When Thomas Jefferson became the third president of the United States in 1800, the nation occupied an area that stretched about one-thousand miles from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Mississippi River in the west, and from the Great Lakes in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. Roads and paths across the country were poor. The preferred trade routes, therefore, were rivers.
In 1803, with the stroke of a pen, Thomas Jefferson effectively doubled the size of the United States by purchasing the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon for fifteen million dollars. The purchase gave the United States access to the strategic port of New Orleans, as well as the Wild West, beyond the Mississippi. To explore this huge terra incognita, President Thomas Jefferson decided to send two adventurers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The resulting expedition lasted from 1804 to 1806 and was the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States.
Go back in time, and participate in the discovery of the American frontier with Lewis & Clark, a racing game for one to five players. The year is 1803, and we imagine what might have happened if President Jefferson didn't send just one expedition to explore the Wild West. What if he had sent many? In Lewis & Clark, you and your friends each lead one of these parties. Your aim is to cross the uncharted West and reach the Pacific as soon as possible. History will only remember the first to arrive.
Inspired by the historical events of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Lewis & Clark challenges you to manage your resources and your hand of cards as your race across the West. You must make sure your team is always sufficiently stocked with wood, food, furs, and canoes. You will need to mind the demands upon your Corps of Discovery, as well as the benefits you gain by interacting with the game's many historical trappers and Native Americans that you meet along your journey. Manage your resources well, and yours might be the first American expedition to reach the Pacific!
Outfitting Your Expedition
In Lewis & Clark, your goal is to be the first to lead a team of explorers from Saint Louis to Fort Clatsop. To do so, you must advance your expedition more than three-dozen spaces along rivers and through mountain ranges. You will need scouts to forge a path and ships and horses to mobilize your camp and carry your supplies. Of course, every team member has a role to play, and you must decide when and how to get the best results from your lumberjack, hunter, blacksmith, and fur trader, as well as from your commander and the interpreter who can help you establish beneficial relations with the game's Native Americans.
All this requires that you make strategic use of several different types of resources.
Most of the actions you take in Lewis & Clark are driven by character cards. There are eighty-four of these cards in the game, and you begin with a hand of six: expedition commander, interpreter, lumberjack, hunter, blacksmith, and fur trader. The majority of the game's character cards, however, are set aside at the beginning of the game and can be recruited later for their individual strengths and abilities. Whether you start with them or recruit them later, all the game's character cards are named after different historical figures who played a part in the success of the real Lewis and Clark expedition, and all of them can be used in two different fashions.
On your turn, you can play a character card face-up to take advantage of its ability. This is the first use of your character cards. However, when you play a character card for an action, it has no strength until you take advantage of another character card's strength. You do this by playing the second character card face-down underneath the first, so that its strength icons are visible. In this way, it powers the action granted by your first character, making this is the second use of your character cards.
Lewis & Clark comes with eighteen tokens to represent the Native Americans that you can meet along your journey. Each player starts the race accompanied by one of these Native Americans, although there are ways for you to extend your friendships. This is important because only Native Americans tokens grant you access to the game's Village actions, which can provide crucial advantages as you face the challenges of your journey.
There are six types of resource tokens in Lewis & Clark. Four are basic, and two are "transformed," which you can gain only by taking specific actions and spending your other resources. The four basic resources are wood, fur, food, and equipment, each of which you can gain by taking the action granted by one of your starting explorers. The two transformed resources are canoes and horses, which you can only gain by performing Village actions or utilizing the abilities of your characters. In turn, your canoes and horses then make it easier for your expedition to travel.
Throughout your games of Lewis & Clark, you track your resources on your Corps of Discovery board. This board shows five different boats, each of which can carry a specific amount of resources and takes a certain amount of time to unload and load. Travel light, and you can spend less time setting and breaking your camp, leaving more time to travel. However, if you travel light, you might have to stop more often for supplies, meaning that you make less progress along each leg of your journey. The result is that your boats are an important part of your overall strategy, and you need to pay attention to how heavily they are encumbered and which you intend to load.
All of these elements come together over the course of a game as you and your opponents take turns performing actions in order to advance your scouts and, ultimately, the rest of your expedition.
Crossing the Uncharted Wilds
In Lewis & Clark, you have a Scout token that moves forward along the rivers and mountain, identifying navigable paths that the rest of your team can follow. However, the rest of your expedition cannot travel so lightly as your scout, and the race is ultimately won or lost with your ability to move your camp, not just your scout.
Each turn, you can play through up to three possible phases, although you only need to play through the first.
1. Action Phase
On your turn, you must perform a single action. You can perform your action from one of your character cards, or you can perform a Village action. As noted earlier, you can use these actions to gain resources or transform them into other resources, but you can also use your action to turn your resources into movement.
For example, by performing the action granted by your expedition commander, you could transform one of your food resources into two movement along the river. Alternatively, you could transform one canoe resource into four movement along the river, or you could transform one horse into two movement through the mountains.
Moreover, when you perform an action granted by one of your character cards, you can perform it once for each strength you have associated to the action. Therefore, if you placed a facedown character with a strength of one underneath Meriwether Lewis and then increased the strength by placing two Native American tokens atop the facedown character card, you could perform Meriwether Lewis's action three separate times.
All the actions in Lewis & Clark that grant movement associate that movement with either rivers or mountains. You need river movement to move along the river. You need mountain movement to move through the mountains. For each point of movement you gain, you can advance your Scout token one space forward.
2. Recruitment Phase
The Recruitment phase is optional and can be taken either before or after you perform your action. It is in this phase that you can recruit characters to join your expedition.
At the beginning of the game, after you shuffle the non-starting character cards into a pile, you reveal five of them and place them along the Journal of Encounters, ordered according to their strength from lowest to highest.
Then, as the game goes on, you can recruit any of these characters to your expedition by paying the corresponding number of equipment and fur resources.
- You must pay as many fur as are indicated by the character's position along the Journal of Encounters.
- You must pay a number of equipment equal to the character's strength.
By recruiting these character cards, you make their strength and abilities available to your expedition, potentially allowing you to travel further and faster each time you break camp.
3. Encampment Phase
Like the Recruitment phase, the Encampment phase is optional, and it can be taken at any time during your turn, either before or after you perform your action. However, if you are unable to perform an action otherwise, you must enter your Encampment phase and set up your camp.
Even though your Scout token advances whenever you perform actions that grant it movement, it isn't until you enter the Encampment phase that you actually advance your camp. The distance that your camp manages to advance is determined by both your scout's progress and the mobility of your entire team.
Whenever you camp, you need to determine how much time it takes to set up and break down your camp. The time you must spend camping in one place is determined by the character cards still in your hand and the time costs associated with your boats. As an example, if you set up camp when you still have two character cards in your hand and you've loaded resources onto your boats that cost you another three time, then camping costs you a total of five time.
Once you determine the amount of time you must spend in camp, you move your Scout token that many spaces backward, through the mountains and along the rivers. If your scout is still ahead of your camp, you bring your camp up to its location and if this brings your camp up to Fort Clatsop, you win!
A Time of Discovery
Complete with a lovingly illustrated board and cards, as well as short biographies for each of its eighty-four characters, the mechanics and componentry of Lewis & Clark fully immerse you in one of the greatest of all American expeditions.
You'll navigate rivers, ascend mountains, and outfit your team with enough food and furs to survive the winter. You will hunt, build canoes, and trade with the trappers and Native Americans that you meet along the way. Most importantly, you will enjoy an epic and educational game that is rich with strategy and nearly bursting with the inspiration it draws from its many larger-than-life, historical American figures.
Step back into history and summon the spirit of discovery!
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Lewis & Clark Resources
Lewis and Clark Rules
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