Today’s guest review is by Melissa! Melissa is a Milwaukee-area thrifting minion with a lifelong love for gaming. She is one half of the group The Tester Sisters, who are print ’n’ play enthusiasts providing playtesting for games not yet published, rulebook reviews and general honest gameplay feedback. Melissa can usually be found at GenCon and Wisconsin-area Protospiels. You can reach out to The Tester Sisters online or find their impressive resume on Board Game Geek

Review: Lost: The Game
Publisher: Cardinal
Year: 2006
Tagline: (none, sadly)

This cover photo is courtesy of Flip the Table’s blog post

how we met

I’m pretty sure that I heard that the Flip the Table crew had done an episode with this game, but I don’t remember actually listening to the episode. Either way, I was a fan of Lost when it was on more than a decade ago. The show was filled with mystery and exploration, which I found really interesting. The ending wasn’t really what I was hoping for, but it was ok.  So, when I found the game at my favorite thrift store for $1.99 I knew that it had to come home with me.

how it plays

The object of the game is to be the last one standing on the island. Yup, it is a game of player elimination. So, that’s promising.

Each player gets to choose between 2 randomly dealt characters with power values ranging from 1 to 5. If you get two characters with powers of 2 or less, you get to keep both. 

Then you set up the island using “Shore” and “Inner Island” tiles. There are about twice as many tiles as you will use in each game, so there is a lot of randomness or replayablilty depending on how you look at it. The tiles are placed face down and will be explored during the game. Some have a red camp triangle and when explored (flipped over) will introduce a new unplayed character onto the map who players can try to get to join them.

Each player starts next to one of the shore tiles and at the beginning of their turn must move each character they control one space (unless they have an ability or FATE card that allows them to move further). After each character moves, if they are on a face down tile, the tile is flipped over and they must do whatever the tile directs them to do. Most often, the player will draw one or two FATE cards. The FATE cards will be one of three types: an encounter with something bad that the character has to roll a die against, an item which may be useful, or an event card (which can be saved for later, though you can only have 4 in hand at the end of your turn).

The game ends when there is either only one player left or a player has reached one of their character’s alternative win conditions. It is important to note that 12 of the 17 characters have an alternative win condition.

how it went

I played this twice, on the same day with two different groups. The first game was with my husband and older preteen son. I gave us each one of the characters with power of 4 or 5 just to even that playing field. My son and I landed on tiles that gave us cards that were items or events, my husband landed on a tile that only did something for another character and then a tile that gave him a FATE card that was an impossible encounter. Then on his third turn, I used my character to try and “lead” his character. I won the die roll and his was eliminated from the game. Two turns later I eliminated my son from the game.

The second play was with six players. Two players were eliminated very quickly by failing die rolls against other players. A third player was then eliminated by a tile that called for a coin flip, which he failed and then was eliminated from the game. Of the three remaining players, one was much more powerful and had gathered a hoard of six characters. The other two players just ran around avoiding the powerful player until we decided to just call the game and be done.

play or pass

Hard Pass. I’m not a fan of player elimination and I’m really not a fan of player elimination when it is based on a die roll. Everything about this game is random: the character you get to start out, the tiles that make up the island, the cards that you may or may not be able to draw, and the die rolls. In both games I played, players were eliminated due to die rolls (just one roll and you’re out of the game) and one player was eliminated by a coin flip due to landing on a tile. That’s not fun for anyone. And if you aren’t eliminated early on, you either start gathering an unstoppable hoard of followers or you run for your life.

My husband did suggest that the way to improve this game would be to introduce the marble race element from The Magnificent Race to replace the die rolls. One marble per power on your characters, and one black marble for the Smoke Monster. Winner of the race gets all the characters. It would be short, but much more fun.