Lost Cities Rivals - Dastardly Review #113
We played Lost Cities Rivals for the first time at Gen Con 2018. Grabbed it figuring that we would play it once and move on to a ‘bigger’ game. We liked it so much we played it again. And again.
Lost Cities Rivals is a card game where you push your luck completing Expeditions. The more you accomplish on each expedition the more Victory Points you earn.
Each Expedition is a suit of cards. Your accomplishments are tracked by numbered cards within the suit and the count of footprints on each card. Plus you can start each Expedition by holding out for a Wager card which gives you more Victory Points.
Cards are earned through an auction.
Game play is fast and competitive. And fun.
The box says 2 to 4 players can play Lost Cities Rivals. We found that it plays much, much better with 3 or 4 players which is to be expected of an auction style game. Also the box says game play is 40 minutes. We found that it was between 20 and 30 minutes.
The player with the most Victory Points wins.
Victory points are calculated by adding up the footprints for an Expedition (suit) and multiplying the total by a bonus multiplier for wager cards in that Expedition. One Wager card doubles the footprint value. Two Wager cards triples the value etc.
Plus there is another bonus of 8 Victory Points for any Expedition (suit) with more four or more cards.
Finally each Gold Coin you have left is worth 1 Victory Point.
Expedition Cards are divided into five suits. Card values 2-5 have 2 cards each while values 6-10 have 1 card for a total of 65 cards.
Wager Cards are also split into five suits. Each suit has 5 wager cards. The wager cards show a handshake confirming a bet.
36 Gold Coins (actually cardboard chits colored gold...but I guess real gold was too much to hope for!)
And a starting player marker card.
Game play is fast.
The Expedition Cards are split into four piles creating four phases to the game.
Gold from the pool is divided among the players.
On their turn the player must either Uncover the next Expedition Card or start an Auction.
Uncover an Expedition Card is quick...just turn over a card and add it to the display line.
Auctions take a bit more time. Players bid until only one player is left. The highest bidder moves the amount of Gold Coins from the successful bid from his pile to the gold supply. The highest bidder also gets to move Expedition Cards one at a time from the display line to his Expeditions. And can opt to return one Expedition Card from the display line to the box...removing it from play.
Expeditions are built from lowest card to highest with Wager cards being lowest.
Play resumes with the player to the left of the highest bidder.
Play continues this way until the last card is turned over from the current Expedition stack and added to the display line. Then any gold in the gold supply is divided evenly among the players and the next Expedition stack becomes the active draw pile.
When the last Expedition stack is finished do NOT divided up the gold supply to the players. Start counting up Victory Points to see who is the winner!
After playing it several times with a loaner box we went out and bought our own copy. Enjoyed it that much.
Great game that sets up quickly and plays in 20-30 minutes. Elegantly designed.
The color of the cards varies slightly by scene within the suits. At times it is difficult to tell the difference by color between cards of the gray, green and blue suits. There is a logo on the bottom of each card that identifies the suit so suits can be identified that way but it is natural to first attempt to use the color of the card. Don’t let this stop you from playing Lost Cities Rivals...just go off of the logo and not the color.
The Good: Fun. Fast. Strategy on when and how much to bid at auction and how much to push your luck on the expeditions.
The Bad: While technically possible to play with 2 players...it is a lot more fun with 3 or 4 players..
The Dastardly: Wait for the wager cards to get the bonuses!