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Subject: Rushed Review of Paperback (Smoothsmith) rss

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Chris Smith
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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Welcome to my short(ish) review! I decided to review every game I own, and seeing as that takes a while, they're kinda rushed! I tried to break things down nonetheless, and I hope you enjoy the review!

Rushed Reviews Of All My Games

The Short Sell:
A new take on the word game, and a remarkably clever one. Paperback combines the deck-building of dominion with the desire to just use a dictionary of Scrabble, and it does it seamlessly, brilliant!

Components:
- Card Dividers
- Starting Hand Cards ('T', 'S', 'L', 'R', 'N', 5 Wild Cards (1 Point each))
- Common Cards
- Letter Cards (Organized by cost)
- Wild Cards (Organized by cost)
- Theme Cards
- Wooden Cubes
- Other Cards (I'm sure there was another small set for a variant...)

Anyhow, this game is pretty much just lots of cards, and seeing as those cards seem pretty good quality I can't really complain ^^. The included dividers are a nice way to keep the game organized and make for a small, easy to store/move box.

5/5

Setup:

1. Create starting decks (5 1VP Wildcards & 1 each of 'T', 'S', 'L', 'R' & 'N' cards)
2. Put the buyable card decks out (Face up), shuffling each (By cost, so the '$2' pile then '$3' pile etc)
3. For the $3 through $10 cards, take the top from the deck and place it below so 2 are visible.
4. Put the wildcard decks out (5Vp, 8Vp, 11Vp, 15VP respectively), the number of cards in each pile depends on #players
5. Place the round divider/card to one side, with 4 randomly chosen 'common' cards on it, covering up the '8 letters' through 'game end' text (So just '7 letters' is visible).

It's not too bad, and the dividers do make things easier as you can just grab each pile of letters out together with the divider. It's not the quickest of setups, but that seems pretty standard of all deckbuilders, and this one does have a nice storage solution out of the box ^^.

4/5

Gameplay:

Players compete for the most victory points, which are available through 'Common' cards (Gained by creating long words, 7, 8, 9 & 10 letters respectively) and through 'Wild' cards (You start with 5 of these at 1 victory point each, then buy higher value victory point cards throughout the game). When either 2 piles of wild cards run out (Of the 4) or all the common cards go (So a 7, 8, 9 then 10 letter word has been played), the game ends and points are totted up.

Each turn, the current player uses the cards in their hand (And the currently face-up common letter if they wish) to make a word. Each letter has a money/points value, and the total value of all the letters in your word becomes $ to buy letters or wildcards to add to your deck. Higher cost letters often give stronger abilities/more points, but are harder to place (Z, Q, J being the 8-10 value cost cards), making for an interesting tradeoff. Wildcards have no value for buying further cards, but have victory-points and are easy to use in words, so they don't necessarily 'clog up' your hand, but they do slow down your gains. At the end of a turn, all used/unused cards are discarded and a new hand of 5 is drawn.

While the letters you start with have no ability, ones you buy may well have special bits to them, such as 'trash a card from your hand to gain $1' or 'attack: other players lose $1 for each wildcard they don't play', which spice up the game (Attack cards are left in front of the player and discarded at the start of their next turn instead of the end of the turn). For the most part the abilities are balanced enough, but there is an 'R' and a 'P' card with 'Draw 3 Cards Next Turn', which seems straight overpowered (Consider there's others like 'When this is the first letter in your word, gain +1 card next turn' which come with a limitation rather than a straight bonus).

Overall, this game plays very smart and interesting, fitting the 'scrabble-dominion' style I was interested in well. Not mentioned here are the included variants, such as themes, as at the time of writing I haven't had time to try them out! (I'll update this review when I do).

8/10

Theme:

At first glance I wouldn't think of 'words' as a theme, but nonetheless in this case I feel like the deck-building mechanics turns out to fit the 'words' theme well. When you start a game, it's easy to make a valid word using all your letters every turn, but as you add more complex letters to your deck (Double-letters in particular - some cards are things like 'ch', 'in', etc) finding something that fits becomes harder. As such you really have to think hard about what you add to your deck to ensure that any combination of your cards will be able to string together into something legible. As your deck increases in size this gets more difficult, and gets countered through picking up wildcards for easier placement in words (Which are the points, if you remember).

In short, I think this vocabularily challenging game (It's ok if noone notices you words are bs, right?) is a great mechanic-thematic fit.

8/10

Conclusion:

I think this is an absolutely fantastic game, which really shows how versatile deck-building is as a mechanic. Every turn feels like a challenging puzzle, with the overarching strategy of what letters you put into your deck keeping you on your feet the entire time you're playing. Downtime is reasonably minimal, as you'll need the time others are playing their words to plan your own, although it can go up if people are 'trying to hard' so to speak, where someone is refusing to play any word that isn't super high scoring (I can't help thinking the last few rounds need a timer or something).

This is definitely going to be staying in my collection for a long, long time, and I hope will be getting plenty of expansion love!

My BGG Rating: 8/10

Oxverall: 8.3/10
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