Game: Love Letter
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)
Designer: Seiji Kanai
Main Game Mechanisms: Social Deduction, Bluffing
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Game Time: 20m
Description: In Love Letter, you’re trying to get your love letter to the princess. The difficulty is that she’s locked in her tower so you have to rely on various characters to try and deliver it for you. Each player is dealt 1 card at the beginning of each round and if your card is discarded you’re out of the round. Last one standing wins the round.
Your turn is simple: you draw a card, then play one of those 2 cards (either the one you drew or the one that was already in your hand) ensuring that you always have 1 card in your hand (your secret deliverer). Each card has a special ability that can be leveraged in your favor (or perhaps not), don’t get caught with the princess or it’s over for you! That is, unless you are still alive when the deck runs out. At that point, the person with the highest card wins the round.
Review: Love Letter is a very light and easy-to-learn game that can fit in your pocket (as it’s just 16 cards and some (optional) wooden trackers) so it’s great to take on trips or for general hangouts, or to keep in your purse/backpacks/whatever. The rounds go quick and you can decide how many or few to play as you go, there’s no set end condition beyond winning a round.
It’s pretty easy to pick up the basics but the randomness/card draw and the utility of the guards (who let you pick a player, guess what character they have, and if you’re right they have to discard it) means there is definitely a hidden depth to it. I wouldn’t go so far as to use the “easy to learn, hard to master” cliche, but it’s definitely more than the initial appearance would lead you to believe.
Buy, Try, Deny: If you like social deduction games, or light games you can fit into any size of time slot, then I would definitely recommend this game. If you don’t like the fantasy theme of the normal version, there are umpteen re-skinned versions of the game (Batman, Archer, Adventure Time, the list goes on) that you can get instead, some of which actually change up the mechanics a little bit, though at the core they’re all the same gameplay. It’s also a pretty cheap buy, less than $15 from most retailers.
If you don’t like bluffing/deduction games then this probably isn’t for you. There isn’t a lot of bluffing required, aside from having a good poker face to not reveal what’s in your hand, but I know some players/groups don’t like anything of the sort. If you feel that way, you should avoid this. But if you don’t mind a little hidden information, then this is for you! I, personally, really enjoy the game.
Scott – The Solitary Meeple