|Players:||2 - 4 players|
|Time:||30 - 45 minutes|
Part puzzle, part game. Play as either Land or Sea (or the Cartographer in a 3 player game). Each player plays with 2 double-sided hex tiles containing a mix of land and sea shapes. They take turns placing a tile each to make a map together. Land places tiles trying to complete land areas, and Sea places tiles trying to complete sea areas. Completed areas score a point per tile; land areas for Land, sea areas for Sea. Some tiles score bonus points for whoever completes the area they are in. So players may decide to strategically complete rival’s areas to gain their bonus points. Other tiles allow players to play their second tile, or steal a player’s tile - but not their last one!
Using 2 double-sided tiles (one side always revealed and the other always hidden until played) means there is partial information to plan around, and some surprises too. Players replenish back up to 2 tiles from a choice of 2 face-up tile stacks.
The strategy of the game involves careful tile placement to score from as many land or sea areas as possible, while minimising your rivals’ opportunities to score from the tiles you play. Watch your rivals’ possible plays, and control tempo strategically with Play Again and Steal tiles. Look out for opportunities to score valuable bonus points in your and your rivals’ areas. Carefully select tiles as you replenish your hand to prepare for your next turn.
The game ends once the last tile is placed. The player or team with the most points wins.
The basic Land vs Sea game is simple enough for light / family gamers. After you have played the basic game, you can unlock more scoring options on the tiles to add surprising depth:
1. Mountain & Coral scoring - score for cumulative chains of connected Mountain (Land) / Coral (Sea) sections.
2. Caravan & Ship scoring - score for Caravans & Ships added to Trade Routes on the map, and score each Trade Route you have majority in (more Caravans scores the Trade Route for Land, more Ships for Sea) at the end of the game.
3. Waypoints - bonus points you can place on the map to entice cooperation, or score for yourself.
2, 3 & 4 player modes:
You can play head to head with 2 players, or with 4 players in teams using the basic rules and any of the additional scoring options. 4 player games use Waypoints to prevent alpha players directly instructing their partner.
The challenging 3 player mode uses all of the additional scoring options in a more asymmetric game. The Cartographer scores by connecting Mountain and Coral sections, and all players compete for bonus points and Trade Route scoring.
Best new game I've tried in a while. Don't be fooled by the look, a hex version of Carcassonne you might think. Well, the basic concept is similar, lay tiles and complete your features, but this game brings it to a new dimension. You draw your double sided tiles choosing from 2 piles, and you always have 2 in your hand, which means you are much more in control of your map development. Placing hex tiles is more involving. Many scoring mechanisms means that you can go for different strategies, adding plenty of depth. Bonus points to steal from the opponent, Mountains and Coral reef chains, Caravans and Ships trade routes, Waypoint tokens, and the special Whirlpool/Volcano tile.
My wife and I love it, but mind you it's a brainy game, not an easy domino.