Published on October 22nd, 2014 | by Luke Turpeinen0
A Love Letter from Rokugan
In a lot of ways, casual cards game are our bread and butter here at Across the Board Games. While our authors all enjoy much more complex games of various types, there always seems to be room for another short game of cards with easy to learn rules. Apparently the board game community agrees, at least when it comes to Love Letter.
The game Love Letter puts players in the role of suitors petitioning the hand of a young lady. Unfortunately the lady’s entourage prevents you from whispering sweet nothings into her ear and instead you have to try to get your love letter to her via intermediaries. The player who can get their letter closest to the lady will get a token of affection and if you get three tokens then you win.
The copy that we bought is themed with one of AEG’s more popular franchises, Legend of the Five Rings, or L5R as it’s also known. L5R takes place in the fantasy realm of Rokugan, which is inspired by Chinese history and wuxia, though AEG is partnering with Cryptozoic to make several licensed versions of the game. Future editions include The Hobbit and Downtown Abbey, which seems like an odd spread of IPs, but there is nothing wrong with that.
Love Letter comes in a small, almost pocket sized box and doesn’t include many cards or components. The deck is less than 50 cards, most of which are repeated at least once. The card art in the L5R edition was well rendered and looked like the art in the L5R role-playing game and CCG. Nothing from Rokugan really made it into the game except the names of some characters and the art depicting them, so someone looking for a thematic game will be disappointed.
When it comes to game play, Love Letter delivers a fast, fun experience. The rules can be learned in five minutes and the game plays in about 15-20 minutes, over several hands. The basic idea is that you always have a card in your hand, numbered 1-8 and the person with the highest number by the end of the hand wins that round. You must draw and play a card each turn, and each card has an effect that occurs when it comes into play- some of which cause your opponents to discard their current card or otherwise effect their hand.
Love Letter is mostly about card counting and knowing which cards to play and which to keep. The mechanics are fairly shallow, but fun. This is a good pub game to play while drinking and talking, or as a family game with younger (or older) family members who aren’t up to the task of learning complex rules. We had a great time playing Love Letter between panels at Geek Girl Con, and there is sure to be an edition that you’ll want to play.
You can buy the original Love Letter in their token red felt bag; the special edition boxed version or the L5R version pictured above. Love Letter’s publisher AEG is teaming up with Cryptozoic to bring you even more versions including The Hobbit, Adventure Time and Downton Abbey in late 2014.