The Cardboard Kid – 002: Paperback

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In Paperback, you’re a famous writer trying to finish your latest book. The problem is the other players are trying to finish theirs as well. Beat them by making the best words, and scoring the most Fame — which are points — at the end. With modern board games, an easy way to get someone to play is say, “You know that game you play? Well, this is like it but with a few cool things added that make it more fun.” Paperback is like a classic word game. Each card is a letter, and you’re arranging them to make words to score points. Then, you use those points to buy new letters. Some have great abilities that… let me backtrack a bit. The entire game is a box of cards, so aside from some shuffling, pile-making, and dealing, you’re good to go. This type of game is called a Deck-Builder. You start with a deck of 10 cards and a hand of five. The words at the start will be simple. TRAIN, for example. You’ll add the numbers in the top-left for your word score. TRAIN would be worth three points. T,R,N are all one cent. The other letters would be Wild Cards, and worth nothing. You could then buy any number of cards up to three points. The cost is in the bottom left of the card. In the middle of the table is The Offer, which are the piles of letters available to buy during the game. They cost from two cents to 10 cents, and can have abilities like draw an extra card on your next turn, or make a word worth double. The two-cent pile is handy, but also not. These letters can only be used once. Once they’re used, they’re removed from the game. They also don’t have abilities, but can be helpful in a pinch to make a more valuable word. There are two ways to end the game. First, empty two of the four Fame Card piles. These are worth five, eight, 11, and 17 cents. They don’t add to a word score, but are worth a crazy amount of Fame Points. Four, seven, 10, and 15. The second way is to take the last Common Card. These cards are vowels that everyone can use in their words. The Common Cards sit on the Length Track, which shows how long your word must be before you get to take the card. The first person to make a seven-letter word gets to take the first Common Card. Now, you’ll need an eight-letter word, and so on. After the game, all the players add up all their Fame Points, and the one with the most wins! Once, with Dad, Mom, and Grandma, I spelled ‘Chaos,’ and took the card Grandma was thinking of grabbing on her next turn. She went from being proud of me to, like, “Hey! I wanted that!” So I laughed at her. The Common Cards are a great idea. Sometimes, especially early, using them to build a better word is great. It’s also a really cool idea to end the game. There’s something like this in another game I like: Adrenaline. The abilities are so cool! Abilities and combos are some of my favourite parts about Deck-Builders. Another really great thing about
Paperback is that it’s easy to learn, teach and play. I love the Fame Cards. The art is beautiful, the strategy on whether to buy them or not is interesting, and the Fame Points are a nice touch. This isn’t a dislike, but I think it’d be neat to have consonants in the Common Cards as well. Maybe this could be an expansion, but I think having the Common Cards as vowels works well. Paperback is fun, but also really makes you use your brain. It’s a thinking game and a puzzle at the same time. Sure, I could make a five-cent word, but there’s this card with an ability at six cents. Is there any way I can come up with one? Yeah, this is definitely two thumbs. It helps that I love reading and words, and I love deck-builders, but this is a game that everyone should have.

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