The original idea for “The Lost Code” was to create a deductive “push-your-luck” title, and the very first tentative titles were “Blind Scoring” and “X-Code”.
Since the very first edition, each player received a card per color, representing the value that color had for each of them, but none of them was able to see their own value.
In the first versions, there was an additional color (white) which acted as an “imposed control” with a fixed value (i.e., 15), from which the sum of all other colors was subtracted.
In this example, if my green value was 2, my red 3, my blue 4, and my yellow 1, then I had a white value of 15-10=5. Then, each player received some “goods” cards in different colors, for which they had to try and estimate their values bidding the highest possible number, without exceeding their real value. The bids were placed in secret simultaneously by all players, using wheels, just like the ones in this last version of the game. Those who bid a number exceeding the real value went bust and gained no points. Instead, players who bid for a number equal or inferior to their real value gained as many points as the opposing busted players or who had a lower bid. The highest bidding player whose estimate had not gone beyond their real value obtained a bonus point. Basically, there were two main aims: i) to guess the value for each color, and ii) to bid for the highest possible value during each round. The white color value basically gave the same opportunity to all players, although players with more “extreme” values were indeed a little more facilitated compared to those with “medium” values. The presence of this “control-imposing” color had its appeal, although it introduced a calculus factor which wasn’t in everyone’s chords.
This second version was similar to “Blind scoring”, but without the white color. To ensure a balanced distribution in the players’ starting values, cards were not dealt randomly, but rather each player received their cards and, in turn, attributed them to a player. This system allowed for values sets which resulted as generally more balanced. Each player also had “Movement” cards. During each round, a player could play 2 to 5 movement cards, declaring the number of steps they intended to take. if this number was equal or lower than the value of their cards, the player could move. Otherwise, they couldn’t take a step. Each player could then only draw 3 cards, thus playing more cards led to having less cards in hand. However, the players who had received the highest values from the beginning were still more favorited in this second version, as well.
– Leo Colovini –