Risk Assessment

My fiancée and I play a lot of games together.  Quiet weekends and weekday evenings while we wait for dinner to cook are great times to get in some board games.  As such, I’m always on the lookout for good two player games.  Liz doesn’t like hardcore strategy games – I can sometimes browbeat her into a game of Stratego (she hates it) – and game length is always an important consideration, especially for weeknights.

Hearing it mentioned on various gaming podcasts as a spouse-friendly game, I picked up the card game Lost Cities.  It’s quickly become one of our go-to games as it’s fast and easy but has enough strategy to stay interesting through multiple plays.

In Lost Cities players plan up to five expeditions to ancient lost cities through treacherous lands.  You play colored and numbered cards to start an expedition, placing each color in its own row, and each card must have a number greater than the one preceding it.  As there are only ten numbers in each expedition you end up trying to figure out what colors your opponent is going for and what they may be holding in their hand.  For example you may hazard playing a seven on a five as you don’t want to risk waiting for the six to show up – for once the draw pile runs out, and it runs out quickly, the round is over.

Lost Cities is about risk assessment.  Each expedition you begin automatically starts at negative 20 points and the cards you lay down count toward erasing that deficit. Points scored over 20 have a positive value and are kept for the final scoring total.  You must figure out if it’s worth starting an expedition from the cards in your hand since an incomplete venture will cost you points.

It’s funny though how irrelevant the theme of Lost Cities ultimately is.  The artwork on the cards is pretty but the game itself could easily be re-skinned to be about something completely different and it wouldn’t affect game play one bit.  But the game play has solid mechanics which keep us coming back.  Lost Cities doesn’t require too much brain power and doesn’t need a lot of time so it’s the perfect game after a long day.  If you’re looking for a solid two-player game, you can’t go wrong with Lost Cities.

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