Lost Cities Rules

Lost Cities

Daring Adventure for 2 aged 10 and up
By Reiner Knizia
Published by KOSMOS and Rio Grande Games

Adventure into the Unknown!

For the daring and adventurous, there are many lost cities to find and explore. The search can take you to the Himalayas, the Brazilian rain forest, the ever-shifting sands of the desert, ancient volcanoes and to Neptune’s Realm. Of course, one cannot go everywhere with limited resources, so the players must choose which expeditions to begin and which to leave to others. Those with high confidence may have the opportunity to invest more: increasing the rewards for success, but risking more should the expedition fail. The player who finds the right balance will have successful expeditions. Too many will put a strain on limited resources and yield failure. Too few may guarantee success, but not victory!


  • 1 game board
  • 60 cards:
  • 45 expedition cards (9 cards for each of the 5 destinations)
  • 15 investment cards (3 for each destination)
  • Preparation

    • Place the game board, with areas for the five destinations, between the two players.
    • Decide how many rounds to play; three is a good number. If you choose to play more than one round, use paper and pencil to record the scores for each round.
    • Shuffle the cards and deal 8 to each player face down. Place the remaining cards face down near the board as the draw pile.
    • Players may now look at their cards; these are their starting hands.


    Each player starts one or more expeditions and then uses cards to continue his expeditions as far as possible. At the start of an expedition, players may increase their investment and their risk. As backtracking is not allowed, successive cards added to an expedition must advance the expedition toward its goal. The cards show the progress of the expeditions from beginning to end, but, for ease of play, they are also numbered 2-10. When the round ends, the players’ expeditions are scored based on how far they got and how much they invested.

    Playing the game

    The oldest player begins and then the players alternate turns. On his turn, a player must first play one card from his hand, and then must draw one card to replace it.
    Play a card : The player has two choices when playing a card from his hand:
    Add a card to an expedition : The player can start a new expedition or extend an expedition already begun. Players may only start or add to expeditions on their side of the board. To start a new expedition, the player simply places a card from that expedition face up next to the space on the board that corresponds to that destination. To extend an expedition, the player places a new card from the expedition so that it partially covers the previous card from that expedition. Any new card placed must represent further travel than the previous card. The cards must always be added at the end of the expedition and with increasingly higher numbers. The numbers do not need to be consecutive, any higher number is permitted. Players place the cards of an expedition so that the values of all cards can be seen by both players.

    Each expedition has 3 investment cards. Players may only play these cards at the beginning of an expedition and represent increased investment by that player in that expedition. A player may play up to 3 investment cards before the first numbered card of an expedition. Once a player plays a numbered card to his expedition, he may not play more investment cards on that expedition.

    Discard a card : The player may discard a card instead of starting or adding to an expedition. The player places the card on the board in the space for the destination that matches discarded card. If there are other discarded cards for that expedition, he places the new card so that it covers the previously discarded cards. Thus, only the last discarded card for each destination is visible.

    Draw a card : The player adds a card to his hand. He may either take the top card from the face down draw pile or the top card from any of the destination discards. The player may not draw a card he discarded on this turn.

    Game end and scoring

    • The game ends immediately when a player takes the last card from the draw pile. Players may count the cards remaining in the draw pile to plan their play.
    • Then the players calculate their scores. Each player scores his expeditions separately. He adds the numbered cards in each expedition together and subtracts 20 from the sum to represent the cost of the expedition. This total is the value of each expedition. However, if a player plays no cards to an expedition, its value is zero instead of –20.
    • The player then multiplies the value of each of his expeditions (positive or negative) by the number of investment cards he played on that expedition plus 1. The multiplier will be 2, 3, or 4, when the number of investment cards is 1, 2, or 3, respectively. When an expedition has only investment cards, it is worth –20 multiplied by the number of investment cards plus 1. (e.g. -40, -60, or -80)
    • In addition, each expedition that contains at least eight cards, earns a fixed bonus of 20 points, added after the multiplier.
    • Thus, an expedition’s value is between -80 and 156.
    • One player records the scores on paper, adding scores from the current round to those from previous rounds. All cards are shuffled for another round of play. The player with the most total points so far in the game begins play for the next round.
    • After the agreed number of rounds, usually three, the game ends. The player with the most total points is the winner.


    Yellow Blue White Green Red
    Cards 5,8,10 none investment investment,3,5,7 investment,investment,2,3,5,7,8,10
    Sum 23 0 0 15 35
    Cost -20 no cost -20 -20 -20
    sub-total 3 pts 0 pts -20 pts -5 pts 15
    multiplier x2 x2 x3
    Total 3 pts 0 pts -40 pts -10 pts 45 pts
    Bonus +20 pts. bonus
    Notice: the player loses 40 points in the White expedition for playing only a single investment card, doubling his loss.
    Note: as shown in the example, it may be costly to begin an expedition if one is not confident of a positive result. A player starting an expedition with insufficient cards risks great losses if he does not draw them later.
    The player scores 18 points. 3+0-40-10+45+20 (bonus)=18

    The Author

    Reiner Knizia was born in 1957 and lives in Windsor, Great Britain. The doctor of mathematics has published numerous games. He is famous for games which offer freedom of choice with simple rules.

    Rules for 4 players (partners)

    You need two game sets to play. Use the game components from one set, and add all cards with values 2, 3 and 4 from the other set to the deck. Hence the 4-player deck contains a total of 75 cards.

    Players sitting opposite each other form partnerships and play on the same side of the board. Proceed as in the standard game, with the following amendments:

    When adding cards to an expedition, the numbers must strictly increase. Two cards of the same value may not be played into the same expedition.

    Instead of taking a normal turn (playing and drawing a card), a player may choose any two of his cards and pass them face down to his partner. By doing so, a player may never reduce his hand to less than six cards. Apart from this, partners are not allowed to communicate, during the game, about their play.

    The author and publisher wish to thank the many people who helped in playtesting this game. In particular, the author would like to thank Dave Farquhar, Ross Inglis, Kevin Jacklin, Lieselotte Knizia, Elke Knop and Chris Lawson for their contributions.

    © 1999 KOSMOS Verlag

    Accessible rules transcribed by Richard Gibbs for 64 Oz. Games accessibility kit in accordance with copyright law, 17 U.S.C. § 121: