52 Family Game Nights: Love Letter

Valentine’s Day is this weekend, so I’m sharing a “love” themed card game with you.

family game night love letterFamily Game Night #6: Love Letter

My husband and children love (sorry, that word keeps popping up) this game so I asked my husband to explain it (and he had a lot to say!):

Love Letter is a so-called “microgame” consisting of only 16 cards. 2-4 players attempt to deliver a love letter to the princess by out-guessing and out-maneuvering their opponents. While the game does prominently feature player elimination (you will probably be knocked out of the game), it is quite short, lasting at most 5-7 minutes. Then you can jump right back in once more.

The game begins with the dealer shuffling the 16-card deck and placing one card to the side—it will (most likely) not be used during this game. Then one card is dealt to each player. The player to the left will start. On a turn you simply draw one card and play one of your two cards. Each card has a number (from 1 to 8) and some text defining the action you can do when you play the card. You lay down the card you want to play and follow the instructions at the bottom. Then it’s the next player’s turn. This continues until only one person remains or until the deck runs out, at which point the player holding the highest card wins.

While that might not sound like earth-shattering fun, it is really quite clever and enjoyable. Our kids can play back-to-back games of Love Letter for an hour at a time. The appeal comes from the unique actions on the cards.

Five of the cards are Guards, which let you try to guess another player’s card. If you guess right, they are eliminated. Priests let you look at another player’s card. The Baron has you compare your other card with another player’s and the person with the lowest card is out. The Handmaid keeps you safe until it’s your turn again. The Prince makes any player discard their card and draw a new one. The King lets you trade cards. The Countess is ranked 7, but has to be discarded if you have the Prince or King. Finally, the Princess is ranked 8, but if you ever discard her, you lose.

The game begins to change as you move through the deck and reveal more cards. Those random guesses start to look a lot less random once deduction kicks in. And just which card is missing? You will be surprised at the wonderful tension this game can generate.

Don’t like the stuffy quasi-medieval theme? No problem! This game is so popular there are now several new versions including Bat-Man, the Hobbit, Adventure Time, and Star Wars. Each version comes in a nifty carrying bag so you can play anywhere.

At less than $10, it’s a no-brainer. Within minutes, you’ll see why this imaginative little game is so beloved.

(I should turn over my blog to my husband more often. 400+ words without breaking a sweat!)

Summary of Love Letter:

Number of Players: 2-4. If your family is larger, buy more than one deck (they’re less than $10 each) so you can have more than one game going at once!

Recommended Ages: 8 and up. We’ve played with younger, but our children play a lot of games.

Reading Required: Yes. But we have taught non-readers to play by identifying the pictures on the cards.

Do you have a favorite “love” themed game?
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