Love Letter Princess Princess Ever After
- Designer: Seiji Kanai
- Publisher: Renegade Game Studio
- Players: 2-6
- Age: 10+
- Time: 15-20 minutes
- Played on review copy provided by Renegade Game Studios
Love Letter has been one of my favorite microgames ever. The original version came in a super small packet of sixteen cards, and that set got a LOT of play when it first came out. It was the perfect sort of game to play while out (you know, back when you could go to restaurants and bars with friends). The game fit in your jeans pocket, could be explained in 3 minutes, and just about everyone could understand and enjoy it.
The original version could be summarized as: “ In Love Letter, players are trying to get their love letter delivered to the princess who has locked herself away in sadness after the death of the queen. The cards in the deck represent the various members of the court. Players start with a card, draw one more, then play one of the two in hand. At the end of the game, the member of the court remaining in one’s hand represents who carries your letter to the princess. The player with the highest value card remaining in their hand wins the round, first to win a set number of rounds (depending on the number of players) wins the game.”
Since this first English version, there have been a LOT of new versions, as it’s a game which is very easily re-skinned and modified. In the past, we have looked at Hobbit and Infinity Gauntlet themed Love Letter games (as well as played a few others that we didn’t review here…)
This newest version is set in the world of Princess Princess Ever After, a highly acclaimed graphic novel by Kay O’Neill. The synopsis of it, courtesy of Goodreads: “When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They’ll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all.
Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means — and how they can find it with each other.”
This version of the game keeps to the original goal of Love Letter – namely to have your love letter be delivered to Princess Isadora. She is at the big dance at the palace of Princesses Sadie and Amira – no need to send love letters to these two as they are in love with each other! The game is a bit different in that it has 21 cards instead of just 16. However, the bulk of the rules are the same. You start the game with one card, and on your turn, you draw a card from the deck and then play one of those cards. If the deck runs out of cards, the player with the highest valued card in their hand is the winner. Alternatively, if all other players are eliminated from the round, the last player standing is the winner. The winner takes a token. If two players have played or discarded the Princesses Amira and Sadie AND those players have neither been eliminated, then those two players each gain a token as well. Additionally, if there is only one player left alive at the end of the round that has played or discarded a Spy card, that player gains a token as well. The game is won by the player who reaches the target number first (i.e. in a 4 player game, the first to 4 tokens). It is possible to have multiple winners.
As I mentioned earlier, there are a few more cards in this version, and each rank has its own special ability. The numbers and abilities are nicely summed up on the player aid. The other thing that is worth noting is that the cards in the version are a nice large tarot size, and I find them much easier to hold and read than regular sized cards.
As with all Love Letter games, it’s frankly amazing how much strategy can be derived from such a small number of cards. The game forces you to play your cards wisely (to avoid being eliminated and such) as well as using your intuition/deduction to try to determine what your opponents have. Luck plays a large role too, because sometimes it just helps if you randomly draw the card that you want to use this turn…
The games in LL:PPEA have a little added excitement due to the fact that there are multiple ways to score points. The winner in each round is guaranteed a point, but with some clever play, it’s fairly common to be part of the pair of lovestruck princesses and gain a point at the end of the round that way. It’s also a pretty decent strategy to play a Spy early on, and then do your best to try to eliminate anyone else who plays a Spy. Now that there is more than one possible positive outcome each round, I think this diversifies the strategy even more than the original.
The artwork is great and cartoony, going along with the art from the graphic novels. As I mentioned earlier, the cards are larger (tarot size) and this makes the text a little bit easier for me to read – definitely no complaints on my end about this. While it’s certainly not a common theme for boardgames, it is well presented. The biracial all-female couple on the cover makes it pretty clear who the protagonists of the story are. If nothing else, the game could serve as a nice introductory point for those not familiar with the works of Kay O’Neill. Whether the theme is a focus for you or not, the changes to gameplay are interesting enough that I’d recommend giving this one a try, especially if you are a fan of the Love Letter series already.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Dale Y
- I like it. John P
- Not for me…