Who needs friends when you can play board games solo? What a grand idea, take an inherently social activity and turn it into a solitaire experience. Well if you are a shut in or you hate interacting with people because they you are teeming with built up rage then you have come to the right place. Here at the Board Game Snobs we embrace solo games because no one will embrace us.
So let’s get lost on a doomed expedition to a forgotten city that is deep in jungles filled with dangers. Mind you, that The Lost Expedition can be played as a co-op / semi co-op as well but mainly we played it as a solo game because I feel that is where it really shines.
How to get lost
Your ultimate goal is to travel along the 9 cards that make up the path to the Lost City, get to the Lost City without dying and you win. The rules differ for each of the variants but we will just focus on the solo rules.
There are two phases consisting of morning and night, at the end of each phase you must discharge a food token or suffer the loss of health. Each one of your explorers has their own expertise which allows them to direct damage received from a card to himself. If you take damage due to navigation and you don’t have an explorer with the navigation expertise then you will have to suffer 2 damage rather than 1.
Needless to say keeping your explorers alive is for the best. Each phase you will be playing cards from your hand and drawing cards off the deck, placing them in a row. Each phase plays out differently with how you line up the cards and how they are organized. Essentially you are trying to mitigate the dangers presented on the various cards in your path.
The cards have either events, choices or options. Events are things that just happen and are compulsory, choices….well you make a choice, and options are optional.
You will be either losing food, spending ammo, taking damage, traveling forward along the path to the Lost City. Other symbols will allow you to swap the position of cards, discard cards from the row, or even outright skip a card.
This is the primary mechanism in The Lost Expedition. Using these symbols to move cards around so that you can skip the difficult cards and perhaps take advantage of gaining resources from another.
If your explorers die…then you are a horrible expedition leader.
The lost art of artwork
The presentation and components in The Lost Expedition are excellent. The card stock is top notch, the artwork is spot on. The variety of the events depicted on the adventure cards make the theme. The game feels like you are striving to stay alive and the game is particularly difficult.
I will admit I had to keep the rule book open while playing for my first couple of games due to a rule regarding how the adventure cards need to be placed and I suspect most players will have the same issue at first.
A beautiful presentation and artwork by Garen Ewing adds the theme to what could have easily been a themeless abstract game.
Off the beaten path
Like I mentioned earlier, the art work provides what little theme there is, it may not be enough to engross some players. The game is very mechanical and it can be easy for you to forget the theme entirely and focus on just the symbols. This can make The Lost Expedition feel like every other abstract solo game out there.
So where does The Lost Expedition rank with the other solo games out there? Well its way better than Friday and I prefer it over Onirim. But The Lost Expedition doesn’t beat out The Grizzled with its solo expansion At Your Orders.
So is this expedition for you? It can feel a little mechanical and the difficulty will frustrate those who are not intrepid explorers. I personally like my solo games with a little more theme, less cards and slightly more strategic thinking. Is the game balanced? Is each game winnable? I’m not sure and that might invoke the feeling of taking part in an activity that just kills time rather than playing a strategic game.
If you are a big fan of any of the above mentioned games then The Lost Expedition is for you. It doesn’t tell an engrossing story nor was it a game I felt compelled to play again after I was soundly defeated.
The Lost Expedition gets the nod from us but just barely. I would advise you to check out The Grizzled and its solo expansion for I feel that it is a superior game all around and those that own The Grizzled probably don’t need to go on this expedition. The choices in the game are much like those found in Onirim and if that is your type of thing then this is for you. If you are looking for a deeply thematic game then this is not for you.
So there you have it, you have been warned. This game is not for everyone certainly, but die hard solo fans will no doubt know if this is for them or not.
The Love: the artwork, easy to learn, hard to win
The Hate: mechanisms out shine the light theme
The Verdict: Get Lost
P.S. I bought this game and reviewed it on my own accord. I play solo games not because I lack friends but rather because I hate people.