Paperback is, for my money, the greatest board game about spelling words there. For many players, Slay the Spire is, for many, the greatest digital card game going. Combine the two and you end up with something very special.
Scrabble falls on deckbuilding''s granddaddy Dominion, where players gradually add to their letter cards by spelling words to acquire coins (used to buy more letters) and points, but Paperback Adventures is Scrabble crossed with Slay the Spires'' roguelike, boss-rush card combat.
Paper Adventures throws its solo player (co-op multiplayer versions are included) into a quagmire of challenges that they must overcome by carefully playing cards from their hands to damage their adversary, block incoming attacks, and increase energy to spend on even more powerful abilities.
Paperback Adventures, the game''s roguelike journey, must take on six battles in three books, each with three minion-like villains. Your characters'' health comes to an end, and the game''s back to square one. However, youll be able to modify your deck to assist in future battles.
Although this is a Paperback game, it''s not quite as simple as simply playing cards for their attack and defence values. Youll also need to spell a word with them. Before you think about whether or not OK is a legal word (it is) or hours spent trying to use all seven letter tiles groan and leave, you may not need to have a dictionary to hand.
In Paperback Adventures, the player only has four letter cards in their hand, which means that most words you''ll be spelling are fairly short and straightforward. Plus, you almost always have access to wild cards - which can count as any letter - and a boss vowel, which automatically breaks out the boss''s name. For example, the U in The Sludge Alien
The relatively low selection of letters each turn means that the strain of spelling an impressive multisyllabic word is relieved. While using all of your cards may be beneficial in increasing your attack, defense, and energy resources, but often its rather how you play your cards.
The creative twists Tim Fowers and Skye Larsen have put on paperback Adventures word-building. Each card has icons down its left and right sides, plus ability text in its middle. However, the cards must be overlapped, leaving only one edge hidden and the top card ability visible.
Only the icons and capabilities you may see activate during your turn, making the ultimate challenge of Paperback Adventures the dilemma of which way to splay your cards and which letters power to use - the first or the last letter, depending on the way you arrange them.
Paper Adventures is a brain-burning adventure of a different kind, focusing on tactical cardplay and developing around a specific objective - I must insist on completing this on an R rather than repeating a dictionary for maximum efficacy.
It''s a relief that the wordplay is boiled down to a concentrated burst, because Paperback Adventures has a lot on the way to keep players busy. Each boss comes with a unique set of counterattacks that must be planned around, mostly generating attacks and blocks dynamically based on the situation.
Both players may be used to pull off specific abilities during battles, with boons also serving as currency for the shop visited between combats, from which they may purchase additional items, upgrades, and other useful items. A third resource of energy is often used to activate unique powers and items.
Bosses may also swing up penalty cards - especially tricky letters such as X and Z - that awkwardly clog a players deck until used in a word, thus a fun and effective way of acknowledging those letters as a rarity.
Bosses arent the only ones with powers. Each run is divided into a set of different characters, each having a separate box that has the game core set (ie. you will need at least the core box and a character) to give you a very different experience.
Fowers and Larsen will be given access to an entertaining layer of specialism in the key word-making - with unique letter decks and abilities, with the piratey Plothook prefering long words and an aggressive playstyle, while Ex Machina is adamant in defense and saving time for health-sapping laser attacks.
The number of possible character and enemy match-ups allows for a lot of tweak out of the box(es), but Paperback Adventures offers a slightly different roguelike development, which separates players into the game without having to get multiple items and McGuffins, cards with ongoing passive effects, as they build their way up the boss ladder before swapping in a new card. This includes either a lost one character or putting an entirely new card to their deck as a reward for abandoning a boss
More experienced players may increase difficulty even further by using alternative core cards unlocked by besting a final boss, as well as introducing plot twist cards that feature additional limitations for more generous and punishing variants. (Each plot twist has a number which indicates its relative difficulty level, so true masochists can quantify their toughest victory.)
It''s worth saying that each run is more than a bitesize affair, with each book''s two battles potentially taking over an hour to finish, and that the games'' smart storage allows progress to be saved partway through a run, with the games'' plastic trays, which track the player and its enemy''s health and resources, serving as a useful way to pack things away and continue later on.
Flowers and Larson have played the physical game with a digital version, which already has a PC version, and allows you to complete the entire game before embarking on a game session. It''s a great way to get to grips with the Paperback Adventures gameplay before you dive into deep on the tabletop.
Although only a few runs have been under my belt so far, it''s easy to see Paperback Adventures keeping me hooked for a long time on its impressive mix of word-building and a roguelike challenge.
Paperback Adventures is a type of word game that makes you feel confident without having to demonstrate your vocabulary. It is also a roguelike that nudges for another run as an individual.