Composition Review

Composition Review


  • Designer:  Matthew Hocker
  • Publisher: Coo’ Games
  • Players: 1-5 Players
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time to play: 30-60 Minutes


Hey folks! I’m back again with another review!  This time, we’re grabbing a baton and orchestrating the most magnificent, marvelous, and sometimes mundane words! We’re doing this to become the best maestro and along the way we’re earning awards and might just buy some ovations. Just watch put for tomatoes coming your way. Those can really put a damper on your symphony of word building. Composition is a letter drafting card game where each player starts with a unique character and letters to use. The game is played until all ovation or award cards are gone. Then the player with the most award badges is the winner!

A copy of Composition was provided by Coo’ Games for this review.



  • 102 Note Cards
  • 75 Roses
  • 30 Crescendo Cards
  • 12 Award Cards
  •  10 Unique Maestros each with 3 specific starting letters
  • 9 Ovation Cards
  • 5 Cheat Sheets
  • 1 Ghost Note
  • 1 Solo Maestro
  • 1 Baton Card
  • 1 Tracker Card
  • 1 Rule Book

Set Up

This is set up for a 4 player game.
  1. Determine the number of players
  2. In the center of the table set up the drafting area also known as the composition.
  3.  Shuffle the ovation and award cards separately. Depending on the number of players, randomly select and reveal a certain amount.
    1. If 2-3 players, it’s 5 of each.
    2. If 4 players, it’s 6 of each.
    3. if 5 players, it’s 7 of each.
  4. Place a rose on the corresponding number equal to players on the composition tracker.
  5. Shuffle the note and crescendo cards separately and place in the drafting area.
    1. Reveal one note card for each player in the game. These got next to the deck of note cards.
    2. Place 2 face down crescendo cards next to the crescendo deck.
  6. Place the ghost note next to the drafting area.
  7. Players randomly select a maestro and take the matching letter cards.
  8. Each player starts with 1 red rose, the rest of the roses are placed in a central area that’s easy to reach.
    1. Place your maestro card in front of you.
    2. Place your unique letters to the right of it. Any cards with a lock you gain throughout the game will go to the right of your maestro.
    3. The place to the left of your maestro card is your chorus slot. You can hold up to 2 note cards here between rounds.
    4. The area above your maestro is your performance area.
    5. Each player gets a cheat sheet.
  9. Select a player to be first player. Give them the baton card.

Game Play

The game is played over several rounds until either all ovation cards or all award cards are claimed.

Phase 1 – The Composition

A player is buying a crescendo card for 5 roses.

Starting with the player holding the baton card, players will take turns selecting one card from the composition area until there are not cards available. Players cannot skip taking a card if there are free cards still available. If a player cannot or chooses not to draft a card and there are no free cards to draft the round is over.

  • Notes – These are free to draft.
  • Ghost Note – Costs 1 Rose to draft unless there are no notes in the composition. Then it’s free to draft. This can count as any letter. It’s returned at the end of the round to the composition.
  • Crescendo Notes – Cost 5 Roses to draft one.
  • Ovation Cards – Costs 20 roses to draft one.  Players can only draft one ovation card a turn.
A lot of times, the tomatoes are killer!

Phase 2 – Composing a word


Players simultaneously use the cards drafted and set letter cards to form a word. This is known as your performance for the round.

Players may spell words of any combination of cards drafted including their Maestro letter cards. Players may repeat words spelled previously.  Can’t think of a word? You can pay another player one rose to assist you in your performance of spelling.

Starting with the maestro with the baton card, players will confirm they have a word. Once confirmed they have a word, you can’t change your selection. The word is placed in front of you maestro in your performance area.

Only two unused note or crescendo cards without a lock can be stored in your chorus slots.

Phase 3 – Showcasing the Performance, Activating Abilities, Chaos, and Prizes!

Now, starting with the maestro with the baton players will read their performances out loud.



  1. Read the performance out loud.
  2. Activate abilities on cards used in the performance.
  3. Activate any additional abilities, such as Maestro abilities.
  4. If able, collect an award card earned by the performance.
  5. Calculate the number of roses of your performance, but don’t collect them yet.

Calculating the Performance

The “S” earns two roses if it’s the first letter of the word.
  • Add together the numbers in the red banner of all cards used in the performance.
  • Add any symbol bonuses as found on your cheat sheet. These are bonuses for the same note used on multiple cards.
  • Add any or subtract any bonuses from card abilities.

If a player challenges your word, confirm that it’s actually a word in the dictionary. If it is, you earn the roses. If it’s not a word, you don’t earn the roses.

Phase 4 – End of Round

  1. All players collect roses earned by their performance.
  2. Players then discard non-permanent cards to the discard piles.
  3. Return the ghost card to the composition area.
  4. The Baton Card passes to the player to the left.
  5. Notes are filled back up based on the tracker card.
  6. Crescendos are filled back to just two.

The last round is triggered when there are either no more ovation or no more award cards. The final round is played, as players can still earn roses and buy ovation cards or win award cards.

The end of the game, the players will count how many applause badges they have earned from ovation and award cards. The player with the most applause badges wins! If there is a tie, the player with the most roses is the winner!

Final Thoughts

I loved the components of this game!  The little blue and red roses are adorable!  And it follows with the Maestro cards too!  The art on the Maestro and Tomato cards are cute and add a lot of eye candy to this game!  I like that this game pulls so much from music. The baton card, the Maestros, even the background of the note and crescendo cards. And yes, there is a musical T-Rex in the game and a pretty impish Imp. Just so much character here! It all fits in a small box.  Now, it’s a different size box than I’m used to, but it works really well with the components.


Game play was something to get used to at first. I like drafting games, and this one does it well. What threw me off a little was the inclusion of the Ghost Note.  First time playing, I was expecting everyone to get the same amount of letters when playing. If no one buys anything first round, then one player should end up with an extra card.  Now this doesn’t matter too much as the ghost note goes back to the composition and any notes that aren’t locked are discard at the end of the round. Now I also thought the game seemed a little slow the first couple of rounds. However, it’s like the game has a accelerando built into it. As you earn more roses, you have more options to buy cards during drafting.


Not only are the Maestros all cute looking, each one has a different power. If you’re using a different Maestro each game, not only do you get a new power but you get new letters too. I found this well done and all seemed pretty balanced. There’s even a masked Maestro that shuffles in all the maestro letters and draws four. It’s only used in the solo variant, but once again well thought out to making the game feel different each time.


I like that you’re buying the crescendo cards blindly.  Sure, it might throw things off, but it also feels a little like buried treasure when drafting a good one.  If exposed, then the first player would almost always buy a locked crescendo for themselves. I feel like the trade off of not knowing and the cost of roses is smart.


I’m a band geek. I played in middle school and all of high school.  I was in concert band, marching band, and jazz band.  So when I saw a game about spelling and music I was stoked.  Fun fact, I was a percussionist and played bass guitar in jazz band.  I had a 6 string bass, and it was the coolest!  So cool, I got my senior pictures with it and a leather jacket. . . Looking back I probably could have picked something less Fonzie. That being said, I don’t think you need to be a bass playing, leather jacket wearing band geek to really enjoy this game. This is a gamer’s word game. It’s not scrabble or boggle. In this there are a lot of decisions on what to do each round. You could try and use each letter drafted to spell a word or you could slot a couple in your chorus slot and hope for a grand performance next round. Same with roses. Do you buy a crescendo when you have 5 roses or do you hold off for a ovation card?


Overall, Composition is a smartly designed word game.  There is a lot of replay value in this smaller box game. I can recommend this to anyone that likes word games or drafting games.


You can purchase a copy of Composition from Coo’ Games website.

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