Dale Yu: First Impression of Papering Duel


Papering Duel

  • Designer: Martin Nedergaard Andersen
  • Publisher: Mandoo
  • Players: 2
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 20 minutes

Papering Duel is a new 2-player game where you and your roommate (opponent in the game) are fighting over the wallpaper pattern in your new apartment.   You’re fighting over a wall made up a 3×3 grid. The wallpaper samples are found on clear plastic cards. Each player will have their own deck of cards – one player with a rectangular arrangement of wallpaper and the other with a diagonal pattern.  Each player shuffles their deck and draws a hand of three cards.

Diagonal deck on left; linear deck on right

A start player is chosen, and that player starts by playing a basic card from his hand to the board (one that only has 2 squares of paper on it) and then the other player plays a basic card from his hand such that neither of the first players paper squares is covered.  Thus, when the game starts, there will be four paper squares on the 3×3 grid. You can lay your clear cards on top of any other previously played cards – and normally you can and will want to cover up previously played paper squares – you just can’t cover them up on the first play.  Both players draw back up to 3 cards.

On a player turn, the active player can play 1 to 3 cards from their hand.  Each card is placed one at a time to the board. When you are done playing cards, you then evaluate the board.   The first thing you do is see whether you have broken ALL of the styles of your opponent. Remove the markers of your opponent from the pattern board.  If you are not able to do so – and your opponent has at least one marker left on the pattern board, you automatically lose the game! Also, look and see if your opponent had played any of his special cards in the previous turn – if you are unable to cover up all of the opponent’s special icons, you lose the game as well.

Then, check to see if you have made any styles of your own – a style is any line of three spaces (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) that share a color or pattern.   Mark the corresponding spaces on the pattern board. If you are unable to make at least one style, you automatically lose the game as well. Furthermore, if you are able to make three different styles on your turn, you automatically win!

Then, draw cards – you are allowed to draw one card per style you created this turn.  You may never have more than 3 cards in your hand, so if you are already at three, you may not draw any more cards.  Player hands are always in the open – both literally and figuratively. As they are clear, you can see the pattern of paper on both sides!

The game goes on until one of the many game ending conditions is met (one way to win or three ways to lose).  In the rare event that all of the cards are played by both players and a game end condition has not been met, the game is a draw.

My thoughts on the game

Papering Duel is a surprisingly complex little game – there is a nice ebb and flow of action.  Each turn, you are forced to completely undo any scoring styles made by your opponent. There is a bit of interesting hand management going on… you really need to watch what cards you have remaining in your hand. You can only draw one new card per style created on your turn, so you don’t want to necessarily spend two or three of them on a turn to only create one style of your own – because then your hand will be small, and then it becomes quite possible that you cannot break all of your opponent’s styles.

Keeping the special cards for crucial points in the game can also be a good strategy.  When you play a special card, your opponent must then cover up all the icons in play on their turn as well as all the styles.  This can make for a difficult task – especially if they only have 1 or 2 cards!

The turns move quickly, but yet there is a lot of strategy in this short 15-20 minute game.  I don’t play 2p games much, but this is one that has been played a fair amount this month in between homework and soccer practices.

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor


About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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