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Oh! The guard is a girl!

April 7, 2013

Over recent months I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about a little game called Love Letter. It’s a game from Japan that has been picked up by AEG and themed into their Tempest game world, and it seems the whole world loves it. The first print run sold out in double quick time and a second printing has just made itself out to the retailers, most of which have sold out again right away.

If one of those is a Guard, we'll see Miss B's unerring ability to guess when I have the King.

If one of those is a Guard, we’ll see Miss B’s unerring ability to guess when I have the King.

I say this is a little game and I mean that literally. It comprises 16 cards for playing, 4 reference cards, and a bag of little cubes which are used for scoring, all in a cute velvet bag which fits nicely into a pocket. The idea of the game is that players are suitors for the beautiful princess and are trying to get their love letters to her in order to win her heart and hand. Mechanically, it’s a guessing and deduction game, where you hold one card, draw a second, then play one of them and do whatever the card you play says. Some of the cards allow you to guess what another player is holding (in an attempt to knock them out), some let you see their hand, and so on. If you are the last player to be knocked out, or you have the highest value card when the draw pile runs out, you win a cube.

Hands of Love Letter can last for mere seconds, or up to maybe a couple of minutes if everyone is playing slowly. Then you play another. This is really a quick moving game, where swings of luck can wipe you out in a moment. But somehow that is all part of the fun as you are then back in the game again a minute later.

I usually write these posts up after one or two plays, but this has really caught Miss B’s imagination (and mine too), so we have played several games so far, and will probably play loads more in the near future. If we carry on like this, Love Letter may even overhaul Sleeping Queens as our go-to game, it is so quick, portable and fun. Watch the monthly round-ups to see if I am right on this.  Miss B learnt the game very quickly and generally does pretty well, though she is still learning how to draw inferences from cards played.  She does win sometimes though, which is great.

This write-up has really been a bit gushing, hasn’t it? I’ll offer no apologies. Love Letter really does appear to live up to its hype. It’s not for everyone, but everyone I have played it with so far has liked it and for its price (I believe the RRP is about £8) you can’t go far wrong. Over to the real expert, though…

The verdict from Miss B (aged 6¼): “I like the pictures on the back of the cards and the game was 10 out of 10 so I think it was a really good game.”

The game: Love Letter (AEG), 2 to 4 players aged 10+.

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