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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Exploring a new and less well-known period of history
  • Beautiful art that brings the story to life
  • Simple set-up and tear-down. Learn-to-play right out of the box
  • Multiple playthroughs required to find every ending

Might Not Like

  • Once you’ve found all the endings, there’s little reason to play again
  • Multiplayer rules are essentially solo rules but with a group making decisions together
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Cartaventura Vinland Review

cartaventura vinland

Cartaventura is a collection of immersive historical adventures in pocket-sized boxes. Each game takes the players back in time to a lesser-known period of history to follow in the footsteps of great explorers, fierce warriors and noble leaders. With its simple card-driven mechanics and beautiful artwork, these games offer a lot of value, but how do they measure up to larger narrative driven games, and what’s the limit on their replayability?

Vinland is the first of the Cartaventura series and sees you taking on the role of Leif Erikson, the Viking who discovered Greenland, as he tries to navigate deadly Viking politics and the emergence of Christianity.

Dive Right In

Cartaventura teaches you as you play. There’s no set-up or rulebook. Right out of the box, you take the pre-organised deck of cards and start reading. The first card offers a tutorial experience which will instruct you on how to use the cards to unfold the narrative.

Throughout the game, you will work your way through the deck of cards, making decisions based on visual clues and text immersing you in the story. Each card you reveal will direct you to new cards. Some are placed on the table as part of a map, some are items you can save for later, and others present an immediate event to overcome. While you’ll never see every card in a single playthrough, this means you can discover new content with repeat plays.

The instructions and icons are generally clear, though I found myself making a few mistakes in my early games, flipping cards when I shouldn’t have. Fortunately, each playthrough is short enough that any mistake can be quickly rectified in the next game.

Multiple Endings & New Beginnings

In Vinland, you play as Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red, setting out to prove his father’s innocence. You’ll need to rely on the Old Norse gods to protect you from the machinations of your political rivals, because one false move will mean certain death. Not that death is the end! Cartaventura comes with very simple instructions to reset the game, and sometimes resetting can reveal new choices, making your next playthrough different.

Of course, if you do survive, that’s only the beginning of the story. Things get much more exciting for Leif when he returns home, and there are some great twists I don’t want to spoil that make Cartaventura: Vinland a joy to explore. The game has five different endings (plus the death ending, which you will see multiple times!) and experiencing each one will require you to follow every part of the story. Will you allow Christianity to oust Odin and his pantheon? Will you focus on governing your hometown or set out on a new adventure? And if you do find Vinland, will you manage to settle there or be driven out by the indigenous population? For such a small box, there’s a lot to discover.

A Historical Perspective

Cartaventura has a set number of stories to tell, and while you will have fun getting to each ending, the game is over once you’ve found them all. You aren’t creating your own stories. You’re uncovering history.

The power of Cartaventura is therefore not so much in its replayability as its choice of subject matter. For such a small game, it teaches a lot about a period of history that isn’t normally showcased, and a small booklet included with each game offers more information if you’re interested. It also sprinkles factual history with myths and legends. Managing the favour of the gods is one of the more challenging aspects of Vinland. And there may even be a few Norse monsters to battle.

A quick shout-out also to the quality. The maps, characters and special items are all beautifully presented in watercolour images reminiscent of old travel journals. The text is well written, immersing you in the world and bringing Leif’s adventures to life.

Final Thoughts

Cartaventura succeeds very well within its own limitations. It has an educational feel, sticking to a relatively scripted experience, but it crams a lot of content into its little box. The art is evocative, the text engaging, and the stories are all the more interesting for the fact that they’re based on truth.

But it is still a small game in a small box. It won’t offer the same sprawling, epic narratives as the likes of The 7th Continent (which feels mechanically very similar), and that’s not a bad thing. Cartaventura will keep you entertained for as long as it takes to discover all the endings, and when you’re done, you can pass it on to a friend and try one of the other games in the series.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Exploring a new and less well-known period of history
  • Beautiful art that brings the story to life
  • Simple set-up and tear-down. Learn-to-play right out of the box
  • Multiple playthroughs required to find every ending

Might not like

  • Once youve found all the endings, theres little reason to play again
  • Multiplayer rules are essentially solo rules but with a group making decisions together

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Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

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