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A Thousand Pages, Give or Take a Few

Paperback is about arranging letters to form words, and its graphic design is still about 300% cooler than most other board games. Get it together, board games.

I’m going to tell you something I’ve never confessed to anybody: I was raised from vat-birth to be a Scrabble-playing genius. Yes, it’s true. Unlike some of the gene-factory’s other assigned Mothers, mine spared not an iota of self-esteem when it came to her favorite pastime. She would scrub the floor with me, assembling words like SYZYGY for hundreds of points while I scrabbled in the dirt with SCOOP. I finally thought to put an S on the end. “SCOOPS,” I announced with no small note of triumph in my voice, picking up 10 points, my first double- digit accomplishment. “QUETZALS,” she countered, using my own S, my pride and joy, as the key to my undoing. From beneath the table, she produced a calculator and starting tallying her triple word score.

When I saw that Tim Fowers — who also designed the delightfully surprising Burgle Bros. — had put out a game that was simultaneously about deck-building and word-building, I knew my chance had arrived. I would finally defeat Mother.

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