AEG has been a very busy company lately. They just celebrated their 10,000th card for LOT5R, they’ve been working on the success of Nightfall, their deck builder about werewolves and vampires, bringing it to the iOS systems, and of course, they recently released Smash Up! at Gen Con. They have a wide portfolio of games, including Tomb, Infinite city, and of course, some small deck-builder you may have heard of called Thunderstone.
We recently reviewed Smash Up while at Gen Con, with our good friend Rodney Smith from Watch it Played, and today, I’m happy to bring you a very light game, based on the Tempest world AEG has created, called Love Letter. Love Letter is a very light game, how light? Well it’s only 16 cards! That’s how light! It’s playable by 2-4 players and is extremely quick, in about 15-20 minutes.
We have a print and play copy to share with you today, so it’s by no means the final product, but let me give you some background. Love Letter is one of four titles built around the city state of Tempest. The others are Courtier, Dominare, and Mercante. Each has their own flavor they bring to the genre, but in essence, Tempest is a city state filled with intrigue, trade markets, political influence, and deception… and in the case of our game today, love.
Love Letter is a very simple game to learn. It is made up of 16 total cards, and will come with markers to score the game as it progresses. Essentially, the story goes that the queen has been arrested for treason, and distraught and heartbroken, the princess has locked herself away in the castle tower. You play the part of a suitor in the city state of Tempest, who wishes to court the princess and ease her woes. Snce she is locked away however, you must do so through notes that are carried by intermediaries, and such is how you being Love Letter.
The cards in Love Letter each represent a different intermediary or “helper” if you will. The game begins by shuffling all of the cards, removing the top card of the deck from the game, and then dealing 1 card to each player. This card is the person who is currently carrying your Love Letter to the princess. Each turn, each player must draw one card from the top of the deck, and play one card in front of them. The goal is to be the person with the highest value intermediary in their hand at the end of the round, which will result in that person delivering your love letter, and gaining a point. Depending on the number of players, when you reach a certain point level, the princess has ready enough of your Love Letters to let you court her, and you win the game.
Each character in Love Letter has a different effect when played in front of you, that generally happens that one time. Here's a list of the characters in the game:
As you can see there is a lot of flavor with Love Letter! The artwork, even for a print and play, fits the theme very well. It’s light enough but detailed enough to give you the royal feel. The gameplay in Love Letter is extremely fast. EXTREMELY fast! This is not a deeply strategic game at all, but for what it is, it does it quite well. We have had the most fun in adding a story arc to the cards as we play them, meaning when we discard a guard, we act all suspicious and tell a story as to why we are choosing the name of the card we are. That adds a lot of fun to the game, but is of course, completely optional.
The cards balance themselves well, and while not a high value, the priests and guards are deadly combinations to boot opponents out of the round if played at the right times. As mentioned, this is for 2-4 players and can play an entire game in less than 20 minutes, so as a filler game, this is one that hits the mark. In fact, that’s exactly the rating we’re going to give Love Letter, a Hit!
Love Letter provides a well-designed, light game that can be enjoyed by almost anyone. It also builds into the theme of Tempest quite nicely and at least for this reviewer, has piqued his interest for the other games in the set. It’ll give you a bit of a "trick taking" feeling with deception and bluffing added in, around a well-built world to provide you an enjoyable experience no matter where or when you decide to play!
Critical Review Score: