Hey folks. I’m back again with another game review. This time, I’ve found some really old ancient maps to 5 different locations. I figured I’d go traveling, and looking to see where these maps take me. Don’t worry, I’ve got some coins that I’m bringing in case I need to buy anything. So, pack your bags, grab your gear, and get ready to explore. We’re looking at Lost Cities: Rivals. This is a card game by Reiner Knizia. Reiner Knizia, who has won many awards, has a PhD in mathematics and has worked on over 600 games. His game Keltis has won the Spiel des Jahres in 2008 and his child’s game Whoowasit? Won the Spiel des Jahres Kinderspiel in 2008. Not only two games nominate, but two games won in the same year! Anyways, Lost Cities: Rivals is a set collection card game with a bidding system. It’s for 2-4 players and plays in about 30-40 minutes. The game is published by KOSMOS.
The game comes with 80 expedition cards, 10 starting wager cards, 1 starting player card, 36 coins, and the rules. The game fits inside a small box. The expedition cards come in 5 different suits. Each suit has 3 wager cards (no numbers on the card), 2 sets of 2-5 numbered cards, and 1 set of 6-10 numbered cards. The 2-5 cards have one footprint on them, the 6-10 cards have two footprints on them. This will come into play for scoring.
Players are trying to get the most points at the end of the game by collecting sets of the expedition cards. You can only have one set of each suit. Keep that in mind when you’re playing the game.
To set up, shuffle the 10 starting wager cards and deal two to each player. If you get a pair of same cards, trade one in for a different card. Set any remaining starting wager cards back in the box. Next, evenly distribute the coins to all players. In a two player game, each player gets 18 coins. In a 3 player game, each player gets 12 coins. And in a 4 player game, each player gets 9 coins. Next, shuffle all the expedition cards together. Separate these into 4 equal piles. Place one in the center of the table, and the other three piles off to the side. Now, you’re ready to play.
Flip over the top card of the pile. Each player can only do one of two actions a turn. First, they can explore the deck. They take the top card, flip it over, and place it next to the deck. I like placing all the cards from the same suit in the same pile. Order of cards that came out doesn’t matter. The other option a player can do is start an auction for the cards on the table. The winning player can take any cards on the table, may discard one card from the game, places cards taken in their expedition, and flips over the next card. To bid, a player may start with any amount of coins. The next player can raise or pass. Once all players have passed, the highest bidder wins. They put the bid amount above the deck. We’ll call this the pot for now. They can take any of the cards face up on the table and place them in their expeditions. Next, they can discard a card from the table. This might seem a little strange, but it can come in handy when you see something someone else can use. No wager card for you, or no number 8 for you. Any cards not take will remain on the table and up for grabs. The player next to the winning bidder gets the starting player card. Then it’s their turn.
A note for expedition cards. Wager cards must be played first. The first wager card doubles the points for that suit, the second wager card triples, the third one quadruples, and so on. Next, when playing expedition cards, you have to play the same number or higher number on the pile. So, your pile can be a wager card, 2, 3, 3, 6, 7. If you get a 4 or 5 for that suit, you can’t play it anymore because it doesn’t follow the equal to or greater than rule for playing cards on the expedition.
Once you go through a deck, you will them redistribute the coins evenly to all the players. If there are any extra, the coins stay in the pot until the next time coins are redistributed. Grab the next pile and continue with play. This continues until the last deck has been played through. This time, the last card removed doesn’t redistribute the coins.
Players will then score their expeditions. Each coin you have is one point. Next, count the number of footprints on cards in your expedition. If you don’t have a wager card this is the points it’s earned. If you have a wager, you multiple the expedition depending on the number of wager cards. One wager is double, two wagers are tripled, three wagers are quadrupled. After an expedition is counted and multiplied if applicable, count the number cards in the expedition. If there are at least 4 number cards in it, you get a bonus 8 points. This is after multiplication. Count up all points. The player with the highest points wins.
And that’s it. It’s not too hard, scoring isn’t too crazy, and it’s a small card game with some added coins. What do I think? I really like this game. I like the thinking and planning that goes into your expeditions. Then the almost press your luck of the game. Do I try to start the auction and get the cards now, or should I flip over another card and maybe get some better ones on my next turn. I can see why Reiner Knizia is a prolific game designer. And where mathematics comes into play. I like simple math so I actually enjoyed figuring out the final score. If you don’t like math, this might turn you off th game. Just break out your smart phone and use the calculator. The cards are nice, the coins are chunky, and the box is small. It’s a nice sized game for traveling. The cards can look similar in coloring which can be confusing at times. Just make sure to look at the symbol on the bottom of the card to be able to tell the difference. That’s my only concern about the game. I like the art on the cards. It really drives home the expedition aspect of the game. The auction and bidding for the cards adds another aspect to the game. I like how the coins are redistributed to players after each deck is used. Since they are also points, it adds this calculation of giving players more points or winning the card. Then, the last deck players aren’t getting those coins spent back. Next, the discarding a card from the table when you win a bid. It can add a little bit of take that to the game. Overall, this is a fun card game that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a new set collection card game.