Review – Love Letter
A bluffing and deduction card game.
Title: Love Letter
Year Published: 2012
Designer: Seiji Kenai
Game Time: 20 Mins
Set-up Time: >1 Mins
Theme: The Tempest World
Mechanic: Bluffing, Deduction
How to win: Gain the most tokens of affection
All of the eligible young men (and many of the not-so-young) seek to woo the princess of Tempest. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, and you must rely on others to take your romantic letters to her. Will yours reach her first?
Put the cubes in a pile.
Shuffle the deck.
Deal a card to each player and deal one card to one side.
Starting with the first player, you will draw a card and discard a card. You then play the action on the discarded card if it has one.
When one player remains or all the cards in the deck have been drawn.
If the deck runs out the player holding the highest rank character wins. If this is a tie, the player with the highest total rank of discarded (played) characters wins.
The goal is to get your token of affection to the Princess to cheer her up. She’s upset because the Queen was arrested. (The Queen is arrested at the end of each game of Courtier, another game in the Tempest Series.)
So the first card you draw is the character that is holding your Love Letter. As you draw then play a card you are choosing which character you’re going to pass your Love Letter to. The card you discard activates it’s ability.
The goal is to be the last player left or have the highest rank character, which is the character who is the closest companion to the Princess. So there is theme.
So who are these characters and what are their abilities?
Note: I have both the AEG re-themed version that fits into their Tempest World and the original version that was reprinted by AEG so I will mention the differences here.
1 – Guard/Soldier
Lowest rank but super powerful.
Name a player and name a non Guard/Soldier card, if they are holding it, they’re out. Near the beginning of the game you may need to use educated guess work but as the game goes on and more cards are revealed you start to narrow down your options.
2 – Priest/Clown
My personal least favourite card although the Clown is a great picture.
Name a player, you look at their hand.
3 – Baron/Knight
Super powerful card.
Name a player, you compare the card in your hand with theirs. Who ever has the lowest rank is out. This a great card to use, especially if you draw a card rank 5 or higher to play with it. It can backfire! If you knock a player out they discard their card so everyone will know your card is a higher rank than that one which can give away too much information!
4 – Handmaid/Priestess
Always relived when I get to play one if these.
This protects you until your next turn. Players can not play abilities on you.
5 – Prince/Wizard
Choose a player, that player discards their hand and draws a new card. You can pick yourself but it’s more fun to try and make someone discard the Princess!
The situation can arise where the only other player in the game is protected by a Handmaiden and you’re holding the Prince and Princess. You lose!
6 – King/General
Trade hands with another player.
This can be hit or miss depending what you have/what you get.
7 – Countess/Minister
This is the only card with a difference between the two versions.
If you have the Countess and you’re holding the King or Prince, you must discard the Countess. You can discard the Countess to make people think you have a King or Prince.
The Minister is BRUTAL! If you’re holding the Minister and the Wizard, General or Princess at the same time, you’re out! So yeah, you can be out on turn one. Harsh but causes a lot of laughs.
8 – Princess
If you discard the Princess for any reason, you are out.
The game is 16 cards big and comes in a velvet bag and it’s called Love Letter so there are always raised eyebrows from people who have not heard of this game. It can be hard to get people to play it.
But, I have only met one person that doesn’t like that game and I don’t like that person.
There was a lot of hype for this game and for £7 I gave it a chance and I’m so glad I bought it…. twice. (And pimped it out with some heart tokens to replace the wooden cubes it comes with)
I’ve played this game more than any other due to it’s simplicity and short play time.
Yeah there’s luck, it can be random and you can get stuck in situations where you can’t possibly win. But you know what? No one ever complains. It’s Love Letter, you laugh at it and move on.
Also, you do need to rely on honesty for some cards. But as the rule book says, if you’re the type of person who will cheat at a game like Love Letter… you probably don’t deserve to play it.
One of my favourite games.
I give it… 8/10