expeditions that do not have any cards in them at the end of the game count for 0 points, they do not get the -20.

I thought it was important to mention that the artwork on the cards is really cool. The numbers show an expedition in sequential order and each of the Investment cards feature the same people in front of a different ma. I felt that the artwork was very connected to the game thought they picked a good set of colours for the cards.

Why Didn’t I enjoy Lost Cities?
As I mentioned above mostly the scoring, I felt that the game played good to okay but it wasn’t “fun” for lack of a better word. I think my problem is it reminds me too much of standard card games, not to say that I don’t enjoy Crazy Eights but when they start to get too serious I would rather play something with a board and bits.

Who Would Enjoy Lost Cities?

Casual Gamers: I do think some casuals will find love in Lost Cities, I think if you enjoy standard playing card games then you will really enjoy Lost Cities, if you do not, and consider yourself a casual gamer I would make sure to physically try this one before buying regardless of how great you think it sounds / looks.

Gamer Gamers: If you are considered an “alpha gamer” or any synonym for the term then I think you will find enjoyment in Lost Cities, unless of course you do not enjoy number crunching. There is lots of deep decision making and lots of replay value. When two people who are experienced with the game play it is totally different and way more intense, a game of wits, these are why I would recommend Lost Cities to a serious gamer.

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Mythic Kingdoms Backer 2020
Video Game Fan
Miniature Painter
The Gold Heart
66 of 69 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Great as long as your looking for a simple 2 player game”

Strong Suits
– The strategies are easy to pick up, and the games go fast
– The illustrations are nice for such a simple game
– If you are going on a trip, you can save space by just taking the cards

– It can get old fast (not much depth), so this is a game you’ll pull out every once in awhile
– It has a nice treasure & expedition theme, but in the end it’s a numbers game
– This game is mostly luck-of-the-draw, so it can be frustrating

During the first couple of turns you have to make big decisions that can greatly affect how your round goes. For example, do you risk playing a point card rather than waiting for the investment cards that can multiply your points at the end. Do you play a couple investment cards, even if you don’t have any other cards for that expedition? Do you discard a high value card, and risk your opponent taking it?

During the game you’re allowed to count how many cards are left in the draw deck, so you know when the round is going to end. Draw cards from the board instead of the deck if you need more time to lay your cards down. Or if you see your opponent a few turns away from completing an expedition, you can try to end the game early by drawing from the deck.

Buy it if … Your looking for a quick to learn 2-player game that is fun to pull out every once in a while, and portable enough to bring on a trip.

Don’t buy it if … You want more depth in the treasure hunting aspect. It’s well produced, but in the end it’s a numbers game.

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Viscount / Viscountess
Novice Reviewer
Junior Beta 1.0 Tester
54 of 57 gamers found this helpful
“A Staple Game to Pass the Time”

Basic Idea: You’re an explorer trying to get backing and trying to get your expedition as far as possible, but your arch nemesis keeps getting in your way.

Gameplay: Lost Cities is super easy and fun to play. It’s a two player game(though there are rules for four, but you need two sets)where you and your opponent try and lay down cards of the same suit in as close to consecutive order as you can get. On your turn you play one card and draw one card. You can play a card by putting it in front of you as part of an expedition or discarding it. You can then draw a card from either the draw pile or the discard piles. There are 5 different expeditions (colors/suits) and each expedition has 3 investment cards and 9 cards numbered 2-10. At the end of the game each expedition without at least 20 points (the numbered cards added up) is a failed expedition and you’ll lose points. An investment card must be laid down before any expedition cards and if the expedition is successful then you score multiplies. If it fails, you lose even more points. The game is over when the last card is drawn.

Overview: I really like this game. It’s fun and fast (very fast) and easy to learn. The theme has nothing to do with the game and if playing cards had 5 suits you could just use them. This really feels like a game you would want to keep out for when you and your significant other are waiting for a show to start or for rice to cook. Something quick to pass the time that doesn’t take too much thought. I wouldn’t list it as an all time favorite, but it’s definitely a gaming staple.

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I play green
Novice Reviewer
I Walk the Talk!
53 of 56 gamers found this helpful
“Fun, but Lady Luck is strong with this one.”

My wife and I are always looking for a great two player game. So when my mother-in-law introduced this to us, we played it immediately.


I love the artwork that is featured on the cards and game board. The scenes of jungles, mountains, deserts, submerged civilizations and (my favorite) volcanoes are beautiful and evoke a sense of adventure and wonder. The game board is unnecessary in game play, but is pretty nonetheless.

The cards are the main part and they shine. They are large and in charge. They are easy to shuffle, easy to work with. No complaints there.


This game is one of the easiest games to learn that I have come across. Each person is working to get the most points on as many expeditions as they can. Investment opportunities come along in the beginning (hopefully) to create great point increases or to lose many, many points.

Larger cards can only be played on smaller cards and gaps cannot be filled in afterwards. During all of this, your opponent is working on the same expeditions as you.

There is a little strategy, like when to draw from the deck or what to discard and this adds a little more excitement to the game, but like others have said, luck plays a hefty role in the quest to find Lost Cities. Better cards may show up right after you need them. Frustration can swell fast, but luckily, this game moves fast. Soon it will be time to start another round.


Lost Cities is a fun and quick 2 player experience that is beautiful and easy to learn. It may be too light for a few people. but if you get the chance, definitely take the opportunity to get lost.

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Reviewed My First Game
38 of 40 gamers found this helpful
“Super Fast Play, Good Strategy”

Lost Cities is about as easy to learn and simple to play as it gets. Even so, it provides significant replay value through the application of a couple of twists on traditional card gameplay that makes this one difficult to master.

Both players share a central game board with five discard piles, one for each colored card “suit” in the deck. Each colored “suit” consists of a run of cards from 2 through 9 and three “investment” cards. Simply build runs of numbers on your side of the board (much like solitaire). Because numbers must be played in order (i./e., you can’t play a “5” after you’ve already played an “8”), and you can only hold eight cards in your hand, each player is forced to use the shared game board as “temporary storage” for excess cards.

This results in fierce battles between the players, each one strategizing about which suit to go for and when to begin drawing from the shared discard piles. Be careful! If a run of cards in a single “suit” doesn’t add up to 20 points or more, you’ll be penalized. Were you bold enough to play a few investment cards at the beginning (and only the beginning) of your run? Great! Your points are multiplied. However, if you don’t make it to 20 points, an investment card will multiple your penality!

Confounding all of this is the fact that each player must first play a card, then draw a card. This simple reversal of the standard card game mechanic provides a nice added challenge to the gameplay.

A great little 2-player game perfect for a quick pickup match or two.

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Gamer - Level 6
Intermediate Reviewer
Amateur Advisor
43 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“Simple, Fun, Quick”

Played it for the first time last night with someone who is not much of a gamer. They much prefer games like Uno, or Cards Against Humanity, simple or funny. Myself, I’m more about planning, scheming, trying hard to win.

And that gave me absolutely no edge in this compared to her luck at drawing cards.

One of the best parts about this game is as much strategy as you try to impose upon it, it will almost always come down to luck. One player will have better cards, or be able to use all your discards, or have some way to gain an edge.

That having been said, I still really enjoyed it, and loved that it was designed for two. Very few games are optimal, or even playable, with two people. It was also quite quick, and you can play as many or as few rounds as you choose.

The game is fairly simple, there are 5 locations, you can start an expedition in any of them. Your expedition cards have to be ascending, but do not have to be consecutive (e.g. 2,4,9 is ok, 2,5,3 is not). You can also play an investment card(s), which multiplies your success or failure, before you lay any expedition cards. Each time you play, you draw. Instead of playing, you can discard a card, which goes into that expeditions discard pile. After discarding, you draw a new card as if you played a card.

Scoring is fairly simple, but I prefer to describe it as such: you want as many points as possible in an expedition, with a minimum of twenty. Should you end up with less than twenty, you lose that many points, and if you have more than twenty, you gain that many. Each investment card is +1x the score of that expedition, such that 1 expedition card doubles the score, 2 triples, 3 quadruples. This happens even when the score is negative. No cards and only investments is negative twenty points, but expeditions with no cards do not have a penalty.

Overall, I look forward to many enjoyable rounds of this game.

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Gamer - Level 3
Critic - Level 2
40 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“So Many Plays, The Cards Are Worn”

And I thought my MtG collection was worn out.

For a while, this was *THE* game for my wife and I. We would break it out every night when the baby was asleep and play. Not just once. Not just twice. But several rounds.

It may seem simple at first glance, but there is a lot more depth to the game when you play with people who can count cards (me) or people who have a strategy beyond “let’s just play all the cards I can” (my wife – she actually plans out her attack). You can look at your starting hand and you can play what equates to a game of solitaire, or you can engage with your opponent and bait-and-switch by using your discard power to force his or her hand.

Because the game is so quick to both learn and play, it is also a “gateway” game that I often recommend to couples (along with the excellent Balloon Cup, also by Kosmos).

A great couples game and a solid introduction to games for those who think all hobby gamers need to grow neckbeards and LARP.

Note: I was also addicted to the Facebook version of this game for quite some time 😀

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50 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Quick, and Favors the Quicker”

Simply stated, this game is fast, portable, easy to learn, and, most importantly, fun. It is a two player back and forth game that revolves around a rummy give and take format. For those of you who are a little savvier with the gaming terms, it’s a modification on a trick taking. I have noticed that this style of game is a cheap and easy way to build tension and play through wild gambles paying off or blowing up in your face. Before I get off into my actual run-down, I will WARN you all, my beloved readers, that this game takes more brains to score than it does to play (not cool, bro… not cool).

So, the theme of the game is that you are on the hunt for lost cities. Each city is found at the end of a ten step journey. Each step of the way is represented by a number and each journey is represented by a different color. For example, if I go on the hunt for “Atlantis”, it will be done with the blue cards which number one through ten. There are five different colors/journeys you can go on. There are also backer/investor cards that can be played before the journey starts that will multiply your scores for good or for the bad. The more cards you play, and the higher those cards are, the better your score tends to be…. TENDS to be….

You will have your hand of 8 cards made up of random numbers and colors. During the turn you will put down a card and pick up a card. There are 5 discard piles, one of each color, and ten play piles, one of each color on each side of the player board (one set of play piles for you and one for your opponent). During the turn you will either play a card to your corresponding color’s play pile or the corresponding color’s discard pile. If the card is going onto a play pile, it must be a larger number than the card before it in the same color pile (if I have played a 4 as my last yellow card, my next yellow must be a 5 or higher). The investor/backer cards are played down before any number cards, and there can be up to three of them. After this, you draw a card from one of the discard piles or from the remaining un-dealt cards. You play until the last un-dealt card is picked up. That is how simple the game is!

Scoring is done like this, and you do this for each color/journey individually then lump the sum: Take each journey/color you attempted, subtract twenty, add the numbers on the cards, and then multiply that by 2,3, or 4 depending on the number of backer/investor cards that were played down before the numbers (if you played one investor its x2, two investors x3, and three is x4). There it is…. complex, mathy, and ugly….

Ok, now back to the good, AND THE REASON FOR ALL THAT MATH. This game is fun because you have to think before you start dropping cards. Because each color you start will ultimately cost you twenty points, you want to know that you will make your points back. The big points come from those investor/backer multiplying bonuses, but you have to make sure you clear your investment cost or you will be multiplying negative numbers and digging yourself a hole. If you don’t think you will get your points back, then you want to discard the cards you are not using, BUT THEN YOUR OPPONENT MAY WANT EXACTLY WHAT YOU DONT AND THEN YOU ARE HELPING THEM, BUT YOUR HAND IS TOO FULL TO MAKE GOOD MOVES SO YOU CANOIANSOPINVAIOANGPOUNRADINCAIUN…..

I think you get the idea. The seemingly overly complex math points system is what drives the game to be more than just a pick-up, put-down, trick-taking, rummy clone. It either rewards crazy gambles with blow-out style points or bone crushing debt. Even conservative players are forced to wait and watch for what the other player is going to do, in which wastes time and turns to put down point scoring cards. There is almost always a tough choice to make.

This game is great. It’s not SUPER great, but it is a good one. If my wife and I don’t have the time to play something like dominion, then this can still give us some quality bonding. I LOVE games that my wife will sit down and play with me because she is not a gamer. The math, to me, is not hard to do in my head, but for her, a pre-school teacher, it is beyond her desire to perform when she isn’t at work. Put a calculator in the box and your golden. Now get out there and game friend!

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Comic Book Fan
Novice Reviewer
39 of 42 gamers found this helpful
“A well-crafted two-player adventure game for archaeology fans”

Sometimes you really just want to play a two-player game, but the majority of the board and card games on the market are tailored towards larger crowds. Enter Lost Cities, a two-player expedition game that pits you against another player in a race to explore uncharted areas. You will venture to places like the Himalayas, the Brazilian rain forest, deep inside a volcano, the depths of the ocean, and a scorching desert. Come along as Reiner Knizia, along with Rio Grande Games, takes you for an unforgettable excursion into Lost Cities.

Lost Cities is a very easy game to pick up. The game comes with a game board, 45 Expedition cards, 15 investment cards, and a rule booklet. The cards in the game are rather large which benefits the art style. Each expedition card has a different picture on it, each with its own intricate depiction of where you are exploring. The goal of the game is to score more points than your opponent by playing cards in numerical order on each expedition.

The way the game begins is that each player receives 8 cards and then begins an expedition. Cards are numbered 2-10 and allow you to go on one of five expeditions. Since there are several expeditions you can go on, there is rarely a game where you will end up playing on all five spaces. You can play your cards in any order, as long as they are numerical. You could potentially play a 2, 5, 8, and 10, but you need to realize that the more cards you play on an expedition, the more points you will receive. Players can also play investment cards, which adds to the amount of points you receive for each expedition. The only downside to investment cards is that you can only play them on an empty expedition, and can’t play one if you already have cards played in that area. If you play a single investment card, you will receive double the points. If you play two investment cards you will receive triple the points, and so on. On your turn you will play a card and then draw another card. You can play on an expedition or discard a card onto the top of the board in each section. The other player could then pick up a card from that expedition’s discard instead of from the draw pile. Players continue to play their cards and go on expeditions until the draw pile is empty.

Once the draw pile is empty you tally up your face-up points for each expedition. Each expedition is totaled individually and then subtracted 20. If you have 25 total points in the Himalayas, then you would subtract 20 points and multiply it by the number of investment cards you had placed on that expedition plus one. Yes, you will need a pad and pencil for this game because it forces you to do math. If you failed to reach 20 points on an expedition then you still subtract 20 points, but then those points become negative points against you. What’s even worse is when you have an investment card on a negative section and have to double the points you lose. If you didn’t place any cards on an expedition it doesn’t go against you. Once all your points have been added up and combined you proceed to the next round. Three rounds is a good total number to play before you declare a victor, but it is up to you to determine that.

The only gripe I had with the game was how hard it was to keep track of how many turns there were left. You are able to pick up the draw pile and count cards, but it seems like each round ends way too fast. If you have cards in your hand that you can play, don’t wait around for too long hoping for more points. Focus on breaking 20 points and you should be fine.

Lost Cities is probably my favorite two-player game. It is easy to pick up, has some strategy to it, and can often get pretty intense. There were times where my wife and I would be playing it and wouldn’t be talking to each other at all because we were so focused on the game itself. Games go pretty fast and should only take you between 20-40 minutes. If you are looking for a great game for a spouse, significant other, or just something you can play with a friend, I highly recommend picking up Lost Cities. You never know what kind of treasures you will find along the way. Game on!

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I Am What I Am
34 of 37 gamers found this helpful
“Lost Cities - Another Knizia Game, But This One Is Decent ”

I’m the kind of gamer that loves virtually all games, be they tabletop, video, or otherwise. One could classify me as an Equal Opportunity Gamer, I suppose. That being said, I truly have a passion for tabletop games that are set up for two players as I, enviably, have a spouse who also loves games, and with two little demon-spawns running around, it’s in my best interest to get games that don’t need a legion of gamers, foaming at the mouth, or two hours, to play.

I recently had an opportunity to purchase Rio Grande Games’ “Lost Cities” on the cheap, and although I am not a huge Reiner Knizia fan, the price was right and a quick two-player game will certainly see more playtime than a game like Risk. When the package arrived, I was absolutely underwhelmed by the art, although I was hopeful that the theme was not the standard painted-on fare that Knizia is known for.

I cracked the box to find a small, rectangular play board with five colored rectangular areas, and 60 numbered, oversized cards in five suits each, carefully packed in a quite sturdy plastic, blow molded card holder. I was immediately and woefully unimpressed with the card artwork, and the fact that the cards are about as large as a moleskinne notebook didn’t help. Seeing as I paid for it, I figured I had better give it a go anyhow.

After perusing the rulebook, which thankfully was very concise and quite diminutive, it was apparent that the theme is, as I suspected, an afterthought. This game could’ve been about constructing torture devices or exploiting Mexican labor on a building jobsite, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing, and probably would’ve been more exciting. The lack of a strong theme isn’t truly a detractor from the game itself, but paired with the bland artwork, I was thoroughly bummed that this game was so simple looking. I soldiered on, regardless.

The essence of the game is that you and your opponent play as explorers, tasked to explore 5 ancient ruins on someone else’s dime, and in order to do this you have to build a deck of cards under each colored expedition space on the board by placing cards, on your side of the board, in sequential order. It sounds simple, but this is complicated by the fact that each color has three “investment cards” which depict the player making a back alley deal with some sinister art-collector investors, and these act as multipliers to your final score. There are tough decisions to be made both initially, and as the game progresses.

The gameplay itself essentially consists of playing a card onto an expedition or discarding a card onto the board, and finally, taking a card from the draw deck or from a card that was discarded onto the board. All in all, gameplay mechanics truly don’t get much simpler than this, but the decision making process itself is more challenging than one would expect. The random draw factor is the real “X Factor” here, and this is further hampered by the fact that if you discard a card to the board hoping to get a better card from the draw, you may allow your opponent may snatch it out from under you, helping them and leaving you sad and dejected.

The game immediately ends once the last card has been taken from the draw pile, and you tally your scores. This was hands-down the least fun part of the game, not only because I lost miserably every game we played, but because it involves some math, which is only fun to those who would rather be solving quadratic equations for “N” than playing games.

The short version of scoring is that any expedition you’ve started requires you to immediately take a -20 point hit, to cover the initial cost of funding the expedition. If you played investment cards on an expedition, but have no numbered expedition cards on top of it, it multiplies your investment loss. Conversely, if you did have some expedition cards on top of the investment cards, you subtract your initial “-20 investment” then multiply the sum of the cards to get your score for that expedition. This can be tedious, as you potentially have five expeditions to score, so if you are a little high, or failed math in grade school, you may be at it a while. Suffice to say, a pencil and some paper are good things to have when playing this game.

The good news, though, is that I found this game to be enjoyable. The gameplay is brisk, and you can expect to finish one round in about fifteen to twenty minutes. The rulebook recommends that you play three rounds and tally the scores to declare a winner, but we preferred to play single-round games sequentially to avoid having to remember calculus during the scoring. All things considered, we thought the game was fairly fun, albeit sterile. Despite my nitpick that the theme was absolutely irrelevant to the game, and even despite the bad card art, this is a game that we will likely play again.

Things I liked:
*Concise rulebook that can be read during one session on the can
*Two player game, expandable to four
*Brisk, easy to understand gameplay, that lasts 20 minutes a round
*The theme, while painted-on, was passable and made sense

Things I detested:
*The art was less attractive than “Bazooka Joe” comics, by several orders of magnitude
*The scoring, although not really that hard, was a pain and not intuitive
*Oversized cards were simply not necessary and not conducive to shuffling

A decent, fun two-player game that you can use as a filler, or to play if you only have a half an hour to do something other than watch an episode of Matlock…again.

3/5 Stars

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Movie Lover
Book Lover
I play blue
81 of 89 gamers found this helpful
“Lost Cities is Easy Fun for Two”

Lost Cities is another of Reiner Knizia’s two-player only games. My edition is one of the Kosmos 2 player line. It has some similarities to Battle Line, as both games have players facing one another and placing cards in columns. The gameplay is easy and quick, and most anyone can grasp the rules in a couple of minutes. The endgame scoring can be a bit tedious, but not terribly so.

The cards and a narrow board make up the components, and they are of good quality. But for some inexplicable reason, Lost Cities’ cards are oversized. It makes them more much difficult to shuffle than a standard deck. I find that card size matters. The small cards of Takenoko, Elder Sign, and Ticket to Ride are often criticized for their poor handling characteristics. Oversized cards are marginally better than the minis, but just a bit. Why not make them the size of regular playing cards?

Gameplay is simple and straightforward, but it is not especially thematic. Players must choose from among five “expeditions” to fund. They may pick from five colored suits of cards, and play them in ascending order in columns marked by the play board set between the two players. On a player’s turn, he plays or discards one card and draws another. When the draw deck is exhausted, the game ends. Players then tally their scores. Each started expedition costs a player 20 points, so it is critical that the sum of a player’s cards total 21+ points. Otherwise, an expedition can result in a negative score.

“Handshake” cards can be played as a multiplier for the point value of an expedition. But they must be played before any numerical cards are played. A player can multiply the subtotal (the value of the numerical cards minus 20) of his expedition times two, three, or four by playing one, two or three handshake cards. Using the handshake cards is a gamble, because negative scores also will be subject to the multiplier. A low scoring expedition with four handshake cards can result in a huge scoring deficit.

Lost Cities is a staple of introductory, two player games. It serves as a good filler game that is perfect when time is short. Players can play three rounds (a good number) in about 15-20 minutes. Setup is quick and easy, and most anyone can understand the rules of play. The game is inexpensive and occupies little shelf space. Along with Battle Line, Lost Cities is a light, fun card game for two from Reiner Knizia.

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Professional Reviewer Beta 1.0 Tester
Silver Supporter
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
51 of 56 gamers found this helpful
“Perfect game for couples! Solid two player game!”

This was one of my wife’s goto games with me, since I got the board gaming bug. I can’t count how many times we’ve played this. This is another Reiner Knizia classic game of press your luck and subtle give and take of cards.

Each player goes on a “expedition” to find lost artifacts….nah, just try to build a stack of cards with the most points. The theme really has no meaning other than pretty artwork on cards. The trick is that you have to score over 20 points on each stack to make positive points (i.e. subtract 20 points). The person with the most points after three rounds wins. If you have bonus cards that can double, triple, or quadruple your stack the better, unless you’re in the negative… then it hurts! Very rarely can you start out with the 20 plus points in your hand for a stack (or suit), because you really have to build it as you go and hope another card you need comes along.

It’s a game of give and take, because your opponent can discard cards to the center which you can pick up in lieu of a draw or vice-versa. The problem is that you don’t know what’s in the opponent’s hand and whether or not they need that card. You could potentially give them the game by giving them a card you can’t use, but you have to discard it because you’re hanging onto other cards you need to complete your stack of cards. This is where the game gets tense especially towards the end of the game.

It’s not a deep game, just a tense one of do I pick the card or discard that card or do I hold out for a better card kind of game. Very enjoyable game overall, and the game plays very quickly!

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Intermediate Reviewer
Gamer - Level 3
45 of 50 gamers found this helpful
“A Quick Mathematical 2 Player Filler/Casual Game”

This is a mathematics/numbers game. There are 5 expeditions, each with 3 investment cards and 1 copy of each number between (and including) 2 and 10. Each turn you play a card either into one of your expeditions or onto the discard pile for that expedition. Then you draw a card, either from the draw pile or from one of the discard piles. When you play a card on your expedition the card you play must be of greater value than the one previously played. At the end of the game, as soon as the draw pile is empty, each player totals their expeditions, subtracting 20 points from each expedition they contributed to.

The tension in the game comes from deciding when to start an expedition and which ones to abandon, as trying to play all of them will result in negative points for at least one. Players are making decisions based on the totals they can make, as well as deciding to give up a card their opponent might take in order to stall and hope for a better draw.

It plays fast, but is rather light on strategy. It makes for a great filler or casual game.

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54 of 62 gamers found this helpful
“Simple, addictive, and approachable”

Lost Cities has a reputation as “the game your spouse will play,” and it’s well deserved. Spouses (both sexes) of gamers who are not big gamers themselves find this approachable, and it’s good for all ages.

Components: The components, consisting of color cards and a small central, to be placed between the two players, are nice. The graphics help evoke the (light) theme of exploration.

Play: Play consists of putting down a card (or discarding) and picking up a card. Each player in turn places down cards in one of five colored rows, placing down lower numbered cards first and going upwards (never downwards) from 2 through 10. Numbers can be skipped. At game-end, each row is totaled, and any points remaining after you subtract 20 go toward your winning total.

If the row totals less than 20 (a row with a 4-6-8 would only total 18, for instance), the difference is subtracted from your victory point total. Special handshake cards, which can only be played at the start of a card line, can multiply loss/victory totals.

It’s a simple game, but the end stage of the game can be filled with maddening decisions. Risk starting a 4th or even 5th row? Double down on a multiplier row? Even discarding can be tough (especially if you pull valuable 9 or 10 cards before you can play them), because your opponent can seize discards to complete their own competing rows.

It’s a good, clean game that can be taught in 10 minutes, but falls nicely into that “easy to learn hard to master” category and often gives that “if I just had one more turn…” experience. Highly recommended if you need a simpler filler game.

Rating **** out of ***** stars

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Advanced Reviewer Bronze Supporter
40 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Small game, big fun”

The name Reiner Knizia is well know to most of the gamers as he is one of the world best game creators. The games he designs are usually strategies with themes. “Lost Cities” is not an exception here. It is a two-player, card-driven strategy game with a theme of explorers’ expeditions.

First of all a few words about the cards. There are five sets of them. In each sets there are nine numbered cards (from 2 to 10) and three bet cards. The numbered cards of one set depict the progress of one of the five expeditions. The lowest card contains a hint that there is a lost city nearby it may be a carved stone or a remnant of a sword…) while the last one shows the lost city itself. The bet cards look pretty similar and they are use to double, triple or even quadruple the points gathered throughout the game.

The aim of the game is to put as many card series in ascending order as possible. For long sequences of cards (especially of the high valued ones) the players are rewarded. But if any player starts a series but at the end of the game it has a low value it effectively decreases the score – so it’s better not to start an “expedition” than start an unsuccessful one.

The mechanics of the game follows other Knizia’s creations. It is pretty tricky, but quite easy to learn, teach and understand. I guess the ways the cards are drawn discarded and re-taken are somewhat borrowed from Rummy. They suit the theme well, and they assure a good balance between luck and skill.

If you want a good looking short game for two – you should try “Lost Cities”.

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Gamer - Level 3
37 of 47 gamers found this helpful
“Fun, Fast, and for Two.”

Lost Cities is a great, light, two-player card game with some strategy to punch it up. Like most Knizia games, the trick is to figure out when you want your pain and in how big a dose. You are always going to be forced to do something you don’t want to do whether it is play a card your opponent can use or play something sooner than you want. The fun part is watching your opponent go through the same agony.
The goal is really just to play enough cards to get positive points more often than you play cards to get negative points. That’s right, you start in the hole on this one. But keeping ahead of the giant rolling boulder is most of the fun in this game.
Also like most Knizia games, the theme is really an afterthought to the mechanisms. Still, the theme in Lost Cities actually feels like a part of the game if you have any sort of imagination due mostly to the beautiful art work on the cards (although I did feel like I was playing one of those Old Maid games with the giant cards).
If you are on the lookout for a good game when there aren’t many gamers around, Lost Cities is a great bet.

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Intermediate Reviewer
Novice Advisor
30 of 39 gamers found this helpful
“Elegant, simple, addictive”

This is one of Knizias real masterpieces. I like his game, but sometimes he just misses the target. This is not the case here, in his normal way he’s focused on one simple mechanic and peeled away everything else, only to put a twist on the scoring part.

Lost Cities is so fast it’s a great filler, and almost every game hurts because you are so torn between different actions. Quite often you need to start expeditions you don’t know if you can profit from, and more often than not both players experience they start with really ****** cards. this may sound like a bad game but it’s not. What would a game be without hard choices? Later in the game it transforms into a timing game where it is imperative to have full control over the size of the remaining deck to maximize what you can score and hopefully deny your opponent some vital cards to play.

Everyone I’ve introduced this game to have liked it, casual gamers as well as more hardcore gamers. And not to mention it’s a really good game for two players, those are not exactly common.

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Advanced Grader
35 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Quick and fun, but the theme is thin”

Lost Cities is obviously well-designed as a math game, but don’t let the “archeology theme” fool you. The pictures are fun, but you could play this with a deck of regular Hoyle cards just as easily.

That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable. My wife and I love to break this out every so often or take it on a trip. The small size and quick play makes it a perfect travel game.

The game is also quick to learn. The only aspect that is even remotely complex is the scoring, and that’s easily summarized in the rules.

I would definitely recommend this game and am glad I received it as a wedding gift (from another gamer who didn’t want to buy a spatula). Just be aware that it’s not a game you can “get lost” in the story.

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34 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Great addition to your shelf”

It’s fast, it’s easy to teach and learn, and it’s a lot of fun. There’s enough depth to the game to keep you interested for at least a few dozen plays, but not so much that a new player is doomed against an experienced player. Luck is a significant factor, no question, but playing each game as three separate rounds (as recommended in the rules) helps take care of this. It’s a great ‘couple’ game because you can play it after dinner and talk as you do so, since there’s no need to devote every neuron to the game situation. The cards and board are quite nice, and for the price it’s worth having as a filler/gateway type game. It’s not the best game you’ll ever play, but I believe its reputation as a modern classic is well-deserved.

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Platinum Supporter
Mythic Kingdoms Backer 2020
I play blue
33 of 51 gamers found this helpful
“A Fun Competitive 2-Player Card Game”

We took this game on a trip, without the board, and it worked just fine. It’s a fun themed card game that you can’t just play using face cards.

Pros:Each game is fairly short, so you can play as many hands as you have time for. The strategy is challenging enough to hold your interest.

Cons:It’s pretty easy to have a really bad hand that almost no amount of good strategy can overcome.


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