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Saturday, November 7, 2015

You Have Chosen...Wisely

Today we drove a little further out of our way to visit The Caffeinery in downtown Muncie to play Lost Cities.  Located off of Walnut St, the Caffeinery is upscale, but approachable and friendly.  In addition to their great coffee, their kindness also shined for a great overall experience.  The coffee is a little pricy, but you get what you pay for here.  It was definitely worth the drive to venture out and try a new coffee shop and we were both very pleased to see Muncie embracing a local coffee shop.  We really appreciated the service we received today from The Caffeinery and we would absolutely recommend them to anyone!  Lost Cities is an exploration, hand management/set collection, wager game with an archeology theme.  This version is the 2 player card game and it consists of a single deck of cards with a rank of 2 - 10 in 5 different locations in the world.
The game is played over three rounds and once the three rounds are completed, the players can then tally up their scores to determine the winner of the game.  Determining the initial scores at the end of each round is actually quite fun because depending on how well you managed to execute your strategy and luck of the cards, you can quickly end up vastly on the positive end, or down in the negative for your score.  Plus, the specific methods and slight hand of arithmetic for the scoring is fun especially if you put down more deal cards!  This does mean that if one of the players falls significantly behind, he or she can still bounce back.  This game is designed to be much faster paced.  From the beginning, you just start playing cards and hope that you draw the corresponding colors and numbers that are going to help you build your civilization.  This also plays into the wager side of the mechanics of the game.   In my opinion, there are a couple of drawbacks about this game.  There aren't a lot of options for each player in terms of the actions they can take.  Essentially when it's the active players turn, you play a card, then draw a card.  You cannot opt out.  If you don't have a card that you can play, then you have to discard a card which is still technically considered as playing a card.  The players are pressured to play cards very quickly and depending on the order of numerical cards that are being played, those players may very quickly be reduced to only certain cards, causing all others to be completely void.  This is a strategy game, but it is far far more based on luck of the draw from the draw pile.  This drastically reduces the ability to plan a better strategy in advance.  One other issue is that the instructions clearly state that when you draw the last card from the draw pile, the game ends immediately.  This means that the last card will never be used, and even if you have a lot more useful cards in your hand, or in the center of the board, you still have to end the game regardless.  I understand that planning accordingly is key when approaching the end of the draw pile, but Claire and I still firmly agree that instead of ending the game immediately, that drawing the last card should instead trigger the last round between both players.  This would have considerably enhanced our opinions of the game.  The game is already fast enough as is, this would not have hurt the end of the rounds to have this slight adjustment in place.  Other than that, the fast gameplay allows the game to be a good filler game.  Thematically the game is really fun and gives off that Indiana Jones adventure vibe.  The grainy artwork on the cards is very unique and carries a pointillism style similar to the works of George Seurat.  When lining them up horizontally against each other they complete a panoramic view of the different locations in the world which is cool but slightly strange because there is no need for this during the gameplay.  As for the physical quality of the cards, I would not say these are very good.  We've brought this game out probably on five different occasions, and played it 13 times, and the cards have already been noticeably peeling worse each time we shuffle and pick them up, so if you can sleeve them, you'll definitely want to!  I would say this is not a game that I will reach for as often as the other games in our collection, but I still think it's good and it's definitely a nice, two-player, portable game that other gamers could enjoy for game nights.

Lost Cities
Overall Meeple Rating: 6/10

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