Saturday, May 4, 2013

A love letter to Love Letter.....

I'm starting to believe there is a bit of a renaissance occurring in board game circles, a rejection of the new and shiny and complex.  The complexity of modern games has left a lot of us with a sour taste in our mouths.  What happened to the simple, elegant brilliance of Modern Art or Ticket To Ride or even Power Grid?  Or even short games like the excellent Coloretto or For Sale?

Okay, maybe it's just me.  But still, I gotta think people are looking for more simplicity when gamers keep mentioning Love Letter in every second post and article I read.  If you haven't heard of Love Letter, then you probably don't read too many board game blogs.  So why is a game that costs $7, plays in about 5 minutes, and uses 16 cards and a few red cubes suddenly the darling of the game world?  Well, maybe that's just it.  Simpilcity.  10 seconds of rules explanation which yields, I daresay, a great half hour of fun, albeit very light fun.

So how does Love Letter work and how can it play so well with only 16 cards? (The cubes are really extraneous and serve only as scoring markers.)  The rules are dead simple.  You hold one card and on your turn you pick up a second card.  Then you have to play one of your cards face up and do what it says.  That's pretty much it.  The goal?  Be the last player left in the round or be the player holding the highest card when the draw pile empties.

It's overly simple but what makes the game interesting are the card powers.  Cards are numbered 1-8 and the different values all have different actions.  One lets you look at another player's card, some let you guess an opponent's card and eliminate that player if you're right, one makes you discard your other card of a certain type, and so on.  Each option is simple but the interplay of the actions is what creates such an enjoyable little round.  It's entirely possible to be eliminated on the first turn but when rounds can run under 2 minutes this doesn't really bother anyone.  Shuffle 'em up, deal another one! 

Yes, Love Letter has a hefty dose of luck but I've never seen so much fun packed into such a short, simple package.  Do yourself a favour and pick this lovely little filler up - anyone can learn it and anyone can play it and everyone will love it.  And for 7 bucks, that's a pretty awesome deal.