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Minimum System Requirements

This game requires a vaguely modern web browser (2017 or newer: Google Chrome 61+, Firefox 60+, Edge 79+, or Safari 11+). A computer still running Windows XP is far too old, for example. If you meet the minimum requirements and cannot load the game, please use the bug reporting system to vote/file a report. If another player at your table cannot load the game, please kindly agree to abandon without penalty.

How To Play

Hardback is a deck-building word game. Each player starts with a deck of 10 Starter cards: The 8 letters (A, E, I, L, N, R, S, T) plus 2 random letters from the set (B, C, D, G, H, M, O, P, U, Y). Each player has their own draw and discard piles.

Spell A Word

Use the cards from My Hand (and Timeless Classics, if available) to spell a word.

• Click a card to move it in or out of the Current Word.

• Drag-and-drop cards to reorder. [ ALPHA LIMITATION: Cards cannot be moved between areas using drag-and-drop. ]

• Click WILD below any card to flip it face-down and make it wild. A keyboard prompt lets you change the card to represent any letter. Note that wild cards do not provide any benefits. Click RESET below a wild card to flip it face-up (undo).

If you can't spell a word, you may choose to skip your turn.

Any cards from your hand not used in your word are discarded. You cannot save cards from one turn to the next.

Resolve Card Benefits

The face-up cards in your word provide various benefits. Coins (¢) allow you to purchase new cards and ink. Points (★) increase your final score. Abilities alter the state of play in special ways.

• Benefits listed above the line, in black are Basic Benefits. You gain all of these every time you use the card face-up to spell a word.

• Benefits listed below the line, in color are Genre Benefits. You gain all of these if you have at least one other card of the same genre (color) in play.

Some benefits allow you to make a choice (for example, between ¢ or ★). When prompted, click the appropriate button below the card to indicate your selection.

Flush Offer Row

In certain situations, you can trash all 7 cards in the Offer Row (removing them from the game) and draw 7 new cards. You will be prompted to do this once per turn, before purchasing, if either conditions is met:

• At least 4 cards in the Offer Row cost 6¢ or more

• At least 4 cards in the Offer Row are the same genre (color)


You can purchase ink and cards from the Offer Row using the coins you earned this turn.

Each card's cost is indicated in the price tag in the top-left corner. Some Adventure (yellow) cards also indicate a number of points on the price tag. This is a one-time benefit you earn when purchasing the card. Click a card to purchase it.

Ink costs 1¢. Any coins you do not spend are automatically converted to ink at the end of your turn. You cannot save coins from one turn to the next.

Timeless Classics

All cards from your word are discarded at the end of your turn, except Timeless Classics.

Each of the 4 genres (Adventure, Horror, Mystery, Romance) has 4 Timeless Classic cards, which are printed sideways. When you spell a word using a face-up Timeless Classic card, it stays in play at the end of your turn. On subsequent turns, you continue to gain the benefits of the card whether or not you use it in your word.

Your Timeless Classic card stays in play until another player uses it to spell a word, which sends it to your discard pile. Any player can use any Timeless Classic cards that are in play when spelling a word, no matter which player owns the card. These cards cannot be made wild, regardless of the owner.

When you use another player's Timeless Classic card, you do not get any benefits and its genre does not count towards triggering other genre benefits in your word. Astute authors will use other players' Timeless Classic cards anyway in order to discard the card.

Use Ink and Remover

After your turn is complete, you may immediately begin working on your next word, including using any previously obtained ink and remover. At any time before you spell a word, even during another player's turn, you can draw additional cards from your draw pile by spending 1 ink per card. Inked cards must be used in your next word and cannot be made wild.

Remover can cancel ink. You can spend 1 remover to convert inked cards back to normal cards, meaning you are no longer required to use it in your word. Remover can only be obtained by playing certain cards; it cannot be purchased.

Pressing your luck with ink is the only way to draw additional cards. If you push your luck too far and can't form a word with all inked cards, you must forfeit your turn.

Game End

When a player reaches 60 points, the game ends at the conclusion of the current round (all players receive the same number of turns). The player with the most points is the winner and the finest author of the age! In the case of a tie, the player with the most ink remaining wins the game.


Literary Awards

Literary Awards provide bonus points to the player who spells the longest word of the game, encouraging players to compete more directly and spell longer words.

The first player to spell a word with 7 or more letters claims the appropriate award. The first player to subsequently spell a longer word claims the appropriate award and discards all lower awards. In this way, only one award is ever in play at a time. Whichever player is holding the literary award at the end of the game earns the stated number of bonus points. As the points for literary awards are not scored immediately, they do not count towards the 60 points needed to end the game.

Length Literary Award
7 letters 5 points
8 letters 6 points
9 letters 7 points
10 letters 9 points
11 letters 12 points
12 or more letters 15 points


Adverts allow you to purchase points with coins.

Each advert can only be purchased once and must be purchased in the order listed. You can buy multiple adverts (in order) during your turn. Points from adverts are scored immediately.

Cost Advert
3 points
6 points
12¢ 10 points
15¢ 15 points
18¢ 20 points