THE LOST EXPEDITION (Osprey Games)
In the designer notes at the beginning of The Lost Expedition’s manual, game designer Peer Sylvester explains his love for stories of ill-fated adventures in far-off, dangerous environments. His passion comes through in every aspect of this game. Taking inspiration for Percy Fawcett’s search for the lost city of El Dorado in the 1920s, The Lost Expedition feels genuine in so many ways. From balancing a sense of adventure with one of desperation to tasteful interpretations of native tribes that populated the Amazon rainforest to the incredible pulp-inspired illustrations of comic artist Garen Ewing, everything about this game comes together to create a truly immersive experience.
Those familiar with Sweet Games’ The Grizzled and other cooperative survival games will immediately feel comfortable with The Lost Expedition’s mechanics. While the game offers solo play and a head-to-head competitive mode, the meat of The Lost Expedition comes in its cooperative play. Players take the role of a trio of explorers trekking through the jungle on a quest to find El Dorado. Winning the game requires at least one explorer surviving the environment’s many dangers to make it all the way to the lost city. This task is much easier said than done.
Challenges take the form of adventure cards full of mandatory and optional tests for the group of daring explorers. These cards either require the use of shared resources or the explorers’ expertise. More often than not, resources and expertise are expended. However, sometimes adventure cards will add these elements to the players’ arsenal. Resources include food, ammunition and health. Meanwhile, characters have expertise in either jungle, navigation or camping. A black symbol on an adventure cards means the resource or expertise is gained, while a white symbol means it is spent. Other adventure cards feature symbols that alter the path itself. Some force players to skip the next card, others give the option to swap two cards’ positions later in the path, and others still make players add or remove cards from the end of the path. Only a few cards either advance players along toward the fabled lost city or automatically kill an explorer. It’s all fairly intuitive and very easy to read on the oversized adventure cards.
While quite straightforward, The Lost Expedition still presents a significant challenge. Every real life danger faced by the explorers can end in tragedy, and it doesn’t take long for resources to run low. For example, the game progresses through a morning/evening cycle. Whenever the time changes a food resource is spent. Running out of food causes explorers to automatically lose health as morning fades to evening and when the sun again rises. It doesn’t take long before every decision becomes a matter of life and death.
The Lost Expedition is incredibly easy to recommend. Our gaming group here at Ghettoblaster quickly took a liking to this one, and I expect it to stay in our regular rotation of tabletop games for a long time to come. Every element of the game is deliberate and meaningful. I’ve only played a few of Osprey’s titles so far (Frostgrave, Odin’s Ravens, Escape From the Aliens in Outer Space, and this one), and they have never failed to impress. Gamers who enjoy cooperative play against all odds in an exciting location will find their next obsession in The Lost Expedition. (Osprey Games) by Kris Poland