Game Review: Love Letter

If there is anything I admire most in game design, it is elegant simplicity. The exacting and realistic detail or infinite customizability possible in many games can prove extremely engaging and entertaining, but a game that manages to create a challenging and fun experience with a simple set of rules is truly noteworthy. Of course then, I was very interested in trying Love Letter from AEG, for what could be simpler than a card game for two to four players with only sixteen cards?

The aforementioned cards all represent members of a princess’s household. Each card has a point value and the quantity of that card in the deck printed above a description of its special ability. Each round represents a day in which the princess’s suitors attempt to smuggle a letter into her hands to win her favor. At the beginning of a round, each player is dealt a card. On his or her turn, a player draws a second card and decides which of the two in their hand to discard, which triggers its special ability. At the end of each round, the princess retires to her room to read the successful suitor’s letter and thus improving their chance at courtship, as represented by a small token. Players achieve this by either knocking out all competitors or holding the card with the highest point value when the supply of cards has been depleted. The game ends when a player collects enough tokens, otherwise known as winning the princess’s love and permission to court her.

Each card in the deck offers an interesting way to interact with other players, anything from letting you guess their card for a chance to knock them out, to making them show your their card or even trade cards sight unseen. Of course you could be holding the princess, a card you may only discard at the cost of losing the round but guarantees success if you can make it to the end of the  pile of available cards. Megan and I played the game twice with each other and once with my sister. Rounds are typically quite fast as the straightforward set of options presented by play make for a delightfully swift experience. Rounds typically take less than a minute and it is very conceivable to blow through many games in a short sitting. While certainly not brimming with tactical depth, Love Letter manages to stay fresh and exciting through multiple play-throughs, particularly with people you know (and like to screw over at the earliest opportunity.)

This game is highly recommended. It is quite inexpensive with many flavors to choose from, including the recently released Batman version. A blind accessibility kit for the original can be purchased from 64 Ounces Games.*

Available on Amazon

* The accessibility kit from 64 Ounces Games used in this review was won by Megan as a prize in a contest run by 64 Ounces Games paired with a copy of the game donated by AEG.

Making Games Accessible: Love Letter

Love Letter!

Recently I won a raffle and got a free copy of the game Love Letter from Alderac Entertainment Games and the accessibility kit made by 64 Oz Games. After learning about 64 Oz Games through Kickstarter, Aser and I have been excitedly following their work – we have Munchkin and Dominion assembled and ready to play and the two braille d20s Aser uses came from them as well. I wanted to show off my winnings, and when I go see Aser next week we’ll post a review for the game.

Accessibility Kit Contents
Accessibility Kit Contents

Each accessibility kit comes with written instructions and QR code to look up the instructions digitally, a set of Grade 2 Braille instructions and descriptions of the cards, plastic card sleeves, and Grade 2 Braille stickers. There’s some work involved to combine this all into an accessible game, but fortunately this game only has 16 cards, not over 500 like Dominion.

Cutting out the stickers
Cutting out the stickers

Once you have your cards and kit you cut out all of the stickers. I can read Grade 1 Braille visually, but I still ask Aser a lot of questions to make sure I’m sticking the right sticker on in the correct orientation. I made some mistakes when I tried to put together Dominion by myself and it was a pain to correct them.

Sticker and Sleeve
Sticker and Sleeve

Once you have your stickers cut out, you can stick them directly on the card or on a card sleeve holding the card. Aser and I decided to put everything on sleeves to protect the cards. The sleeves make the cards slippier, and the Braille causes them not to stack flatly, but that can be fixed by using card holders. The great thing is the stickers are see-through so sighted players can read the cards easily as well.

The Aftermath

Once all the cards are in their sleeves you’re ready to go! There isn’t much text on these cards so the Braille fits on them easily. For other games, like Munchkin, the Braille is a short descriptor of the card and we were given QR code stickers to put on the back that Aser can scan to get the full description.

We’re huge fans of 64 Oz Games and the work they do to make it so Aser and I can enjoy all the board games we want. You can find them on their website, or support them on Patreon. Thanks so much for the free kit! And a special thanks to Alderac Entertainment Group for the copy of the game. We can’t wait to play and we’ll let you know how it goes next week.