Love Letter - Board Game Box Shot

Love Letter

| Published: 2012
Love Letter card game

In the wake of the queen’s arrest, all the eligible young men of Tempest (and many not so young) seek to woo Princess Annette. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, and everyone must rely on those within the palace to bring their romantic letters to her. Will yours reach her first?

Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck, for 2–4 players. Get your love letter into Princess Annette’s hands while keeping other players’ letters away. Powerful cards lead to early gains, but make you a target. Rely on weaker cards for too long and your letter may be tossed in the fire!

Tempest game series

Part of the Tempest series of shared-world games.
See all Tempest series games >

User Reviews (16)

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8
I play blue
Football Fan
USA
Advanced Reviewer
8
71 of 73 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“What Do You Mean She Won’t See Me? Please Give Her This…”

What Is It About? – An Overview of the Game
The princess has secluded herself in grief. Suitors attempt to woe her with love letters. Those closest to the princess will attempt to pass along these letters.

In this quick game from Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG), 2-4 players take on the role of the potential suitors. They play the royal courtesan cards by bluffing, deducing, and gambling their way into the princess’ favor. Play lasts over several rounds until one player finally breaks the princess free from her emotional prison.

What Do I Get? – The Components in the Box
The game includes a deck of 20 cards (including 4 reference cards), 13 wooden cubes, a very small rule booklet, and a nice velvet drawstring bag to store it in. Unfortunately, the cards are a bit thin with reports of a bad batch that are delaminating or otherwise getting marked up. Be sure to sleeve these right away or contact AEG for a replacement deck.

What Do I Do? – Playing the Game
Game play is very simple. The deck is shuffled with the top card set aside unseen (a total of 4 cards are set aside in the 2-player game). Each player is dealt one of the remaining cards, which they keep hidden from the others. On their turn, a player draws a 2nd card and then must play one of their 2 cards in front of them while resolving the effect. Play passes to the left until only one player remains or the deck of cards is exhausted. The winner of each round takes a token of appreciation. Rounds are played until one person collects enough tokens to win (7 in a 2-player, 5 in 3-player, or 4 in a 4-player).

The intrigue comes from the effects of the cards. The goal is to eliminate the other players or at least hang on until the cards run out. Cards are numbered 1-8 with 8 being the most “powerful” Princess. The lowly Guard, at value 1, has 5 copies. But she has one of the most powerful effects being able to knock out any player, as long as she can guess the card that a single player is holding. You try to take an educated guess based on what cards have been played (discards are always visible), how players have previously played, or by using the power of other cards in previous rounds, such as the Priest (a ‘2’) who can look at any player’s card.

The higher valued cards usually don’t do as much in their effect. The Princess knocks you out of the round if you are ever forced to discard her. The Countess at ‘7’ is the second highest (as the princess’ best friend) but the only effect is she must be discarded if she “sees” the King or one of two Princes. She is forced out in the open if you hold either the ‘6’ or ‘5’ respectively.

The reason you want to hang on to the high cards is that if more than one player remains once the deck is depleted, the person with the highest card wins that round, being closest to the Princess. The Baron, at value 3, can also be played to compare two players straight up, with the lowest getting eliminated. So here the Princess-Baron combo can knock out any player.

What Do I Think? – Final Thoughts
This is a delightful little game as intriguing as it is simple. Rounds are quick and the overall game is very fast as well. There is the right mix of bluffing while logically trying to figure out what others might have. A decent balance of rock-paper-scissor is here as well: high cards are great to have but do a little less for you during the game while low cards are more effective but can get knocked out easier.

The art is wonderful and the theme seems deep enough for such a light game. It is highly portable in its little pouch. It is quick to teach and quicker to play. This is something that works as a nice filler, an early starter to get people thinking, or a decent night cap to close out the night. The price is right to make this a must have in any collection.

As mentioned, the only negative is to get these cards sleeved. Any mark on the back of such a small deck will definitely ruin the experience.

What Next? – Other Recommendations for this Game
This game reminded me of a lighter, faster Citadels. The art is similar with its medieval theme. The cards are of course numbered and have varying abilities. What you don’t have is the main goal of collecting gold to build buildings and the potentially drawn out end game. But for those looking for a little more depth, Citadels seems the next logical step.

In addition, AEG is pushing this Tempest setting. The games share nothing more than the characters, I believe. But the short little back story and character development they set up here makes me want to take a look at what else they are putting in this universe. The other games are Courtier, Dominare, and Mercante.

 
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5
Advanced Grader
Plaid Hat Games fan
8
40 of 41 gamers found this helpful
“Love's a deadly game”

First thing to say about this game is that it’s small. A handful of cards and some small wooden blocks in a delightfully tactile velvet bag (just me?) is all you get. But then what do you expect for so little?

Don’t be fooled though, oh no, this game packs a large amount of fun into that velvet bag.

The cards are numbered 1 to 8, eight being the most valuable – princess card and one being the lowest ‘guard’ card. At the end of the round if there are more than one of you left whoever has the highest value card wins.

The mechanic is very simple, everyone gets a card, then in turn you take one from the deck. You then play face up one of the two cards in your hand and follow its effect.

The aim of the game is to work out what type of card other people are holding, guard cards then allow you to call them out and knock them out of the round. If there is a more satisfying mechanic in a game i am yet to find it. “You have a priest” you claim hopefully. You watch as their face falls and they curse you whilst throwing their card face up on the table. Joy.

Beacuse there are a fixed number of each card in the game and everyone has a list you just need to use your powers of deduction to work out what hasn’t yet been played. Several cards help you check other peoples cards, swap with them or go head to head to see who has the higher value.

Its a fast, enjoyable game. One of my favourite four player game night openers.

 
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7
United Kingdom
Advanced Reviewer
Knight-errant
Tinkerer
8
43 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“A lot of play in a very small package”

I’ll come straight out and say it right away: I love this game. It’s definitely a light-weight filler, and there are all manner of itches that it doesn’t scratch, but it’s not trying to be anything that it isn’t.

So what is Love Letter? As others have already explained, it is a card game of bluffing, guesswork and deduction (with quite a lot of luck), where there are just 16 cards in the game, of which you hold one in your hand, drawing a second card on your turn and choosing one to play and one to keep. Card effects can knock other players out of the round (if you play them at the right time on the right person) and if you get to the end of the end of the stack of cards and you are holding the highest value card (or you are the last player in the round) you win a point. Then you do it all again until someone has enough points to win. Simple.

Each hand can take anything from a few seconds to around two or three minutes to play if you have new or particularly thoughtful players. To be honest I don’t think there is that much to think about once you have internalised the numbers of the different types of card, I think the game is probably best played quickly and instinctively. That said, I’ve played with some folk who treat the game with poker-like seriousness, analysing every movement of their opponents for clues.

As far as the time to play an entire game is concerned, we’ve had two-player games completed inside of 10 minutes, and one big four-player game took us about 45 minutes. Most I’ve played have been inside half an hour though.

As for the theme, it works well. The art is nice and you can imagine the characters busying themselves with courtly intrigues. But really this is just a nice touch of gloss on a simple and slick game that can be taught in a minute or two.

I have only owned Love Letter for a few weeks, but have played it quite a few times in assorted company, including with my six-year-old daughter (who absolutely loves it and is getting pretty good at it) and a group of hardened gamers at work, who had a great time. Everyone I have played it with has loved it, and some have gone off to buy their own copy.

When it comes down to it, Love Letter is almost perfect for what it is: a fast, quick, fun and replayable game which is great for almost all company. But I won’t be building a gaming evening around it, driving to another town to get a play in, or spending hours pondering strategies. That said, it doesn’t try to be that sort of thing. It’s easily portable, looks great, plays beautifully and is a bargain price. I’m regretting only scoring it as an 8.

 
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8
Professional Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Silver Supporter
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
7
18 of 19 gamers found this helpful
“A lot of game for such a small package!”

Overview
In Love Letter, players take on the role of potential suitors for Princess Annette and vie for her hand by trying to get your love letters to her. Whoever receives the most “love” tokens from the princess, wins the game. It may sound a little corny, but there is quite a lot of game in this little package. So, don’t let the theme fool you.

Pros
Plays fast
Easy to learn (hard to master)
Inexpensive

Cons
Cards are a little flimsy (it’s cheap)
More luck involved with just two players

Gameplay
Love letter has a few simple rules where each player starts with one card, draws a card on their turn, and then plays a card on their turn. Each of the 16 cards has “special” abilities. The round ends when all the cards are drawn from the deck. The goal of each round is to either knock everyone out and be the last one standing or have a card with the highest rank at the end of the round. The winner of the round receives a “love” token from the princess, because she received your letter. The person with the most tokens wins the games.

Sounds complicated right? You might think that this isn’t much of a game, but the meat of the game is in the card play. Since there’s only sixteen cards and a reference cards showing you how many of each card is in the deck, this game turns into a deduction and bluffing game based on what you have in your hand. For instance, the countess card must be discarded if you have a king or prince card in hand. However, you can still discard the countess which is the second highest card in the game, to trick people into thinking you have the king or prince even if you don’t. A lot of luck can also come into the game by using the guards to “accuse” or guess what card a player has and knock them out. Quite a few games have been lost on a lucky guess. It makes for a lot of tension.

Conclusion
The game makes a extremely nice filler. It is quick and easy, yet has enough meat on it’s bones to make it worthwhile. It’s certainly not my favorite game, but I certainly will play it if it comes out on the table or someone requests it.

I only have a few of issues with the game. Since the theme is about love and romance, I personally would prefer to play it with older kids in the family. But the theme really isn’t that strongly connected to the game. Also, it definitely plays different with two players compared to more than two. Seems like there’s more luck involved with two players, because lucky guesses using a guard can knock someone out quick. Finally, the cards a really cheap quality, but it really is an inexpensive game.

Overall, Love Letter is really an interesting little game for a change of pace between heavy game sessions. If you run a game group, you should really look into adding this to your collection.

Gamer Recommendations
Family Gamer: YES with older kids, good way to teach probabilities and card counting
Social Gamer: YES this is very social
Casual Gamer: YES easy to learn
Strategy Gamer: NO run away
Avid Gamer: YES brings a new experience
Power Gamer:NO not deep enough

 
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6
Brazil
Game Developerz fan
The Gold Heart
7
16 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“A shortcut to fun. But don't expect much!”

Love Letters was one of the most “successful” games of 2013. But that may work in its favor and also against it. Where does all this hype come from? And how much of it is actually real? Cards on the table, we’re about to find out!

CONCEPT AND BASIC MECHANICS
First of all, I need to highlight the simplicity of Love Letters (LL). We are talking about a deck of 16 cards AND THAT’S ALL! This simplicity is the key of the game, LL can be learned in 5 minutes and played in 15 or less. It doesn’t require too much thinking and it’s mostly about luck. But the game itself is pretty fun and frustration-proof.

The objective of each round is to “kill” all your opponents or be the one with the most valuable card at the end of the round. You get a point for each round you win and the person who scores 3/5/7 whatever points wins the game.

You will always have one card in your hand, and to use it, you must first draw a new card and then discard one of your choice. That way, in order to kill someone, you need to use your card’s special ability by discarding it. For example if you discard a Guard card, you may try to guess someone else’s card, if you manage to do it that person is dead. Other cards may let you look at a opponent’s hand, or force someone to discard his card and draw a new one, or trade hands, and many more. Card’s values goes from 1 to 8, and the cards with higher value don’t have as much utility as the ones with lower value.

THEME
The theme in LL is quite useless. This whole thing of you sending love letters to a princess has absolutely no connection with the mechanics of the game. EVERYONE I played this game with asked at some point “what all of this have to do with the theme?”. So don’t pick this game for its theme, it’s just a cute make-up for a card game.

CONCLUSION
I can assure you that LL is a fun-luck-bluff-quick-easy-light game. But it’s not innovative and it doesn’t have great replay value. In fact, usually when people finish a game of LL, they instantly start looking for some other game.

Now let me be fair here, LL gives you 15 minutes of fun and laughs, we can’t ask 16 cards to be more than that right?

So all the hype is actually real. This game has a good price, it’s portable, it’s fun and anyone can play this! LL deserves to be played by any gamer out there. Just remember that this is only a filler game, we are not talking about something that will change your life.

PROS
- Easy
- Cheap price
- Portable
- Fun
- Quick, no downtime, no analysis paralysis

CONS
- No replay value
- Theme is pretty much useless
- Will never be the main game of the night

 
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4
Indie Board & Cards fan
8
34 of 38 gamers found this helpful
“Play on playa...”

The Princess Annette of Tempest is a bit of a tease. She’ll string along 2-4 suitors till she finds the perfect match to court her hand.

Love Letter is exactly the kind of game I enjoy. It’s fast and easy to pick up. Deceptively simple yet gives way to layers of complexity after repeated play throughs.

The story begins with the young princess sequestering herself in the palace as she deals with the grief of her mother’s arrest for high treason. Being the insensitive opportunist that you are, the game hinges on you winning her affection during this troubling time through a series of ‘love letters’. The only way to safely get her these letters is to entrust them into the hands of those closest to her.

Each player starts with a card then draws a card to open their turn. Your turn concludes with you discarding one of them face up in front of you. The couriers represented on your cards will each have a specific effect that activates once the card is placed down. Some of these effects work against your interests. Some allow you to use them against other players. Others will protect you from future effects cast down by competing suitors. Holding the highest ranked card at the end of each round will ensure your letter makes it way to the princess. Win enough rounds, and you get an invitation to the palace. You sly dog you.

It’s a lot of fun. The theme is a wonderful change of pace and makes for great filler on a night of gaming. It’s also great to break out with your non-gaming friends.

 
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6
Gamer - Level 6
Paladin
8
13 of 14 gamers found this helpful
“Fun, portable, and inexpensive 'in-between' game”

INTRO

I picked up Love Letter at the suggestion of my friendly local game store owner. He assured me that despite the fact it came in a velvet pouch and featured princesses that it was a fun game. It didn’t hurt that it’s extremely portable and very inexpensive to boot.

GAMEPLAY

Love Letter is a game of elimination, played in several rounds. You play suitors trying to get your eponymous “love letter” to the Princess before the other players. You do this with 16 cards that represent different people in the royal court. Each person has a special ability and an influence score. The higher the influence, the closer that person is to the Princess. (The Princess herself is a card too – with the highest score in the game.)

Everyone is dealt one card to start each round. On your turn you draw another card, and then discard one of them face-up in front of you. Generally speaking, you want to discard the lower numbered person and keep the higher because whoever has the highest influence at the end of the round wins a token. There’s a different number of tokens required to win depending on the number of players.

I say “generally speaking” because there’s actually a lot of strategy to this game. Sometimes you don’t want to discard the lower card because it would tip off people at the table that you have something higher. There are only a certain number of each type of person in the deck, and everyone gets a little reference card telling them how many along with the special abilities of each card.

For instance, if you discard the Countess (influence 7) then the rest of the table knows you have one of three people – the King, the Prince or the Princess herself. The Countess can’t be caught with the King or Prince (a cute mechanic) so you have to discard her, and if you’re the Princess you must discard your other card or lose the round. This lets the other players guess your person and possibly knock you out.

Playing a Guard card let you guess who other players have in their hand. They’re the easiest way to knock someone out. You can theoretically play these and make a wild guess to win. They’re the lowest scoring card in the game, so it’s always best to play them.

There are a number of ways to win and lose a round. If another player guesses the card in your hand, or wins a “compare hands” card check, you’re out. The round continues until all but one player is eliminated or you run out of cards. In the latter case, whoever has the highest influence card wins.

BUILD QUALITY

The game has decent quality cards, and the velvet pouch has held up to a lot of abuse from being thrown into bags, boxes, or whatever I had handy. It’s a very portable game. I sleeved the cards for my deck just for added durability. My only real complaint about the components are the “tokens of affection,” which are really just tiny red wooden cubes. Everything else in the game matches the theme quite nicely, but these just seemed too abstract. I’ll likely replace them with tiny hearts or something more representative in the future.

FUN FACTOR

Considering this a game about love and court intrigue, I didn’t expect to like it. I’ve played it several times with different groups (including all men, and a night with my parents) and it went over well with everyone so far…once they played a hand or two. The mechanics are quick to pick up and there’s plenty of room for back-stabbing and competitive play.

I got my copy for about ten bucks, so the return on investment was great. This isn’t a particularly deep game, but it does make a great pick-up-and-go romp on trips or in between other longer games.

 
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8
Intermediate Reviewer
Vanguard
Tinkerer
Novice Advisor
8
34 of 39 gamers found this helpful
“1 part deduction, 1 part obfuscating, 3 parts luck...”

This game was on my to-buy list as soon as I heard about it (I even made a copy myself that I never had the time to try out before I could buy the real game), and I was not disappointed.

The game itself is very simple, only 16 cards, each with a role and value from 1 (guards) to 8 (the princess herself). Each round all players try to deliver their love letter to the princess, but she will only accept one letter, so in the end of the round you must have the most valuable card in your hand. Of course you could also have kicked out all the competition beforehand (in fact, most rounds end that way).

You have one card in your hand and when it’s your turn you take another one. You must now chose which card that will hold on to your letter, and which card to play. You play a card by discarding it in front of you, and each card have a different effect. Priests let you peek on a another players card, the King let you trade hand with another player etc. By studying the actions of the other players it is possible to make decent guesses of what they might have and act accordingly.

Now, quite often luck is the biggest factor. Some rounds you are out before you had the chance to do anything, and sometimes you find yourself with two cards that simply suck. That’s life, fortunately each round is resolved in just a few minutes. Depending on the number of players you need to deliver a number of letters to the princess in order to win the game.

All in all this is a quick and fun game, and most people (excluding my wife…) found it refreshing. I think you should try it out!

And for the record, all my letters to the princess starts with “Come on… you want to, huh?”. Somehow it doesn’t seem to work so well…

 
Player Avatar
4
Novice Reviewer
Canada
The Silver Heart
8
11 of 12 gamers found this helpful
“Loads of filler fun in the world of renaissance intrigue”

This game is the most fun you will have with a simple pack of 16 cards. The Japanese designer Seiji Kanai realizes a simple yet beautifully compact game model here that pits 2-4 players against each other in a race to obtain the favour of a princess by manipulating your way to get a court member to pass your love letter to her.

The deck consists of eight different types of cards each with a value and unique effect. Each player starts with a card and every turn they will pick a card and play one from their hand, leaving them again with one. Card effects are varied and either provide information about other player’s (or even your) hands or can force others out of the round by deduction or gambling. The player who remains until the end of the round with the highest value card wins.

It doesn’t sound like much, but I have found it to be extremely engaging and interesting. The game goes very fast and always makes you think. There is a certain amount of luck involved, but a mix of smarts and good timing is required for success. For a game that is over within about 20 min – it offers a great deal of excitement and depth. Because the rounds are so short all players feel involved as downtime is not a factor even with player elimination.

Best of all all this is realized in a tiny package (comes in a snazzy felt pouch no less!) that is great for travel and is extremely affordable (get more than one to be able to expand the number of players beyond the original 4). The theme is beautifully rendered and card effects are fitting to the roles they represent.

I recommend this game as a high-quality filler – a significant improvement over games like Dungeon Siege or Agent Hunter. The worlds of intrigue await – go ahead and woo the princess!

 
Player Avatar
3
Advocate
8
13 of 15 gamers found this helpful
“A game that won my favor.”

Pros: Quick playability. Just as good with 2, 3, or 4 players. Card skills are printed on cards and are simplistic enough to understand after a few plays. They did a great job with the art on the cards.

Cons: Fallen behind syndrome. If you get 3 or 4 favors behind it gets extremely difficult to come back from that especially in a 4 player game. Not a fan of the block favors (however for a $10 value it’s what should be expected).

Tips: Discard high cards early and steal the round with the Guard. Discard the Countess as to throw other players off your trail. Don’t be afraid to use that Prince on yourself to gain more knowledge of the cards left in the deck.

Overall: Love Letter really fits a niche and owns that niche. Filler games with lots of luck , strategy, and fun. You may go to this game more than any other when you only have a short time before moving on to something else because it’s so good. And for the price almost everyone should own this game. Each game is different because you never know what you’ll draw. Your strategies can always change from game to game because there is more than one way to approach most cards’ skill. You’ll have your ups and downs when playing this game and at times feel like you can’t figure out the right strategy for that game. But don’t give up, because nothing is better than a Princess talking about you the next morning at breakfast.

 
Player Avatar
6
USA
Military Service
9
14 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“Man enough to play a game from a velvet pouch?”

I bought this game because everyone said “It is a must have”. You know what they didn’t tell me? There are about a dozen cards, some wood cubes, and it stores in a velvet pouch. My first thought was “Great. The guys will love this.”.

How do you get past a game when you go up to the games table and you are like “Guys, you need to play this” as you pull our this velvet pouch that says Love Letter and you try to explain the base line of the game “The Queen has been imprisoned and you are trying to date the princess but you need to woo her with love letters.”.

Reading the description the game sounds horrible. I don’t want to play a game with princesses. So I figured I would look at the other elements of the game.

Each card has an ability. The Priest can look at other people’s card. So it is a peeping priest? Great….. After reading this I was ready to give up.

So we did something we didn’t expect to do. We played this game.

The rules were very easy to understand, and game play went quick. For some reason everyone loved the game.

I have played this with 2, 3, and 4 players. It is by far best with 4, and almost unplayable with 2. With 2 players it goes a little too fast. There isn’t any real element of teaming up on someone.

The art in the game is pretty neat, and there are so few pieces it isn’t over whelming for new players.

Anyway man up and try Love Letter. You might just like it.

 
Player Avatar
4
Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
Eminent Domain Fan
6
12 of 16 gamers found this helpful
“Good, But Not Great”

Love Letter is a pretty small game. It’s comprised of 16 cards and some tokens in a small velvet bag. It’s meant to be one of those games you learn quickly and take out in-between larger games while things are being set up or just for some mental downtime. Now, in Love Letter your goal is to get your, well, love letter, to the princess before anyone else. You’ll have to contend with rival princes, priests, guards, and even the king himself. Players draw a hand of one card, drawing and playing one each turn to try and eliminate rivals each round. In the end, it becomes a game of keeping track of what others have played and using probability to guess what cards are left. When the deck runs out or all except for one player is eliminated, the player left or the one with the highest scoring card wins the round, and a ‘token of affection’ from the princess. Depending on the number of players, winning is determined by the number of tokens a player has.

Thematically, Love Letter is really quite impressive. Everything ties together and makes sense–if you’re enthusiastic, it might be easy to get into the role of a suitor aiming for the heart of a princess. But this is definitely a downtime game that doesn’t require much thought to be put into it. There’s no real strategy, just accounting for what’s already been played. And thus, I don’t know if I can truly say I have fun playing it. It’s a mild distraction at best, something to do with your hands while waiting for a larger game. It’s cute.

 

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