WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 2-6
Published by: Renegade Game Studios
Designed by: Seiji Kanai
I love love letters, not as much as I used to love love letters though. My love for love letters has dropped since I don’t get many love letters to make me love love letters as much as I used to love love letters.
Set up by shuffling the deck, placing one card at random unseen, back in the box. Then deal each player one card and you're ready to go. In a two player game follow the same rules but put three cards face up next to the deck.
On your turn you’ll draw a card and then play one of the two cards in your hand out in front of you triggering the text on that card. Rounds will end when either all but one player has been eliminated or the deck runs out, at which point players still in the game compare numbers on their cards and the highest wins. In either case the winner gets a favour token. To win the game you need to have a certain number of favour tokens based on player count.
There are 10 different characters in the deck each with their own special ability and with a different amount of cards for each character. So for example there are six guards in the deck and two princes. If you're familiar with other versions of love letter then either most or all of these cards will all be familiar depending on what version you’ve played. Cards in the deck will have you either trading hands with other players, comparing scores, looking at opponents cards or guessing others cards and more in a bid to try and eliminate others from the round or end up with a high scoring card. Every character will tell you how many of each card is in the deck and all cards are played face up so that everyone has knowledge of which cards have been played and which cards may still be in the deck. There are also cards in the deck that will net you extra favour tokens for meeting certain criteria. For example the Spy will give you a token for being the only person to have played a spy that round.
For the love of deduction.
Love letter is a brilliant, quick, simple game of deduction. After every turn you learn more about the state of play and as such your ability to form a strategy increases. For example, playing a guard (this card lets you guess a player's card and eliminate them from the round if it’s right) as your first play is really a wild stab in the dark, although sometimes you do get lucky and you can’t help but feel like some sort of all powerful mind reader when it happens. As the game goes on though playing that guard becomes more of a tactical strike. There are only a certain number of each card in the deck so as each card is played face up it becomes less and less guess work This means that rather than simply picking a card from the list, you can now throw that guard down with a degree of confidence and if you get it right, well then you get to do your best Sherlock Holmes impression and regale the table with stories of how you worked it all out. Of course if you don’t guess then you utter a confused “oh” and spend until your next turn with a baffled look on your face.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to have a ton of deep, thinky, long term strategies for this game, they’ll all pretty much be on the fly when your turn comes around. But sometimes you’ll pull off a little combo over a couple of turns which will leave you feeling pretty smug when it all works out.
A love for Love Letter.
The original love letter has been in our collection for a few years now and has been with us on numerous camping trips, nights away and now and then on the occasional day trip, just in case. I’d say our plays to this date have got to be near the hundreds and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. So like a new baby coming into the family and making the older siblings jealous, how does this stack up and are we close to naming this one our favourite simply because it isn’t at that “unreasonable” stage yet.
Well straight off the bat there are some new additions to the original game. If you’ve played the most recent edition then these cards may already be familiar to you. First you have the Spy that will give you a favour token if you’re the only player to have played one that round. There are also now two princesses in the game. Both will let you draw two cards, choose one and place the other two in the bottom of the deck in any order. There’s also a new twist to even the newest version. Both princesses want to be together (in keeping with the theme) so if two different players have played one and they are both still in the round by the end then they both gain one token each.
In essence these are a really simple addition, it’s just a few cards right? Here’s the thing though, they really do change up how you approach the game. Before it was mostly about deducing other players' cards and trying to eliminate them. Now with the spy it’s all about finding the perfect time to play it. Play it too early and other players may throw down the other one to block you. Wait too long however and the icy hand of elimination could find you. It’s such a simple card but it really does give the game some added tension.
On the flip side the princesses will see you almost in a mini co-op game. If two of you have these out you really want to try and protect both you and the other player so you can both gain the benefit. This little twist means that the game changes from, how do I eliminate this player to, how can I keep them in the game, all the while still trying to win the round. Of course if your princess opponent is on the verge of winning if they gain that extra token then at that point all bets are off.
These cards also make the game quicker. One of my small issues with the original game is that games can feel a little long. Which for a quick game like this is weird. If games went down to the last favour token then yes, it made that last round pretty exciting. But by that point you’d already played quite a few rounds and were ready to be done. Having a way to gain extra favour token in a round though helps with that massively. You can be done with entire games in half the time of the original. So much so that you don’t mind going for a second game just because you know it could be over pretty quickly.
More love letters!
I tend to roll my eyes whenever a new reskin of a popular franchise is announced (I’m looking at you Pandemic) and Love Letter is included in that. The recent Star Wars love letter was high on the roll factor list but I suppose Space Slugs need to find love too right? That’s not to say that any of these are bad games but it’s just a lot of the same game. So what makes this particular version different and is it worth it? So this is the third game in the Renegade line of adapting Kay O’Neils comics after the Tea dragon society games. The theme is focused back to the original princess theme (which tends to make more sense) and the art on the cards is a welcome refresh. The theme and the comic it draws from are a perfect match and the LGBTQ+ subject matter is a welcome one and it’s great to see it in a popular game in the hobby. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a ways to go before everyone can feel equally represented in gaming, but every game is another stepping stone towards that goal. The comic itself is geared more towards younger readers and the art and just the beautiful look of the game is more likely to draw in the younger players. My girls love the original game but this is absolutely the more appealing of the two for them and for me too.
How many love letters does one person need!
So the big question of course is, do I need both. If you own the new edition then I would say that it depends on if you prefer the theme of this one and if you think that rules change is going to make a difference for you. If, like us, you have only played the original then I would say you could absolutely own both and for a few reasons. The original is more portable since it’s in a cloth bag. This one comes in a box with tarot sized cards. I love the size of the cards, there’s more space of art (and who wouldn’t want more of that art) and the text isn’t as small but I do concede that it does make it less portable. Personally for us we’re going to be keeping both. The original for that portability factor and a bit of nostalgia and this one for everything it adds to this already brilliant game.
Love Letter Princess Princess Ever After is a welcome entry in this series of games and is fast going to be our go to “at home” version of the game. I mean, who can deny a version where a cute purple dragon is going to protect you.