games review

The Lost Expedition: Session Report and Review

The Lost Expedition

A game by Peer Sylvester

Osprey Games

BGG listing.

Note: The most cursory of historical research went into the writing of this fictionalized session report on the card game The Lost Expedition.

My dearest Slimane,

I cannot conceive of a place so different from Geneva and my beloved Algiers than the province of Mato Grosso. But I speak neither of the tropical weather nor the lush environs of the city of Cuiabá; I refer here chiefly to the commotion that my fellow explorers, Messrs. Roosevelt and Chapman Andrews, have precipitated as we prepare for our expedition through the Amazon interior. We are but three souls, and yet between the two of them they have created a hullabaloo of unloading and transporting materiel to rival arrangements for war. Even the press has followed us from Manhattan–from one riverine city to another–and so perspiring journalists, pen and paper clutched in fingers swollen from the heat, skulk about the teeming docks.

Nonetheless, the papers consistently omit one important detail about our expedition. For we are encircled and enclosed and en-fussed over by an entire cavalry’s worth of assistants—Roosevelt’s standard retinue, it would seem—porters, carriers, raft men,  guides, and the indefensible luxury of two mess cooks. Why, I crossed the Saharan desert with naught but a sulking dromedary and a waterskin!

Men. I shake my head in disbelief.


James Wan, “The Conjuring” (2013).

The most welcome surprise in James Wan’s The Conjuring isn’t the fact that Wan, purveyor of torture-porn cinema, can be capable of a fairly quiet, almost elegant horror film. The Conjuring was, after all, preceded by Dead Silence (2007) and the surprise hit Insidious (2010) — three relatively calm films that couldn’t be farther from the depredations of Saw (2004) and its sequels. The shocker here is how much mileage Wan gets from restraint and the power of suggestion: from deep blacks to tight close-ups, teasing the viewer with what lies beyond the frame.


Breaking Bad: ABQ (2009)

Perhaps I shouldn’t complain about the prevalence of coincidences on Breaking Bad. After all Lost, one of my favorite shows of all time, served them up one after another to an increasingly incredulous audience. But Season 2 ends with a big whopper, the kind that flirts with viewer outrage. Perhaps too much of a splashy ending?


Breaking Bad: Phoenix (2009)

I’ve been happily working my way through Breaking Bad — I’m close to the end of the second season, and I’m not even halfway through, which is a good thing — and I just saw perhaps the best-written episode of the season so far. “Phoenix,” written by John Shiban (a familiar name to you X-Files fans, but Shiban’s been all over the place), is exceptionally, tightly written — less about the criminal aspects of Breaking Bad, and more a thematic exploration of fatherhood, of fathers and sons, of fathers and daughters. The episode is a good, solid reminder that at its core, the television series is about family.


John Sayles, “Amigo” (2010).


One thing about John Sayles: calling his films didactic or preachy seems like stating the obvious at this point, because that’s just kind of the way Sayles’ films are. From Matewan (1987) — a great film, but see it if only for the young Will Oldham — to Casa de Los Babys (2003), Sayles’ films may be complex and cross-sectional, but the big lessons at their cores are not. I realize I’m being willfully reductionist if I reduce a film’s moral to “We’re all connected” or “The world isn’t as black and white as you think,” but viewers of Lone Star (1996) or Eight Men Out (1988) — two very fine films — may agree with my assessment.

I think that’s just how Sayles rolls, and that’s fine with me; best get that out of the way. Amigo may be Sayles’ least commercial film in quite a while, probably as much as my favorite film of his, Men with Guns (1997), and I take that fact (along with the clearly shoestring budget) as proof of Amigo being a labor of love. (Do a Google search for “Sayles” and “uncompromising” and you’ll see what I mean.)