How To Play: Lost Cities

Lost Cities is a gripping card game where strategy is key. From managing your cards wisely, assessing risks carefully, to planning your expeditions smartly, every decision counts. Whether you're playing for fun or competitive edge, understanding the rules, components, and strategies will enhance your gaming experience and maybe even lead to a triumphant victory!

Hey folks, Jamie here! Today, we’re diving into the world of Lost Cities, the game that turns your living room into a daring adventure. This post is all about giving you the lowdown on how to master this game. From the basic rules to the best strategies for snagging that win, I’ve got you covered. So, grab your explorer’s hat, and let’s get started!


What’s in the box

  • 1 Game board
  • 60 Cards, divided into 5 colors (12 of each color)
  • 1 Rule booklet

How To Play Lost Cities: Rules Summary

Ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime? Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a first-timer, this guide will show you the ropes of Lost Cities. Let’s get started!


  1. Place the board between both players.
  2. Shuffle the 60 cards thoroughly and place the deck next to the board.
  3. Each player draws 8 cards to form their initial hand.


  1. On your turn, you must either play or discard a card.
  2. To start or add to an expedition, play a card on your side of the board.
  3. Cards must be played in ascending order on each expedition.
  4. You can discard a card to the middle, but beware: your opponent may use it.
  5. After playing or discarding, end your turn by drawing a card.


  1. When the last card from the deck is drawn, the game ends.
  2. Add up points from your successfully completed expeditions.
  3. Subtract the cost of any started but incomplete expeditions.
  4. The player with the highest total score wins the game.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. Investment cards can be played before any numbered cards on an expedition for bonus points.
  2. An expedition costs 20 points to start, which means you need to play wisely to profit.
  3. Handshake (investment) cards triple the value of an expedition but increase the risk.

Last night, I tried these rules with my friends. It was a blast! We had a few close calls, and managing our hands was key. Remember, strategy is everything in Lost Cities. Happy exploring!

Best Lost Cities Strategies

Master the Art of Card Management and Timing in Lost Cities

Winning at Lost Cities isn’t just about luck; it’s about smart card management and impeccable timing. Here’s how to ace it:

Know When to Hold ’em

  1. Always assess your hand carefully. If you’ve got high-value cards, consider holding onto them until you can make a significant play.

Know When to Fold ’em

  1. If your hand is weak, don’t be afraid to discard lower-value cards. It’s better to rebuild than to stick to a losing strategy.

Timing Your Expeditions

  1. Start your expeditions early, but not too early. Timing your plays can lead to maximizing your points.
  2. Watch your opponent closely. If they start an expedition, it might be the right time to start yours or hold off a bit longer.

Mastering Risk Assessment in Lost Cities

In Lost Cities, winning often hangs on how well you gauge risk. It’s not just about playing it safe; sometimes, you gotta take leaps. Here’s how to balance daring with caution.

Know When to Hold ‘Em

  1. Look at your hand. Count your high cards. Few high cards? Maybe play it cautious.
  2. Consider the discard pile. If your needed cards are there, reassess your strategy.

Know When to Fold ‘Em

  1. If your opponent starts a column with high cards, think twice before competing there.
  2. Bad starting hand? Maybe focus on fewer expeditions to cut losses.

Risk vs. Reward

  1. Starting late can be a gamble. But if the discard pile has what you need, it could pay off big.
  2. Keep an eye on your opponent’s moves. Sometimes, the best clue about when to risk it all comes from them.

Mastering Expedition Planning in Lost Cities

For the win, it’s all about smart Expedition Planning. First up, know what you’re dealing with. Eye those cards like they’re the last slice of pizza at a party. Here’s how you become the king or queen of expeditions.

Your Starting Hand

  1. Look for pairs or sequences. They’re your ticket to a smooth start.
  2. If your hand is more mixed-up than socks after laundry day, consider your discard strategy carefully.

Mid-Game Moves

  1. Watch your opponents like a hawk. If they’re collecting yellow, maybe drop that yellow 2.
  2. Hold onto your high cards until the moment feels just right. Like scoring the last chair when the music stops.

Endgame Excellence

  1. Start wrapping up your expeditions. Think last call at the bar.
  2. Count your cards and points like a treasure hunter tallying gold. It’s all about timing and finishing strong.

Alright, pals, after diving deep (Oh, wait, I promised not to dive anywhere, didn’t I?) into the jungles and deserts of Lost Cities, we’ve covered the gamut from shakin’ those cards right to planning your expeditions like a true Indiana Jones. Now, as we wrap this up, let me leave you with a nugget or two to chew on. Remember, Lost Cities is not just about the luck of the draw; it’s about playing smart, reading your opponent like a book, and sometimes, just sometimes, taking that leap of faith into the unknown. Keep your wits sharp, your cards sharper, and who knows, maybe you’ll be the one uncovering lost treasures and earning those bragging rights at game night. So, grab your hat, whip (figuratively, please), and deck of cards, and set off on your next adventure. May the sun always be at your back and the wind in your sails. Or, you know, just have fun playing the game. Cheers!

Want to know what we think of Lost Cities? Read our detailed review of Lost Cities here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.