The Lost Expedition sees you as explorers in the Amazon, trying to locate the missing adventurer Percy Fawcett, last seen striding off into the jungle, looking for the Lost City of Z. It can be played solo, with several players in a team, or as a two player head-to-head. We’re describing the co-operative game here.
A series of cards are laid out showing the jungle itself (7 for a normal game, 9 for a more difficult one) and the team’s adventurer piece sits on the leftmost card. Collectively your job is move it to the rightmost – the ‘City of Z’. The players choose three explorer cards with the expertise in jungle, camping and navigation. Each explorer card begins with four health tokens and the players also get four food tokens and three ammunition tokens. The players are dealt some expedition cards, and play begins.
Each round consists of two ‘hikes’ – morning and evening. The hikes are defined by players playing cards from their hands to describe a route across the jungle, and once six cards have been played, they must be resolved: yellow boxes on the cards are mandatory, at least one of the red boxes must be resolved, and blue boxes are optional.
All the boxes ask you to collect or sacrifice the games three resources (food, health, ammunition) or three skills of camping, jungle and navigation. If you can’t complete a mandatory box, it usually means your explorers lose health as a result. If they lose their last health token, they die, and if your last explorer dies before you make it to the City of Z – well, that’s game over!
So it’s about playing the right cards at the right time, and utilising them in the best way. Some cards allow you to discard others, or change the order they’re played on the hike. Get this right, and you have a better chance of success.
At the end of each hike, one food must be consumed by the weary explorers before the next one begins. Make it to the City of Z, and you instantly win.
The Tintin-inspired artwork looks gorgeous to me and although at heart this is an abstract game, after a couple of plays to get your head around the iconography of the boxes on the cards, the theme of jungle adventure does come through, as you struggle onwards, shedding equipment, food, health, and eventually adventurers. I always find myself wanting to take pictures when we play, and despite the game’s claim to suit ages 14 and up, my boys (both under ten) really enjoy it. A hit in our house.
Unless you're playing head to head, the only Take That is from the game itself.
Yes, there is some brain burning here. Decisions can't be taken lightly, as whatever cards you have left over after the Morning hike will form the Evening hike (players aren't allowed to say what they have in their hand) and how to best negotiate the 'hikes' themselves can be tricky.
Although the goal is always the same, the large deck of expedition cards ensure your route is always random and equally challenging.