Movable Type Review

Tim & Kayleigh Mierzejewski review, tabletop Leave a Comment

Movable Type - Uncanny Cardboard - €16.00
Overall
3.5
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

Movable Type heightens the word-building element of your typical word game to include drafting, achievements, and deck building. While not highly interactive, it brings a novel, fun challenge for word enthusiasts to the table! With its simple, repetitive turn structure, the game is easy to pick up and in our experience, quick to play.

Pros

Unique spins on word-building game

Multiple levels of strategy to opt into

Quick play

Cons

Solitaire feel

Core word-building mechanic is nothing new

Full Moveable Type Review

What hasn’t been done in word games?

Word games – here we’re referring to games where you’re dealing with the letters of words, rather than guessing or naming words based on clues/criteria – are one of the best known genres of tabletop games in existence. Nearly anyone who knows any board game has played Scrabble, probably Boggle too. Add Bananagrams, or Quiddler, or even Paperback, and it can seem like it’s all kind of the same. Here’s a bunch of letters, scramble them up and make the best word you can, whether “best” means it’s the longest or using the most unusual letters.

It’s a tried-and-true setup that’s easy to lift and shift into different mechanics. Some of our favorite word games might be off the beaten path a bit, but can essentially be described as “a word game plus.” Bali, that’s a word game plus solitaire. Quills, that’s a word game plus real-time hand management. Letter Tycoon, that’s a word game plus “owning” letters. Wordsy, that’s a word game plus being able to use letters that aren’t present.

Movable Type Review - Cards
A collection of Movable Type letter and author cards.

In this proud tradition, Movable Type seems at first to be just a word game plus drafting. The game has 5 rounds, and in the first 4 rounds, you draft cards with a letter on them (keep one, pass the rest; think 7 Wonders or Sushi Go), and then build the best word you can with the cards you drafted, plus a few commonly available letters. Each card is worth some number of points based on rarity, and the players with the highest score get the best reward.

But what makes Movable Type special – not just for a word game but for multi-round games in general – is that you don’t build up any incremental score or move directly closer to victory. That fifth round is the only round that matters at all for winning.

See, the reward for doing well in rounds 1 through 4 is getting to stash away cards for that final round. The higher your score, the more cards you get to stash away during that round, and you have first pick. But in round 5, all the drafting is gone, and each player builds the highest-scoring word they can out of the cards they stashed previously, plus some common letters like in the standard rounds. The player with the best final word wins the whole game.

And all this is ignoring the author cards, which give players extra goals to try to achieve – hitting a certain amount of points exactly, avoiding using the pool of shared letters, making a word with a certain amount of letters, etc. – which will give players extra rewards (usually an extra-valuable letter card).

Movable Type Review - More Cards
The word JACK has two 6 point letters, qualifying for the author Lu Xun. Whoever claims Lu Xun can use him as a 6 point P in the final word.

While most word games reward good word building, Movable Type has an extra layer of forward-thinking strategy that most lack. We’ve only played a handful of times, but we can see that a great player will have three competing interests at heart when drafting their letters: building the best scoring word, getting an author card, and using letters valuable for that final round. This tension makes for a challenging game to play at a high level, although we – and likely most players – won’t be trying to think at all three of them at once.

Kayleigh: On top of that, the game provides an excellent memory challenge as you try to track which letters you’ve collected over the first four rounds. Hopefully they’re letters that will meld well together to form some sort of sensible, ideally high-scoring word once you’re able to pick your hand back up in the fifth round. Keeping track of my deck, while also forming strategic words with my current hand is a bit of a welcome challenge. I find this aspect to be unique in comparison any other word game I’ve played before.

Tim: Movable Type is challenging, but it’s unfortunately not very interactive. Yes, there’s drafting, but there’s so much going into your own word building that any sense of counter-drafting is next to impossible. There is competition in gathering authors and occasionally taking common letters when collecting cards after each round, but it’s strongly heavily solitaire – you’re always just trying to score the best. The personal strategy is strong and interesting, but you’re essentially playing versus the game, and seeing who fares the best afterwards. It really doesn’t play any differently in a 2-player game or a 6-player one. I haven’t tried the solo version, but I imagine the strategy is equally the same there based on reading the rules.

Movable Type heightens the word-building element of your typical word game to include drafting, achievements, and deck building. While not highly interactive, it brings a novel, fun challenge for word enthusiasts to the table! With its simple, repetitive turn structure, the game is easy to pick up and in our experience, quick to play.

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