14th May 2019.
Gaming night at 'The Sovereigns' continues.
Next up is: Love Letter.
A few years ago, I was in a game shop when I saw this for the first time. I saw the price was £7.99 and thought that was cheap!
So looked at the game and saw that it had only 15 cards. "That's 50p a card!" I thought, there's no way I'm paying that for a game and didn't buy it.
That's what is called a 'boneheaded mistake'. Because it turns out that Love Letter is an excellent game and is without any doubt worth the £8 asking price.
Thematically, this is a game about delivering a love letter to the princess.
It's actually a game about memory, deduction and a little bit of luck.
What's in a game?
There are several variants of the game and also versions with different themes. My version comes in a small faux-velvet drawstring bag.
The game's components consist of 15 cards, some scoring blocks and a faux-velvet drawstring bag!
That's it, really it is!
How's it play?
So that's it. A minimalist game deserves a minimalist review.
Except that an entirely minimalist review does not do this game justice.
Love Letter is elegant in it's simplicity. Because the deck only has 15 cards, it's a game about card counting for people who don't card count. All the players can always see all the cards that have been played or discarded - and each player is given a cheat sheet that tells them how many there are of each particular card in the game.
Skilled players will use this information to try a deduct what cards the other player's have in their hands. This is very useful as there are cards that can be used to eliminate opponents (provided you know what card they have in their hand.
But here's the twist, because a card is removed from the deck at the start of the game, it's impossible to know exactly what card a player holds (unless you play a card that lets you see their hand).
Another thing I like is how some cards are worthless at the start of the game, but game-winners at the end of the game. 'The Princess' being the prime example here. If discard or play the princess for any reason then you are eliminated from the round - a total liability. But the princess is the only card in the game with a value of 8 - the top value. If you have the princess in your hand when the deck is exhausted, then the princess scores the highest and is a guaranteed game winner.
And talking of exhausting the deck. Love Letter has 15 cards in the deck, 1 is removed before play begins, we're now at 14 cards. In a 4-player game, each player is dealt a card.
So when play begins for the rounds there's only 10 cards in the deck. That's 10 plays in total. 2 players will get to play 3 cards each and 2 players will get to play 2 cards each. That's a quick game by any measure.
I know I'm not a reviewer, my opinion counts for next to nothing and this will sound a little big-headed. But I really do recommend Love Letter, it's a game everyone should try.
I play, I paint.