Refresh Your Geography Skills with Map It!

Map It!

There was a time long ago when I could quickly and easily label every U.S. state, its capital city, and most countries on the globe. Then life happened — through college, a job, raising a family, and business pursuits, naming every item on a map hasn't been my top priority, so I have since forgotten much of the geography I learned in school. Fortunately, FoxMind has published Map It!, a series of games designed to refresh and challenge geographic memory.

Gameplay

Map It! comes in both a U.S. and World edition, which cover different geographic areas, but have similar gameplay. In each case, the object of the game is to earn the most points based on geographic knowledge.

The game consists of 200 location cards containing specific cities or landmarks. The back of each card shows the location highlighted on a map as well as its exact geographic coordinates. At the beginning of the game, these location cards are shuffled and dealt into 3 piles of 15 cards each, for use in 3 different rounds. The remaining cards are set aside.

Each round, a location card is placed on the compass rose (north, south, east, west) with just the location name face up. Players then take turns drawing a card and placing it on the table relative to the starting location. For instance, if the starting card is San Francisco, a player would want to place New York either to the north or to the east of the starting card (either one will work). Subsequent cards will be placed relative to the starting card and other cards on the table. If Denver were drawn, it would go between San Francisco and New York.

Map It! Components

After each card is placed, the other players have an opportunity to challenge the placement if they believe it is incorrect. To do so, the challenger flips over the card and one adjacent card of his choice to compare the coordinates. If the challenger is correct, he takes a point token from the player who played the card and the card is removed from play. If the challenger is incorrect, he gives a point token to him and the card remains.

After all 15 cards have been played, each player estimates how many cards on the table have been placed incorrectly. Each player who guesses correctly earns 2 point tokens. If no one guessed correctly, the closest player(s) earns 1 point token. After 3 rounds, the player with the most points wins.

Review

First and foremost, Map It! is an educational game — but it is a well-designed and effective educational game that offers a challenge for adults as well as kids. If you're not a geography buff, this game will quickly refresh your memory or teach you many new locations and how to compare their geographic coordinates. If you are a geography buff, it's likely you'll still be challenged by some of the landmarks. For instance, do you know where the first McDonald's is? How about Devil's Tower or Taos Pueblo? For me, even locations I was very confident about gave me surprises when trying to place them relative to other locations.

The game is very simple to learn, yet still offers some choices and trade offs. For instance, even if you know a location is wrong, you might choose to leave the card unchallenged so as to not reveal the information on the card to other players. In addition, the fact that there are 200 cards and the cards are placed relative to each other means that no two games will be alike — there is no way to "memorize" the game, but instead you must continually improve your knowledge of geography to perform better.

The components are relatively nice and the graphic design of each card enhances gameplay by adding small lines to the border of the card to visually indicate the latitude and longitude. This allows cards to be placed side-by-side for a quick comparison without having to add or subtract coordinates.

Map It! is perfect for the classroom or for families looking for a good educational activity. Gameplay is simple and relatively fun and can be easily adjusted for younger kids or beginners who might get frustrated by some of the landmarks or lesser-known locations.

Pros: good educational game, easy-to-learn rules, challenging geography practice

Cons: may not be the top choice for your next game night

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.