NOTE: This review covers the Lost Legacy: Flying Garden Deck. For an overview of the Lost Legacy series, including basic play mechanics, please read our review here.
At the heart of Lost Legacy games players are trying to balance survival against deduction to best position themselves to identify the Lost Legacy card at the end of a round. Despite its relatively simple gameplay (draw a card, play a card) the way you play, bluff and deduce can greatly affect the end game result. This core concept is cleverly encompassed in Flying Garden with a deck that is heavily focused on strategic positioning and disruption. Each of the cards in the deck work very well together, allowing for strategies that encourage forward thinking and planning. That said, there are many cards which can foil your well-laid plans by eliminating players or re-introducing randomness by shuffling cards. While this harbours potential for frustration the cards are balanced in such a way that they encompasses the ever–satisfactory “take that” element, without making your opponent feel unfairly victimised.
Wound (X) – The wound is predominantly a passive card. By itself it does nothing however, if a player ends up with two on their discards, they are eliminated. When used in clever combinations this can be a truly devastating card although, in a game of three or four, a more strategic approach is required. In a two player game you are alternating turns and always attacking the other player whereas in a three or four player game, there is an increased opportunity for players to team up to take each other out.
Curse (8) – If you’ve ever played Love Letter the curse card will feel very familiar. When played you nominate a player and name a card number between 1 and 8. You then view that player’s hand and, if their card matches the named number, they are eliminated. This is a very powerful card near the end of a round as, with many cards discarded face up on the table, it’s easier to guess which card your opponent is holding. Regardless, it’s always a win-win card as, even if you don’t guess the right card, you get to see the card your opponent is holding.
Storyteller (7) – Storytellers are valuable cards in that they allow you to have additional attempts at guessing the location of the Lost Legacy card during the Investigation Phase (1 additional guess per card in your discards).
False Rumors (6) – This is one of my favourite cards as it provides a great opportunity to influence the outcome of a round. When you play the False Rumors card you immediately draw the next two cards from the draw pile into your hand. You then play one card face down into the ruins and another face up in front of any player. Essentially, you are giving yourself a hand of three cards and deciding where they will all end up. You could put the Lost Legacy card on top of the ruins deck (meaning you know it’s location for the Investigation Phase), wound another player, give yourself an additional buff, or even move cards from the potential draw deck into the ruins. It’s an extremely powerful card and is very satisfying to use.
Flying Garden (5) – In Flying Garden the Lost Legacy card is playable. Whether discarded voluntarily or upon elimination, it is played onto the ruins instead of into your discard pile. Once discarded, you are given the option to shuffle the ruins deck. However, that may not be the best option. Remember that the person with the lowest numbered card guesses first during the Investigation Phase so, if you are confident that you will end the round with the lowest card, then knowing the location of the Flying Garden card is beneficial. You’d want to be very certain however as, the other players will also have seen where you placed the card!
Guardian (4) – A somewhat difficult card to use in a two player game, the Guardian introduces an element of randomness. When discarded all player hands are gathered up, shuffled together then dealt back out to each player. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on your hand but, either way, it’s bound to mess up your plans. For a two player game we just shuffle the cards then present them, face down, to the other player and allow them to choose. It’s very hard to properly shuffle two cards which made this a difficult card to use in smaller games.
Adventurer (3) – Similar to the False Rumours card this is an extremely useful card as it allows the player to re-arrange cards in the ruins. When discarded, you may look at two cards from the ruins then exchange one with the card in your hand. It’s a great way to rid yourself of an unwanted card, or to help ascertain the location of the Flying Garden card.
Necromancer (2) – Another card which induces randomness, the Necromancer card allows you to shuffle any players discard pile back into the draw deck. It’s an excellent means of removing someone’s Storyteller cards or getting rid of a Wound card from your own discard pile.
Saint (1) – The Saint is a passive card that allows you to keep playing after elimination. If the card is in your discard pile at the time you would be eliminated, you discard your cards as per usual, flip the Saint card face down, and draw a new card into your hand.
As you can see, the Flying Garden deck evenly balances card powers with their quantities and investigation speedsfor the Investigation Phase. This encourages players to use the weaker cards and, with fewer low-number cards available, gives incentive to keep them in your hand for the end of the round. This is nicely balanced by the Curse card. For example, as the Investigation Phase draws near you might want to hold onto a Saint card as the low number will allow you to guess first. However, there’s inherent risk in this as, if someone has a Curse card their odds of guessing your Saint increase as time goes on – especially if most of the lower numbered cards have already been played into the discard piles.
Unlike Lost Legacy: The Starship the Flying Garden game is played over a series of rounds. Where The Starship ends as soon as a player locates the Lost Legacy card, Flying Garden has players continuing until a pre-determined limit is reached. This provides players with a feeling of confidence that they can always recover from a bad situation. After each round, the deck is shuffled and an entirely new hand begins – meaning a bad run of cards doesn’t necessarily compound.
Flying Garden is a game that works just as well with 2 players as it does with 4 – more so, I feel, than games like Lost Legacy: The Starship or Love Letter . With an even mix of cards and a progressive means of elimination (Curse card excluded) players are given considerable control over how the game plays out. Each card feels unique and well-balanced, providing complexity and strategy that soften the luck elements of the game. If you’re going to try a Lost Legacy game, I strongly recommend starting here.