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Subject: A Novel Deck-building game that replaces world building with word building rss

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Matt
United Kingdom
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Once Upon a Time

When I first read a description of Paperback my first thought was “Why didn’t I think of this?” It seems to be such a perfect fit, taking the Dominion deck building mechanic but replacing kingdom building with world building. Players draw five cards form their deck, create a word and earn money that can be used to purchase other letter cards to add to their decks or novel cards which give points at the end of the game and also act as wild letters.

Getting hold of the game was a bit of an adventure in itself. The story begins back in October 2013, when I first found out that Tim Fowers was taking orders for the second printing of his game Paperback. My wife loves word games, and I knew that this would make a perfect Christmas present. I did have a few niggling reservations. We have both played a number of deckbuilders and although in general we enjoy the mechanics, the constant shuffling and rather repetitive game play means that we usually end up losing interest sooner rather than later.

Trouble on the high seas

Anyway with my order placed I sat back, happy that another Christmas present had been sorted without the need to visit the High Street. Tim’s website informed me of the games progress, from printing in china to setting off across the seas. But then DISASTER! The cargo was held up at the USA port. I began to bite my nails as day after day passed with no further news. Maybe I would have to brave those High Streets again after all? And then finally the shipment was cleared and Tim did his beast to ensure that games reached overseas customers in time for Christmas. Thankfully, it all ended happily as the postman delivered my parcel on Christmas Eve. Phew.

Best Seller

I think Tim deserves particular credit for producing such a high quality product. For a self-published game this is especially impressive. The box is sturdy and tailored to fit the game and any future expansions perfectly, the cartoon illustrations and illustrated book covers are great fun and the cards are easy to understand and robust. All in all brilliant.

But that is all very well, did we actually enjoy playing? Well so far we have enjoyed playing very much indeed. The rules are easy to learn and do not get in the way of the nitty-gritty of word creation. There are a nice selection of variants to keep things fresh and add a bit more challenge for seasoned players (you can even introduce a bit of good old-fashioned conflict). Conversely, there is a cooperative mode you can play with younger children or with husbands who are fed up of getting thrashed.

Reservations (not the library sort)

One complaint frequently levelled at the game is that turns can be a bit slow moving as players try to juggle their letters to come up with the best word. However, unlike scrabble there is no constantly changing board and each round players can think of their words simultaneously, so it really isn’t as bad as I thought.

Since players start every game with the same deck of letters the first couple of rounds can seem a bit samey, as the same words tend to crop up again and again. Also, like many word games, Paperback relies on the players to make their own rules and judgements about which words should or should not be allowed. Add in the theme cards, which give players bonus points if they come up with a word that fits a particular fiction genre and you have plenty of scope for some good natured discussion or petty bickering, depending on the people you play with.

Unlike many such games your deck doesn’t seem to get clogged up with useless cards, and there is not such an emphasis on trashing cards. This dosen’t mean that you cannot force yourself into a corner by purchasing too many vowels or consonants and end up only being able to spell words such as twyndyllyngs

Happy Endings

I cannot judge yet whether in the long term this will avoid the pitfalls that we have found with other deckbuilding games, but at the moment it is proving to be a firm favourite, even my daughter wants to play and these days she usually turns her nose up at anything that isn’t electronic flavoured.

Here is a list of all my reviews, some with puns that I really should be ashamed of.
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Zoe M
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Quote:
One complaint frequently levelled at the game is that turns can be a bit slow moving as players try to juggle their letters to come up with the best word. However, unlike scrabble there is no constantly changing board and each round players can think of their words simultaneously, so it really isn’t as bad as I thought.


I actually find that the constantly-changing board in Scrabble is a big plus. Even if you've already decided that your seven vowels are useless and will be exchanging on your next turn, you can productively study the board looking for promising spots for the future.

In Paperback, if you've already found a word using all your letters, you have absolutely nothing to do while waiting for the other players.
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