Developed by:The Campfire Union
Release date:April 6th, 2016
Type : Board Game
I’m honored to review the latest release of a game studio established in my home country, Canada. The Campfire Union is a studio founded 2 years ago by 3 long time friends: John Luxford, Rachel Hosein, and Lesley Klassen. After working together on a project on the Oculus DK1, they all fell in love with VR. They quit their jobs and launched The Campfire Union in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Their goal is to provide unique and positive VR experiences focused on player interactions with others. No surprise that both their games, Tower Crane VR being the first one (not on Gear VR), supports multi-player. They are also the ones behind the relaxing experience Yana, also available on the Gear VR.
Rachel told me the idea to port Lost Cities came after the connection they had with it’s creator, Reiner Knizia during GDC2015. The three of them, being huge fan of board games, jumped on the opportunity to make one of their favorite one into a VR experience. “Since the game play is relatively simple, we could really focus on putting the player in an immersive environment to experience the ruins of the lost cities.” told Rachel. Have they manage to achieve a positive port of a classic game to a new technology? In my opinion, they did.
Lost Cities is a simple 2 player card game. It consists of 5 Lost Cities where players can send their expeditions and try to make them as profitable as possible. Each player take a turn and place a card and draw a card. When the draw pile is empty, the match ends and the player with the most points win. If you are a board game fan and enjoy playing with others, you’ll surely find yourself some good times in Lost Cities. We can suggest to look at the classic game reviews if you want a good feel of how the game is played. Of course, like all board games, you will most likely come back to it several time to challenge new players, because that’s where the real fun lies.
While the goal is simple, the rules are a little more complex to leave place to strategies. Luckily, The Campfire Union made a nice Tutorial that is voiced over for your own immersion. If you already know this game, you can jump right in without the need to go through the whole thing. Basically, the game consists of 5 different color cards, each has numbers from 1 to 10 as well as Wager cards. To start an expedition, you must place a card of the appropriate color in the city zone. Doing so gives you -20 points, but you will add up the total of the card numbers of that city at the end of the game. The twist, cards must always be played in ascending order, so if you start an expedition with a 9, the only card you can play on that expedition would be a 10, reaching a total of 19 points for a score of -1 (19-20).
Wager cards can be played before any number card and is used to multiply the final score from X2 to X4. Finally, instead of playing you can discard cards, but discarded cards can be drawn by your opponent instead of the regular draw pile.
The game was released on Gear VR in early April 2016 and may seem to fall short of content for many players who bought it early on. Rest assure that the studio is still working to bring in a few more features. Currently offering 2 Low Poly, but beautiful environments to play in, a single player AI match and a multi-player auto matchmaking, they plan on releasing three additional environments as well as leader-boards, achievements, and the mostly awaited Play with Friends feature. Those features are currently planned to be released within the next few months and should be expected before the end of the summer. Since their goal was not to change the game, but to make it into a VR experience, those new features will close the loop and offer a great way to play this game with other players.
With a title like this, the door is now open for other board games. I like the fact that it can add back that feeling of having player around a table, while they are across the globe.
You can find out more on their website ; www.lostcitiesvr.com