Love Letter – Journal Entry #4

Love Letter

Have you ever fallen in love with someone and wanted to confess your love to them through a love letter? Say no more!

In Love Letter by Seiji Kanai you and the other players are trying to get your love letter delivered to the princess with the help of the various court members that are part of the deck.

With a very small deck of cards and a few tokens, it may look like a simple, quick game of luck, but after your first turns you will soon find out it is a challenging game of deduction stirred up by the special actions granted by each card.

How to play Love Letter

The game comes with a deck of 16 cards that represent the members of the court. These cards are numbered 1 to 8 and they are unevenly split (1,1,1,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5,6,7,8). Besides these, you also get 4 reference cards and 12 tokens of affection. When the game starts, each player gets a reference card. Finally, you shuffle the character cards and deal one to each player.

On a player’s turn, they must draw one card from the deck and then play one card from hand. All discarded cards remain in the front of the player who played them. This helps the other players keep track of which cards have been played that round. Once you finish applying a card’s special action, the turn passes to the player on the left.

Love Letter characters
The 8 different characters (Romanian edition)

Each cards has a name and a special action. The lower numbered cards are more numerous. The most common one is the Guard (1), being present on 5 cards in the deck. When playing a Guard, you pick a player and name a non-Guard character. If you guessed the card in their hand, you knock them out of the game.

There are more ways to knock a player out of the game. If a player has the Princess in hand and you play a Prince against them, you force them to discard their card in hand. If a player discards the Princess, they lose the current turn.

Another way to knock someone out is to play a Baron against them and having a higher card in your hand. You see, the Baron’s special action sounds like this: “Choose one other player still in the round. You and that player secretly compare hands. The player with the lower rank (card value) is kicked out of the round”. So if you play the Baron and have the King (6) in your hand and they have any card with a value lower than 6, you kick them out of the round.

A round ends if the deck is empty at the end of a turn. All players still in the round compare their hands and the one with the highest value card in hand wins the round, getting a token of affection. A round can also end if all players but one are out of the round, in which case the remaining player wins.

In order to win the game, you have to win a number of rounds, based on the number of players.

The rulebook for the boxed edition looks like an actual letter

My thoughts on Love Letter

I’ve first time seen this game on Will Wheaton’s Tabletop series on YouTube. I’m not sure what, but their gameplay had something that got me interested in this game. Maybe it was due to Will’s jokes, maybe it was Felicia Day, I have no idea, but I knew I want to play it.

I first played it at 4 players during a game night at a local pub. After two rounds, I already knew I want to buy it. I felt like I want to play it more often than just at our nights out. We had lots of fun with it, as there were many moments when random guesses ended up with someone being eliminated.

Mango once joined us during a game of Love Letter

I got the boxed edition as a Christmas gift from my girlfriend and I couldn’t be happier! We’ve played it a lot since then (mostly at 2 players) and we’ve both developed different strategies. She is very strategic, usually thinking about her moves and considering chances of me having a certain card. I’m more impulsive, and just go at it whenever I get the chance, because I like taking the risk of losing the round.

Most of the time when I get a Baron on hand, if my second card is 5 or greater, I just play the Baron to end then game. I usually win, but it’s very funny when she actually has a greater card (most often the Countess) and she trashes me. I already have a reputation for playing the Baron-King combo and losing.

The Baron – Princess combo is a sure win in a 2 players game

Due to the random nature of drawing cards, some rounds may end up more satisfying than the others. There will be games that may end up in just a turn or two, but there will also be tough rounds when you won’t manage to discover who’s hiding what until the last minute. Although quick rounds may seem the funniest, you will find out that the pressure of not knowing who’s who brought by the long rounds really adds to the atmosphere.

If you’re an enthusiast of deduction games such as Coup or The Resistance, I totally recommend playing this game if you didn’t do it yet. Love Letter rewards strategic thinking and is very easy to learn and play, while also being easy portable and cheap.

Useful info

Designer: Seiji Kanai

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)

Players: 2-4

Time: 20 min

Times played: 16

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