Author Topic: Love Letter & Love Letter Premium (Comparison)  (Read 6929 times)

Offline dirk2112

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Love Letter & Love Letter Premium (Comparison)
« on: January 02, 2018, 12:22:45 PM »
My son's favorite game is Love Letter.  On New Years Eve, we went to a party and brought a bunch of games.  Unfortunately he suggested we play that one first and that is all anyone wanted to play the entire evening.   ::)

Just in case there is someone on here who has never played this game (How can that be?) I will review the base game and explain what is new in Premium.  For those who love the base game and just want to know if Premium is worthwhile, the answer is YES, BUT...

Love Letter - Standard

The game can be played with 2 to 4 players.  I like to play with at least 3.

Court the Royal Princess of the Tempest!  That is seriously the entire theme.  I thought the "Tempest" referred to William Shakespeare's play in which case I assume you would be courting Miranda, but that isn't it at all.  It is actually a series of games including Patronize, Mercante, Dominare, Courtier, and Canalis that I have never played and aren't ranked very high on BGG.  So ignore the Tempest part and lets get down to some Princess courting. 

Note: If you do not care for the theme, there are alternatives where you can be Batman catching the Joker, Frodo Baggins I guess courting the ring, and a few other things.

Other note: So far no female players have complained about courting a princess.  It is 2018 and she is dreamy  :))

How it works:
The game contains 16 cards.  Players start with 1 card.  During the turn a player must draw a card and play a card.  This is done until only 1 player remains or if there are no more cards the player with the highest value card remaining gets an affection token.  Thematically the player's love letter gets to the Princess and she gives the player a token of affection.  Obviously if you can give the letter to her directly, great, but her BFF the Countess is almost as good.  The game is over when a player accumulates a certain number of tokens based on player count (2 players is 7, 3 players is 5, and 4 players is 4).

The cards:

1.  Guard - 5 in the deck.  When played, the player chooses another player and names a non-Guard card.  If correct, that player is out
2.  Priest - 2 in the deck.  The priest allows the player to look at another player's hand
3.  Baron -  2 in the deck.  When played you compare your card to another player's.  The person with the lower card is out.
4.  Handmaid - 2 in the deck.  When played ignore all the effects from other players.
5.  Prince - 2 in the deck.  Pick a player and that player must discard his/her hand.
6.  King - 1 in the deck.  Trade hands with another player (this is by far the worst card)
7.  Countess - 1 in the deck.  She does nothing, but you must discard her if your other card is a Prince or King
8.  Princess - 1 in the deck.  If you discard her for any reason (see the Prince) you are out of the round. 

How it plays
During set up, you burn a card so that players can't totally count cards.  The game goes fairly quickly and you can teach the game to a child in 10 minutes or less.  I can't put my finger on why it is so engaging.  It is so simple and players don't have many choices, but we play it again and again.  There is a lot of luck and deduction involved.  It is not uncommon to be down 3 to nothing and manage to come back and win.  For whatever reason whenever someone plays the handmaid, he/she begins singing MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This".

Love Letter Premium

Love Letter premium has everything that the base game has PLUS extra new character cards, better tokens, and SLEEVES.  Why sleeves?  We played the base game so much our cards are starting to look horrible.  Supposedly there is going to be an expansion for base Love Letter to add the extra cards from this game, but I don't know when it will happen.  In any event Love Letter Premium can be played with up to 8 players.

New Cards
0.  Assassin - If someone plays a guard against you, that player is out.
0.  Jester - Give another player a yellow token.  If that player wins the round, you get an affection token too.
1.  Guard - 3 extra guard cards.  They are the same as above, but with different art.
2.  Cardinal - 2 in deck - choose 2 players and force them to trade cards (you can choose yourself)
3.  Baroness - 2 in deck - choose 1 or 2 players and look at their hands
4.  Sycophant - 2 in the deck - Choose a player.  The next card must target that player.
5.  Count - 2 in deck - If this card is in your discard pile at the end of the round, add 1 to the number of the card in your hand
6.  Constable - 1 card in deck - If this card is in your discard pile when you are knocked out of the round, gain an affection token.
7.  Dowager Queen - 1 in deck - Choose another player and compare hands.  The player with the higher number is out.
9.  Bishop - 1 in deck - Choose a player and number other than 1.  If that player has a card matching that number, you get an affection token and that player can choose to discard and draw a new card.

How it plays
With numbers greater than 4, it plays great.  However with 4 or fewer players, some modifications have to be done.  The game really doesn't help you with this, but I found a link on BGG that has a great setup.

You also have to adjust the number of affection tokens needed to win.  It is now possible to gain multiple tokens in a turn because of the Bishop, Jester, and Constable.  I also feel the Constable is too overpowered.  A player that pulls that card is almost guaranteed an affection token.   I believe they mainly inserted it to speed up games with higher player counts.  I wouldn't play with it if there are less than 8 players.  Also we always shared a discard pile before.  If you play with the Count or Constable, you have to maintain your own piles. 

You will notice that the Bishop is a 9.  I have no idea as to why exactly, but he still loses to the Princess. 


The Love Letter base game is great, it is portable, and it only costs $10.  There is no reason not to buy it.  Love Letter Premium is still great, is no longer portable, and is $30.  If you are never going to have more than 4 players, do you really need it?  The answer is YES, BUT only if you play the game so much that you want to add additional cards to the deck with a variety of new powers.  The better tokens are nice, but not really worth the extra expense.  The bigger sleeved cards are cool, but difficult for children to shuffle.  We are going to keep both versions of the game with the base game being used when we travel. 

One other thing that I just noticed while typing this up is the Premium version gives you backgrounds on the card characters and their names.  The Princess, for example, is named Annette.  I guess that is nice for people looking for more theme. 

« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 12:44:49 PM by dirk2112 »

Offline Willem

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Re: Love Letter & Love Letter Premium (Comparison)
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2018, 12:40:44 PM »
Love this game!
We have the normal and the premium version, and whenever we have enough people, the premium is the way to go!
It can be tricky to learn, but very nice to play, and for me it's always over way too soon!
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