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Love Letter: Legend of the Five Rings - Board Game Box Shot

Love Letter: Legend of the Five Rings

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Love Letter L5R Publisher Image

A vision of loveliness and poise, Iweko Miaka’s position of princess in the Imperial family ensures her betrothal will be a great contest for the samurai clans of the Emerald Empire. Whichever clan can win her as a wife for one of their young samurai will secure standing and glory for decades to come. And though the marriage may be political, what better way to influence the decision than by winning the heart of the princess herself?

Love Letter has become a worldwide hit with its simple yet deep gameplay. With only 16 cards, it contains hours of fun for everyone as you attempt to win the heart of the beautiful princess, while preventing your challengers from doing the same!

Love Letter: Legend of the Five Rings is based on AEG’s original Love Letter rules and features the compelling art and characters of the L5R universe.

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United Kingdom
Professional Reviewer
Crab Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
Book Lover
13 of 16 gamers found this helpful
“Delight Courtly Missives”

Love Letter: Legend of the Five Rings is the third iteration of the Japanese microgame published by the Alderac Entertainment Group. It is based upon the setting of Rokugan, also the setting for Legend of the Five Rings CCG and RPG, both now owned by Fantasy Flight Games. Designed for two to four players aged ten and up, it is card game that consists of just sixteen game cards, four reference cards, and thirteen Tokens of Affection as well as a tiny, thirty-two page rules booklet. The game altogether comes in an attractive green velvet bag.

Its story is that the youngest of Empress Iweko’s children, Iweko Miaka, is eligible for marriage. Her betrothal is set to be a great contest between the seven samurai clans of the Emerald Empire—for in winning her hand in marriage a samurai will bring great standing and glory to his clan. Although the marriage will be entirely political, the Empress’ only daughter must have her mother’s ear and so have some say as to the man who will marry her. So the best way to influence the decision is by winning the princess’ heart, but she is shy and reserved, interacting only through her inner circle. Perhaps one of them can pass a letter to her whilst fending off the suits of rival samurai?

Love Letter is played over several rounds during which the players attempt to press their suit. Their aim is be holding the card with the highest value at round’s end. Whoever does is awarded a Token of Affection. Garner enough Tokens of Affection and their suit is successful and Princess Miaka’s hand has been won.

Love Letter’s cards have a value of between one—the Seppun Tasuke Guard, and eight—the Princess herself. Each has an ability that triggers once played. The Seppun Tasuke Guard can ask another player what card he is holding; if correct that player is out of the round. The Courtier, Shosuro Yamazaki, can examine another player’s cards, whilst the Diplomat, Kaiu Akemi, can compare his card with another player’s, the lower value card indicating its player’s retirement. The Shugenja, Isawa Tenkawa, prevents a suitor from being targeted for a whole turn while Matsu Misato, the Hatamoto, forces another player to discard his hand and draw a new hand. The Manipulator, Doji Takato, forces another player to trade hands with the suitor, while Togashi Gozato, the Sensei must be discarded if a player has either the Manipulator or the Hatamoto in his hand. Lastly, the Princess always forces a player to retire if she is played.

At game’s start, the sixteen card deck is shuffled and one card discarded face down, this serving to randomise the deck. Each player receives one as his hand. On his turn, he draws another card and must discard one of the two cards he has. This is done face up, so everyone has idea of the cards in play. Yes, Love Letter encourages card counting! Play continues until the draw deck is empty or all but one player has been forced to retire. The surviving player with the highest value card has pressed his suit and wins a Token of Affection.

Love Letter is a game of deduction and risk with limited actions, sometimes to a player’s disadvantage. For example, Louise holds Princess Miaka in her hand. If she can hold it until the end of the round, Louise can get her letter to the Princess directly and win a Token of Affection. On her turn she draws the Manipulator, Doji Takato. Her choice is to discard the Princess and thus retire for the round, or Doji Takato, which forces her to trade hands with another player. Understandably, she opts for Doji Takato, trading hands with Dave. She receives Seppun Tasuke, the Guard. The Guard has a value of one, but can attempt to identify what another player has. Right now, she knows that Dave has the Princess. Dave also knows this, but likewise cannot discard the Princess. Fortunately, on his turn Dave then draws the Shugenja, Isawa Tenkawa, and goes to pray with him, preventing his being targeted until his next turn. Thus Louise cannot use her Guard to name the Princess—yet!

Love Letter is a Japanese game and so suits the fantasy Japanese setting of Legends of the Five Rings, particularly because the sending of letters is a courtly art in this setting. It is illustrated with decent art from the CCG that fit the game’s setting. This setting is explained in the expanded rulebook, though only a fan of the CCG or RPG will appreciate this aspect of the game. Certainly there is enough background here that knowledgeable players could bring a degree of roleplaying to the game as they play.

Love Letter – Legend of the Five Rings Edition is a solidly designed filler game, one that combines the need for careful deduction and a little guess work with a fitting theme. Managing to be both charming and quick, Love Letter – Legend of the Five Rings Edition is a lovely game that fits nicely into any games collection.


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