The summer of 2012 has been a busy one for mobile ports of strategy card games. First, San Juan came to iOS, and now another venerable strategy card title - Lost Cities - has landed on the App Store.
Some may balk at the £2.49/$3.99 price tag for a card battler, but those who choose to overlook this excellent and well-tuned app will miss out on a highly addictive - and deeply challenging - game.
More than just Uno
Dr Reiner Knizia - a German professor of mathematics with over 500 games published over the course of his career - created the card-based version of Lost Cities in 1999.
Given this background and the fact that the company responsible for the iPad version of Carcassonne also published Lost Cities, you can rightfully expect a good amount of maths and strategy.
The maths element surfaces first in the game's scoring systems. Cards are divided by colour and value (2-10), and you can lay a card in one of five lines that correspond to the card's colour.
Additionally, each suit (colour) has various coin cards that double or triple the value of cards played in a lane. These cards must be played before a lane is opened, and will double or triple the point cost for opening a lane, so it's necessary to use them strategically.
While it's a bit difficult to get your head around at first, the game plays organically and quickly. After one or two rounds against the computer AI, you'll develop a basic understanding of the rules. The rest is polishing.
On the topic of polish, Lost Cities has it in spades.
The animation, artwork, and music are all top notch, although the stock board and background grow a bit dull after a few games. Given that your focus will be on your cards and scores the unchanging stock board might go unnoticed, but a bit of variety would have been nice all the same.
In terms of gameplay, Lost Cities is a straightforward version of the game, with no variations or additional modes.
This homogeneous nature may turn some casual gamers off, but those looking for a deep, immersive strategy card game will be satisfied. If you're looking for a fast and challenging card game to spend some time with on the go, Lost Cities will deliver everything you're looking for and more.