Alderac Entertainment Group
Players: 1-4 Players
Play Time: 20-40 Minutes
The Queen has been arrested for high treason. The princess, filled with sadness, has locked herself in the palace to mourn. Now, many men seek to woo the princess, but who should be the one to deliver their love letters? Who can successfully hand your love letter to the princess?
In Love Letter, players act as suitors of the princess as they attempt to get their love letter into the princess’ hands, while also preventing the other players from delivering. Whoever can deliver a set amount of love letters to the princess wins the game. The idea is simple enough, and the gameplay is almost as simple. What makes Love Letter special is how much depth lies in its simplicity.
Love Letter is for 2-4 players and takes 20 to 40 minutes to complete. The flexible player count and simple rules make Love Letter a wonderful filler game. Love Letter consists of 16 cards. Everything comes in a cute little red felt bag, which is a nice change of pace from the usual bulky boxes that games tend to come in. The small package reinforces allows it to be thrown into your purse or pocket, making it one of the best “On the go” games available.
Each player is dealt a single card, and one card is removed from the deck. A turn consists of a player drawing a card, then playing a card. The effects of the card are resolved, then the next player’s turn begins. Play continues until a player wins the round, which is determined by the last player standing, or whoever has the highest value card in the end. Whoever wins a certain amount of rounds (An amount set by the number of players), wins the game.
Out of the pool of 16 cards, there are 8 different cards, each defined by an effect and a number. For example, the Priest has a value of 2 and allows the player who played the card to look at another player’s hand. The Prince has a value of 5 and allows a player to force another player to discard their hand and a draw a new card. The various cards and their effects are simple but allow for a great experience due to the rush of trying to be the last man standing.
Most rounds will end with all players being eliminated. For example, the Princess’ effect is that if she is played/discarded, the player that possessed the card is immediately eliminated. Cards like the Prince will force players to discard cards and will cause elimination if that card is the princess. Guards (Valued at a measly one) allow the player to essentially play Go Fish and guess what another player has in their hand. If they guess correctly, that player is out.
Guards drive the gameplay of Love Letter and allow it to be a game of deduction. Did a Priest played by another player recently reveal that someone has a Baron? Play your guard to eliminate that player. Some cards don’t outright reveal what is in a players hand but can hint at it. Discarded cards are visible to all players, so the game encourages players to use all of the resources given to them to determine what their opponents hold in their hands.
While deduction is a key part of the game, it does suffer from a significant amount of luck being involved. I have experienced many rounds where I lose before I even get my first turn, which is always a bummer. Of course, rounds are so short that this doesn’t leave eliminated players out of the fun for too long. Players that don’t like luck may find a lot of gripes with Love Letter. Other players will wish for the game to have a bit more complexity to it, but this is a small gripe for a game that can act as filler to a board game night.
Love Letter shines due to the amount of depth that is hidden in its simplicity. It scales well to all amounts of players and is easy to pick up for players of all skill levels. The game is usually full of laughs and is perfect as an appetizer for an evening of board games.
Love Letter is the perfect light card game for players of all ages and skills. While it does have a heavy reliance on luck, the game tends to be fun for everyone.