Love Letter (card game)

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Love Letter
Love Letter box cover.jpg
Box cover
Designer(s)Seiji Kanai
Publisher(s)Z-Man Games
Players2 to 4
Playing time20 minutes

Love Letter is a card game introduced in May 2012 and designed by Seiji Kanai.[1] It is produced in the United States by Z-Man Games.[2]


Each player aims to deliver a love letter to the princess with the assistance of collaborators.

Playing method[edit]

2–4 people play. First, one card is dealt to each person, and one is discarded face-down from the round (so the process of elimination cannot be used to prove which cards are left) and the rest are deposited face-down into a deck in the middle. During each player's turn, he or she draws one card from the deck and plays either that card, or the card they already had. After processing the effect described on the discarded card, the next player gets a turn. This is repeated until either the deck disappears, in which case the player holding the highest card wins the round (if tied, then the player with the highest total of cards in their discard pile), or until all players but one are eliminated, in which case the remaining player wins the round. The deck (including the discarded card) is shuffled, and play begins again. Once a player wins the game, that player receives a token of affection. The game ends when one player has obtained a predetermined number of tokens of affection (normally anywhere from four to seven).

Card types[edit]

Card Strength Number in deck Effects
Guard 1 5 Player designates another player and names a type of card. If that player's hand matches the type of card specified, that player is eliminated from the round. However, Guard cannot be named as the type of card.
Priest 2 2 Player is allowed to see another player's hand.
Baron 3 2 Player will choose another player and privately compare hands. The player with the lower-strength hand is eliminated from the round.
Handmaid 4 2 Player cannot be affected by any other player's card until the next turn.
Prince 5 2 Player can choose any player (including themselves) to discard their hand and draw a new one. If the discarded card is the Princess, the discarding player is eliminated.
King 6 1 Player trades hands with any other player.
Countess 7 1 If a player holds both this card and either the King or Prince card, this card must be played immediately.
Princess 8 1 If a player plays this card for any reason, they are eliminated from the round.

Premium Edition[edit]

A premium edition of Love Letter has been sold that includes a 5-8 player variant. This variant uses all of the cards above, as well as the following.

Card Strength Number in deck Effects
Assassin 0 1 Does nothing when played, but if in player's hand when a Guard is used on them, the player who used the Guard is eliminated, even if they correctly guessed. Then the player with the Assassin must draw a replacement card.
Jester 0 1 Player chooses another player and gives them a "jester token". If a player with a "jester token" wins the round, then the player who played the Jester gets an additional token of affection.
Guard 1 3 Same effect as a Guard in a normal game. However, in the premium edition, Guards guess based on numbers, not card names, since different cards have the same number.
Cardinal 2 2 Player chooses two players and they swap hands, then looks at the hand of one of those players.
Baroness 3 2 Player looks at one or two other players' hands.
Sycophant 4 2 Player chooses a player. During the next turn, players must target that player with card effects if able.
Count 5 2 Does nothing when played. If in a player's discard pile at the end of a round, that player receives a +1 bonus to their card's value at the end of the round.
Constable 6 1 Does nothing when played. If in a player's discard pile and that player is eliminated from the round via a card effect, then that player gets a token of affection.
Dowager Queen 7 1 The player will privately compare hands with another player, and the player with the higher-valued card is eliminated from the round.
Bishop 9 1 The player must guess the number of a card in another player's hand. If guessed correctly, then the player who played the Bishop gets a token of affection and the player that was designated may optionally choose to replace their card with a new one. Despite this card's value of "9" and the Princess's value of "8", the Bishop loses to the Princess at the end of the round.

Awards won[edit]

Love Letter has received the following awards:[3]

  • 2014 Deutscher Spiele Preis, 4th place
  • 2014 Spiel des Jahres recommended
  • 2014 Origin Awards Best Traditional Card Game
  • 2014 Guildbrikken Best Family Game
  • 2014 Fairplay A la Carte
  • 2013 Golden Geek Best Party Board Game
  • 2013 Golden Geek Best Innovative Board Game
  • 2013 Golden Geek Best Family Board Game
  • 2013 Golden Geek Best Card Game
  • 2012 Japan Boardgame Prize Voters' Selection
  • 2012 Dice Tower Best Family Game[1]


Due to the game's successful sales, Alderac has subsequently produced different variants of Love Letter, playing by a similar or same set of rules.


  1. ^ a b Otake, Tomoko (31 January 2014). "Indie designer Kanai carves out niche with analog board games". The Japan Times. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Z-Man Games Acquires Love Letter". Z-Man Games. 8 May 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  3. ^ Love Letter Page at Boardgame Geek
  4. ^ a b c d e Mappin, Don. "Hobbit, Batman, Archer, Star Wars—the many faces of Love Letter". Ars Technica. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Adventure Time Love Letter". Board Game Geek. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Harap Alb Continuă... un joc Love Letter". Board Game Geek. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Lovecraft Letter". Board Game Geek. Retrieved 2 June 2019.

External links[edit]