Well folks, we’re here again. Welcome back, or just welcome if it’s your first time here. It’s time once again to talk about Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale by Thunderworks Games. Today, we’re diving into the sixth and last of the currently released map pack: Hornhelm – Wasteland Market. Deep in the barron wastes lies the famed Saurian market at Hornhelm. On display are fine fabrics, aromatic spices, and a variety of impressively crafted goods. What catches your eye is something which you think will help you complete your task faster and more efficiently. But is it worth it? Let’s take a look at our options.
Gameplay is exactly the same as the base game, so if you want to see how that works, check out the review. Flip over a card, draw a shape, score points. Where Hornhelm differs is you now have three opportunities to spend your hard-earned coins at the market. At the end of the season, and after scoring, you will flip over one of the six merchant cards. These cards shows a line which relates to the market side of your player sheet. Oh yeah, there’s two sheets this time around. Unlike in other map packs, you only have a single map, but you do have a map sheet and a market sheet.
Anyway, the revelation of the merchant shows three of the wares available for you to buy. You can cross out your gained coins to buy one of the goods, and have the on-going ability associated with it. These abilities give you points through another track called the “Journal” track. As you gain these Journal points, you can score up to 55 extra points at the end of the game, which is a huge swing in your favour. Especially if you choose more wisely than your opponents.
Cartographers is a top 20 game for me. I played a lot of Cartographers over the last few years and I hugely appreciate the inclusion of these extra map packs to give some additional variety. Hornhelm adds even more to that variety and adds in a way to spend the coins you’ve been mining for years. I’ve wanted to spend these coins on something useful ever since I first drew a map, and aside from the Skills micro-expansion, there isn’t much opportunity to do this. The items from the Market are interesting and give a great opportunity to gain a huge amount of points. For context, my average score on Cartographers is around 80. During my playthroughs with this expansion, I scored over 130. So if you like a high scoring game, this expansion is for you.
I do have an issue with the double sheet usage though. Although there are 150 sheets in the pack, you’d use them just as frequently as the other packs, which seems a little wasteful. At least they’re double sided, so you can play on the other side if you want to. I’m also a little sad that there’s only one map in this pack. However, I think it is possible to use the Market side with any of the other maps sides. You just have to remember to trigger the market phase each round.
Overall, I’m a big fan of Cartographers and I like what this expansion does. The spending of coins feels very thematic for the scenario you’re in, and the diverse cast of characters that pop up reflects the Roll Player world we find ourselves in. I do want to try the Market sheet with other maps though, I think that is the big thing that this expansion brings to the world, and I hope to see more market options in the future.