The Lost Expedition

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The Lost Expedition is a hand-management, card-driven co-op game by Osprey Games. Up to five players can play across varying difficulty levels. Together, you’ll place hazardous ‘event’ cards in an order that hopefully benefits your team of explorers through the jungle, and at least one of them will survive to make it to the hallowed El Dorado! Designer Peer Sylvester became fa…
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Category Tags , , , , SKU ZBG-OSP4165 Availability 3+ in stock
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  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The sheer, unforgiving brutality of this jungle journey.
  • The pleasingly large cards and evocative artwork.
  • The feeling of triumph when you arrange the cards for the best possible outcome - never has advancing a meeple once space felt so good!

Might Not Like

  • The sheer, unforgiving brutality of this jungle journey.
  • The tendency for the slightly fiddly tokens to go missing at a crucial point.
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The Lost Expedition is a hand-management, card-driven co-op game by Osprey Games. Up to five players can play across varying difficulty levels. Together, you’ll place hazardous ‘event’ cards in an order that hopefully benefits your team of explorers through the jungle, and at least one of them will survive to make it to the hallowed El Dorado! Designer Peer Sylvester became fascinated with cartographer-slash-explorer Lieutenant Colonel Percy Fawcett’s ambitious – albeit ill-fated – trip into the Brazilian rainforest to find the lost city of ‘Z’, circa 1925. Tragically, Fawcett and his team of fellow adventurers disappeared and we’ll never know if they did locate that hidden jungle city. Hand-management lies at the heart of The Lost Expedition. All players work together to make it through the jungle to reach ‘Z’ before the deck is exhausted, or your explorers fall foul of the Amazon’s brutal conditions. Players have a hand of event cards that they must play one at a time into a public, shared timeline of sorts. Rounds are split into Day and Night. During the Day phase, player take turns to add a card to the public ‘path’. Each card has a number, and cards have to be aligned (and tackled) in numerical order. During the Night phase, players do not have to obey the numerical order; instead, the cards are placed in a row chronologically and tackled as such. Once all of the players have added the designated number of cards to the timeline, you, as the intrepid explorers, then have to face and overcome the hazards before you. Each card has a different hazard on it of some variety, such as encountering a crocodile, a rockslide or a native tribe. In order to overcome a card, you’ll have to complete the optional tasks attached to it, such as, say, either spending a bullet token to shoot the crocodile to earn food tokens, losing two health tokens to gain jungle knowledge, or spending knowledge to move forward a space in the jungle. Sometimes you can (or have to) do multiple tasks per card. If you fail, there’s a price to pay – usually health points. The fantastic thing about The Lost Expedition is that you cannot directly state what you have in your hand, but you can drop hints as to what order you should all try and play cards. You can, of course, all see the public ‘path’ in which you’re going to tackle events, and what resources you have left. You can try to work out what might be the best card to play. However, the (perhaps unappealing) cards you decide not to play during the Day phase will be the only ones you’re left with for the forthcoming Night phase, so it’s all about trying to manage the perils, keeping your head above water! The artwork by Garen Ewing on the cards is fabulous. It’s like something straight out of Hergé’s Tintin comics – wonderful colours and strong lines, certainly homage to that familiar ligne claire style. The Lost Expedition is a tough co-op, but an adventure you and your friends will want to go on time and time again. There’s also a solo mode, and a team-vs-team variant, too. Player Count: 1-5 Time: 30-50 Minutes Age: 14+



A brilliant, brutal game in a neat and beautiful package, The Lost Expedition is a fantastically fun card layer that can be played co-operatively, competitively or solo. Inspired by 1930’s explorer Percy Fawcett, who vanished into the South American rainforest while trying to find El Dorado, it provides a Boys Own Adventure in a box, complete with glorious artwork and some truly agonising decisions.


First, players must choose a group of three intrepid explorers, balancing jungle, navigation and camping skills, before picking up a number of tokens to represent their health, food and ammo. Between seven and nine expedition cards are then laid out, representing a route to the fabled Lost City of Z.

The players must try and keep their meeple moving, working to keep at least one of their explorers alive long enough to reach the city, where they can enjoy fame, glory and the untold riches of a vanished civilisation.

It’s just waiting there in the jungle, waiting for… OH MY GOD! CÂNDIDO! HE’S COVERED IN LEECHES! THEY’VE BLED HIM DRY! OH, I CAN’T LOOK! IT’S HORRIBLE! HORRIBLE!

Playing The Lost Expedition Board Game (Credit: The Innocent BGG)

Lost Expedition Gameplay

Gameplay in Lost Expedition revolves around the party’s attempts to navigate through the jungle, undertaking two marches a day: one in the morning and the other in the evening. Each player must take it in turns to play one of the cards in their hand, combining them into a series of encounters and incidents that make up each march.

In the morning, cards are arranged in numerical order, in the evening they remain in the order they are played – such is the added confusion of a journey in the dark. Each card is resolved in turn, with coloured boxes to show…THERE’S A SPIDER ON MY NECK! IT’S THE SIZE OF A DINNER PLATE! FANGS SINKING INTO MY FLESH, OH SWEET BABY GROOT! THE PAIN!…to show whether players face a compulsory, must-play event; a choice between often unpleasant alternatives, or a play-if-you-want-to option.

To move along the path to victory in Lost Expedition, you must resolve a card with a progress icon on it. They can be hard to find, and when you do, there is rarely gain without a large dose of pain. An example? Here’s a rope bridge: You can now progress at the cost of a navigation point. Not got any? Well, Isabelle is your navigation expert, so you can take a health off her instead. She’s already dead? Well, you can still progress if you KILL ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE PARTY. No? Fine. You can choose not to progress and add an extra card to the march, which might be better – or might KILL SOMEONE.

The meat of the game is in the interaction between players: choosing the best (or least awful) order for the cards to be played in, making hard (often appalling) choices and husbanding health and resources. Is it fun? Oh, dear me, yes.

Ending the game

The game ends when all the cards have been played through twice (you lose), when someone staggers, half-mad and starving into the city, or – and this is most likely – they all die.

Final thoughts on Lost Expedition

What Lost Expedition does really well is… THE RIVER – IT’S BOILING! NO, WAIT, THERE’S SOMETHING COMING UP. CROCODILE! SHOOT IT! SHOOT IT! TOO LATE! ARRRRGH!…is to simulate the brutal hostility of the jungle and it’s unforgiving attitude towards anyone unschooled in its many hazards.

It prompts fevered debates, often hysterical laughter at the impossible choices and somehow keeps you coming back for more punishment. Whether you play solo, against an an opponent, or as a team, you’ll be lucky to win – but what a challenge. What a thrilling, atmospheric little game.

The Lost Expedition is a card-based game by Osprey games that takes you on an expedition through the Brazilian jungle. It is a challenging journey where you may struggle through a swamp or have to face the dangers of a crocodile in order to make it to the lost city with at least one surviving explorer. The game can be played co-operatively, head-to-head or solo. The ease of set up, the component quality, the theming and flow of gameplay are just a small part of the features that make it one of my personal favourite solo games. If solo board gaming is something you may be interested in then this blog may help you to take the leap into the jungle and to learn why it is such a good introductory to solo gameplay.

If you have played the lost expeditions co-operatively then you might be wondering what the differences are with the solo mode and the good news is there is only a few rule adaptions. This means that there is not a lengthy process of learning new rules (which is always a bonus for me!) but more importantly it means that it works just as well and is just as challenging solo as it would be in any other game mode.

Solo Set Up

To set up for a solo game you are provided with three explorers (regardless of player count) which each specialise in a different survival skill of jungle, navigation or camping. There is a collective resource pool of 3 ammunition and 3 food tokens and each explorer has 3 health points. The expedition journey is a series of cards laid out in numerical order. In the co-operative mode there are three difficulty arrangements that you can chose from which affects the length of your journey cards and your starting resources, but in solo mode you always use all nine cards for the expedition. A meeple is placed at the start of your journey and this will represent the position of the explorers throughout the game and is used to track their progress through the jungle. The expedition token is set to ‘morning’ and the leader token is not required in solo mode. Six adventure cards are then dealt to the player and the remaining stacked into a deck. You are now ready to play the lost expedition! A big positive to this game is the quick set up, it makes it so easy to play if you are short on time, especially if you are anything like me and need to reset to try again when you keep letting your explorers die!

The Cards

Your success in the lost expeditions is based on how well you play your adventure cards and the tactics rely heavily on how you organise and resolve them. As a component the cards are really pleasing, they feel good quality and are relatively big so the artwork to icon ratio works really well. The downfall is that the cards do not provide any narration so, as beautiful as the artwork is, it is the only way of immersing yourself into the theme. It also means that the interpretation of the icons is the only way of understanding what the action is. A common problem I have found when playing this game with new players is that they find the icons overwhelming initially. This can certainly slow down gameplay in the first few rounds as new players try to understand the icons and how they can be used tactically. The basic rules are; if they are black icons, you are gaining a benefit and if the icon is blank then you are losing a benefit. There are three types of actions on each card; Events are highlighted in yellow and they are compulsory. Choices are highlighted in red and there is normally multiple on one card. The red actions are also compulsory but only one is to be selected so you have more control over your destiny. The options are highlighted in blue and are usually positive, but at a price. You can select as many of these as you want or completely ignore them, the choice is yours! The cards will provide food and ammunition along with extra expertise. They can also damage or improve your health and will influence how much progress you make in the expedition.

The Expedition Journey

The adventure cards are a visual representation of the journey you are making through the jungle and the obstacles you encounter. If you drew cards 46, 19 and 24 (see photo) in a hike then the following would be an example of the decisions you would need to make. In the evening hike you stumble through the jungle and discover a deserted outpost, you will need to add an extra encounter at the end of your hike as a compulsory action. You raid the outpost and you will either gain extra ammunition or extra health and camping expertise. Once you leave the outpost you encounter a steep path and are faced with the choice of taking the short route down the path which will cause you to lose two health, skip the next encounter and take a step closer to the lost city. If you avoid the steep path, you will gain a skill in navigation but because it took longer you would use up more of your food supply. Finally, you have a problem with a colony of ants, the issue causes so much distraction that your progress stops and you miss the next two encounters, however, you have a choice to sacrifice some health to gain two food resources. This is an example of the decisions you will make, is it better to play safe or will a bit of risk be worth it in the end?

Co-operative Vs Solo Gameplay

The lost expedition is played over a series of rounds with each round involving a morning and an evening hike. This is the same for all game modes but the gameplay for each hike works slightly differently if you are playing solo. In the co-operative mode the players are dealt a starting hand of cards and they play them in turn. In the solo mode you are interacting with the main deck of cards instead of another player. The first round starts with a morning hike in which two cards are drawn from the deck, the solo player then selects two cards from their hand, A third card is then drawn from the deck and then the player selects a final card from their hand. The six cards are then arranged in numerical order and these will represent the difficult obstacles you encounter in your morning hike. You will then have to move through each card in turn (from lowest to highest), addressing the mandatory actions and choosing whether to take the risk on the optional ones. Once all six cards have been resolved and discarded, a food token is then lost (the explorers need to get their strength up for the next hike!). The expedition token is then flipped to ‘evening’ mode and the game begins again. The evening hike is a bit more unpredictable due to the darkness and this is reflected in the gameplay as the cards are resolved in the order that they are played instead of numerically. In the co-operative mode each player plays a card in turn and places it to the right of the previous card. This a rule that differs slightly in the solo mode and you will begin by playing the first card from your hand into the centre of the table. Each turn from then onwards you can select to play either a card from your hand or from the deck and may place it to the left or to the right of the cards in the centre. The player then keeps playing cards in this way until three cards from the deck and all three cards in your hand have been played. In both modes, once placed they are not allowed to be rearranged and are resolved in that order. Once the evening hike is completed, a food token will be discarded and the player will draw back up to six cards. A new round will then begin and play will then continue this way until the losing or winning conditions are met.

How Do I Win?

To win this game in any game mode you need to get your meeple to progress across the expedition cards until you arrive at the lost city of Z. If you manage to achieve this without dying through starvation, being attacked by predators, falling down a mudslide or losing you life through injury then you win! I know, it sounds impossible right? The truth is just like a real expedition through a jungle it really is not easy but that for me is part of the appeal of this game, the chances are you will probably lose a lot of games but it makes it very satisfying when you finally make it to the end. The good news is only one of your explorers needs to survive to win the overall game, this does however mean you will most likely come across a tough choice of sacrificing a fellow explorer in order to continue your journey. The solo version differs in that you can earn points through how well you have survived the jungle. This will give you an extra challenge in future games as it will mean you are competing against yourself to get a better score.

Final Thoughts

There are many things to love about this game and the solo version is my personal favourite way of playing the lost expedition. There are benefits and drawbacks to each game mode in The Lost Expedition, but it does make the game re-playable as the different versions provides different challenges. The co-operative mode is a great way to play but it can lend itself to one player taking the lead with all the decisions or lengthy debates can cause rounds to be long. The solo game mode however has a lot more of luck involved with the order in which the cards are drawn from the deck. This means that sometimes losing is inevitable because cards are played from the deck that would never have been drawn in the same circumstances if it was a player’s choice. The player however, has full control of where the cards are played whereas in co-operative mode, you may have a plan of how you want a certain card to end up but this could be ruined by someone else’s card choice.

The lost expedition is stored in a small box, has a quick set up, the gameplay is a great length, the rule book is easy to follow and the game is simple to teach which makes a staple game in my collection and one I always travel with. The theme carries strongly through the artwork and the actions. They are sometimes really tough decisions but if I was risking my life by walking over an unstable looking rope bridge then it certainly wouldn’t be an easy decision! The icons take a bit of getting used to but the player aids are useful as a reminder. It would’ve been useful if they had included the colour coding on the aids but there’s only three different types so are quick to learn. The range of options over 6 cards can be a little overwhelming whist you are still working out the best tactics to make. It makes the game so variable by having the different choices so I personally love that its not just driven by one choice on the card you have played as it makes the decisions you make really vital to your success.

Overall if you are looking to try a new solo game then the lost expedition is definitely a game that I would recommend for you to try. It has the perfect blend of being challenging but not impossible but don’t get too attached to the explorers as an expedition through the Brazilian jungle is not one to be taken lightly!

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The sheer, unforgiving brutality of this jungle journey.
  • The pleasingly large cards and evocative artwork.
  • The feeling of triumph when you arrange the cards for the best possible outcome - never has advancing a meeple once space felt so good!

Might not like

  • The sheer, unforgiving brutality of this jungle journey.
  • The tendency for the slightly fiddly tokens to go missing at a crucial point.