Brad and I always make it a point to play every game on the shelf. Cartographers is one of the newest games, a Gen Con Introduction. I personally love the idea of being a cartographer, being a map lover and all, but this isn’t simply a game of who can draw the best map, although it’s kind of like that.
Cartographers is a “roll and write” game, with no rolling, it is admittingly a little weird to call it that as it has no dice. It uses cards instead, eliminating some of the chance that a roll will bring. But before we move on let’s talk about what a roll and write is exactly.
Roll and writes are all the rage nowadays. Basically you roll the dice and it will tell you what to draw on your piece of paper, thus the write portion. Where and how you fit it all into your grid like sheet will determine your points. In Cartographers you don’t roll, there are four seasons and you are competing for the Queen’s favour for who can draw the best map or something. Each season contains a card that tells you what you get points for, the shape you should draw, and there is another stack of cards that tell whether to draw villages, forests, lakes or monsters, monsters are bad. It’s better than it sounds.
We played this game for the first time with our friends, Jeff Childs. Jeff is a long time gamer, and his approval means a lot when it comes to games. He liked it, that means something, he doesn’t like Terraforming Mars though so I don’t know what’s up with that exactly. Cartographers is a game with very little overall mechanics but requires a lot of spatial thinking and contemplation. It’s overall pretty relaxing, and you may not realize how quiet everyone is being at the table while drawing away. You may catch a frustrated look or two across the table but everyone overall looks kind of serene. It’s hard to explain although it’s technically competitive it’s really not, because there isn’t a lot of interaction between players and everyone is trying to fit things onto their map in the optimal way possible.
I like this game. We like this game. We think you should try this game. Come and into Mana Pool and ask us about it, it might be for you. We also have new menus, so come try that as well. This game goes well with some food and a drink, maybe a tea for the cold weather.