Posted on September 3rd, 2015
Welcome to a new edition of A Roll of the Dice with your trusted reviewer, Adam. This week we are going over a game that frequents most board game groups because of its mixture of skill, back stabbery, and the ability to quickly make decisions. I speak of course of Love Letter. This game is a good bang for its buck game, especially since the price point is that of a meal at a fast food place, so we know that we are getting a lot of fun out of a small, simple, game. Not to mention there is a lot of nerdy remakes such as Lord of the Rings and of course BATMAN! They add a few nifty features, but the heart of the game remains the same, so we are just reviewing the standard game.
The game is one with a lot of chance, but involves the ability to bluff, the ability to react quickly to what is going on around you, and the ability to sneak your way to victory. All in a small game for two to four players, that contains four rule cards, sixteen character cards, and thirteen small little tokens. The way to win? You have to beat the other players four times, and collect one of the tokens each time you do. This means you successfully delivered your “Love Letter” to the Princess without anyone else catching you.
The game starts with the deck of characters being shuffled together, and one card being removed with no one knowing who it is. This adds an air of mystery to the game, since you can never know with perfect certainty who a player is all the time. This character is set aside, and will not be seen again until the next round (possibly). Once the character is removed, the players are each dealt one character face down, that only they may look at. This is your starting character. When it is your turn, you will draw a new character and decide which of the two you would like to play. Each card having a different ability (see another players hand, compare hands and the lowest card is out of the game, etc) or it may have a must do (if the princess is discarded you are out, if you have the king or prince you must discard the countess, etc) so there is a large mixture of things you can do.
Once you have chosen the card to play and your target among the other players, you get to finish the action, hopefully eliminating a player in the process, and then pass the turn onto the next person. You win by either eliminating all of the other players, or having the highest card in your hand when the deck runs out. All “used” cards are placed face up on the table so that the remaining players know what is out of the game. It starts to get a bit easier to guess.
The winner is given a token, and we start the game again. First to four tokens wins the game.
The characters are as follows :
Guard - one point - five in the deck - Pick a player and name a card, if they have that card, they are out for the round
Priest - two points - two in the deck - Pick a player, look at their hand
Baron - three points - two in the deck - Pick a player, compare hands. Lowest card is out of the round.
Handmaiden - four points - two in the deck - Safe from all character actions until your next turn.
Prince - five points - two in the deck - Make player of your choice discard their hand and draw a new one (remember if they have the princess, they are out of the game)
King - six points - one in the deck - Trade hands with another player (A bit risky early on as if they give you the princess, they know who you have, and can target you)
Countess - seven points - one in the deck - Must discard if you have/draw the king or prince.
Princess - eight points - one in the deck - You lose the round if she is discarded for any reason/can not discard her.
This gives us a run down of all of the characters, what they can do for you, and also their limitations. Some can help you to victory, and others can be your utter defeat. Trust me, the Princess is awesome to have, but not on turn one…
This is such a simple design for a fun game, that it should be extremely well designed, and I do feel that the game mechanics are. The card art is fairly basic, while the game is a more original take on other games already out there (thinking of Coup on this one).
The main reason I love the design though is the super small, portable, and well designed carrying case it comes in. The original game comes in a small red velvet bag, and takes up no room on my game shelf or my luggage when I am able to to take it with me. It is very easy to fit anywhere, and the bag is fun even as a dice bag or anything else you may want to bring with you. This makes me love it even more, because it is multi-
REPLAY VALUE 8
The game is always the same, but the outcome is extremely different. You can use so many different tactics to play, that it is always intriguing. Do you play the large cards to take out others, or horde them knowing you may be risking elimination? The choice comes down to which one you feel most comfortable with.
One good thing about the replay is that even to knew people, it is super easy to learn and pickup. It is fairly self explanatory, and the simple dynamics make it a staple game. My only issue with replay is that it is only a four player game. With a little more added to it, this would be a good large group game, and add a lot more difficulty to the win.
FUN FACTOR 10
Easily one of the easiest, most fun games I have ever played. It is mainly this much fun because of how fast the action is with a standard round only lasting about five to ten minutes, and a whole game maybe going between thirty minutes to an hour. It all comes down to luck, skill, and your ability to play the other players against each other. I love games where you can eliminate the other players, while building up your own game.
This is one of the games I would recommend to any player of any skill level, as it is almost impossible to master. Just knowing this makes it a key game in my repertoire.
Get this game. There really is not a lot else to say, as it is easily one of the more fun games to try out, and we play it every board game day. All of the players in the group love it, and they usually ask for it if I forget to bring it out. Stop by The Comic Hunter, and just get it. They will love to help you out!