Papering Duel (2018) review
Released in 2008 was a small game called Papering Duel from Mandoo Games. You do not know this publisher? Who are they... Well, they are a Korean publishing house best known in Asia. But back here, especially through its presence in Essen, we are able to talk about them little by little. Most of their productions have themes, components or quite original mechanics. Papering Duel is no exception to the rule.
This is a game from Martin Nedergaard Andersen (I already told you about him and his Hippo game). What acts as illustrations is due to Agsty Im. Papering Duel is an abstract sheet placement game for two players (yes, there is the word duel in it).
The first thing that catches the eye is the components. Everything fits in a box of rather moderate size. You play from outside the box to inside this box. What acts as the game board is a cardboard sheet, that is thermoformed ideally. Each player will then have a deck of cards. But these are not normal cards. It is rather small sheets of transparent plastic. These sheets are divided into four squares of identical sizes. On these squares, there will be two full boxes and two empty ones. Some boxes will have symbols (dots, a square or a kind of star) and others will have colors (yellow, red or purple). Each symbol is accompanied by a color and vice versa. Do you follow?
The basic principle is that each player has a unique deck. A player will have a deck with filled boxes diagonally place while the other players has adjacent ones. The central plateau represents a grid of nine squares. Players will alternately place their cards on this main grid to perform tricks to win the game.
In turn, a player has the right to play one to three cards from their hand. The goal is to make combinations of three patterns either by the same symbol or the same color. If they do both, it validates two goals. Not bad, huh! Once the cards are played, you’ll check that the player has completed at least one of the objectives and that their opponent no longer has one. To help find your way around, there is a small cardboard tray next to the game. On this board, players announce current goals filled with small chips (black or white). This silly pest is quickly very practical but requires a little manipulation.
Players will superimpose their cards as the game progresses. This mechanism is visually quite attractive and is reminiscent of other games like Gloom or Edge Of Darkness (to name a few). But very quickly, everything can become a bit confusing, especially if an area has not been covered for a few turns.
But what is the purpose of this pile of cards on top of each other? The most noble way to win is to achieve three combinations in a turn. Immediate victory. Nothing to say again. That's class and something you can brag about it. But there are other ways to lose. You can also win if your opponent can not remove your current combinations during their turn or if they can not make a combination. And that's as simple as that.
Indeed Papering Duel is not a complicated game. There is also a variant with a few more cards for each player. These cards have gray boxes. These new colors allow you to add a new way to lose or trap your opponent. Indeed, if one of the players does not manage to cover a gray box of their opponent, they win.
Papering Duel is a little abstract puzzle game that works on the principle of associations of colors or shapes. A bit like Connect 4, but more thoughtful (not necessarily more complicated). Concretely, we’ll say it like this: “I play my cards... You play on top of mine... You pay attention and you're lucky... You do not pay attention *Bang* I have you trapped!” The games play quickly enough and everything can easily be transported and played everywhere. The game offers a cerebral challenge that can satisfy fans of the genre. On the other hand, do not look for a possible theme or to live a story. You’ll be facing a pure abstract game.
The challenge side is quite interesting and the initial postulate can give the impression of a very calculating game. But very quickly, one realizes that there are some elements which come to invalidate this sensation.
Already, luck is important. The cards are mixed and drawn in a completely random way. For an abstract game based on the anticipation of plays on several turns, this can be problematic. And at the same time, it allows a family audience to find their feet and play it without thinking too much.
Indeed, some might argue that for random drawing, but players have a hand of three cards. Except that the fact of being able to play all three in the same turn, lessened the strategy side of the game and favors the chance of the good hand. Again, this allows a family audience to have fun but can disappoint the player in search of cerebral challenge.
The game runs smoothly. After playing it several times, I think it's hard to define it’s real target audience. A bit too risky for fans of abstract games, too abstract for players in search of stories, too punitive for a truly family audience ... All that rests are the players who like to rack their heads but not too much, those who love games not too long but with a present challenge, the fans of the games with a beautiful components. As such, Papering Duel can satisfy their curiosity and their desires.
Far from being a bad game, it remains pleasant to play. However, we can ask the question about the long-term life. However, the part time coupled with a relatively short installation time allows to play quickly without taking the lead. Especially since the interaction is ubiquitous. No time to watch flies fly. You will have to pay attention to what the other person is doing at the risk of losing in style. Far from being frustrating, the game is relatively simple to access while having a certain depth. And finally, is this not the most important? Take pleasure in playing and work that little brain while having fun ... A game that will, without hesitation, find its place in some toy libraries without imposing itself as inevitable. But after all, was it its goal?
Technical note 8/10
The component quality is good. Thermoforming is well considered for both storage and playability. The cards are nice and the overlay side works well. Everything happens inside the box. There is an hourglass present in the box but no explanation of its use (Cooking eggs? Playing in Blitz mode? Time storage?). The rules are well written and you do not have to go back.
My score BGG 5/10
(Average game, will not please everyone)
I’m still a little hungry after this game. Not unpleasant to play, it will not leave you an unforgettable memory either. There is a part of this game that will satisfy you, while you play, but will not have this little taste to come back. Too random for the big abstract players, a tiny bit punitive for casual players, it has however pleasant material and ease of access.
Combined score of 6.5 / 10
And now it's up to you to play ...