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Lost Cities

2015 edition


Your Price: $19.99
(Worth 1,999 Funagain Points!)

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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 30 minutes 2

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): Thames & Kosmos

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Product Description

Who will discover the ancient civilizations? Two explorers embark on research journeys to remote corners of the world: the Himalayan mountains, the Central American rainforest, the Egyptian desert, a mysterious volcano, and the bottom of the sea.

As the cards are played, the expedition routes take shape and the explorers earn points. The most daring adventurers make best on the success of their expeditions. The explorer with the highest score after three rounds of expeditions wins. The rules of the game are simple, but beware: the lost cities hold many unseen mysteries!

Product Information

Product Reviews

Alan How
July 31, 1999

When I received the game, I quickly read the rules (only two small-sized pages) and thought this looked ok but nothing special. What was all the fuss about?

A month later and I have played this over 50 times with a wide range of people and I know what the fuss is over now. An excellent card games for two people that is addictive.

The game comes in a standard Kosmos 2 player box. The sort Siedler card players prefer. The modest contents are a pack of oversized cards and a small board. The deck of cards is in five suits distinguished by colour. The game is about reaching lost cities, which are hidden in the jungle (green), at the end of desert landscape (yellow), underwater (blue), at the edge of an cold arctic location (white) or a rugged volcanic environment (red). Each suit has cards 1 to 10, and 3 investment cards. Card 10 shows the final destination, the 9 shows a view as you approach the city, while the one shows the start of the expedition.

All this is tangential to the play, but the theme does at least bear some resemblance to what you are doing. Each player is the overseer to a range of expeditions, with a race to collect as much value from the range of expeditions as possible. You can imagine the Royal Geographical Society sending off explorers to chart these mythical cities.

Each player receives 8 cards, with the board placed between the players. The board is superfluous, acting as a neat place to store discards from each of the five suits of card. Each expedition (colour) is scored separately, penalising scores of less than 20 and rewarding those higher. There is a bonus awarded to a thoroughly charted expedition (eight cards or more are played) which can include the investors interests as well as the numbered cards. The investors double, triple or quadruple the basic score depending on the level of investment backing.

The investor cards must be played first on a suit or not at all. This means that when you have started playing numbered cards, no investment cards can be played for that expedition. Numbered cards can only be on top of lower numbered cards or the investor cards. This clever rule immediately imposes some decisions at every moment.

For example, suppose you are dealt 3 white investor cards, the 8,9 of greens, the 1 and 5 of blue and the 6 of yellow. If you start with the white investor cards you can play these over the next three turns, but unless you make a positive score for white at the end of the round, your score will be highly negative. You have no more white cards, and may or may not pick them up. The greens are nearly at 20, but by playing the 8, you can only play the 9 and 10 and would be missing out on investor cards as well as the 1 to 7. That rules out green. Yellow isn't so bad but you are missing lots of numbers by starting with the 6, so that more or less makes you go for the 1 of blues. You have now committed to blues. Hopefully, you'll pick up a load of white cards and some low greens to allow yourself to plan expeditions for these two. If yellows don't turn up, you can always discard onto the yellow pile on the game board.

The game ends when the last card of the draw pile is taken, so players are advised to count the number of cards remaining to let them know when to play cards from your hand. As you can see, a key element is playing for time, while better cards turn up. You can also delay the end of the game by playing cards to one of the discard piles, which will allow you or your opponent to replenish from a discard pile rather than the main draw pile.

While it might be argued that the game is very simple, for games players there are many strategies to play. I have probably discovered most of them, but since there is considerable fun in realising them, I won't go into more detail. I will close by saying there is no reason not to buy this game -- it doesn't cost much, it will fit in most cupboards and most importantly it is a good two player game. Highly recommended.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
John McCallion
December 31, 2000

Another Dr. Knizia masterpiece returns to grace our list again. A deck of five numbered suits invites you to plan up to five tempting but uncertain journeys. Just playing a card to start an expedition costs 20 points, which are deducted from the final total of your cards played there. Thus, a hasty decision could result in a large deficit if you don't draw the required cards. Subsequent cards added to an expedition must be played in ascending order. Investment cards multiply the value of an expedition (positively or negatively), but must be played before any numbered cards are placed. The player with the higher combined score from all expeditions begun wins. Tricky undercurrents of interaction with the adversary add further intrigue to a game that's guaranteed to challenge your decision-making prowess.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
David Andrews
December 31, 1999

Making decisions in this game is as difficult as choosing lanes during rush hour, and the outcomes can be annoyingly wrong! Five suits of numbered cards represent expeditions which either or both players can start. Shuffle the deck and deal seven cards to each player. Expeditionary cards must be played in ascending order: There is no going back if you jump a step. An expense of 20 points to start an expedition is deducted from the final total of its cards to determine the expedition's score. Investment cards multiply the values of expeditions, but must come before numbered cards are played. Often it is wise to wait to draw better cards before starting or continuing a journey. Discarding instead is possible, but this may allow your opponent to pick up a valuable card. Spectators may see two travelers going their separate ways, but there are many undercurrents of interaction and bluffing that only the adventurers can know on the risk-ridden paths to the highest scores.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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