Paperback (Mobile) Review

robasm chatPaperback is a game that fell through Gameosity’s cracks (now there’s an uncomfortable phrase) due to some unfortunate timing and my previously reviewing it over at Fanbolt Gaming.

andrewasm chatAndrew:  We all love it, though!  So, you know, there’s my review.

If you haven’t heard of it, Paperback is a hybrid deck building and spelling game, where you have to use cards in your hand to make words and use those words to buy other cards with other letters on them – all in the name of being the player with the highest score at the end, of course.

robasm chatRob:  It’s neat, it’s fun, and designer/self-publisher Tim Fowers has gone and brought it to mobile devices.

Let the spelling begin!
Let the spelling begin!

The core of Paperback’s gameplay is just as entertaining in digital form as its physical iteration. Spelling out words that get more and more complex is suitably satisfying, and coming up with ways to capitalize on various cards’ special abilities (which often require precise placement and thus make word building even more complicated) adds quite a bit of nuance to what would have otherwise been a fairly simple idea. I’m actually even more partial to it in this non-physical form because the interface makes keeping track of how each wild card is being used a LOT easier. Plus it helps with spelling verification.

I do have a couple of small gripes about the digital interface, though. Firstly, I can’t seem to find a way to compare player scores. Each score is displayed underneath the current player’s name when it’s their turn, which is good, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how to see any kind of side-by-side (or even if it’s possible). So if I want to see how I’m doing versus everyone else, I have to wait for an entire round to finish and then try to remember what everyone had. Granted, in the physical game it was usually a matter of not knowing what anyone else’s score was until final scoring, but if that were the intention here then why even bother displaying scores during the game at all?

Individual card abilities can make a big difference.
Individual card abilities can make a big difference.

Secondly, trying to get details on a given card’s ability feels a little awkward. You can tap and hold to see a zoomed-in view of the selected card, or you can simply tap once. However, the single-tap only works when you’re looking at cards to buy – not when you’re choosing cards to play. Yeah, this is a nitpicky gripe, but the shift in interactions creates a bit of a disconnect and makes the interface feel more awkward than it actually is. Although in all honesty I’ve dealt with much, much worse.

As for the game proper, it’s as I’ve said: just as much fun as the physical version. Perhaps even a little more so because you don’t have to devote as much time or mental energy to things like keeping track of wild cards or setting up/breaking down the game each time you play. That said, it was a bit disappointing to find out that the mobile version only offers the basic game type. You can play against one to three other people or AIs of varying difficulties and that’s it. No extra modes; no special rules or modifiers like in the physical game; just basic Paperback with the option to decide how many of each “novel” card you include. Kind of a bummer.

"Obstinate" indeed.
“Obstinate” indeed.

Really though, Paperback is a fun deck building game that you should definitely check out in one form or another. It’s too bad that this version is missing a lot of the great extras that come packaged with the card game (for now, anyway), but what’s there is still plenty entertaining in its own right. If you haven’t played it before, or if you’re interested in getting your hands on a version you can play on the go, I’d say it’s absolutely worth checking out.

(Gameosity was provided a review code for this game. We were not otherwise compensated for our review)

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