The current pandemic has forced me to broaden my taste in games, more than I originally expected. Even though there are so many good games on the market, I tend to stick to the genres that have stood the test of time for my band. Therefore, we are mostly building bridges, placing Ameritrash workers and occasionally playing zone control. Although we are always open to new things, we have never been interested in spinning and writing. The central mechanism seems as old and uninteresting as bingo. However, I heard a lot about this game called Cartographers and how fun it is, and for such a low price, I decided to give it a try. When we had it in the house, we lost count of how many times we played it, but it was enough to buy a replacement notebook to record it.

For our readers who stumbled upon this WTMG video game site, welcome! You may be wondering what turnover and writing is, so I’ll give you a little context. Roll and Write is a type of game where players roll a bunch of dice whose results are either shared or eliminated by the player who rolled them. Players then write the results of the dice on their cards to maximize the number of points scored. Before Cartographers, the only games I played were Yahtzee (which we played on terrible family game nights that ruined my board games) and the Cat Cafe with our friends from Board Game Squad (who, I admit, liked it more than I thought I would call it). Maybe it was the FOMO or maybe the Cat Cafe, but I ignored my preferences and gave the cartographers a shot.

Cartographers send players to serve Queen Gymnax in the unknown lands of the far north in the rollercoaster world of Thunderworks games. They were sent into the desert to map the north so that the queen could claim this land for herself. When you arrive, you discover that you are not alone and that other people are trying to control the earth. If you can map and claim the best parts of the north, your reputation will surely earn you His Majesty’s favor.

It’s child’s play to play cartographer. Each player takes a blank sheet of paper on which they draw their card during the game. If players want to be more creative than I am, they can name their character, their new area, and give it a character.

To set up the rest of the game, players must separate the Ambush and Explore cards because they have the same card on the back. Once the search cards are divided into piles, an ambush card is added to the search pile, and then everything is shuffled. Season cards should be placed face up next to the stack being explored, with spring at the top, followed by summer, autumn and winter at the bottom. Editing cards should be arranged from left to right, with brackets underneath. The top card of each deck of cards under the changes When everything is ready, it should look like this:

The goal of the game is to become the cartographer with the most points by skillfully placing Tetris-like tiles. In each of the four rounds or seasons, players turn over the top card of the study and draw the shape and type of terrain indicated on the card.

To play a card trick, players each turn over a search card and then draw types of terrain on their card in the orientation indicated on the card. If there are two types of terrain or two shapes on the map, players can choose only one of the available options. They then draw this shape in a free space on their card, meeting the rating requirements of the card as best they can.

There are four main types of terrain: Forest (green), water (blue), farm (yellow) and villages (red), each with their own symbol. For example, I often follow the symbols recommended by the cartographer so there’s no competition or inconsistency, but if you’re even more artistically demanding than I am, you can use colored pencils for color coding or just write letters like V, Fr, Fa, and W instead. Anything to make it easier on the players.

These terrain types are used to populate each player’s map according to the open exploration cards. This may seem arbitrary, but all the objectives are clearly set out in advance in the Order in Council. These cards are used to guide the players in their placement. To give a brief overview, the cards drawn for this example are evaluated as follows:

  • 1 entry point for each forest area indicated on the edge of the map.
  • 2 reputation points for each body of water and 1 reputation point for each farm adjacent to the mountain.
  • 8 reputation points for each group of 6 or more villages.
  • 6 reputation points for each fully occupied row and column on the map.

In some cases, when there are multiple shapes, the smallest shape is accompanied by a mint icon. Whenever players choose this form over the others, they can mark on their card that they have won a coin. Similarly, players receive a coin if they surround the mountain with occupied squares on all four sides.

Each season is assigned a specific time period, indicated by the number in the top left corner of the season ticket. Each Explorer Card has a similar number. When the total number of numbers on the open discovery cards matches the number on the season ticket, the round ends and the scoring begins.

The evaluation procedure is different for each season. Decrees A and B will be evaluated in the spring. In the above example, rule A states that players receive one retrieval point for each forest area at the edges of the map. Edict B, states that players receive one reputation for each farm hill adjacent to the mountains and two reputations for each water hill adjacent to the mountains. Players also earn a point for each piece they win during the game. Once the season results are tallied, they will be placed on the spring scoreboard at the bottom of their card. The players move on to the next season.

To prepare for the next season, players place a new ambush card on the discovery pile, shuffle it again, and reveal the next season’s card. At the end of the summer, only points B and C are scored.

Only two of the four edicts are counted at the end of each season. In the spring – A and B. In the summer – B and C, in the fall – C and D, and in the winter – A and D. This structure means that players can ignore entire field types as the game progresses, which helps them make more informed placement decisions.

Decree. Scorecards will always be linked to a forest floor. Edict B is always associated with agricultural and water areas, C with villages, and D with the alignment of infilled areas. The strategy indicates which decrees will be considered and when. Although players do not receive points for setting up their positions each turn (Decree A), they are awarded on the first and last turns. Ignoring the proposition may help players prioritize an immediate score in the short term, but may lead to a weak final round.

If you look at the point system, you will see that water and farmland no longer earn reputation points after the second round. For this reason, aquatic and terrestrial types of agricultural land can be disregarded since then. If you approach cartographers with this foresight, players will have the most success.

All the information needed to plan ahead is available to everyone at the start of the game. The winner is the one who plans the furthest ahead and leaves room for a backup plan. The only thing that puts players on the wrong track are the scary ambush cards.

Ambush maps give cartographers a little bonus that I usually don’t approve of. I find that pasty games that turn into sneaky matches too quickly can spoil the fun of the game. I know people prefer to take the maps out of the ambush altogether, but I would say that in this case they are actually an improvement for the cartographers.

Each time an ambush card is revealed, players move their points clockwise or counterclockwise (as indicated on the card). Once all players have an adjacent card, they draw a purple monster field that matches the alignment of the ambush card. In the scoring phase, subtract one point from the player’s score for each empty space next to a monster.

To maximize the negative effects of raids on enemies, it is best to place them in the middle of nowhere or block important marker areas. In any other game, this level of sabotage can change the atmosphere if game night becomes unpleasant. What makes this interaction more user-friendly is that each player does this at the same time, so it’s not possible for one player to feel targeted.  Ambush cards are also the only time when players’ decisions affect each other.

What I like most about Mappers is the ease with which it is taught. My mother, who never plays games, insisted we play them at Christmas. Of course, I wanted to keep the game short and easy to learn, to avoid the frustrating process of learning not only a new game, but a game for someone who has no basic concepts to build on. In the ten minutes after we were set up, I explained the game so we could play effectively. As the game progressed, I developed the game strategy and indicated the points where certain types of terrain were no longer relevant. Although she didn’t win, she finished second, even though she learned along the way.

Mappers is an exceptionally easy game for new players to learn, especially if they share the same goals and explore the same maps. Of all the games in my collection, this is by far the easiest to learn as you go. My approach is to explain each card as it comes up and how it can be applied to the decree, leaving it up to the players to decide what to do.

Cartographers is an excellent addition to any board game collection. It’s an easy game to learn, an easy game to repeat, and it’s a lot of fun. It really made me think about my rowing position and writing games. Which is even better: The next Heroic Mapper expansion comes from Thunderworks. The expansion is designed to add new edicts, more complex ambush maps, and additional maps. For those interested in late extensions, they are still available here. Other than that, the base game can be purchased at most online stores that sell games. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to work on my drawing skills so my friends will stop laughing at me when we play.

The number of players is limited only by the number of points remaining. 30 – 45 minutes.
Paper and pencil
Line drawing
Grid covering
Sextants
The Mappers is, in my opinion, the best example yet of a cover that is easy to learn and hard to master. The game is easy to learn, but there are some points that require a little practice.
The work of cartographers is as simple as it is effective. Clear illustrations and a clear cartographic presentation make it possible to understand the elements at a glance, even for newcomers. Each decree has four different score cards, so the game looks different every time, and with a short playing time it never gets too boring.

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