Cartographers - quick, thinky and with endless variation
Designer: Jordy Adan
Publisher: Thunderworks Games, Intrafin
Player count: 1-100
Set-up time: 2-3 minutes
Play length: ± 20 minutes
Win condition: beat your own score with scoring table
how the solo game works
Cartographers comes with a small addition at the bottom right of every goal card: the brutal taking away of gained points at the end of the game. Where in multiplayer sheets are passed to the left or right to pencel in the monster on the ambush card, in solo you'll look at the symbols on the ambush card to see where it'll go on your sheet.
Solo play is explained at the back of the rule book, but changes are minimal so there's not a lot of back-and-forth within the rulebook.
missing in solo
The only thing lost in Cartographers is the teasing element of putting your monsters as unlucky as possible on your neighbour's score sheet. In solo this is replaced by a placement symbol (starting corner and direction), so you might very well luck out and get a monster exactly where you needed it.
This is a beat your own score, but the game comes with a scoring table where you can do as bad as minus 30 points. For instance, at minus 20 you're awarded the title of Dimwitted Doodler, which has real loser appeal, but I've never managed to do that bad.
I genuinely love this system. It makes the beat your own score more tense, you can clearly note a loss in your BG Stats app when you've passed the x-axis on your way down.
Gameplay is smooth, and replayability is high due to 256 possible set-ups with the score cards (this is taking into account the 16 different score cards but is leaving variations in order out of the equation. Strictly speaking, I guess it would be 1,024 different variations). The puzzly aspect keeps me entertained and there's hardly any upkeep during the game.
I'll get back to you on this one when I'll review Cartographers Heroes, but with base game Cartographers there's just nothing wrong.
When playing multiple games in a row I sometimes choose to select the scoring cards rather than do a blind draw, to avoid playing the same card twice or, when I feel like it, practice the same set again after an epic fail.
Go play this game. It's quick to set up, easy to manage, replayability is high, there's a fantastic playmat available if you want to up your game, and if the set-up time of 2 minutes is too much you can always get the app instead. Also a great solution if you don't want to invest too much money, but be aware that you won't be able to select scoring cards – those are changed weekly by the app.