“Mapmaker, Mapmaker find me a find, map me a map”
Ok. That’s not how the song goes, but it sounds good! This summer I was able to attend GenCon virtually. It was a different experience, but I enjoyed it: no crowds, no traffic, no insane heat outside when finding something to eat. One of the things I was able to do was play games online with the representatives from the publisher. There are different ways to go about that, the common was either through Tabletop Simulator or through Tabletopia.
One of the games I tried, and consequentially was hooked on, was Cartographers by Thunderworks Games. Essentially, you are exploring uncharted territory for the, and your job is to map out what you find. You have an entire year (or four seasons) to do this. (Or, if you live in Ohio and it’s October, you have a day, maybe two. :)) Each season is divided up by exploring, drawing and check phases. The exploring and drawing happen simultaneously, and the check phases allows you to know when the season is over. Each explore card tells the terrain you’ve discovered, the shape you will draw (sometimes you have an option), and the length of time in the season it is. After you have marked the shape, you check to see if you still have time left in the season or not. If you do, you draw another explore card. If you don’t, the season has ended and the score is figured out, by using the scoring cards. The scoring cards tell how many reputation stars you earn for specific objectives. It’s always a good thing to be familiar with these prior to beginning the explore phase of a season. This way you can plan and hopefully receive more reputation stars.
There are a few things that can throw a wrench in your game, an ambush or a ruin. Ambushes are monsters that are drawn on your board where specified, and ruins are preprinted on the map and whatever card follows must be placed on a ruin. You can earn extra points by collecting coins each season, depending on the explore events and if you chose to draw the shape with the coins or the other one.
I was hooked on this game immediately. It reminds me of Tetris, but with specific goals and rules. I was really excited when I found out that Thunderworks had just released an app to play the game, and as of today, October 6, there is a sequel entitled Heroes on Kickstarter!
Heroes can be played alone or in addition to the original game. In addition to new map sheets and new scoring cards, there are also new monsters with specific abilities and hero cards to fight against the monsters. There are also skill cards that allow you to break the rules once per season, provided you have the coins to spend on it.
The Kickstarter also offers additional map packs, should you select that option. I have one of the maps, Nebblis: plane of Flame. It adds in the element of a volcano on the map. The other two map packs, Affril: Plane of Knowledge and Undercity: Depths of Sabek, are also included, but I didn’t get to preview them.
Heroes is a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to teaching it to Truck and Halo42, as well as many of our friends. It’s a great game that can be played distantly too, something that we have been paying a lot of attention to lately. As long as one of the people has the game, others can print the sheets (currently to just Cartographers) and play along at their home. The only thing I had a slight issue with was the text at the bottom of the scoring cards. It was not very bold and was somewhat difficult to read (even with my bifocals). You can see what the cards do say in the rules booklet that comes in the game. Overall, the game is awesome, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Special thanks to Thunderworks Games for the preview copy of Heroes and for some of the images used.