Updated: Jul 26, 2020
Love Letter, while not new, is new to me. A friend brought it to game night and it was a beautiful card game the delivers fast paced action. Love Letter comes with nineteen cards that offer different scores and abilities. They also released an addition, Love Letter: Erweiterung that adds another 13 cards to take out your enemies. The artwork is beautiful and the cards well thought out. Each one is different, straightforward, and doesn’t cause any confusion when played. This makes for easy explaining and minimal setup and learning time. The basics are, everyone gets one card and when it becomes their turn, they draw a card and then play one of the two. People get knocked out by barons, guards, dowager queen, and the assassin. Whoever is the last person standing, is successful in using the jester, or had the constable get a point.
Within about five minutes of unpacking and reading the short rule book we were on our way. While the first few rounds might take a few extra minutes while people get to know the cards, it soon becomes very fast paced. You can finish a round in under five minutes pretty easily. You start the round with one card that is dealt to you and then you draw a card when it is your turn. After drawing you can choose which card to play. I personally hate drawing the princess card because then you are stuck with her otherwise you lose. So, when you then draw a card like the countess or king you are stuck playing those cards and soon other players deduce what you are holding. With the eight guards in the deck, he guesses the opponent’s card and if correct knocks them out of the game, you will almost certainly be knocked out of the round if you have the princess. My favorite card in the whole deck is the assassin. The assassin removes a player if they try and use a guard on you. I try and strategize this by dropping hints like I am the princess to trick someone into using a guard and being knocked out of the round. The play goes around and round until a) there are no more cards or b) all other players have been knocked out.
While there is a bit of subterfuge it’s not like you have to play that way to win. Each person can play the way they want and don’t have to be forced into a chess match. It’s a simple enough game that allows people who suffer from anxiety or are inebriated to play easily and have a great time. We have a friend that will jump out during certain games due to his anxiety but almost always hops back into the fray when Love Letter is brought out. This is also a great party game and we were successfully able to play while most of the players were inebriated in some fashion. Most games get shelved as the night goes on because even just above basic gameplay becomes difficult for those who are drinking. Another great thing about Love Letter is that even when you are knocked out it’s still fun to watch and the rounds are over quickly so you don’t get bored. Love Letter is completely different, it is both easy and fun, which is hard to find in a world filled with board games.
The one problem that I have with Love Letter is the premium versions scarcity. I have yet to find the proper deluxe version for sale for a reasonable price. Luckily, they have a lot of different versions but I love the extra touches the deluxe version has. You get oversized card sleeves for each of the cards, the point tokens are in the shape of a heart, and it comes with a box that is a great size and fits well on a shelf. The others are either out of stock or only come in a fabric bag and the tokens are just square pieces of wood painted red. The expansion is currently available with a boxed version and comes with an extra counter that works with the jester card. Just be sure when you are purchasing the game that you are buying the English version, there are many that have accidentally picked up the German version. Our friend was one of them and had to wait for it to be returned and then bought the proper one.
I have literally zero to complain about the actual game. The artwork is beautiful, the instructions are simple and easy to grasp, and the gameplay is not only fast paced it is fun too. If you are looking for a game to start out on or to introduce someone new to board games this is an easy one that will have everyone coming back for more. You can pick it up on Amazon or Miniature Market. My final score is 5 out of 5 princesses FTW.