“This is definitely a Valentine’s Day game because it’s about screwing people over.”
These words came from my boyfriend when we decided to test-drive the card game Love Letter created by Seiji Kanai. This game is easy to play between a couple while spending a low-key evening together by a fireplace, but Love Letter might actually be a lot more fun for those groups of friends spending Valentine’s Day together without the company of dates.
The object of the game is that the players are suitors hoping to win the heart of the lovely princess by getting their love letter to reach her through the help of various go-betweens that work or live among the walls of the castle. As you win rounds by holding the card of the closest person to the princess, you win tokens of affections (in other words, a tiny red cube), and whoever receives four tokens first wins the game.
This game is made up of only 16 cards, and is fairly easy to play once it’s in action. Each of the cards represents somebody in the castle that can deliver your letter for you, but using these cards can also help you in other ways as well, like allowing you to peek at another player’s card, cards that can protect you from the malice of other players, and even a few cards that can cause you to lose the round instantly.
The art for my particular deck, done by Noboru Sugiura, is rather unique as well. This game was featured in a bit video created by the group behind Board with Life, although it’s hard to tell because the art on the cards is completely different, and this more regal version of the game is called the Tempest version. The effects written on the cards are also different between both copies of the game as well, so it might even be worth it to own both and have two different play experiences.
As for the play experience itself, after playing this game with the minimum (2) and maximum (4) number of players, this is not the most entertaining game for couples. With only two people, the number of “target players” available to apply your cards towards is extremely limited, and rounds of the game end very quickly. On the box it gives an approximate play time to be 20 minutes, and that’s about all you will get of the game, if you choose to play with only two people.
When you introduce third and fourth players into the game, however, the game play becomes a lot more cunning and thought out. Each player is equipped with a reference card, listing all the abilities of the cards as well as the number of each type of card that exists in the deck. When each player applies a card they are displayed on the table, and throughout the game the players are given the ability to strategize and try to figure out what cards are in the other player’s hands and what cards are left in the deck.
All in all I enjoyed my experiences with this game. It provides a unique playing experience – involving strategy without being too complicated – not to mention it was a very cheap purchase – I picked up my copy at a convention for under $10 – and it was very fun. It might not reach its full potential as a two player game, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t schedule a game night with friends or book a double date in order to get together and celebrate Valentine’s Day by overcoming all obstacles that face you on your quest to win the heart of the princess!