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Cartographers Heroes... only the brave will succeed!

Unchartered land, ravaged by war and with potential for kingdom expansion... only the bravest of heroes and cartographers will take on this once in a lifetime opportunity in the defence of Nalos. Cartographers Heroes is a flip and write game which has players navigating the Western Lands as Royal Cartographers, completing edicts to earn the repuation of the Queen.

Cartographers Heroes Board Game box and card set up

Alex came across this game initially and was intrigued by it but it took a few weeks before he could convince me to play it as the box and initial theme didn't really pique my interest. However, as we all know, one shouldn't judge a book by it's cover! (and I should also know by now not to judge a game by it's theme either) But alas, we're all human and judgement is in our nature.

First Impressions

As you know, I was not initially bowled over by the box or the themeing, however I can appreciate good artwork when I see it and the artwork has been done really well. However, once the box was opened, I was overwhelmed... by beige! This really wasn't getting me excited to try the game out, however, Alex was excited, so I was willing to give it a try...

Game Play Overview

Each player acts as a royal cartographer tasked with mapping out the Western Lands. The game is played over 4 seaspns (rounds), with each round scoring 2 of the Queen's edicts. Each season is made up of multiple turns and will end when enough exploration cards have been drawn to meet the total of the season (i.e. if the season has a value of 8, you'll draw cards until the value on the cards is equal to or exceeds 8.) After each card is revealed, players will draw one of the available shapes in one of the available terrain types onto their map. When adding terrain onto a map, the shape can be flipped or rotated in any direction, however cannot overlap a mountain, another terrain or the edge of the map. You can earn coins by filling in each of the four orthagonally adjacent spaces surrounding a mountain and through some of the card effects. These are worth bonus points at the end of each season. In the explore deck, you may also come across a hero or a monster. These are added following the same rules as lands, with the monsters having one core placement difference... the player to your left will choose where it is placed on your map! Hero's can destroy monsters but will each have a their own attack pattern so you'll need to plan your placement of hero's wisely.

Once a season comes to an end, you will score the 2 Queens Edicts for the round as shown on the cards and your map. Then you will gain reputation for each coin you have earned before losing reputation for each empty space surrounding monsters. You'll then total up your score for the season and start the next one. Once all 4 seasons have been resolved, you'll add up your total scores from all 4 seasons and the player with the highest total score is the winner.

Cartographers Heroes board game player sheets

Pros and Cons

This game was so much more fun and exciting than I expected from the theme and the components, clarifying yet again, that you shouldn't judge a game by it's theme before you've played it! It's relatively easy to learn and I can see it being easy to teach. The game even includes 4 pencils to get you started. There was lots of puzzle elements to the game as you're not only trying to ensure you're drawing shapes and terrain to meet the current rounds edicts, but also setting yourself up for future rounds. Each terrain type has it's own unique symbol (explained in detail in the rulebook if you want clarification at any point) which made it really easy to identify which terrain was which when it came to scoring and also makes the game suitable for anyone who is colourblind. I enjoyed the way that you passed your map to an opponent to draw the monster on as this made it unexpected as to where the monsters would pop up.

Final Verdict

Overall, I loved this game and I'm kicking myself for leaving it so long before playing it! It's a great flip and write which can be played almost anywhere with more of a fantasy theme than I was expecting. A game that I am really looking forward to playing again and sharing with more people.

In conclusion, we would rate this game a 9/10

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