BENGALURU : Often, the easiest way of describing something is to relate it to other things that your audience might be familiar with. “Oh, you’ve got to try X — it’s like Y+Z!” — you’ve heard that before, haven’t you? Now, it may come across as lazy but sometimes it’s the most effective way of getting your point across — such as right now, for example, when I tell you that Paperback is basically Scrabble + Dominion. A lot of people are wary of word games, probably as a result of playing Scrabble with people who’ve memorised every two-letter word out there.
Even if you’re one of them, you should still give Paperback a shot because it’s that good. On the other hand, what if you love Scrabble, or Boggle, or Words With Friends? In that case, you should definitely try Paperback, it’s a wonderful take on the word game formula. Okay, enough praise. Let’s start talking about the game. Paperback is a deckbuilding game where you buy cards with letters on them (mostly single, but some doubles too) and add them to your personal deck of cards. Over time, your deck becomes more powerful — which in Paperback, translates to you being able to make better words. Because that’s how you get anywhere in Paperback — making the best word you can with the cards you’ve drawn from your deck this turn.
However, cards don’t just have letters on them — they also have powers that can radically change what you’re trying to do on a given turn. Maybe this card doubles the score of an adjacent one, or maybe that card gives you +2 to your score if it’s the first letter in your word; the variety of powers available in Paperback is huge, and it keeps the game fresh. There are two (actually, three) systems at work here that make this a substantially less frustrating experience than, say, Scrabble can be. First, you start off with five wildcards in your deck that can be any letter you want (and everybody also has access to a common vowel). Secondly, you choose the cards you’re adding to your deck; so if you get stuck with a crappy hand, it’s at least partly your fault.
Finally, if you know that there’s a good word there but you just can’t think of it, you can reveal your hand and ask the other players for help. If anybody suggests a word that works for you, you get to salvage something from the hand and they get a bonus point on their next turn — win-win! There are so many great things about Paperback that I haven’t even mentioned, such as the wonderful art and the so-bad-they’re-good fake novels that you’re competing to ‘write’. But time is short, so I’ll just leave you with this — you really, really should try Paperback — it’s quite brilliant.