What kid (or grown up) doesn’t like an adventure story? We love to read about brave heroes facing the challenges of exploration and overcoming adversity. We love to watch their journies unfold on the big screen. We love a good underdog story. An awesome way to build upon the excitement your children already have for the genre is to add in some games. Lost Cities Card Game is a really great gameschooling choice to add to your literature routine. The premise of Lost Cities is expedition, so let’s take a closer look.
Notes : There are two versions of Lost Cities, a board game and the original card game. This post refers only to the Lost Cities Card Game. Also, I was not asked to do this review, this is a game I purchased and decided to review.
Lost Cities Card Game by Reiner Knizie is one of the better known games from Kosmos, a two player card laying game. The theme of the game is to assemble an expedition to find ancient artifacts and relics. Each player can set off on up to 5 expeditions around the world: The Himalayas, The Central American rainforest, the Egyptian desert, a volcano, and the bottom of the sea. There is a relic in each location that the expedition aims to secure to bring home to a museum. The relic itself doesn’t come into play, the game is about getting there. The expeditions are color coded, making it very easy to tell which card belongs to which expedition.
Lost Cities Card Game Review & Gameschooling Tips
What Comes In the Game Box?
Lost Cities Card Game comes with:
1 game board
45 expedition cards
15 wager cards
Players start by setting the game board on the table, one player sitting on either side and facing each other. The game board has color-coded 5 spaces, one for each expedition. These spaces are used to store discarded cards for each expedition.
Expedition and Wager cards are combined and shuffled, each player is then dealt 8 random cards. Wager cards are recognizable because they have a drawing of a hand-shake in the upper corners. Wager cards are used to multiply points, they must be played at the beginning of the expedition only and cannot be played once an expedition card has been played. Wager cards are color coded to match their expedition and show the relic being searched for.
Expedition cards are numbered 2-10 and feature artwork that stunned me. While setting up the game I took a few minutes to admire the art on the cards. The expedition starts with lower numbers and ends at 10, and if you follow the cards you’ll see the story of the explorers as they looked for the relic (Gameschooling Tip: Ask your kids to tell the story of the expedition using the cards as a storyboard!)
Playing Lost Cities Card Game involves two steps per turn: place OR discard a card, draw a card.
Place a card: Lay cards down on your side of the table (not on the game board) one at a time, starting with wager cards (if desired) and followed by number cards. Number cards must be played in numerical order. There is only one card of each number and color, so it’s possible you could play 2,3,5,9 while your opponent plays 4,6,7,8,10. The key is that the numbers must be in order from lowest to highest. Each expedition card represents another step in the journey. 2 is the first step of the journey and 10 is the discovery of the relic.
Your job is to build the most complete expedition possible, and as many of them as you can.
GAMESCHOOLING TIP: Lost Cities Card Game may seem overly simple at first, but there are a lot of nuances in the game that require higher thinking and stratgey. An example of this is the supply fee. The minute you set out on an expedition by placing a card you start the expedition, and to go on expedition you need to pay for supplies so starting an expedition automatically comes with a penalty of -20 points. You do NOT have to play all 5 expeditions however, you can play as many or few as you think is beneficial.
Discard a card: There are times when you will want to discard a card instead of playing it. It could be an extra wager card or perhaps a low number that can’t be played. Regardless of the reason, you can discard once per turn instead of placing a card if you like. To discard you put the card face up on the game board in it’s color-coded spot.
Draw a card: Once you have played or discarded, it’s time to draw. You can draw from the draw pile OR you can take a visible discarded card. Caveats: players cannot draw a card that they discarded previously and they cannot look through the cards to pick a specific one.
GAMESCHOOLING TIP: Lost Cities Card Game would be an excellent addition to a film unit study! You can pair it up with some many movies, but Indiana Jones comes to mind first.
But What About the Female Explorers?
I have only one complaint about this game, there are no females on the wager cards. Out of the 150 humans shown on the cards, not one of them is a woman. While that’s disappointing, we don’t have to let our kids think that females miss out on the fun of exploring. I reached out to the smartest group of people I know, my friend (& children’s librarian) Casey & the group over at SEA Homeschoolers, and asked for help. They helped me pull together this great list of books featuring fearless women all of our children can look up to.
Women Who Broke the Rules: Sacajawea
Trail Blazers, an Illustrated Guide to the Women Who Explored the World
Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell
Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations
Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark
Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole
To the Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa
Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Women of K2
My Journey to Lhasa: The Classic Story of the Only Western Woman Who Succeeded in Entering the Forbidden City
Annapurna: A Woman’s Place
Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer
Who Was Amelia Earhart?
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail
And I’d Do it Again: The Extraordinary Adventures of an Edwardian Heiress
Lost Cities Card Game Fast Facts
See it on Amazon
Publisher: Thames & Kosmos
Creator: Reiner Knizia
Ages: 10+ (I would rate it 7+)
Time: 30 minutes (I would rate it 15 minutes)
Reading Skills: Not required (players must know numbers 2-10 and multiply though a caclulator can assist with scoring)
Parental Involvement: Not required
Meg Grooms is a decades-long secular homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle, currently calling Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.