Monday, March 21, 2016

Lost Cities continues to be a good game

Since I've found myself reminiscing about Reiner Knizia, I have asked myself where to start. Over the years, I have played a lot of his games and I'm sure I'll play plenty more in the years to come. And he has made so many games I've enjoyed.

So I've decided to start with the first game I ever played by him, which has to be Lost Cities. 

I'm not going to try and summarize how to play Lost Cities. Lots of people have already done that. Come to think of it, I've been one of those people:

Wow. I wrote that over ten years ago.

There are two things I remember about my initial impressions of Lost Cities.

First of all, it was one of the first German Family Games I ever got and I remember how impressed I was by the components. Honestly, it would not be so cool today but a board that had been cut to lie perfectly flat and large cards with detailed, mature artwork in full color that look like they could have come out of an illustrated edition of a Jules Verne novel. That was a step into a whole new world of production values for me.

The other memory is one I mentioned in that old review. I read through the rules and found myself thinking that's it? This is the game I have read people rave about on the Internet? Then I dealt out two hands and tried playing Lost Cities against myself. And even playing the game click for me. I went from underwhelmed to impressed.

That was one of my first lessons in how simple rules can still create tough decisions. How simple rules can create complex situations.

(A few years later, when I spent some time playing Go, I realized that on a whole new level)

Over the years, I have played literally hundreds of hands of Lost Cities. I'll admit that the game doesn't interest me as much now. There are other, similar games that interest me more now. Emu Ranchers, Balloon Cup and Keltis the Card Game are three that come to mind.

But two of those games were openly influenced by Lost Cities and Balloon Cup at least owes some popularity from Lost Cities. Some of these games wouldn't exist without it. More than that, I don't know if I'd have played them without my Lost Cities experiences.

More than that, all three of those games offer more flexible choices. I do wonder if the greater restriction and card placement in Lost Cities creates a more tense game or just a more luck sensitive game.

Lost Cities isn't just a good game to introduce folk to the broader spectrum of games. It's a good game that also happens to be very accessible. After more than ten years, I'd still play it.

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