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Official Lost Cities Rules

Here's a breakdown of the rules for Lost Cities, the exciting card game of risk and exploration:


Embark on expeditions and score the highest points by strategically collecting valuable cards in five different colored suits.


1. Shuffle the Deck: Thoroughly mix the deck of 110 cards.

2. Deal the Cards: Each player receives eight cards face down, forming their hand.


The game is played in rounds. Here's what happens in each round:

  • Discarding (Optional): Some versions allow players to discard unwanted cards from their hand face down at the beginning of their turn. These cards are then replaced by drawing new cards from the deck.

  • Playing a Card: On your turn, you can do one of two things:

    • Play to an Expedition: Choose a colored discard pile (representing an expedition) and play a card of the same color face up from your hand onto that pile. The cards in each expedition pile must be played in ascending order (2, 3, 4, etc.).

    • Discard a Card: If you don't want to play a card to an expedition, you can discard any card face down to a central discard pile.

  • Drawing a Card: After playing a card (or discarding), draw a new card from the deck to replenish your hand to eight cards.

Wager Cards:

These special cards can be played at the beginning of an expedition to multiply the point value of all the cards you eventually play in that specific color.  For example, playing a Wager card (x2) on a blue expedition will double the value of every blue card you play there.

Special Cards (Optional):

Depending on the version of Lost Cities you have, there might be additional cards with unique abilities. These can involve forcing your opponent to discard cards, peeking at the top card of the deck, or even stealing cards from completed expeditions.

End of Round:

The round ends when either:

  • Deck is Depleted: The entire deck is drawn and there are no more cards left to draw.

  • All Discard Piles are Full: All five colored discard piles (expeditions) have at least one card played on them.


Once the round ends, players score points for each expedition they participated in:

  • Completed Expeditions: If an expedition has at least one card and the total value of the cards (including any Wager card multipliers) is positive (higher than -20), you score points equal to the total value.

  • Failed Expeditions: If an expedition has at least one card but the total value is negative (-20 or lower), you score zero points for that expedition.

  • Bonus for Large Expeditions:  Some versions offer a bonus (usually 20 points) for expeditions with at least eight cards played in them (regardless of the final score).

Winning the Game

  • Total Points:  After scoring all expeditions for the round, the player with the most points wins the round.

  • Best of Three: Typically, Lost Cities is played as a best-of-three series. The first player to win two rounds wins the game!


  • Hand Management:  Carefully consider which cards to play and discard, aiming to build strong expeditions while preventing your opponent from doing the same.

  • Risk vs. Reward: Wager cards can be powerful, but playing them early risks losing them if you can't complete the expedition.

Lost Cities offers a thrilling blend of strategy and risk-taking, making it a great choice for a quick and engaging card game experience for two players.

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