Welcome to this No Magic Friday edition of Hipsters of the Coast, wherein me and Giaco Furino both do not play a single game of MTG, him because of a new kitten, and me because of vacation!

Last week I was away in Tulum, Mexico, with my fiance Kim—and Magic is not her game. I’ve tried to teach her how to play twice, and it just never takes. She does like other games, though, and so we brought two of our favorites, Dominion and Lost Cities.

We never actually broke out Dominion while on vacay, but Lost Cities we did play one night. I’m not sure if we’d actually played the paper version of the game since we were last on vacation, just before Thanksgiving in the Bahamas, although we’ve played it a lot against each other on our iPhones.

For those who don’t know it, it’s a really great game for two people—and two people only, which is kind of a rarity in the board game world. Our good friends Christian (of Christian Hunters 2HG fame) and Reshma bought it for us before a trip, because of how much they liked it. You can buy it at Twenty Sided Store.


Here’s what happens! Each of you is an expedition leader, and you have to go on expeditions to win points. You go on expeditions by playing cards from your hand, which gets replenished by drawing from a communal deck (or picking up from a discard pile).

The rub is this: Progressing in the expeditions is done by playing cards numbered 2 through 10, and there’s only one of each number in five colors (red, blue, yellow, green, and white; each color represents a different expedition: red to some volcano, blue to an ocean tomb thing, yellow is a desert trip, green jungle, and white snows.)

So if you play a 2 on the red expedition, that’s a 2 your opponent won’t be able to play. Thus, if you are both going in on the same expedition, or if your opponent has cards in hand for the expedition you need, things aren’t going to work out well for you.

You can also double, triple, or quadruple your “investment” in the expedition—which is great if you play enough cards to cover the cost of the expedition (20), and even better if you start to “make” money … but terrible if you can’t cover the cost.

Here’s the thing: My fiance Kim beats me, I’d say, 80% of the time. And I really have no idea why. I could see her just being naturally better than me at the game, and beating me 65% of the time, but 80%? It may even be more.

Back Camera

My working theory is that whereas Magic in some cases rewards aggression and taking calculated risks, Lost Cities really doesn’t. I’ve also found that I’m not the best at estimating the value of my board state, and so—when you go to count points up at the end of the game—even though I think my board looks better, I end up losing a few points here and there that perpetually drags my score below Kim’s.

It should also be said that Kim has a near black-magic ability to always have the 10 for her colors; and getting those 10s played against you when the game is near-finished is backbreaking.

Nevertheless, it’s a really awesome game, for a few reasons beyond the gameplay, which is surprisingly absorbing for such a simple conceit. I really love the art, for one. It’s kind of dreamy and fantastical, and reminds me a bit of Indiana Jones.

Each of the “handshake” increase-your-investment cards shows the expedition members gearing up for their trip, while each of the numbered cards kind of tells a story through the expedition, as the members get closer to their goals; for the undersea expedition, it’s almost like you can see the “camera” moving slowly down to the ocean floor, as you begin to see the outlines of a broken rock statue.


Also it’s really pleasant to shuffle the cards. Sounds weird, I know, but they are oversized and they really riffle- or bridge-shuffle well. It reminds me of back in the old days with Magic, when you didn’t even know what sleeves were, and you just shuffled those bad boys right up, making that dope shft-shft-shft-shft-shft sound.

Long story short, check out Lost Cities. It’s an awesome two-person vacation game for you and your significant other, and it doesn’t take long at all, either. Oh, and you can get it on the iPhone, as I said, although some of the aesthetic pleasure is lost.

Speaking of aesthetic pleasure, and since it’s kind of on-theme for this post, here are some pictures of actual ruins from Chichen Itza, which we took while on vacay. Dig it! And tune in next week for my first thoughts on M14 Limited, including discussion of this weekend’s SCG Sealed Classic in Somerset, New Jersey, which for some reason I am getting up at probably 6am on a Sunday to play in.


Damn you, ye Mayan gods!



Me and Kim at the Observatory.

Me and Kim at the Observatory.

If you look closely, you can see the serpent bird-man god. See his forked tongue and clawed feet?

If you look closely, you can see the serpent bird-man god. See his forked tongue and clawed feet?

The ball court.

The ball court.

Me lecturing the stone lizard head.

Me lecturing the stone lizard head.

Finally, as a bit of a bonus—the PTQ dates for Pro Tour Born of the Gods, aka the fall sealed-season PTQs (played with M14 until October, and then played with Theros), were just released on Wednesday. I culled the list for all the Northeast PTQs, and here they are. Hope to see you all at some of them! (Click here for the full worldwide and all-U.S. list.)

8/24/13—Merchant Square Mall (Main Hall)—Allentown, PA
8/31/13—Only Game in Town—Somerville, NJ
9/14/13—Montasy Comics, Midtown Chapter—New York City
10/5/13—Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Club—Hartford, CT
10/19/13—Brothers Grim Games & Collectibles—Selden, NY
10/26/13—Holiday Inn Burlington—S. Burlington, VT
10/27/13—Millennium Games & Hobbies—Rochester, NY
11/3/13—Pennsylvania Convention Center—Philadelphia
11/9/13—Poughkeepsie Elks Lodge #275—Poughkeepsie, NY
11/9/13—Mr Nice Guy Games—Monroeville, PA
11/10/13—Rhode Island Convention Center—Providence
11/16/13—UMass Campus Center—Boston
11/23/13—Best Western Airport Inn—Albany, NY
11/30/13—DCU Center—Worcester, MA
12/1/13—Pennsylvania Convention Center—Philadelphia
12/1/13—Radisson Hotel Nashua—Nashua, NH

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands.

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