The Queen is looking for a few excellent cartographers to aid her over the next 4 seasons in reclaiming the northern lands. After all, we can't do it without a first-rate map. Her decrees will guide you as you map out the land, and you can increase your reputation by meeting her demands. Please, be careful though. There are many monsters out there just waiting to ambush you while on your quest. If you can map the lands most coveted by the Queen, she shall declare you the Kingdom's greatest cartographer of all time! Good luck, and may the best mapmaker be victorious.
What Is It?
A flip and write game where players map out different terrain types in order to score the most points according the 4 different goal restrictions. They will score 2 goals per season, and which ones are scored rotate over the 4 seasons so some need to be worked on quickly while others have more time to be worked on and thus players can try to score higher on them. Players will also collect gold along the way to further increase their reputation season to season.
Players beware! If an ambush card shows up, players will need to pass their boards around the table to opponents who will do their best to make sure the monsters have plenty of open space around them. If the adjacent spaces aren't filled in quickly, players will lose points for every surrounding empty square.
After 4 seasons, the cartographer with the highest reputation wins!
Who Is It For?
I think that fans of the roll/flip/do and write genre will easily fall in love with this one (I sure did!) It's another great one of the type, but still finds its own ways to be unique and stand out.
The game itself says ages 10+ which is probably mostly accurate, as it is not hard to pick up. However, because it does have that minor player interact/element of "take that," since opponents draw your monsters, I would say 13+ might be better, unless of course your younger players don't mind that interaction!
The drawing is all simultaneous so you can technically play with however many people you'd like, but I like it at a max of 4 players myself, to cut down on how many people are thinking about where to draw their terrains. I also highly recommend it to you solo gamers out there! Solo mode is really fun and challenging, so if you like gaming on your own, check this out.
Contents + Quality
Cards - Nice quality cards, nice finish on them. All the icons are very clear, so it helps the game to play smoothly. Simple, but appealing art on them.
Player Sheets - Nice quality. You can write decently hard on them without it showing through. Everything printed on both sides is pretty clear, though the bottom boxes for scoring are a bit small. I also like that they are double sided with 2 different maps for a little more variability.
Pencils - They are pretty average mini pencils. I personally don't use them because the game is improved a lot by using colored writing utensils.
Rules - Well written with nice images and examples to guide you through!
Box - Pretty perfectly sized for what's in it, and nice art!
Variants + Expansions
Solo - Solo plays similarly to the normal game, but you subtract the numbers on the corners of the goal cards from your score to get your final score and earn a title from the Queen. It is actually way harder than it seems, and you may score negative points your first few times! (No? Just me? Okay then...). It presents a different kind of challenge than the regular game, and is worth trying out.
Skills Mini Expansion - This is a small pack of cards that can add a little variety to the game. Players lay out 3 at the beginning of the game, and they can use 1 card once per season if they so choose by spending the gold cost at the top of the card. It gives players a reason to use their gold, for a cool ability, but also presents a balancing dilemma for players, choosing whether to score or spend the gold. Definitely worth a try once you're familiar with the basic game. (*Note, this is sold separately)
Okay, so the fact that this came in #6 on my Top 100 list at the end of last year was probably a bit of a spoiler that I really like this game! I think that it does some unique things with the different types of things you're filling your board in with, and the monsters can really enhance the experience, even though they do add a bit of stress!
I highly recommend this if you're already a fan of flip and write type games, because it really feels like it puts you into the role of a mapmaker! And I can not recommend picking up colored writing utensils enough because I promise you'll love the game even more when you see how bright the board can become. If you get the chance, definitely give this game a go!
My Final Ratings:
Overall Game: 9/10
Designer - Jordy Adan
Artists - Luis Francisco, Lucas Ribeiro
Publisher - Thunderworks Games
Game MSRP - $24.95
Mini Expansion MSRP - $7.00
Playmat MSRP - $20.00
*I was provided a copy of this game and mini expansion to do this review; playmat was purchased separately*
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