The Board Game Fanatic | Love Letter

There are two types of board games. First are the group-oriented games, usually light hearted and non-serious in nature. Then there are the deeper and complex games, featuring complicated set-ups and hundreds of little pieces. Love Letter is neither of these games.

Sure, it’s admittedly light-hearted, but it’s not a group game, as it’s only intended for 2-4 players. It’s certainly not deeper and complex, as the deck only has 16 cards. But there’s a surprising amount of strategy to be found.

The premise of Love Letter is simple: win over the princess’ heart by writing her love notes. Of course, there won’t be any actual note writing in the game. Instead, you’ll win her affection by performing actions on a card. You’ll win by being the last remaining player in a round. Should the deck run out of cards, the round is over and the person with the highest point card wins the round.

That’s effectively it. Each card has various abilities, but they’re incredibly self-explanatory to the point where it took about two minutes to teach the game to someone. All you really have to do is explain the basic rules: You start with a hand of one card, draw another card on your turn and discard a card of your choosing. Perform the action on the discarded card and end your turn. Actions include attempting to eliminate other players, peeking at their hand, gaining immunity, or even losing the round and possibly revealing what’s in your hand.

This is where the game’s strategy comes into play. Since the deck is only 16 cards deep, there’s not a lot of time available in a round. Add in the fact that the card amounts are staggered in away to create tense moments, and you’ll very rarely feel safe with your hand.

For example, let’s go over a round that took place last week. My opening hand was the guard, a card worth one point, but it lets me guess another player’s hand. If I’m correct, they’re eliminated. I draw the priest, a guard that lets me peek at another player’s hand. Naturally, I discard the priest and peek at someone’s hand. You’d think that they’d want to discard the card I saw, but that isn’t always the best option. The princess, for example, loses you the game if you discard it. The queen must be discarded if you also hold the king or prince. There’s a lot of decisions that need to be made in a short time, because again, the deck is only 16 cards and rounds end must faster than you can imagine.

Love Letter had two things working in its favor before I even opened the package: its a quick game that only costs $10. But once we got going at our weekly game meetup, we saw it’s true value: short rounds with high replayability  Love Letter isn’t a cheap game that happens to be great, but a great game that happens to be cheap.

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