I think the reason I love roll-and-writes or flip-and-fills so much is because the gameplay is simultaneous. You do not have to wait on each player to take a turn and everyone is engaged at the same time.
Theme and What is it?
In Cartographers, players complete to earn the most reputation starts by the time four seasons have passed. Each season, players draw on their map sheets and earn reputation by carrying out the queen’s edicts before the season is over. The player will the most reputation stars at the end of winter wins!
Cartographers to me is “roll-and-writish” but I guess the correct term would be more “flip and fill”. It reminds me more of Welcome To than other roll-and-writes.
The game plays over four seasons (rounds). There are four edicts with scoring cards and each round players are trying to work toward two scoring cards at a time:
Spring: Scoring Cards A and B
Summer: Scoring Cards B and C
Fall: Scoring Cards C and D
Winter: Scoring Cards D and A
You play each season over multiple turns and all turns are simultaneous. There are three phases to a turn:
- Explore Phase – Flip over the top card of the explore deck and place it face up in the play area. New cards will go on top of the previous played card. These cards will have a terrain type (sometimes more than one). And they also have chosen shapes on them.
- Draw Phase – Players now choose a terrain type on the card and one shape. Then they draw that shape on their map.
Check Phase – Check to see if you have reached the end of the season.When you reach the end of a season, players now check the scoring cards and score reputation.
These are just the basic rules. There are several other things that can come into play. There are ambushes from monsters and ruins cards that effect gameplay in several ways.
I had done no research on the game prior to receiving it for review. I knew it was popular, and it was made by Thunderworks Games that published Roll Player, which I have still not played and would love to.
When opening the box, and seeing pencils and maps, I was excited. I love roll-and-writes so I was super excited to play.
Game Build Quality
The game components include double-sided paper maps, pencils and cards.
Everything is top quality.
My review copy came with a very nice neoprene mat to play on. I recommend trying to get one of these if you buy the game or already own it.
There is artwork on the season, explore and ambush cards mostly. It has a fantasy look and is nicely done. The maps themselves are mostly a grid which is all that is really needed. It is up to the player to draw the terrain artwork on their map.
We enjoyed this game a lot. One player misunderstood some things in the beginning so his map started off rough but I believe by the end of the game, he was enjoying himself. Everyone wanted to play it again.
The ambushes are a lot of fun and to me add a different quirk from other games in this genre. When an ambush occurs, players pass their map to another player, and that player draws where monsters are on the map.
Age Range & Weight
The game probably appears a little more difficult than it is. The rules are straightforward and we could dive right in. The publisher’s age suggestion is 10+ and this is accurate.
I think the reason I love roll-and-writes or flip-and-fills so much is because the gameplay is simultaneous. You do not have to wait on each player to take a turn and everyone is engaged at the same time. I have not played one that I didn’t like. They all had their own unique twist to the genre.
Cartographers didn’t fail in this at all. It was engaging right from the beginning. I am very thankful that I now have this game in my collection and it will be high in the collection.
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