The guard looked Bartolemew Kaiss up and down for a moment, then frowned. "I'M sorry, Master Kaiss", she said, "but the princess is not seeing visitors at this time. She is, of course, in despair over the arrest of her mother". "OF course", the young composer said, nodding and looking appropriately sympathetic. "But Iam not just visiting, you see. Her Highness requested my instruction. We are to practice her singing".
"THE princess already has a vocal maestro", the gruff woman replied, raising an eyebrow. "I'M sure he knows that, Odette", said a kind voice echoing down the hall that connected the residence to the palace. The two turned to see Susannah, one of Princess Annette's handmaids, walking toward them. "What the good composer means to say is that the Princess requested his work for their practice". The young woman smiled at the dour guard, then turned to give Bartolemew a conspiratorial wink.
From his satchel, Bartolemew produced a sealed, wooden tube. "If you will be so kind as to deliver these sheets of music, my dear Susannah", he said with a smile and a genteel nod. The guard intercepted the tube, but as it changed hands, something with a little weight shifted inside it. "WHAT'S this, then?" the guard asked, jostling it next to her ear. Certainly not a small statue of a bird the Princess is so fond of, Bartolemew thought, but he quickly said, "The... quill and ink Iused to pen the music, in case she or the maestro wish to make any changes. Ialways deliver some with a new composition".
Susannah gently took the case from the suspicious guard. "Oh, would you stop, Odette? It's just some music", she chided playfully. "I'll see to it that milady gets these", she added, with a hand on Bartolemew's arm. "I'm sure she'll be eager to see the contents".
Object of the Game
In the wake of the arrest of Queen Marianna for high treason, none was more heartbroken than her daughter, Princess Annette. Suitors throughout the City- State of Tempest sought to ease Annette's sorrow by courting her, seeking to bring some joy into her life.
You are one of these suitors, trying to get your love letter to the Princess. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, so you must rely on intermediaries to carry your message.
During the game, you hold one secret card in your hand. This is who currently carries your message of love for the Princess. Make sure that the person closest to the Princess holds your love letter at the end of the day, so it reaches her first!
Your game of Love Letter should include the following. If it does not, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
- 32 Game cards
- 1 Jester token
- 8 Player Reference cards
- 40 sleeves
- 25 tokens of affection
- 1 Rulebook (this book)
The game has 32 cards, 16 of which are used when playing with 2 to 4 players. The other 16 are added to the game when playing with 5 to 8 players. Each different card name represents someone at the royal residence. Each card has a number in the upper left corner-the higher the number, the closer that person is to the Princess. At the bottom of each card, a text box describes the effect that occurs when the card is discarded.
These list the various cards in the game, as well as summarizing their effects and indicating how many copies are in the deck. They are not used in the game itself, but are provided as a memory aid for players. One side of each reference card summarizes the cards used in the 2 to 4 player game, while the other side summarizes the additional cards used in the 5 to 8 player game.
Tokens Of Affection
The red, heart-shaped tokens are used to track Princess Annette's ever-growing affection for those suitors whose letters reach her. One of the tokens is not red. It is the Jester token, which is given to a player when they have been chosen by the Jester card effect.
Setup (2 to 4 players)
If you are playing the game with 5 to 8 players, consult the setup and play rules on page 7. For 2 to 4 players, assemble the following cards into a deck and place the others aside, as they won't be used in the game:
- Prince (two copies)
- Handmaid (two copies)
- Baron (two copies)
- Priest (two copies)
- Guard (five copies)
Shuffle these 16 cards to form a face-down draw deck. Remove the top card of the deck from the game without looking at it and place it aside.
If you are playing a 2-player game, take 3 more cards from the top of the deck and place them to the side, face up. They will not be used during this round, but are available for all players to examine during the game.
Each player draws 1 card from the deck. This is the player's hand, and is kept secret from the other players. Whoever was most recently on a date goes first (if tied, the youngest player wins the tie).
Game Play (2 To 4 Players)
Love Letter is played in a series of rounds. Each round represents one day. At the end of each round, one player's letter reaches Princess Annette, and she reads it. When she reads enough letters from one suitor, she becomes enamored and grants that suitor permission to court her. That player wins the Princess' heart and the game.
Taking A Turn
On your turn, draw the top card from the deck and add it to your hand. Then, choose one of the two cards now in your hand and discard it face up in front of you. Apply any effect on the card you discarded. You must apply its effect, even if it is bad for you!
All discarded cards remain in front of the player who discarded them. Overlap the cards so that it's clear in which order they were discarded. This helps players to figure out which cards other players might be holding.
Once you finish applying the card 's effect, the turn passes to the player on your left.
Out Of The Round
If a player is knocked out of the round, that player discards the card in his or her hand face up (but does not apply the card 's effect) and takes no more turns until the next round.
There are various ways a player could cheat. For example, he or she could lie when confronted with the Guard, or fail to discard the Countess when that player also has the King or Prince in his or her hand. We recommend that you don't play with knaves who cheat at fun, light games.
Choosing A Player
If you discard a card with an effect that requires you to choose a player that cannot be chosen due to another card effect (Sycophant, Handmaid), your card is discarded without effect.
End of a Round
A round ends if the deck is empty at the end of a player's turn. The royal residence closes for the evening, the person closest to the Princess delivers the love letter, and Princess Annette retires to her chambers to read it. All players still in the round reveal their hands.
The player with the highest number in their hand wins the round. In case of a tie, players add the numbers on the cards in their discard pile. The highest total wins. If there is still a tie, then all tied players are considered to have won the round.
A round also ends if all players but one are out of the round, in which case the remaining player wins.
After a round ends, the winner (or winners, if there was a tie at the end of the round) receives a Token of Affection. Shuffle all 16 cards together, and play a new round following all of the setup rules above. The winner of the previous round goes first, because the Princess speaks kindly of him or her at breakfast. If there was more than one winner from the previous round as a result of a tie, then whichever of the tied players was most recently on a date goes first.
End of the Game (2 to 4 players)
A player wins the game after winning a number of Tokens of Affection based on the number of players:
- 2 Players 7 tokens
- 3 Players 5 tokens
- 4 Players 4 tokens
Setup And Play (5 to 8 players)
If you are playing the game with 5 to 8 players, then assemble all 32 of the cards into a deck. Shuffle them to form a face-down draw deck. Remove the top card of the deck from the game without looking at it and place it aside. Each player draws 1 card from the deck.
Play now proceeds as it would for a 2 to 4 player game. However, note that in the 5-8 player game, when a card 's effect requires you to "Name a number", that effect applies to all cards with that number. For example, if you name "4" as a result of the Guard 's effect, then it would affect both the Handmaid and the Sycophant, both of whom have a value of "4".
End of the Game (5 to 8 Players)
A player wins 5 to 8 player games after winning 4 Tokens of Affection.
Because some of the cards used in the 5-8 player version of the game make it possible to gain Tokens of Affection in ways other than winning a round, it's entirely possible that a player could win the game without ever having actually won a round. Such are the vagaries of courtly romance and intrigue!
It's also possible that two (or more) players could "tie" in terms of winning the game, again because of some of the cards used in the 5-8 player version of the game. The Princess has been smitten with several suitors, who must now vie for her affection. In such a case, all of the tied players will play another round to break the tie, and determine who finally wins the hand of the Princess and the game!
For example, say two players, Bob and Susan, remain in the game. Each has 3 Tokens of Affection. In his discard pile, Bob has Constable (If this card is in your discard pile when you are out of the round, gain an Affection Token)..
Susan plays a card that knocks Bob out of the round. This leaves Susan as the winner of the round, as she's the last remaining player, so she gains a Token of Affection. However, Bob points to the Constable with a smile when he's eliminated, so he also gains a Token of Affection.
Both players now have 4 Tokens of Affection, so they "tie" for the win. Therefore, Bob and Susan now play another round to break the tie.
About The People
Here are brief profiles of the people in the game.