A Step-by-Step Guide to the Paper Tales Solo Card Draft

February 26, 2020 | Guides | 2 comments

Learn how the solo card draft works in Paper Tales: Beyond the Gates with a step-by-step example.

My time with Paper Tales is always interesting, particularly since there are a lot of nuanced strategies to master. The expansion, Paper Tales: Beyond the Gates, is required for solo play. It introduces a solo card drafting mechanic that requires careful planning. Follow along with this guided tour through the phase to see how the process works!

The Existing Kingdom

For this example, I’m jumping into the second turn to illustrate some additional strategic points. No worries! It gives me a chance to explain even more.

At a glance, this little kingdom already has the following:

  • 1 Coin
  • Level 1 Temple
  • Knight and Militiaman (Front Line)
  • Farmer and Blacksmith (Back Line)
  • Noble (Reserve)

Whoa… What is all that?! The next section has the answer.

An Explanation of the Units and Resources

Feel free to hop, skip, and jump to the next section if you’re familiar with the game and understand what everything means. The iconography in Paper Tales is straightforward, and a helpful summary card makes for an easy reference. All the same, I’ll go over exactly what everything means to paint an accurate picture of the starting point!

  • 1 Coin: Coins are used to pay for units and buildings.
  • Level 1 Temple: This building currently provides an income of 2 coins, but that happens after the draft.
  • Front Line: Up to 2 units may be placed in this area, and they contribute their strength to the war phase.
    • Knight: This unit has a strength of 4, and the aging token means he will go away at the end of the round.
    • Militiaman: This unit has a base strength of 2, but the aging token adds 1 strength: She has 3 strength.
  • Back Line: Like the front line, up to 2 units may be placed here, but their strength is not used in the war phase.
    • Farmer: He produces 1 food, which is used for building costs or specific bonuses.
    • Blacksmith: She generates 1 coin, and as mentioned above, coins pay for units and buildings.
  • Reserve: Between turns, a single unused unit may be saved to possibly be used in a future turn.
    • Noble: He provides 2 legend points per 2+ cost unit in the kingdom when he is placed, and generates 1 ore.

Make sense? An understanding of the game rules and mechanics is recommended, but this section can be referenced as the guide continues. It’s not important to understand the specific intricacies. Also, ignore the available buildings. Just a general idea will suffice for the moment! Most importantly, all of these units have aging tokens. Don’t forget!

The Lich King Track

Now, take a look at the solo opponent, the Lich King. In this second chapter, he has access to a pair of bonuses. Additionally, I know a little bit about his war strength.

From these cards, the following facts are known:

  • First Bonus: 1 legend point per unit with food.
  • Second Bonus: 2 legend points per unit with ore.
  • Immediate Bonus: 1 legend point after the draft.
  • Black Army Strength: 3 plus the unrevealed card.
  • Purple Army Strength: 4 plus the unrevealed card.

The most important elements are the quest bonuses.

How Does the Paper Tales Solo Draft Work?

Remember the bonuses above? The card draft serves a dual purpose. It’s important to pick up units that will provide benefits to the kingdom. Possibly more vital, however, is denying the Lich King bonus legend points. He gains every undrafted unit, which can be quite lucrative for him! Blocking him can be the key to victory.

The solo card draft takes place over 5 rounds:

  • 1st Round: Draw 5 random cards, and choose 1 to keep.
  • 2nd Round: Draw 4 random cards, and choose 1 to keep.
  • 3rd Round: Draw 3 random cards, and choose 1 to keep.
  • 4th Round: Shuffle all of the undrafted cards, draw 2, and choose 1 to keep.
  • 5th Round: Draw and keep 1 card from the undrafted cards, excluding the one not used in the 4th round.

In this manner, the final rounds go through cards that have already been seen. This makes the choices even more interesting since there’s a chance an undrafted card might be seen again. Enough of the setup, though… Onto the draft!

Note that I won’t reveal my choices until the end. There are a few different paths to take with this selection of cards, and I want to present all of the options. Besides, I’m no master, so you might make better decisions!

Round 1 of the Draft

With the Lich King poised on the horizon to take every undrafted unit, this first set of 5 cards presents some interesting decisions. What to choose to start with?

The available options are the following:

  • Time Master: 0 coins cost, no Lich King bonuses.
  • Forest Child: 1 coin cost, 1 Lich King legend point.
  • Adventurer: 0 coins cost, 2 Lich King legend points.
  • Cave Spirit: 1 coin cost, 2 Lich King legend points.
  • Dragon: 3 coin cost, no Lich King bonuses.

I’ll go over my thought process for each card below!

Cost: 0 coins
Lich King: 0 legend points
Ability: Adds 2 aging tokens to 1 unit, and provides 1 strength.

Although free to place, the Time Master offers very little benefit. The aging tokens could be added to the existing Militiaman to bring her strength up to 5. But how would this help? The Time Master would still have to take up space in the back row, and the Lich King gains nothing from adding her. Still, she could come in handy for some strategies.

Cost: 1 coin
Lich King: 1 legend point
Ability: Produces 1 wood and 1 food, and provides 1 strength.

This is an example of a unit that benefits the Lich King. He will gain 1 legend point if she is in the undrafted pile at the end of the phase. Still, she requires the lone coin to be spent to produce resources that don’t quite align with any existing strategy. Is she the best choice to deny the Lich King from legend points this turn? She still could be useful.

Cost: 0 coins
Lich King: 2 legend points
Ability: Produces 1 ore for every aging token on him, and provides 2 strength.

This is a unit that costs nothing to place, which is useful when there is only 1 coin available! He also grants the Lich King 2 legend points from the quest bonus. At the same time, the Adventurer offers little intrinsic value. Without any other help, he will not have any aging tokens and could provide very little aid. Is he the right choice from this group?

Cost: 1 coin
Lich King: 2 legend points
Ability: Adds 1 aging token to himself, produces 1 ore, and provides 4 strength.

The Cave Spirit will only stick around for a single war phase without any intervention because he enters play with an aging token. He does grant the Lich King a bonus, though, so he could be quite useful. That cost is still tricky, though, since there is only a single coin available. Is it worth it to plan for the war phase and have nothing else to spend?

Cost: 3 coins
Lich King: 0 legend points
Ability: Provides 0 strength or 7 strength if ore is produced.

There are a lot of interesting units, and this is one of them! The Dragon has a conditional strength based on the production of ore. The Lich King gains nothing since she provides no actual ore production. At such a high cost, though, there is likely no way she can be placed anytime soon. Is she worth it to deny the Lich King legend points?

Round 2 of the Draft

A set of 4 cards provides another set of unique decisions. This time, perhaps a drafting strategy has begun to take shape. Or maybe not… It all depends!

The following units are available:

  • Rogue: 1 coin cost, no Lich King bonuses.
  • Palm Reader: 2 coins cost, no Lich King bonuses.
  • Monkey: -1 coin cost, no Lich King bonuses.
  • Leviathan: 3 coins cost, 1 Lich King legend point.

If it isn’t already apparent, each round of the draft makes for quite the experience. No decision is ever that easy.

Cost: 1 coin
Lich King: 0 legend points
Ability: Rewards 1 coin for each war victory, and provides 3 strength.

To fully understand the Rogue requires a close look at the kingdom’s strength. Is it likely that both wars will end in victory? If so, this unit provides a coin bonus that can come in handy for buildings or future unit costs. He can be used in place of other income methods, though this requires a definite focus on the wars. Does that seem worthwhile?

Cost: 2 coins
Lich King: 0 legend points
Ability: Rewards 1 legend point per aging token on every unit when it dies, and provides 1 strength.

There are some amazing combinations possible with the right units, and the Palm Reader can play into this! She provides bonus legend points when aging tokens stack up. However, the current situation has a fairly minimal number of aging tokens. Additionally, she seems to be a little expensive. Is she a unit that can actually be beneficial?

Cost: -1 coin
Lich King: 0 legend points
Ability: Rewards 1 coin for each aging token on her when she dies, and provides 1 strength.

Well, now! The main issue with my kingdom is its lack of coins. Typically there are no ways to generate coins during the placement phase… Except with a unit like the Monkey! She actually rewards 1 coin when she is placed, which can be used to immediately pay for other units. She might be the obvious choice, but is another unit even better than her?

Cost: 3 coins
Lich King: 1 legend point
Ability: Provides 4 strength plus 2 strength for each produced food, or 0 strength if he has at least 1 aging token.

Expensive units are sometimes easy to ignore during the draft phase when coins are in short supply. The Leviathan is likely impossible to place. However, he does grant the Lich King 1 legend point. Choosing him from this group denies that bonus, which could be worth it. A future turn might also see him enter play. Is he a good choice from this group?

Round 3 of the Draft

This set of 3 cards represents the last collection of new units to draft. The final draft rounds use the previous cards, so it’s possible to plan ahead a little more.

The available units for this round are the following:

  • Jinn: 2 coins cost, no Lich King bonuses.
  • Miner: 1 coin cost, 2 Lich King legend points.
  • Relic of Light: 2 coins cost, no Lich King bonuses.

At this point in the draft, I usually have a pretty good idea of my strategy. This is sometimes the easiest group to choose from, though that’s certainly not always the case!

Cost: 2 coins
Lich King: 0 legend points
Ability: Upgrades 1 level 1 building, adds 1 aging token to 1 unit, rewards 1 coin, and provides 1 strength.

Whoa! Remember the existing play area with the level 1 Temple? One rule that’s important to remember is that as soon as there is at least 1 Level 2 building, 3 units may be placed on the front line. The Jinn allows an immediate upgrade and provides an extra coin in the process. I won’t give anything away, but… Is there really a question here?

Cost: 1 coin
Lich King: 2 legend points
Ability: Produces 1 ore, and provides 2 strength.

The Miner is a relatively cheap unit, and he aligns with one of the Lich King’s bonuses. Ore production can be useful for buildings, although there are some other ways to earn extra bonuses from other sources. The tricky part is that my kingdom doesn’t have any synergies with ore. Is it worthwhile to make sure the Lich King doesn’t gain this unit?

Cost: 2 coins
Lich King: 0 legend points
Ability: Rewards 1 legend point for each other surviving unit, and provides 2 strength.

The Relic of Light has some of my favorite artwork in the game, though she is useful in specific ways. Finding a way to remove aging tokens, or piling them on a single unit, often works well with her. In this instance, she has a limited benefit at the moment. Still, she might come in handy. What makes this unit the reason to forego the other options?

Round 4 of the Draft

Time to see some of the same units! This round offers up a pair of options from the cards the Lich King is ready to claim. He’s impossible to escape, lurking as he does.

The options are the following familiar units:

  • Adventurer: 0 coins cost, 2 Lich King legend points.
  • Rogue: 1 coin cost, no Lich King bonuses.

There seems to be no need to go into another detailed discussion of these units. Which one would you pick?

Either one might be the better option, or it might be clear.

My Final Unit Selection

Here are my choices from each round, including the final drawn card that I had no choice over. Still, not bad!

My available units are the following:

  • Forest Child: Chosen in the 1st round.
  • Monkey: Chosen in the 2nd round.
  • Jinn: Chosen in the 3rd round.
  • Adventurer: Chosen in the 4th round.
  • Leviathan: Drawn in the 5th round.
  • Noble: Kept in the reserve from the last turn.

Read on to understand why I chose these different units.

The New Kingdom

Indeed, I had something of a plan the whole time! Sometimes this works out, and other times it doesn’t pan out. I made the best choices I could, though.

The kingdom now contains:

  • 1 Coin
  • Level 2 Temple
  • Knight, Monkey, and Adventurer (Front Line)
  • Blacksmith and Jinn (Back Line)
  • Noble (Reserve)

I’ll go on to explain the order of each placed unit.

Unit: Monkey
Location: Front line (Replace Militiaman)
Cost: -1 Coin

Although this cost me valuable war strength, I needed that coin! This gave me 2 coins to work with for my next move. I would also be able to potentially earn more coins in the future when the monkey died. Or retired. That’s better!

Unit: Jinn
Location: Back line (Replace Farmer)
Cost: 2 coins

Here was my exciting move! By using both coins, the Jinn upgraded the Temple and rewarded a coin. I realized I made a mistake with the placement of the aging token… It should have been on the Monkey, not the Adventurer!

Unit: Adventurer
Location: Front line (New space from Level 2 Temple)
Cost: 0 coins

Again, ignore the aging token on the Adventurer: It was meant to go on the Monkey. She must have moved it! Anyway, this move gave me more war strength and the potential for ore production during a future turn.

Units: Knight, Blacksmith, and Noble
Location: No changes
Cost: 0 coins

Even though I had another coin to spend, I wanted to maintain the extra income from the Blacksmith. I also already paid for the very strong Knight, and he could stick around for another war phase! I still had plans for the Noble, too.

More Paper Tales

Explore related posts about Paper Tales and Paper Tales: Beyond the Gates!

Continue the Conversation

What do you think of the solo card draft in Paper Tales? More importantly, what do you think of my choices during each round? I hope this shows just how many variables must be considered when units are chosen. With a large deck to draw from, the groupings are almost always different. I’ve improved over time, though mastering this draft takes time!


  1. I just got this game from my wife for Valentine’s Day and I really enjoy it. I love card drafting, and it’s neat to have a game that provides drafting for solo play. It’s quick to set up and quick to play with tough decisions throughout. I am enjoying learning about all of the different combinations of cards that work well.

    • Awesome choice, Arianne! The price can be a little steep for the base game plus expansion, but the game itself is rather unique. I don’t have a lot of card drafting games… Likely because not many of them work too well solo! I’m still far from mastering anything, as I already think I should have made some different decisions here…

      I hope you enjoy it as a solo game, as well as a game to enjoy with your wife. Good luck!


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