I got way too used to having Friday off and using that day for some rules revision. The last two Fridays, I have been making my way through the rules for Welcome to the Moon. This week, Friday was a hectic and long work day, and I didn’t feel like tackling the last complicated Adventure.
So looking at my shelves of shame (yes, plural, and more shelves than I am comfy with), I picked a new solo adventure. After I don’t know how long, it was finally time to tackle Cartographers Heroes!
I backed Cartographers Heroes Kickstarter years ago. I hadn’t even gotten around to opening it until this week! I played the original Cartographers with Alpal and enjoyed it. Backing Cartogprahers Heroes, the follow-up game, I thought I would be set. It turns out Heroes doesn’t come with one type of card – Ruins. This made the rules a little confusing for a minute!
Cartographers Heroes is essentially a tile placement puzzle. You play for four seasons, and score once per season for a random set of scoring criteria. Generally, you can place shapes of various terrain types where you wish. Monsters can be placed by opponents in multiplayer to throw your plans.
In the base Cartographers, if you flip a Ruins card, you must place the next terrain on a Ruins square on your map. These cards don’t exist in Cartographers Heroes, but the ruins are on the map. So confusion reigned for a couple of rule reads! If you combine the original and Heroes though, it gives you a lot of flexibility, so I do like the inclusion on the maps.
Once that got settled in my mind, I had to have a couple of test games. The maps with Cartographers Heroes have two different sides. The ‘harder’ side has fewer places to lay terrain than the other. This adds complexity to placing terrains, but each map plays the same way.
Monsters work differently in solo mode, but the titular Heroes give you a way to destroy monsters. In the original game, you had to surround monster squares to contain them. In Cartographers Heroes, you can place a single squared Hero with a unique attack pattern. Any monsters caught in this pattern are then destroyed.
Playing solo was also a lot of fun. Most of the rules are the same as multiplayer, but you don’t have opponents to place Monsters for you. Automata rules for Monster placement are simple in Cartographers Heroes and work well. There is also a difference in scoring.
In a normal game, you add up the scores of all the players, and highest scores win. Straightforward. In Solo Cartographers Heroes, you add up your score as normal. Then you subtract the scores shown on the objective cards from your total, giving you your final score. You then compare this score to a ranking at the end of the manual, granting you a title based on your performance.
Most solo games have you competing against your previous score. Because the Cartographers Heroes scoring objectives are random, this is a good way to compare performance. It does take a game to get your head around the scoring, but for me, that’s because I was looking for the catch.
And like most rules in Cartographers Heroes, there isn’t one. Some interactions seem complex, and there are steps that seem daunting to new players. But each rule is simple on its own, and it only takes a game to see how the order and interactions work.
So like Welcome to the Moon, be on the lookout for videos of Cartographers Heroes gameplay. And you can even play along and compare your score!