Paperback Adventures

Cover Art - Paper Back Adventures
The intrepid author Paige Turner is back! In Paperback Adventures, you get to play as the protagonist in one of Paige's wild brainstorming sessions. Conquer a menagerie of pulp novel characters in this solo deckbuilding word game.

Just like in the original game Paperback--and its follow-up, Hardback--you will build your own deck of cards throughout the game, and those cards will have letters to help you spell words every turn. But in Paperback Adventures, instead of testing your wordsmithing wit against other players, you will use your words to defeat a series of AI enemies in "roguelike" fashion.

Paperback Adventures is a solo-focused game. It was designed from the ground up as a strategic, highly-replayable solo word game. There are also additional gameplay variants for cooperative play between two players. There are 3 playable characters that have different strengths and playstyles.
BGG Link
Designer(s) Tim Fowers, Skye Larsen
Publisher Fowers Games
Player Count 1 (2 player variant included)
Estimated Playtime 1 to 2 hours
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Journal Entries

December 19th, 2022

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!

20221219 - Paperback Adventures - You need a lot of table space
And this is only the start of the game – a lot of rearranging was required by Book 3!

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.

20221219 - Paperback Adventures - Boss battles
Of course I randomly pick the complicated bosses

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:

20221219 - Paperback Adventures - Am I playing this right
So because this was my first word, I can do +10 damage AND apply Skulls?

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!

20221219 - Paperback Adventures - The rules seem to be different on steam
Power any card, penalty cards seem to be different, but the computer taking care of the little things is nice

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!

January 2nd, 2023

Setting gaming challenges can be a fun way to try and gamify what you get to the table. As long as you aren’t hard on yourself for falling behind or missing a goal. As long as you and the people you play with are having fun, that’s always the primary goal. That’s why I set my Board Game Challenges each year.

My 2022 Goals were a mixed bag. I made some, and I missed some. The challenges are there to prompt me to do certain things, not a serious ‘I have to do this’ goal.

But as I haven’t been doing reviews this year, this is probably the best way to show you some of my favourite games of 2022!

My 2022 Board Game Challenges

Goal 1: Record 200 Game Plays ✅

Progress: 211 Plays

Goal 2: Play 25 New Games

Progress: 19 New Games

Goal 3: Get specific games to the table

My City ✅
Return to Dark Tower
Chronicles of Crime: Millenium Series

Goal 1 – Record 200 Plays

I managed to make this lofty goal thanks to digital gaming. Between Board Game Arena and implementations like Cartographers, I played quite a few board games digitally this year.

The number one played game? 7 Wonders Architects! 43 games with Alpal and Rabbit on Board Game Arena this year, and I can’t wait to play a few more soon!

20220221 - 7 Wonders Architects - Science gives you various bonuses
Science will help you but isn’t a single path to victory

Super quick to play (especially on Board Game Arena) and plays brilliantly with 3 players. When the biggest issue I had with the game was I was tired of being assigned the Colossus of Rhodes, that’s a pretty small quibble overall. Still BGA – let users pick their wonder! 😋

Some people may say digital board games don’t count, and I don’t agree with that. As long as you are playing the same rules as the physical copy, or the gameplay isn’t sufficiently different from a physical game, then I don’t see an issue.

For example, Cartographers the app and physical Cartographers/Cartographers Heroes play the same. Playing on the app counts to me as a solo board game, I just record the location as Digital.

That said, I am tweaking my ‘number of games’ goal for 2023. I am going to split the total between digital and physical games moving forward. Digital games will be the primary way to play again in 2023, with Board Game Arena helping the three of us play interstate. I want a little nudge to spend some time away from a screen next year though, hence the split.

Check out my thoughts on all the 7 Wonders Architects gaming sessions here.

Goal 2 – Play 25 new games

I was so close to this one! Thanks to the delivery of Paperback Adventures in mid-December, I nudged this up to 19 games for the year. In a busy time, it’s easy to fall back on old favourites where you don’t have to learn new rules. This challenge exists to try and push this familiar mindset, and I think it did well.

So even though I didn’t quite make the goal this year, I will leave this in place for 2023. With more games coming out and all of Board Game Arena to explore, I should be up to the challenge!

If I have to pick a favourite new title this year, it’s a hard call. 7 Wonders Architects and Isle of Cats are both new games to me this year, with Isle of Cats coming in at 25 plays for 2022. But the number of plays doesn’t always reflect how much you enjoy a game. And for that reason, I am going to say my favourite new game of 2022 is The Search for Planet X!

20220725 - Search for Planet X - I found Planet X first but still soundly lost
My player sheet at the end of the game. If you don’t know about the game, it will look complicated and intimidating.

The Search for Planet X is not a quick game like 7 Wonders Architects. There is a lot of deduction, which some people do not enjoy in their games. There is even the fact that an app runs the game for you that can turn people off.

This year, The Search for Planet X had me both the most excited to get to the table, and the most excited to try and play again. Unfortunately, the setup for remote play is so fiddly. Same for solo gaming – although that may change this year!

For more information on The Search for Planet X, click here.

Goal 3 – Get specific games to the table

If there was a challenge that I was disappointed in my performance this year, this is it. Backlog gaming is a challenge for all players, but I was hoping to do better this year.

Rabbit and I did start playing My City, but I didn’t even get Destinies or Chronicles of Crime to the table solo. Return to Dark Tower will be fun, but I need a group of people to play an intricate game, and probably best if I lock Enzo away. I don’t want him ‘helping’ chasing skulls across a table!

20220502 - My City - Very simple components
Some tiles, a board, and a deck of cards. All your attention is on your game only.

So for 2023, the challenge list will remain pretty much the same. I still want to get these games to the table, and I want to finish the My City campaign. But I can’t pick a favourite from this category, as we only played one title – My City!

My Game of 2022

2022 was an interesting year, but I can definitely recommend 7 Wonders Architects and The Search for Planet X. Isle of Cats is a lot of fun as well, and I am hoping to play the Draw and Write version with Rabbit early in the new year.

But given all that, I would have to give my number one game of the year to 7 Wonders Architects. Not only did I first play it in 2022, but almost a quarter of all games played were 7 Wonders Architects!

Cover Art - 7 Wonders Architects
My 2022 Game of the Year – 7 Wonders Architects

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know! 

If you think another game I played should have taken the game of game of the year, shout out! You can reach me on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter, Hive and Instagram! And don’t forget you can get random gaming and pet pics on Instagram as well. 🙂

Until next time,


February 6th, 2023

Paperback Adventures has been sitting on my coffee table taunting me. I love the idea of the game system, and the quality of the Kickstarter is amazing! But my first couple of games were very fiddley and I have been waiting on rules clarifications. Combine long setup, fiddley bookkeeping and tired, and I haven’t gotten back to Paperback Adventures as I hoped.

That changed last week with a surprise email from Fowers Games. I mentioned trying the digital demo of Paperback Adventures, but once you got out of the tutorial you couldn’t play a ‘proper’ round.

Well at the end of January, the digital version has been released to Early Access! To celebrate, Fowers Games has given Kickstarter backers an access key to Paperback Adventures on Steam. So I get to try the digital version properly!

20230206 - Paperback Adventures - Progress has been interesting
Amazing physical version and a free go at the digital version? Win to me!

I hoped to have a good session, but Paperback Adventures is a long game. I didn’t feel like playing on the PC recently, as I have put in enough hours.

But do you know what Paperback Adventures worked well on? The Steam Deck!

I have only two small gripes playing on the Steam Deck. Firstly, when the deck emulates a most, the Right Trigger is Left Click, and Left Trigger is Right Click. This still confuses me. I can remap this easily enough, and I might for some games, but if I want to left-click I still pull the left trigger!

20230206 - Paperback Adventures - Not an easy boss to face or pronounce
If a controller misclick is your biggest obstacle, haven’t got too many issues then

The other quibble is Paperback Adventures text is a little hard to read on the Steam Deck. Not impossible, but I am an old man with progressively more old-man eyes. The Steam key + L1 keys magnify the screen nicely to get around this though!

So my plan is to play some more Paperback Adventures in a week or two and give a better comparison between the physical and digital versions. In the meantime, if you are curious about the game, try out the free demo to get a feel for the rules. You can also see more on my physical playthrough here!

20230206 - Paperback Adventures - Boss Macguffins
I can’t wait to give the digital version a proper try