Review: The Lost Expedition


Designer: Peer Sylvester
Year: 2017
Artist: Garen Ewing
Publisher: Osprey Games
Players: 1-5
Game Type: (Solo, Cooperative, Head-to-Head)

Legendary explorer Percy Fawcett marched deep into the Amazon in search of El Dorado. He was never seen again. Your team has gone in search of him, but now you hope to escape the jungle with the greatest treasure of all: your life.

Make the best of your food, your ammunition, and your health in The Lost Expedition as you plunge deep into the jungle. Choose your path carefully to ensure you’re ready for the pitfalls that may occur.

The Lost Expedition can be played solo, cooperatively, and head-to-head, all providing varying degrees of challenges.


SETUP
Setup is really two-fold in The Lost Expedition. Most of the game will remain stationary. However, since there are morning and evening phases, you will “setup” the adventure cards for each phase.

The game takes minutes to prepare. Lay out the 9 Expedition cards, select your three explorers, and divvy out the health, ammunition, and food tokens. Shuffle the adventure cards and deal them out as instructed. (Solo games will deal differently for the morning and evening.)

GAMEPLAY
Once the Adventure cards are down, you resolve them from left to right. Each card shows you various actions on 3 different colored caption boxes. These are how you figure out strategy to reach the Lost City of Z.

Yellow boxes must be resolved. You complete the action, no matter if it’s good or bad. If there’s more than one action to take, you perform them left to right. Red boxes - of which there is usually more than one - also must be completed, but you are allowed to choose which one. Finally, blue boxes are completely optional: you can ignore the box(es) or resolve one or more of them.


As you play, you’ll notice there seems to be an inordinate amount of negative effects that take away your health, food, and ammo. But that’s what makes The Lost Expedition fun. You play the cards you’re dealt, and those you draw, in the best way you feel will keep your explorers alive long enough to reach your goal. Or you can play a totally different way. Like playing cards that move you along the path the quickest. You’ll have opportunities to obtain loot, which can sometimes stand between success and failure.

You play until all of your explorers die. Which sometimes is faster then you had hoped.

There is no right or wrong way to play. It’s mostly up to your style, the cards you’re given, and if you need to focus on food or ammunition for a bit before continuing the journey on the Expedition cards.

SOLO PLAY
First and foremost, solo play is challenging. Frustratingly challenging. But if Osprey Games made an easy game, then you might one-and-done The Lost Expedition. (Tip: on your first few play-throughs, shorten the journey by removing Expedition cards 7 and 8.)


The main difference between solo and the other modes is how the morning and evening phases are handled. For the morning, the 6 Adventure cards are laid out in numerical order. For the evening, you start with one from your hand, but you can place the next 5 at the beginning or end of the Adventure card row. In either case, you have some control in what card you play from your hand.

The random portion of the game exists in the cards you draw for your hand. This requires you to look ahead to formulate a strategy in obtaining loot, staying a alive, or moving along the path. While that randomness is small compared to the strategy involved in everything else, it is possible to get a bad run of cards where you’re giving up food or ammo, or needing to remove health from your Explorers to resolve cards.

Even though the game was mentioned earlier as frustratingly challenging, The Lost Expedition will probably keep you playing until you win one. And then, you say to yourself, “If I won once, I can win again.” But when you don’t, and don’t again, and well, don’t yet again, you’ll play until you do. The cycle repeats.


FINAL THOUGHTS
The Lost Expedition hits all the right notes in terms of fun, strategy, and replayability. One strategy may not work the next time; or the cards you get won’t help you at all. Each game will be different, which makes The Lost Expedition a game to have in your collection.

The art is campy, but it’s the heart. It will remind you of the Tin Tin cartoons, and the story of The Lost Expedition will conjure of images of those British expeditions movies taking place in the 20s and 30s.

Solo play is difficult, but the same theory applies here as it does with the rest of the modes: you’ll keep coming back for more.

So get The Lost Expedition if you can. It’s inexpensive, and games take less than 20 minutes (on the long end). The only major negative is that some people may find the difficulty so overwhelming, they’ll only play it a few times before shelving it.


SCORE
4 out of 5 Solos

PROS

  • Quick games
  • Fun and campy art
  • Easy setup
  • Mid-size footprint
  • Variety of modes to play

CONS

  • Some gamers may give up due to difficulty
  • You will lose a lot. A LOT.

LINKS:
Osprey Publishing (Osprey Games) Website

The Lost Expedition at BoardGameGeek
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Gregory Gregory Author