Who will be the first to reach the Pacific?
Hello my wonderful readers! In today's post, we are going to be taking a look at the worker placement, hand management game, Lewis & Clark: The Expedition, a 1-5 player game from designer Cédrik Chaboussit and published by Ludonaute in 2013.
The year is 1803, and the United States have just purchased the Louisiana territory from France. You are an expedition leader, assigned my U.S. president Thomas Jefferson to explore the North American continent. Enlist historical characters to help your expedition, recruit Native Americans to help you better make use of the foreign land and utilize canoes, horses, buffalo and more to make your way westward. Will you be the first to reach the Pacific? A great twist on worker placement and hand management, here are three things that I love about Lewis & Clark!
1) Play or Pay... Dual-Use Cards
Lewis & Clark has a big focus on hand management, forcing you to make decisions about how you will use each and every one of your cards before you set up camp and get to pick them all up again. Every card in the game has an ability that happens when the card is activated. Activating a card, however, isn't free, and typically requires you to sacrifice one of your other cards from your hand, which is placed face-down under the card you are activating (see above). Your cards can also be activated using an Indian (or Indians) from your supply or by using a combination of Indians from your supply and a card from your hand.
This mechanism of activating the cards you play forces you to make decisions about each card in your hand. You may want to play all of the cards in your hand, but that's not possible, because you must use a card to play a card. Typically, in each of your rounds of play you will only be able to play half of your cards, and the other half will have to be used for activating. You'll have to decide what's more important for every card, playing it and gaining its ability or using it to activate another cards ability. It's a great mechanic for anyone who loves planning ahead and trying to figure out what choices will make the best use of what you have.
2) Setting Up Camp... The "Time" Mechanic
Speaking of planning ahead, there's another aspect of planning in this game that can be both super satisfying and incredibly punishing if you aren't careful, and that is setting up camp.
In Lewis & Clark, the object of the game is to be the first to reach the Pacific. As you play cards from your hand, you'll be trying to acquire the right resources and build canoes or trade for horses that will allow you to move your explorer along river and mountain spaces.Everyone has a limited number of cards in their hands, however, and when cards are played, they remain on the table and don't come back into your hand until you set up camp.
Now you might think, "No problem, if there's a card I want to play that isn't in my hand, I can just set up camp and get it back into my hand." Unfortunately, Lewis & Clark doesn't work like that, and you can be punished for setting up camp too quickly. Every card you still have in your hand will cost 1 "time", which means your explorer will move space backwards on the path to the Pacific. So, ideally, you will have to try to play through ALL of the cards in your hand before setting up camp (something that isn't always possible if you don't plan accordingly).
In addition, having excess resources or Indians taking up space in your boats will also cost time.depending on the boats that they are in. Consider the two images below:
In both cases, I have played all of my cards from my hand and have the same amount of resources in my supplies. However, in the scenario on the left, I am storing my resources and Indians less efficiently, in boats that will cost me 4 time: 0 for my first (leftmost) boat, 1 for my second boat, 1 per resources in my third boat (1), 0 for my fourth boat, and 2 per Indian in my fifth boat (2).
In the scenario on the right, though, my resources have been stored in more efficient boats that will only cost me 2 time if I set up camp: 0 for my first boat, 1 for my second boat, 0 for my third, fourth and fifth boats, 0 for my extra resource boat at the bottom and 1 for my extra Indian boat at the bottom.
For whatever reason, I just found this time mechanic to be very interesting. It rewards players who are thoughtful with the resources and cards and who plan out their turns in advance as much as possible.
3) "Dang It, I Needed That"... Worker Placement
While the bulk of your turns in this game will typically involve playing cards from your hand to take actions, another option on you turn is to instead place one of your Indians on the board to take one of those actions instead. Like I mentioned in my first point, it can be tough to have to sacrifice an action (using a card) to activate another card. But, even if the card you sacrificed is one that you really wish you could have used, all is not lost!
Many of the action spaces on the board grant benefits similar (although reduced) action to the cards in your hand. While on my last turn, I may have sacrificed a card that would have gained my 4 fur, on my next turn I can place an Indian on the board in a space that will gain me 2 fur. While it doesn't always work out as clean as that example, I found the light worker placement to be a nice and complimenting addition to the sometimes difficult card-play.
So there you have it. While there are a lot of other great aspects of this game,
those are the top 3 things in Lewis & Clark that I love most.
Have you played Lewis & Clark? What was your favorite part of it?
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