Here at Scalliwag Toys, we have a weekly Games Night, during which customers can come in and play the featured game, choose from one of our open or demo games, or bring in something from home that they’d like to play. Next Friday night, given that it will be Valentine’s Day, we’ll be playing a couple of games that, in some fashion, have love as one of their themes.
One of the games scheduled for 14 February’s Games Night is Love Letter, from publisher Alderac Entertainment Group. Love Letter is a brilliant little card game for 2 to 4, in which players compete to deliver their love letter into the hands of the Princess, while keeping those of the other players away.
This whole idea sounded very strange to me at first — was this a story-telling game like Once Upon a Time? Were we going to role-play (a game mechanic I’m not overly fond of), each trying to be a more persuasive suitor than the other?
Thankfully, no. Love Letter is a game of bluffing and deduction, played over a series of rounds (how many rounds is kind of up to you). The game mechanic is simplicity itself: draw a card, play a card, do what it says. The highest card or the last card remaining at the end of the round gains a victory point. Simple, no?
Well, yes. And no. The deck consists of only 16 cards, one of which is discarded face down after the shuffle (so that even proficient card counters can never be quite sure who holds what). The point value, name, distribution, and effect of each card is as follows:
8 – Princess (1): Lose if discarded
7 – Countess (1): Discard if caught with King or Prince
6 – King (1): Trade hands with an opponent
5 – Prince (2): One player discards his or her hand and draws again
4 – Handmaid (2): Protection until one’s next turn
3 – Baron (2): Compare hands with another player; lower hand is out of the round
2 – Priest (2): Look at an opponent’s hand
1 – Guard (5): Guess an opponent’s hand. A successful guess means the opponent is out of the round.
It seems clear to me that Love Letter is a game whose appeal lies largely in the bluffing and deduction required to play. Luck plays a large part — there are so few cards, and each round lasts at most until the draw pile is exhausted — but it’s in what some reviewers have termed its “above-the-table” mechanic that Love Letter shines. As in the Dixit family of games, knowing your opponents can be an invaluable aid to successful bluffing!
Each round takes only a very few minutes to play. AEG suggests that a 2-player game is won when a player accumulates 7 tokens; a 3-player, after 5 tokens; and a 4-player after 4 tokens are won by one player.
Highly recommended. Great little filler game with a surprising amount of crafty fun.
Love Letter, 2-4 players, ages 10+. CAD$12.99. In stock now.