During the week, I got a delivery I wasn’t expecting. Four boxes turned up, and it actually took me a few minutes to realise what I was looking at. My Kickstarter pledge for Paperback Adventures had arrived! I remember being excited about it when I saw it on Kickstarter, not least as it is targeted at solo adventures. If you want to play with a partner, don’t fret – there are 2 different two-player rule variants included for you.
Paperback Adventures can be tricky to buy if you don’t know what you are looking at. The game comes in modules similar to Final Girl by Van Ryder Games. So you buy the core box, and then you buy at least one character pack. So if you go looking online for Paperback Adventures, keep this in mind!
So the idea of Paperback Adventures is simple – make your way through a story defeating enemies. Think most dungeon crawler games like One Deck Dungeon or Slay the Spire. The difference with Paperback Adventures is you create words to attack and defend!
Setting everything up took me the better part of an hour. Not setting the board on its own! That hour included sleeving and sorting the core cards and two character boxes. Working out what to combine in the core box and leave separate in the character box was so simple, I kept looking for the catch!
I will say, looking for the catch is a common part of Paperback Adventures. You draw cards from the top of the deck – except for one. You use the symbols shown on the left or right of the card depending on how you build your word – except for the top card. Everything is a “Here is a simple general rule to follow, and here is where you look for exceptions”.
That doesn’t mean that Paperback Adventures is complicated. It does mean that Paperback Adventures targets very specific players. Those that want a heavier solo experience, and don’t mind following a set process each turn.
The actual gameplay loop is pretty simple. Fight a lackey, then a boss. Once you beat the boss, you finish that level (Paperback Adventures calls them books). After each battle, you have the ability for Character Development – basically levelling up. I am skirting over this because levelling up a character is something many gamers have done.
Paperback Adventures even has a game difficulty modification system. There are Plot cards included that give perks and have a negative score to make the game easier. Other rules have positive scores to make games harder. As you add these Plot points, add up the total. Think of a score of 0 as ‘normal’ mode, the more negative the score the easier the difficulty, and the higher the harder it is for veterans.
There are also secret cards that you get the first time you beat specific bosses. I won the first game I think, but I haven’t opened an envelope yet. I think I may have cheated. As an example, take this world I made in battle:
With the wild card, I made SKIDS. The last two cards have an ability called Sneak Attack that adds 5 damage. Sneak Attack is defined as when you have no cards in your discard pile – so something you can use rarely in battle.
I have assumed this means at the end of the Plan phase (making your word) but before Clash (resolving combat), if I used all my letters I can use Sneak Attack. This is from clarification from another keyword Plot that is timed the same way. Paperback Adventures has a FAQ page, but it’s only just released and there seem to be a few items to be added missing. So I will wait and see
But one thing I thought I would try and see is try Paperback Adventures on Steam! Looking for clarification I saw the demo was available, so I thought I would see what it does. It also meant another game using the whole table!
Well, this didn’t work quite as planned. I was using Damsel (fantasy rogue), and the Steam Demo uses Ex Machina (sci-fi robot). So I got to try another character at least. And then I got thrown a spanner – Paperback Adventures Digital works differently again to the board game!
I will probably pick up Paperback Adventures again over the holidays. There will definitely be a morning checking out the rules.
If you want to give the game a try and see what I am talking about, give the free demo on Steam a try. Sure, it’s got slightly different rules, but adjusting won’t take long and the computer takes care of all the bookkeeping!