Paperback Adventures is Slay the Spire with Words and it's The Best


I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

Curious that he dislikes the video game version despite the fact that this would resolve most of the physical component issues which were the only things he didn’t like about the table-top version.


I think computer versions can diminish vibe. My go to example is usually pandemic. The pain in the arse of set up can add stakes which vanish as soon as every game can be restarted with a whim.


Interesting, hadn’t spotted that as a way that the non-automated qualities of games can help make them fun. I’m often a host, so if I know what we’re playing in advance I’ll do a lot of setup, but I should probably switch more towards “X, pull out four Y cards from this deck, then shuffle the rest” and so on.

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I get why Efka likes the game. There are some really good ideas in here. The card splaying and the card abilities, the wild and the enemy vowel are all good. The idea of the pacing with the lackeys and bosses is not bad, the way you can use the enemy vowel to skip over abilities and manage the antagonists … pretty great. The antagonists abilities are pretty cool and how each is set up gives a different feel while playing against them. Nice! Even the way the cards exhaust and your deck becomes smaller and smaller is good.


the execution of it all, the actual game, the physical components do not live up to the great ideas that form what I expected to be the „core loop“ (aka making words). Which makes the package so disappointing to me. I have previously complained about this game on the Recent Games thread and have not really changed my mind.

I have also played the game digitally and while it removes some of the bookkeeping that drives me nuts and also the terrible trackers for HP, energy, hexes and boons, it did not make the game more fun to play.

Playing digitally, and I found that the game remained as tedious and the pacing as slow as on the table—even when my component and book-keeping issues are removed from consideration…

Making each word is fun until you figure out that with the wild and the vowel there is almost always a word to be found. The app actually makes this even easier because it shows you which words are valid as you arrange the cards… and so I rearranged cards until it was a word… because of course I want to win.

And so the game decisions end up being like this:

  • check direction of splay (attack/defend)
  • check card ability I want to use (1 of 4 normally)
  • check card ablities I can trigger through discarding of letters
  • do i have the energy, boons, hexes to trigger certain artifacts
  • do I want to use the enemy vowel to skip an action
  • and finally can I arrange the letters in such a way that I can fulfill all these decisions I already made and it turns out most of the time you can…

I guess if you want a boss battler more than you want a wordgame this might be not a terrible game. Seeing how enthusiastic Efka is about it, I might give it another try. There are some things about it that I do enjoy—mostly the really really great theme and the thematic stuff is really good and well done. The cards and abilities are so good…


My experience with the game is pretty limited so far, but I have to say that I’m pretty smitten. I tend to find that spelling games live or die on how they score or reward the player; there are a ton of excellent spelling games out there (yes, I include Scrabble) and I hate 9 out of every 10 I try (yes, including Scrabble). If I hate a spelling game, it’s always due to a (personal) conflict between the wordplay and playing the game well.

It’s funny, Paperback Adventures has precisely the quirk I hate about Scrabble: You can make all these great words, but your best play is some tiny bit of linguistic esoterica tucked into just the right spot. I’m never farting out xe or en or any such nonsense, but I am frequently opting for “less satisfying” constructions in order to better manage my damage output or mitigate injury. But it’s the surrounding game and loop that turns my feelings around here.

I think @yashima and Efka are right: you need to come at this wanting everything it offers: if you like word games, tight deckbuilding, and the rinse-and-repeat nature of a roguelike game, you’re probably going to jive with it. Enjoy 2 out of those 3 experiences and it’s probably best to try the app, save a bundle. Like only one element, and it’s just not gonna cut it against almost literally any other option out there.

I like all 3 gameplay aspects on offer here, so it’s not too much of a surprise that it’s working out for me so far. The parallels to Slay the Spire’s core loop is very apt, and that extends to the incredibly tight deckbuilding exercise. Wrap that all up in a meaty, contemplative session and I’m a happy camper.

I should note that I seem to have a reasonably good copy, physically. Neither my enemy nor character (Plothook, FWIW) trays are “hernia” inducing, although the fiddle frustration is very real. They’re basically a millimetre away from being great components and it’s unbelievable to me that they got the greenlight with the dimensions/tolerances used. I’ll look into 3D printed options for the metal bits ASAP.

[EDIT] To add: The solitaire factor plays into my enjoyment as well—I’m certain I’d hate this game if it were somehow competitive.


This is a weird game, but I absolutely love it. I was initially disappointed when it launched, because it looked more like “a boss-battler with some words” rather than “a word game with some boss-battling”… and that definitely is the case, but the game is so good that I don’t mind. It just requires a different mental approach; words in Paperback Adventures aren’t so much the core as they are the action selection mechanism, and the game itself is largely Slay-the-Spire combo-building and boss-battling.

My only real dislike (aside from the myriad production-related issues) is the difficulty, because I find the game to be way, way too easy. Without two or three difficulty modifiers stacked together, the tension starts to leak out of the game by the second act, and by the final boss, my victory is pretty much guaranteed, aside from one memorable exception. The difficulty modifiers are appreciated, but usually boil down to “you can’t interact with the game as much,” which I always dislike, especially when the game is this fun to interact with.