Designer: Cedrick Chaboussit
Time: 120 Min.
In the early years of the newly discovered United States, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were assigned by the fledgling government to head west and explore the vastness of the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase to find a route to the Pacific Ocean. Imagine if the government opened it up to a race and the first person to get to the other end of the land, was awarded millions of dollars…..that is what the game Lewis and Clark is all about. Each player will represent other explorers who are trying to get the the west coast of America the quickest and most efficiently. You will need help along the way in the form of Native Americans and other pioneers you meet. There are no points in the game, only planning. Let’s sail on the mighty Missouri River with Lewis and Clark…
Each player starts with their own deck of action cards, player board, one of each basic resource and 1 Indian meeple.
The main board has all the resources on it and additional areas for more action cards, boats and the track that you will be racing down.
On a players turn they simply play a card in their tableau and activate it, or send an Indian to the local Tribe to barter goods. You can use the action cards in one of two different ways. You can either use another cards strength that is indicated by the number of Indian figures on the back of the card or use Indians that are in your party. You can also use a combination of the two up to 3 strength. So, if I play a card to get tools, and I play another card with one strength and put an Indian on it….that would give me 2 strength with that card. The number of strength you give an action dictates how many times you can take that action. So, if I can get 3 wood for my action, and I have a strength of 2, I would be able to take up to 6 wood.
You don’t get the cards that you have played back in your hand until you setup camp. Once you do decide to setup camp, this will determine how far your party has traveled. If you still have cards in your hand you will lose time on the river. If you are carrying too many resources, you will lose time on the river. Timing is critical on when you decide to setup camp, to try and get the most out of your hard work.
Sending an Indian to the local tribe to barter is a worker placement action that requires you to use one of your Indians. You simply put the Indian in the appropriate spot and take the actions. Most of the actions are to gather resources or trade one resource for another. There are some spots to get more boats, party members (action cards) or better resources like horses and canoes. The tricky part is once you send your Indian to the Tribe, it is gone until you use your interpreter action card to recruit more Indians. BUT someone else might come long and recruit them before you can as the supply is limited.
The trail to get to the Pacific is always changing. You start out down the river, then hit mountains, then find another river only to run into more mountains. To travel on these spots it takes different types of resources. Boats for river travel and horses for mountains. It is crucial to try and set your self up for an easy transition from one terrain to another but this requires planning.
You continue to take turns until one of you has set up camp past Fort Clatsop. The first person to do so, is the winner!!
There are really good high quality components in this game. I love the art as it really takes me back to frontier times and I can feel who each character is and actually see the locations! Player boards and resources are also great….though I wish I got the stickers for the resources on BGG before they ran out. These resources are sometimes hard to keep track of, just because there are so many different types. The cards are of good stock and the meeples are more than your average meeples. The Indian meeples have a feather on their head! How awesome is that? Over all the components are really good.
This is the beast part of the game in my opinion…..it’s part action card selection, part deck building, part worker placement, part engine building….part fantastic! I love the struggle with choosing which Character cards to use but then you have to use another card to activate it. The battle between what things you need to get done before setting up camp is great. It’s one of those games that once you get the pattern down it just hummmms. The other great mechanism is the twist on worker placement. You don’t have your own workers, you have a portion of the pool of available workers. When you use an Indian as a worker he doesn’t come back to you unless you use the recruiter card. Meaning someone else can recruit that worker…..but you may really need to get something from the board next turn like, say, I don’t know….the ONLY way to actually make progress down the river or through the mountains!! BUT those Indians are really handy to do actions with! Man, I love it! It is such a solid puzzle in a game. Other players can play keep away with the Indians as well, if they want to be like that. Not cool!
I struggled with this….I love playing this game and I am always thinking about playing it….but it never gets played? One issue is the learning curve…..for new players….it is hard!! You really have to play this game a couple times to get the flow and when to play what cards and to understand what type of plan you have to put into place. Timing is critical when playing and the first time you play, you may not figure it out completely. Play time is also a tick against it with replayability as the game can get a little long, especially if players are prone to the dreaded Analysis Paralysis. But then again, there are different ways to play….solo play…..it also comes with different terrain tiles so you can change the landscape of the trail each time you play. The only thing that definitely changes each game is the planning aspect….but it is so fun. The time could also be an issue….playing with 5 could really drag it out.
This game is 98% strategy 2% randomness. The ONLY thing that is random is the Character action cards that are available coming from the deck. It is ALL about strategy, planning and timing. When to get resources, when to trade those resources, when to set up camp, when and what new Character cards to get. When to go to the board to do special actions but needing to get your Indians back……IF you lose….it’s because you messed up or someone else had a better strategy.
Final Thoughts: 18/20
What can I say, this game is really up my alley for depth and strategy. It seems if you add all those moving mechanics into a single game it shouldn’t work…but it does….it is smooth, if not playing with 5. I have yet to play the single player, but I think I will have to try because I like the game that much. I don’t really even like racing games but I could care less that this is a race. I love the fact that if I messed up on setting up camp, I know exactly what I did wrong….if I didn’t time the transition from water to mountain, I know where I messed up….if I got rid of a card that was needed that left me stranded…I wouldn’t do it again. I can pin point exactly why I lost or fell behind in every game I have played of this. This game is also dripping with theme. Every Character card is based on a real person who was apart of the original exploration, either as an expedition member or as someone that was encountered along the route. It will stay in my collection for a long time!