Elegance is a quality I chase after in tabletop games. Take the board game “Go” for instance. It’s a thousand years old and has remarkably simple rules, yet it’s so complex in play that people devote their entire lives to understanding it. My game this week isn’t quite that deep, but it a model of elegance, like a perfectly written note to someone you admire.
How appropriate then, that the game is called “Love Letter.”
“Love Letter” describes its premise as a game about sending love letters to Princess Annette. In order to get your letters to her you need to sneak them into the castle via the servants there. Whomever succeeds in sending four letters wins both the heart of the princess and the game.
Everyone holds one card in their hand. Every time you take a turn, you draw a second card to your hand. You decide which card you want to keep and which card you want to play. Each card has a rank in the upper left corner, and whomever holds the highest ranked card when the last card is drawn wins the round and successfully sends a love letter to the princess.
This is trickier than it may seem, however, as the tables are turned as cards are played. For example, one card allows you to attack an opponent’s hand and force them out of the round if you guess which card they hold. One card lets you swap hands with another player. The princess has the highest rank, and will win you the round outright if you have her card. If you ever are forced to discard the princess, though, you lose the round just as easily.
The game can be played minutes after reading the rules, and you can complete an entire game in less than an hour. Despite this apparent simplicity, the game contains surprising depths. Each turn reveals clues to the locations of the cards. Each move you make could give you the final piece of the puzzle to win you the game, or to be a waste of time.
“Love Letter” is published by Alderac Entertainment Group. It has an MSRP of $11.99. Website
This is an excellent game for your family to have a relaxing time with, and it’s got a lovely edge of strategy and cunning to keep you engaged.
Indeed, “Love Letter” truly won my heart.
Noah Hinz is an art and game design enthusiast living in Walla Walla. Contact him with questions, game and playing suggestions or anything else related to games at firstname.lastname@example.org.