Finding the Fun in Mapmaking with Cartographers Heroes
Scout out areas and create a map while monsters roam the land and heroes battle in Cartographers Heroes.
Interestingly, the realms of flip-and-write and roll-and-write games are some of my least explored. My drawing skills are nothing to write home about, yet my handwriting looks like print… Which requires a bit of extra time! Still, I was interested in trying out Cartographers Heroes to see what my maps might look like. Off to draw and color a little bit!
For those familair with the original Cartographers, this one adds new monsters and entirely new cards with heroes. The map takes shape in a similar way, yet spaces can now be entirely crossed out with the help of these heroes. Farewell monsters… And hello new rewards!
July 18, 2022
July 18, 2022
24" x 18"
Places to Uncover
All of the artwork always helps bring these sorts of games to life… Especially when the person playing isn’t an artist! Case in point would be me right over here. Ha ha!
Essentially, each explore card features some sort of choice with the type of terrain and shape. Some options reward coins, too. And never forget the time in each season.
Some cards might be repeated across seasons, yet it’s never clear how many or which ones will appear.
Besides, any game that features seasons somehow gains a few points with me. Why? It’s just a thing, I guess. Ha!
A Blank Canvas
The game itself includes double-sided maps with a few options, while map packs add even more variety. I still stuck with the standard map to begin with!
Color pencils are a common tool of the trade, although there’s a lot that can be done with any other medium. I actually might have some other ideas for the future.
This was the beginning. Edicts were laid out and despite knowing the basics, I wasn’t sure about the heroes.
A sense of unknown within a familiar rule set can be a lot of fun, and I was eager to explore the surrounding lands!
Planning Each Edict
Besides the fun in making decisions and drawing a map, figuring out how to make the most of each edict is quite the puzzle. After all, each one is only scored twice.
So after the first couple of seasons, working on the B edict would be pointless… Literally! Naturally, I forgot this important caveat at the start. But I recovered!
These are all random, although there will always be unique ones of certain types. Some can even synergize!
Of course, there are also varying degrees of difficulty. The explore cards make a huge difference. Lots of possibilities!
Of Amateur Mapmakers
Despite a few strategic mistakes of my own doing, I didn’t do too terribly! Well, ignore that debacle in spring and summer. I was busy exploring. Points… What points?!
Let’s also take a moment to admire my fine art skills. Breathtaking, I know. Although I will say that even for those of us with limited talents, the maps still look nice!
For the solo mode, the sum of the edict cards provides a baseline score to compare against. I was… The amateur.
Still, not in the lowest scoring tier! I had a few ideas of what to do. And just look at those fancy trees!
An Important Lesson: Do Well, Not Perfectly
Throughout my time with solo board games and solo RPGs, a subtle but important lesson has often come up. It isn’t about playing perfectly, but having fun and trying to do well. The same holds true with art: I even have a few solo RPG journals in motion, complete with drawings. I can’t draw. But that doesn’t stop me from finding the fun in it!
This also goes back to the days when I actually attempted coloring with fancy color pencils in gorgeous coloring books. I still have them, and I’ll dabble from time to time. But the worst thing I did was trying to compare my work to what was out there. Once again, it applies here: There are stunning final maps out there from truly talented individuals.
I’m not one of them, and no longer do I go down the comparison path. I prefer to laugh, or even make up silly stories to explain my attempts. Why are my monster spaces partially colored? Well, you should SEE the terrain out there. All stained with purple monster ooze. Even the heroes can’t fix that disaster, although they’re trying! Ha ha!
That’s not to say that tutorials or informational videos aren’t helpful: I’m sure I could learn a little bit more. My solo game time is supposed to be generally fun and entertaining, though, so if my maps are atrocious, so be it! And in the worst case, take a closer look at my map above to find a signature hidden element. Definitely had my share of fun!
The heroes were a mixed experience for me. They provided ways to destroy monsters or other surrounding squares, which was quite helpful for some of the edicts.
Yet I felt like they introduced extra rules questions. Call me silly, but even my amateur maps looked a little off with destroyed squares. Not my favorite drawing aspect.
I also ran into issues when multiples appeared in some of the later seasons. I didn’t need all that destruction!
At the same time, I liked how different they were. This wasn’t just the same base game with a new skin.
Remapping the Area
In my usual fashion, I reshuffled and reset to head off to explore another map. Monsters thwarted many of my efforts, but I ended up with a higher score!
My seasonal scoring turned out to be a lot more uniform, and had I drawn the explore cards I wanted during winter, there would have been a lot more to admire.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. I still moved up into the next scoring tier to earn the coveted apprentice title. Good enough!
There are plenty of ways I might improve, although this was still a very fun experience. Heroes galore!
Play Number: 1 and 2
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Map C
Outcome: -4 and 4 (1 Win and 1 Loss)
The monsters didn’t make it that easy, especially when they snuck into the only perfect space! I thwarted a couple of them with the help of the heroes, but they were not to be trifled with. These monsters seemed more interesting than those included with the original, though, especially with their various effects. I’ll have to come back for the Dragon Inferno someday: No luck with those coins yet!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- With a lot of unpredictability in the seasons, there is a lot of variety between plays with just a handful of cards.
- After a couple of plays, the complete set of rules is very straightforward and easy to memorize.
- There are several strategies to work towards to maximize victory points, and no path is ever obvious.
- It’s easy to be artistic or choose a simpler drawing pattern with the maps, which turn out nicely each time.
- High scores are difficult to attain and require a lot of practice to master the best choices throughout a full play.
- Heroes and monsters add random elements that might help or hinder the current efforts to meet edicts.
– Cons (Negatives)
- The heroes can be a little bit of a hit or miss, and the destroyed spaces don’t necessarily look nice on the map.
- Some of the edicts are harder to attain and require checking the card a few times to understand the requirements.
- Although the official color pencils are awesome, the green is just a touch too light to seem like forest terrain.
- With only 4 monsters and 4 heroes, there isn’t any variety in the total number that will be used with each play.
Score 1+ Point
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
Earn the Amateur Assessor title.
Earn the Apprentice Surveyor title.
Win at least 1 game with map C.
Continue the Conversation
What are your thoughts about Cartographers Heroes? Do you like the different rules and heroes compared with the original game? I hope to create some more interesting maps in the future, although they might never be masterpieces. Just need to keep track of what’s out there. This is a very enjoyable game system that I plan to keep exploring more!