You’re not trying to gain affection from the Princess. You are trying to eliminate your rivals for power as you seek to understand the cosmic horror that lurks just beyond what we foolishly call “reality”.
In each round only one player will prevail. Use deduction and luck to eliminate other players or watch as their own madness consumes them.
Will you accept madness as the price that must be paid for Knowledge Man Was Not Meant to Know? Or will you attempt to hold the shreds of your sanity together in the face of eldritch nightmares attempting to enter and destroy our world?
As in its predecessor, Lovecraft letter has a degree of luck found in most card games. Every round a card is taken out of the game at random to ensure card counting never results in any type of certainty, even down to the last card you are still not 100% sure of whats coming next. This was the case with the original, however in Lovecraft Letter, and added layer of risk and reward is experienced. When players become insane, they are given more powerful options when playing cards, however they are required to test their grip on reality by flipping a card for each insanity card in their discard, reveal another and they are out of the round. This randomness adds another whole aspect to the game.
At it's core, the Love Letter engine is a simple game of bluffing and deduction. Players try and guess and manuever their opponents all the while keeping their own card a secret. This doesn't employ a lot of tactical decision making, however with Lovecraft letter, the new insanity mechanic adds a layer of risk that players must decide to use or ignore. While the insane effects are much more powerful, the damage that they can cause to a players well being increases exponentially as time goes on.
Love Letter is often refered to as a 'filler game', a game that takes up a small footprint that isn't necisarrily a game players come together over, more so one that fills in time waiting for other players or between bigger game sessions. The game adds a bit to the core of Love Letter, however veterans of the game will find it easy to adapt to. The new mechanics add a slight bit more for players to get their heads around but overall this is exactly what you expect from Seiji Kanai's little gem.
This game takes around 20 minutes to play (less for players who know what they are doing), and this lends itself to game after game. While there are more intricacies in this version of the system, I believe it is actually a more streamlined gameplay experience, as the insanity cards accelerate the game as cards begin to be discarded at the start of each turn.
Love Letter has always come with wonderful components, the original games all came with an option of buying it in a drawstring bag as opposed to the typical cardboard box, and with last years release of Love Letter Premium, we saw the introduction of official letter designed sleeves and tarot sized cards. Lovecraft Letter takes it one step further with its wondefully thematic Necronomicon shaped box and its heavy poker style tokens. This game is as pretty as it is fun.
The new mechanics and win conditions take a bit to understand and perhaps a open hand first game would be good for new players, not to mention the uncertainty around some rules in the game. (wait until you are sane and draw two 7's and let me know what you think...) However as a whole this is a Love Letter game and one of its strongest selling points is its ease of play.
It's great to see a Cthulhu themed game that doesn't shy away from its dark source matterial, far too many games (good games at that) take a more cutesy look at the mythos and while this may be more approachable for the masses, it is hardly what Lovecraft envisioned in his works. Lovecraft Letter uses the insane mechanic wonderfully in this game to actually give the players a feeling that the more power they utilise, the more dangerous things become. They also include some wonderful flavour text for players to read in the Instruction manual which wasn't required but adds to the polish of the game.
The original Love Letter could only accomodate up to 4 players and while it could be played heads up, it really lacked when there wasn't the full play set. Love Letter Premium tried to eleviate this issue by opening it up to 8 players however it only seemed to make the game awkard and drained some of the life from it. I believe Lovecraft Letter hits the sweet spot between these two games, allowing up to 6 players to play while still keeping the game tight and engaging for all involved.
So there you have it, Lovecraft Letter. Should you buy it? Well sometimes with new iterations of an existing system the answer is no. I think games like Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu and Coup: Rebellion G54 are luxuries that not everyone NEEDS to buy. If you have expendable income and you want a better game sure, they are worth your while, but generally its not something I'd suggest.
Lovecraft Letter on the other hand, is the definitive version of Love Letter for me, sure the theme is dark and a bit morbid for most and the extra mechanics may scare casual gamers off. However I believe this adds just the right amount of weight to an already fantastic game, that I think this is a must buy for any fan of the Love Letter system. I don't think I'll play the original version ever again, this has certainly replaced it for me.
Have you played Lovecraft Letter? Do you agree with our review? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and please like us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram!