Mapominoes is a card game that comes in several guises (we’ve shown Europe here, but there’s also a few other versions) where you are seeking to be the first player to get rid of all your cards as all players collectively ‘build’ a map out of them.
The game is made up of a deck of cards with each one showing a country, and around the edges, the countries (or seas) it’s adjacent to.
All cards are dealt out but one, which is placed face-up on the table. Play proceeds clockwise with each person – if they’re able – adding a card. When you place a card it much match adjacency: so if France is on the table you could play Belgium or Luxembourg to the north, Spain or Andorra to the south, and Germany, Switzerland or Italy to the East. Note that cards must always align lengthwise, so you can’t turn a card 90′ in order to make it ‘match’.
If you can’t place anything adjacent, then you can always play a transit card – everyone starts with two of these and it can be placed adjacent to anything, then another card played beside it. If you can’t – or don’t want to – go at all, you pick up another transit card for future use.
The first player to get rid of all their cards is the winner.
There’s not a whole lot of actual game here, and I can’t see Mapominoes being a bit hit with the grown-ups. But as an educational tool to play with youngsters it’s quite sweet. It won’t teach them the layout of Europe, as the end of the game will rarely look like the continent that it’s based on. But it will teach them the names of countries and flags, and maybe a little tactical play as well.
Smaller hands will find it tricky looking through a big pile of cards, especially as you have to check all four sides to see what they're adjacent to. But you can play more co-operatively, with cards face-up for all to see.
Low, although you need a little patience to check the cards.
Although you're building a map of sorts, it will rarely end up a true representation of Europe (or wherever the cards represent) because of how the cards function - which means that there is some variability in play.