Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rate the Fun: Love Letter

Tonight was a games night with my regular gaming group. So I thought it would be a great time for another Rate the Fun board game review. Today's game is Love Letter.

Love Letter is a great 20 minute card game for 2-4 player game created by Seiji Kanai. I find it is best for 3-4. There is text on the cards that explains its action, however it is easy to understand and memorize. The recommended age on Board Game Geek is 8 and up.

There are currently eight releases of the game, with two more on the way. The one I first encountered was the Tempest Edition, set in the fictional European-esque court in the city state of Tempest. This is the game explanation from the publisher, Alderac's website:
In the wake of the queen’s arrest, all the eligible young men of Tempest (and many not so young) seek to woo Princess Annette. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, and everyone must rely on those within the palace to bring their romantic letters to her. Will yours reach her first?

Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2–4 players. Your goal is to get your love letter into Princess Annette's hands while deflecting the letters from competing suitors. From a deck with only sixteen cards, each player starts with only one card in hand; one card is removed from play. On a turn, you draw one card, and play one card, trying to expose others and knock them from the game. Powerful cards lead to early gains, but make you a target. Rely on weaker cards for too long, however, and your letter may be tossed in the fire!
I own the Love Letter: Legend of the Five, it is the exact same game with a Japanese Imperial court aesthetic. In it the suitors are samurai clans who hope to control Japan with a politically advantageous marriage. What is neat about but this versions is the back story for card characters, which you can read on the Alderc site.

Good Stuff:
  • Love Letter only has sixteen cards making it simple to carry, set up, and teach.
  • The whole game fits into a drawstring pouch that holds the 16 cards, 4 expiation cards, the rules, and cubes. It is compact and easy to carry. In fact, I keep my copy in a side pocket in my purse so that it is with me everywhere I go. You never know when you'll want to play a game.
  • The size also makes it easy to play just about anywhere. I find it is the perfect game to play while waiting for a meal at a restaurant. I've even used sugar packs instead of the cubes that made clean up even easier.
  • There are so many versions of Love Letter that I think there is a theme that would interest any gamer.
Less Than Good Stuff:
  • It only plays two-four people, I often have five people wanting to play.
  • This is a petty complaint, I dislike the plan cubes in the base games of Love Letter. I am jealous of the bat signals in the Batman Love Letter and the gems in the Hobbit version. I've seen some neat fan-made versions including clay hearts and tiny letters, which I obviously need to do.
  • With so many nest themes, and slight variations, it is tempting to want more types of Love Letter, at least I want more but I don't need to own them all. 
Other Versions:
  • Love Letter: Kanai Factory, using the original art from when it was first published in Japan
  • Love Letter: Wedding edition, only available from the publisher, and is "the perfect gift for guests or wedding party"
  • Letters to Santa, a Christmas themed edition
  • Munchkin Loot Letter, it's Love Letter with out the icky romance
  • Love Letter: Batman Edition
  • Love Letter: the Hobbit Edition
  • Love Letter: Adventure Time, coming soon
  • Archer: once you go blackmail, also coming soon
I've only played the Tempest and Japanese version, so I was curious about the Batman and Hobbit themes. I always thought they would be the exact same game with a new look. After watching this video critique by Crits Happen, I learned that is not true. Both have a twist that makes the game different and fresh. Now I want to play/own both.

Final Thoughts:
I like Love Letter a lot. It makes a great filler while waiting for food or on a games day while others wrap up their game. But it is also something I play just because it is fun. I strongly recommend it. If you do buy a copy, consider getting card sleeves to protect the game.
Rate the Fun Score: 7.8
You can find the list of rated games and the Rate the Fun score guide here.

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