Title: Cartographers Heroes (and map packs 1-3)
Designed By: Jordy Adan and John Brieger
Art By: Davey Baker an Lucas Ribeiro
Published By: Thunderworks Games
Player Count: 1-100
Time to Play: 30-45 Minutes
Cartographers Heroes is a standalone sequel to the hit game Cartographers. In this flip and write game, players work to explore Western Lands and map their findings. Cartographers Heroes adds new challenges to the base game including more challenging monsters and heroes to try and take them down.
Cartographers Heroes can be mix and matched with the original Cartographers game. For more new twists, players can also use the alternative map packs each which present their own challenges in exploration.
In Cartographers Heroes, players will flip over cards and be presented with either two shapes and one terrain type, or two terrain types and one shape that they must add to their map. The game is played over four seasons and each season allows a certain amount of exploration before it finishes. Seasons have their own unique scoring conditions that players attempt to build their maps around in order to score the most points. Minions and monsters will occasionally occur to mess with the cartographers plans, but they may also encounter heroes along the way to help them slay these creatures. At the end of the final season, whoever made the highest scoring map wins.
What's purr-ty cool:
Gameplay: Cartographers Heroes is one of those games that I love to pull out after a long day when I want to relax and enjoy a game. It provides enough of a challenge that I am engaged with the game, but overall it is a relaxing experience that does not require my brain to be fully alert and strategic. I enjoy using colored pencils or pens when making my map so that I can color-coordinate my terrain types and make my map pretty to look at. I enjoy making the maps so much that I actually turned some of my old score sheets into coasters using wood blanks and epoxy resin. Now I have the perfect thing to protect my games from drink sweat during game night. Now you certainly do not need to be an artist to play, you can use very simple lines to differentiate which terrain is which, but for those that like to doodle, this game is a nice option.
Updates: Cartographers Heroes rebalanced the timing of seasons, which allows for a slightly longer game than the original version. I like the little bit of extra time because it allows for more exploration. Cartographers Heroes also adds special abilities to the monsters cards. Rather than just taking up space on your board a single time, monsters may have continual effects that make them more challenging to contain. That's where the heroes come in. Heroes allow for ways to attack and defeat monsters. This mechanic felt great as it gives the players more agency on how to control their map. Lastly, Cartographers Heroes adds new scoring cards which will help keep the game feeling fresh as there are now more options to mix and match each game.
Maps: Cartographers Heroes adds two new maps to the game and you can mix and match maps between the original version and the heroes version. But if you are looking for even more ways to mix things up, there are additional map packs that you can buy to add in to your games. Currently there are 6 different map packs available, each with their own set of rules, but I only have map packs 1-3. The basic rules for Cartographers still apply when using the maps, but each map adds it's own challenge or twist to your exploration.
Map Pack 1 is Nebblis which introduces a volcano mechanic to the game. As volcano cards are drawn spaces on the map get destroyed from the lava that flows through them. This expansion is good if you want a map that will change as you play.
Map Pack 2 is Affril changes the map from one large map to several smaller maps. Players will need to connect the islands through their voyage. As Islands are discovered, standard pattern scoring card gets replaced with special scoring cards from this map pack. This expansion is goof for those who want to think differently about how they will explore their map.
Map Pack 3 is the Undercity where players explore both above and below ground. Like Affril, in Undercity, the pattern scoring card gets replaced with a card from this map pack. This map is challenging as the above ground section of your map is small and thus fitting pieces in the top section of your map becomes challenging quite quickly. This map pack is good if you want a more tight board to work on throughout the game.
I am definitely intrigued to learn more about map packs 4-6, but for now I have more than enough content to hold me over!
The cat's meow:
"I wonder if these cartographers ever find cat treats on their adventures. I could go for a good snack!" - Pudgy Cat
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.