June 3, 2020 0 By Tom Gurg

Tom reviews Composition, a musical -themed word-building game.


  • Designed by: Matthew Hocker
  • Art by: Olivia Raum & Becky Titus
  • Published by: Coo’ Games

Summary: In Composition, players are ‘maestros’ composing their masterpieces using words built by drafting letter cards.

Gameplay: After setting up the play area with the appropriate numbers of the different types of cards and choosing their maestro, players, in turn, draft or purchase letter cards of four types. The four card types are Notes, Awards, Ovations, Crescendos. Notecards are the foundation of the game. These are the cards most used to build words (‘performance’ in-game language). The entire alphabet as well as blends and specials. Notecards depict a letter of the alphabet, a score number for the card, and possibly a symbol and/or an action. Award cards state a goal and award end game points (banners) if a player meets the goal during their turn. Ovation cards are special letter cards that are permanent additions to a player’s set of available letters and also give end game points. They may also have special actions that are also available. Crescendo cards are special letter cards that score higher than the average Notecards.

Gameplay is divided into rounds. The round is made up of a couple of phases. In Phase One, players draft or purchase (Crescendo and Ovation cards must be bought.) cards with which to build a word. Cards are purchased using ‘roses’ or points earned from words. Once every player has taken all the cards they wish or are able, Phase Two begins. In Phase Two, players build their words using the drafted letters as well as any of their special Maestro Locked Letter cards (Each Maestro comes with three locked letter cards which are permanently available.) Phase Three begins when all players have completed and confirmed their words. Any appropriate actions are taken. Then the performances are scored. Phase Four replaces the drafted cards with ones drawn from the appropriate decks. If Ovation cards were taken in that round, the round marker is moved forward. This informs the total number of Notecards will be available in the next round. The end game is triggered when there are no more Ovation or Award cards available in the draw decks. Players play one more round and then score their Banners, which, again, are on the Ovation and Award cards. The player with the most Banner points wins.

Not Quites: We didn’t find many aspects of Composition lacking. The one point we all agreed upon was that the Ovation and Crescendo cards probably cost too much. Ovation cards cost 20 points and Crescendo cards five. This may be a bit high and is a barrier early in the game when players do not have many points (roses) with which to purchase these cards. The only other fiddly aspect is that the game takes some time to set up.

Uniqueness / The Cool: Composition has a couple of neat things going for it. The biggest is that it is a fun spelling game. This is a small category of games but Composition is an excellent addition to it. The next thing that stands out is the art. The cute, well-drawn maestros are a bonus. Once you begin playing, you see that there is a lot of strategy in the game. Decisions about which card to take on your turn, whether to spend roses or not, what cards do your opponents want are all thoughts running through your head. The fact that all players’ cards are exposed enhances this decision-making process. You know what your opponents have and can imagine what words they may make on their turn. Do you take a letter just to keep them from making a word or do you focus on making your word? The inclusion of actions each turn steps the game up a notch above just being a spelling game and adds to this decision making. The point-buy system is cool also. Lastly, I will say that the components are top-notch quality.

Gameschool-ability: Composition seems to have been designed for gameschooling. The spelling aspect alone screams that. The game will build confidence in spelling. There are other games that do this. Scrabble being the best example. But I think Composition is more accessible or at least more attractive. Having a dictionary handy during play is a good idea. Reading the meaning of each built word will not only to confirm the validity of built words, but also to enhance vocabulary. Composition rewards planning and strategy. And of course, it reinforces addition.

Who Is This Game For:

  • Any gameschooling group
  • People who enjoy spelling games
  • People who enjoy mid-weight games
  • Gamers who like game with multiple decision points

Final Thoughts: I enjoyed Composition. It’s fun. It has decisions that can be hard choices at times. It reinforces spelling skills and vocabulary. We liked it enough to think up a cool variant where your word doesn’t have to be a true word but you have to have a convincing definition for it for it to count. I recommend Composition for any gameschooling group. It would be a welcome addition to your game shelf.

Coo’ Games website

BGG listing for Composition

Thanks to Coo Games for sending a free copy for an honest review. 

Tom Gurganus has been homeschooling father for the last 22 years. He and his wife have graduated two and have a third almost finished. Tom is the co-founder of Adventures In Gameschooling with Ryan. As a follower of Christ, he believes that he should encourage and build up others. This is one of the main drivers of Adventures In Gameschooling - to encourage a love for learning and enhance relationships through games and play. Tom has an extensive network within the game industry community through his blog and podcast Go Forth And Game. With over ten years of interviews with game designers and publishers as well as game reviews, Tom has a wealth of gaming knowledge to share. It is his mission to bridge the gap between schoolers and gamers.