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Paperback Vol 2 – Review

Paperback Vol 2 is a sequel to the 2017 digital adaptation of the board game that sees scrabble-like word building and roguelike deckbuilding combine. It’s a decent game in its own right, although owners of the original digital board game might find little different here.

Paperback is a 1-4 player game that gives you a deck of cards with either one or two letters on them to build words from. Included in that are wildcards which act like blanks to help you along the way. Different cards score points which then convert to currency which at the end of each turn allows you to buy from an ever rotating selection of cards from the book shops. More powerful cards, that earn more points or give passive abilities, cost more. That means you’ll be slowly climbing up the ranks of the shop over time to buy better cards and mix them with your wildcards that, initially at least, score nothing.

Your words are built from the bottom half of the screen to buy the better cards in the top half of the screen.

When you start scoring big, fame comes into play. Instead of buying new cards, you can buy comics and “publish” your words as a comic book. The more expensive the book, the more fame you earn and when two of the four piles of comic books are sold out, the game is over. Whomever has gained the most fame wins. The only other way to gain fame is to create the longest word at the time in the game from seven letters upwards. The trick here is that your cards are pulled from your deck at random so you have to think on your feet. You also need to balance going for comic books, which play like zero scoring wildcards, versus stronger cards. Sometimes buying a Y or an SE card with a buff plays out better in the longer term rather chasing a comic book early on.

Paperback Vol 2 has some lovely artwork and you can switch in and out local players for AI. The AI runs on three different difficulty levels and puts together a very good challenge, pulling all kinds of words from the American dictionary. You can take the game online with asynchronous multiplayer too. This allows you to build rooms and run games, again up to four players, and the game will email you when its your turn. Once you’ve registered your email address, the whole process works really well and you can have several games on the go at once.

This is all very nice. There’s just one problem. It was all present in the 2017 version of Paperback too.

Money doesn’t carry over from round to round. Spend it or lose it.

When placed side by side, the five year old version of the original runs a little slower when AI having to think on harder difficulties and its missing a co-op mode and a dyslexia mode that separates out letters in the font. The main change that’s been brought in is an additional variant that allows wildcards to have special conditions attached to them which when fulfilled can give you points or trigger something to happen. That is genuinely it though, and it made me feel like this edition would have been better perhaps as a DLC addition and a patch for those that bought the original like me.

If you haven’t bought Paperback digitally yet, Paperback Vol 2 is the best version out there so far. Whether you are playing against the AI or friends locally or online, this works quite well as long as you can deal with online being asynchronous lobbies. If you’ve bought the original though, I feel like this is not a must have purchase at all unless you were absolutely addicted to the original. Adjust the score down a point or two if you have the original and don’t fall into that fanatic camp.

Review copy provided by developer.

Paperback Vol 2
Final Thoughts
A nicely reproduced digital board game that feels homely and challenging. It just isn't a noticeable step up if you've bought the original.
Positives
Nicely presented digital board game.
Asynchronous online mode works smoothly (although you'll need to register online first).
Additional variant for wildcards adds a bit of spice and freshness.
Negatives
Not a noticeable step up from the 2017 original.
7
Good
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