11th May 2021 (Online)

There was the usual chit-chat and community update, but eventually everyone was ready to start playing the “Feature Game” which was the Neue Entdeckungen (New Discoveries) expansion to Cartographers.  Cartographers is a “Roll and Write” game we’ve played and enjoyed quite a bit over the last year. The base game is simple enough, but unlike a lot of the games we’ve played, has more of a “gamery” feel to it than some of the simpler Tetrissy games it is related to like Second Chance or Patchwork Doodle.  The thing these games all have in common is that players are given shapes to draw on a personal player grid.  What makes Cartographers different is the addition of goal cards which give points at the end of each round, in a similar style to another game we have enjoyed playing, Isle of Skye.

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
– Adapted from image by BGG contributor
Johnny Dangerously

Each cards depicts a shape and terrain, giving some element of choice in either terrain type or shape.  The game is played over four rounds, each consisting of several cards.  At the end of each round two of the four goal cards are scored, such that each is scored twice during the game.  This time, the four goal cards were Stoneside Forest (A), Shoreside Expanse (B), Wildholds (C), and The Broken Road (D).  At the end of the first round the first two of these, Stoneside Forest and Shoreside Expanse were scored.  Stoneside Forest gives points for connecting the mountain spaces that are preprinted on the map.  Shoreside Expanse on the other hand rewards players for each area of lake or arable not adjacent to arable or lake (respectively) or the edge of the map.

Der Kartograph: Neue Entdeckungen
– Image by boardGOATS

Stoneside Forest was made more challenging by the fact we were playing with the Neue Entdeckungen (New Discoveries) expansion which adds new ambush cards (from the Ambush Mini Expansion) and a new map with wastelands.  Wastelands are areas that are preprinted on the maps that players are unable to use, but are considered already filled.  There is an alternate map in the base game with a large area of wasteland which we played with last time, but the Neue Entdeckungen expansion map has several smaller areas of wasteland adding a different set of challenges.  we’ve played with both Shoreside Expanse and Stoneside Forest before, so for the first round, we all knew what we were trying to do.

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
– Image by boardGOATS

Wildholds and The Broken Road were new to us though.  The Wildholds gives eight points for for each village area occupying six or more spaces.  Eight points is a lot, and if an area is complete in time for the first scoring phase, it will also score the second time making it very lucrative.  With this in mind, Ivory started planning for Wildholds early in the first round, while others concentrated on first round goals first. The final goal, The Broken Road, rewards players with three points for every complete diagonal that connects the left hand edge of their map with the bottom edge.  With eleven possible diagonals, everyone was of the impression that The Broken Road would be easy to score a lot of points with, but it turned out to be more difficult than most people expected.

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
– Image by boardGOATS

In fact, most people left it to the end assuming it would take care of itself, only to discover that it didn’t really.  That said, unusually, the arrival of the Ogeroffensive Ambush card actually did most people a favour.  This is unusual, as Ambush cards give players negative points for any unfilled spaces adjacent to their goblin spaces at the end of the round.  We play the cards using the solo rules where players place them in a given corner and, if that is already filled, slide it one space in a given direction following the edge of the map.  They continue spiralling in to the centre until they find an empty space.

Der Kartograph: Neue Entdeckungen
– Image by boardGOATS

Because the Ogeroffensive arrived as the first card in the round and starts in the bottom left corner, for many people it actually gave them twelve points (filling two diagonals and scoring for two rounds).  Arriving so early in the round, most of those who were able to benefit from it, didn’t even score many negative points as there was plenty of time to fill any empty spaces.  All three of the ambush cards we introduced came out early in the rounds which meant they added a more strategic obstacle rather than throwing an unexpected spanner in the works as they do when they come out at the end of the round.

Der Kartograph: Neue Entdeckungen
– Image by boardGOATS

The rounds get shorter as the game progresses and it wasn’t long before it was the final round and everyone was looking to maximise their final scores.  From the in-game table chatter, it was clear that Ivory and Burgundy were going to be difficult to beat and, as is so often the case, so it proved.  This time, Burgundy had the edge over Ivory and took victory by four points.  The battle for the final place on the podium was fierce too, but Black ultimately took that from Blue by just two points.  Regardless of where they ended up though, everyone had enjoyed it.  From there, we moved on to another “Roll and Write” game that we’ve played quite a bit over the last year, Railroad Ink.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

This is a fairly straight-forward game where dice are rolled and players have to write the road and rail segments on their maps.  The base game is played over seven rounds with four white dice rolled in each round.  In this game, all the dice have to be used, but players also get three chances to play special “cross-roads dice” during the game.  At the end of the game, players score for their longest rail segment, their longest road section, the spaces they have succeeded in filling in the centre of the board and the number of entrances they have managed to connect together.

Railroad Ink on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, however, we decided to play it online through Board Game Arena rather than engaging our inner artist and playing on paper.  There were advantages and disadvantages to playing the game online and people had mixed feelings about it.  It was certainly easier to correct errors, but somehow it lost… something…  It was another highly enjoyable game though and the results were also close at the top.  With Ivory taking an early night, the challengers to Burgundy’s crown were Green and Blue.  Despite their best efforts, Burgundy’s crown was too firmly wedged, and he finished four points ahead of Blue and five ahead of Green.  Although Cartographers had taken longer than many of the games we play, and time was marching on, there was still enough for one last game.  And this time, with just six, we relatively quickly (for us) settled on For Sale after a quick Vevox vote.

For Sale
– Image by boardGOATS

For Sale is an older game that has had a bit of a resurgence recently for us.  The idea is that the game comes in two phases:  firstly, players use their starting $14,000 to buy properties at auction, then they use these properties to “bid” for cheques in the second phase.  The winner is the player with the highest total in cheques and left over starting currency.  It is such a quick game to play that this time we played it twice.   The first time through, Pink paid $8,000 for the space station while Purple picked up the cardboard box for free.  But then, Pink sold his space station for $15,000 and Purple ended up parting with her box without return.

For Sale on Board Game Arena
– Image by boardGOATS from boardgamearena.com

That is only part of the story of course, but important to most people was that Burgundy didn’t take his third win in succession.  In the end, everyone (except Burgundy) was content as they got that part of their wish as Black topped the podium edging in front of Blue, though Burgundy was just a couple of thousand behind.  You can’t keep a good gamer down for long though and Burgundy saw the second game as his chance for revenge.  In the event, the same three were on the podium, but with Black and Burgundy swapping places.  This time it wasn’t close at all either, with Burgundy finishing $9,000 ahead of his nearest challenger.  And that was that for another week.

For Sale
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Sites of Insectoid Invasions should be shown on every map.