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Asmodee: Lewis & Clark (The Expedition) – Review

May 31, 2016

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Publisher Asmodee
Genre Strategy Game
Number of Players 1 – 5
Play Time 120 minutes
Initial Review Date 4/12/16
Last Updated 4/12/16
Official Rules PDF

In this game you play as competing expedition leaders that are trying to complete their journey across the new world. You will be traveling up the Mississippi river and over the mountains to be the first to make it to the Pacific ocean.

Setup

First each player picks one of the five colors to play  as. Each color represents a different expedition group and each has their own set of cards and a small board. You then place the corresponding meeple and camp in the start location. Finally, each player gets one indian meeple and their starting resources.

Game Play

This game is a combination of a deck building game and a worker placement game. Each turn you can execute actions by playing a set of cards from your hand or placing an indian meeple on the board. As with any deck building game everyone starts with the same cards (they may look different and have different names but from a mechanics standpoint everyone starts with the same cards). The cards are double sided and you have to decide which side you want to play (the other side has no effect).

On one side of the card you have typical abilities like collect a specified resource or move your explorer along river spaces. The other side will display 1 to 3 indian figures. The way the cards work is that you can do the action you’ve chosen a number of times equal to the indian figure. So, for example. If you played a card that said “move 2 river spaces” along with a card showing 2 indians you would get to move 2 river spaces, twice. So in the end you end up moving 4 river spaces. If the ability has a cost associated with it that cost must be payed each time the ability is used.

Once a combination is played you can not get those cards back until you make camp. When you make camp your movement is first penalized. If you have too many supplies on your boats your scout moves backwards one or more spaces (depending on the penalty). Your scour also moves backwards for each card still in your hand. Once all of these penalties have been resolved, if your scout is further along the path than your last camp you may move your camp forward. Otherwise your scout is simply placed back at your camp.

So, the game is really all about being efficient. Ideally you want to use resources as you get them and not horde them. You also want to make sure you play all of your cards before you make camp (iow you want an even number of cards).

There are a few other wrenches the game throws at you:

Resources: Each card has a symbol on it showing a particular resource. When you play a card that gathers a particular resource you gain one for each symbol displayed by all players. This means that timing can make a huge difference and you want to pay attention to what other players are doing since most actions have a resource cost and so the more you can get on a given play the easier it becomes to use other cards.

Indians get stuck: unlike most other worker placement games when you place an indian on the board they stay there until someone uses their “gather indians” card (each player starts with one). When this card is played one indian is place in the middle of the board and all other indians are then brought to the middle. Then the player may claim as many of the indians from the board that they like (usually they take all of them, but there can be reasons to take fewer).

Indians can boost cards: One of the options you have with your indians is to use them to help “power” a card. If the card you are using shows fewer than 3 indians on it, you can make up the difference using indian meeples. When used this way, the indian will automatically come back to you when you make camp.

Scouts: With the exception of the starting area, scouts can not occupy the same space as another scout. As a result, when a scout stops moving if that space is already occupied, they get “pushed” forward to the next available spot, regardless of that spot’s terrain. In this way a player can take advantage of other players who have moved out ahead of them.

Ending the game

The game ends when a player is able to successfully move their camp to fort clatsop or beyond. Keep in mind that it’s when your camp gets moved, not just when your scout arrives. Also, the game ends immediately, which when combined with the way scouts move, helps balance the start player advantage.

Conclusion

This game has a lot of depth and the rules aren’t easy to follow. The game conveys information primarily via symbols and so it can take awhile to figure out what the symbols mean. On the plus side a glossary in the back explains what every single card does in detail. Even on the “easiest” difficulty the game can be quite challenging. That being said I would not recommend this game unless you are already familar with worker placement and/or deck building games. The game is all about careful planning and this can be hard to do when you’re still learning how these types of mechanics work. It’s a well made game, but it is definitely a “gamer’s game”.


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