How To Play: Cartographers – Setup, rule summary and strategy

In this guide, we explored how to master Cartographers by focusing on strategic monster management, making wise terrain choices, and leveraging season card strategies. By balancing these elements and planning ahead, you can maximize your points and outmaneuver your opponents in this addictive map-drawing game.

Hey folks! Jamie here with your go-to guide for mastering the art of map-making in Cartographers. This isn’t just any guide; we’re talking a deep dive into the rules, and I’m spilling all my top strategies for clinching that win. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a newbie charting your first course, this guide has got you covered. So, grab your pencils, and let’s sketch our way to victory!


What’s in the box

  • 100 Map Sheets
  • 13 Scoring Cards
  • 4 Season Cards
  • 40 Explore Cards
  • 4 Pencils
  • 1 Ambush Card
  • 4 Summary Cards

How To Play Cartographers: Rules Summary


  1. Give each player a map sheet.
  2. Shuffle the exploration cards and place them in a deck.
  3. Sort the scoring cards by letter and reveal one of each type, placing them in view.
  4. Reveal the first season card to show the game’s timeline.


  1. Draw the top card from the exploration deck and announce it.
  2. Each player draws the corresponding terrain type on their map, following any special rules on the card.
  3. Pass the deck to the next player (in games with more than 1 player).
  4. Continue drawing and passing until the season’s end is triggered.


  1. Score points based on the scoring cards at the end of each season.
  2. Add your points from all seasons.
  3. The player with the most points at the end of the year wins.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. If you draw a monster card, other players decide where the monsters invade your map.
  2. Empty spaces adjacent to monsters at the end of the season score negative points.
  3. Certain cards allow for special actions, such as destroying a previously drawn terrain square.

With these rules in mind, players can embark on their journey to become master cartographers, strategically plotting their paths to victory while navigating the whims of terrain and monsters alike. Always remember, the key is not just filling your map, but planning and adapting to outscore your opponents.

Best Cartographers Strategies

Mastering Monster Chaos: A Key to Victory

Monsters in Cartographers can wreak havoc, but clever players turn them into gold mines. Here’s how:

Encircle Your Enemies

  1. Immediately surround monsters with your tiles. It limits their negative impact and, in some cases, scores you points.

Strategic Sacrifice

  1. Choose a corner or a side of the board for monster placement. Keep the damage contained and manageable.

Use Them as Fillers

  1. Plan your layout to use monsters as ‘filler’ around mandatory scoring areas. It’s a two-birds-one-stone approach.

Unlocking Victory: Terrain Management Mastery

Winning Cartographers isn’t just about drawing; it’s about making smart decisions with every tile. Here’s how:

1. Balance Is Key

  1. Always aim for a variety of terrain types. Diversifying your board activates more scoring opportunities.

2. Plan for the Future

  1. Think ahead! Don’t just place terrain for the current round. Consider how it can serve multiple scoring cards over the game.

3. React, Adapt, Overcome

  1. Be flexible. Sometimes the plans change based on what tiles come up. Adjust your strategy to maximize points.

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Season Cards in Cartographers

Season cards are your roadmap to victory in Cartographers. By strategizing around these cards, you can outsmart your opponents and win. Here’s how:

Understand Each Season’s Goals

  1. First, deeply understand the scoring objectives for each season. This knowledge lets you plan your moves with precision.
  2. Next, adapt your strategy as new season cards are revealed. Flexibility is key.

Optimize Your Early Game

  1. Early on, focus on laying a solid foundation that aligns with the first season’s goals. This sets you up for success.

Plan for the Endgame

  1. Always keep the final season’s objectives in mind. Sometimes, it’s worth sacrificing early points for a massive score later.
  2. Finally, watch for opportunities to block your opponents’ strategies, especially in the later seasons. Counter-play can be just as important as your own scoring.

## Master Cartographers Like a Pro
In wrapping up this strategy guide, remember that Cartographers is not just about drawing maps—it’s an art of strategic planning and adaptability. Mastering the game means balancing your approach to monster management, making wise choices with your terrain, and being cunning with your season card strategies. It’s all about foresight, flexibility, and a bit of fun rivalry with your fellow map-makers. So, grab your pencils, rally your friends, and put these strategies to the test. Who knows? You might just become the next legendary cartographer!

Want to know what we think of Cartographers? Read our detailed review of Cartographers here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.