I finally decided to stop by and write about this.
Lost Cities is a great game, and it’s such a huge bummer that its implementation on BGA leaves so much to be desired. Much more complex games have better adaptations, so it’s absolutely not beyond the means of BGA to make this game better.
There are plenty of things that could be made better about this game, from updating the art to allowing us to see the “stack” instead of only the top card in the middle row. But I’m not even going to talk about these issues, because they’re not the ones that would be on the top of my list if I was to do some work on improving this game.
Instead, these would be my top 2 priorities:
Allow Undo within a player’s turn
This is just a no-brainer. A turn in Lost Cities on ou has 2 actions: play a card, draw a card. And to play a card, the acroon areas are super close together. Especially on mobile, it’s absolutely common to mistap and discard the card in the middle row instead of playing it to your expedition. This absolutely should be addressed.
Being able to Undo your card play is the first obvious way to address this issue, but it doesn’t even need to be that. You could also: make the tap targets harder to confuse; make the tap targets more spaced apart; allow a player to move the just-played card between the middle row and the expedition column before they draw a card; have a confirmation prompt pop-up to make sure they want to play the card to the middle row.
Plenty of ways to address this issue. But it needs to be addressed.
Fix the orphan!
In typographic layout, there’s a term for when a text is laid out in such a way that the last line consists of only a single short word: that word is an orphan. And we don’t want to have orphans. Whoever is in charge of the layout needs to do whatever change they can to either move more words to the last line, or bring the orphan up one line.
And it’s not hard. Usually it’s a matter of deleting a couple words above, or imperceptibly tweaking the spacing between words and letters to condense the entire block of text.
My point is: you need to address the orphan card.
In Lost Cities, you always have 8 cards in your hand, and in the BGA implementation of Lost Cities, you always have a row of 7 cards and the 8th card is an orphan, on a line of its own. For absolutely no reason.
I play mostly on mobile, and the first time I encountered this issue I was like “oh, okay, the phone screen is narrow, I’ll turn my phone sideways to give it more space”. And then I did. And the orphan was still there!! I had to laugh. This is so stupid.
The first point above is more important, but I’d say this second point is more urgent. It’s so unacceptable that this happens, and somehow everyone accepts it because it doesn’t really interfere with gameplay. But it doesn’t make it more acceptable.
Just narrow the space between the cards a tiny little bit so the 8th card fits in the same row! Or, perhaps better yet! Make it so you have 2 rows of four cards!!
C’mon. I know nothing in software development is nearly as easy to fix as people think it is. But even considering a fix for this would be 5x harder than one would assume it is, it would still not be too hard. Even if it’s 10x. I mean, how could it?
Anyway, I really didn’t mean to turn this into a rant. Apologies. I really just wanted to make two suggestions to vastly improve the implementation of this great little game. Hopefully then can be at least read.
Thank you for reading.