• REVIEW : Love Letter

    Queen Marianna, of the City-State of Tempest, has been arrested for high treason. With advancement in their eyes, the eligible men of Tempest are scheming and vying for the hand of the beautiful Princess Annette who is next in line for the throne. In shock, the Princess has locked herself in the palace. You, as one of those eligible suitors, must find a way to get your letters of love and tokens of affection to the Princess. You are reliant on those who live in the palace to carry your message and you must work to influence those closest the Princess to carry your message instead of someone else’s!

    Love Letter is a ‘small deck’ card game designed by Seiji Kanai. It was released this last year in the Tempest line of games by AEG. It has also been re-released in the original Japanese printing and is slated to be reprinted with art from The Legend of the Five Rings sometime soon.

    Love Letter is a game for 2-4 players and it plays similar to a "trick taking" game. The game has a deck of 16 cards which represent various nobles, servants and guards who live in the palace of Tempest. Each card has a value between 1 and 8 starting with the guards (1) and going up the ranks of the nobles with the highest number representing the princess (8). Each card has a different game ability that is activated when the card is played. Some of these abilities include: looking at an opponent’s hand, trading cards, or triggering abilities to knock out opponents.

    When the game starts, one card is removed from the deck face-down so that there is always one unknown card which no one can account for each round, then every player is dealt one card. Game-play is simple: every turn you draw one card and play one of the two in your hand. Play proceeds around the group until all the players are knocked out (by card effects) or all of the cards are drawn from the deck. When every card has been drawn from the deck, the players who are still in the game compare the cards they still have in their hand and the player with the highest number wins the round. This fulfills the theme of getting your love letter to the Princess by contacting the members of the court closest to the Princess and having those people carry the message! The winning player receives a token of affection and rounds are repeated until a player accumulates a number of tokens based on the number of players.
    Love Letter is a surprisingly deep game considering the small number of cards. Rounds play quickly as many players are knocked out within a couple of plays, but in the end, strong strategy generally trumps blind luck. The beautiful card art utilizes characters from the Tempest line of games. The original Japanese release offers alternative art as well. The cards are made from a glossy cardstock that should hold up to a lot of play and shuffling, though sleeving the cards will lengthen their life span. The game is an incredible value at $10 retail. It comes in a sturdy bright red bag with gold lettering and holds the following items

    • A rule book with a short story introducing the theme and character info
    • 16 playing cards
    • 4 reference cards (listing the number of & ability of each card in the deck)
    • 13 tokens of affection (red wooden cubes)

    This is a game that will be in my collection indefinitely. It offers a quick-play game which is easily picked up by new/casual gamers but is also suited for dedicated gamers who are looking for hours of strategic play. The game is small in size and is easy to carry around everywhere. In fact, I always carry this game with my other games, even if I have no plans to play it that night.

    I give Love Letter a solid 9 out of 10. This is a game that I will not be trading in any time soon and I will even be buying a second copy when the Legend of the Five Rings edition releases.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. LordNth -
      Seeing this game about, I picked it up a few weeks ago. Can't play it enough. Hope to get in a 4 player game soon enough.