- 16 game cards
- 4 reference cards
- 13 Tokens of affection
Shuffle the 16 cards to form a face-down draw deck. Remove the top card of the deck from the game without looking at it.
If you are playing a two-player game, take three more cards from the top of the deck and place them to the side, face up. They will not be used during this round.
Each player draws one card from the deck. This is the player's hand, and is kept secret from the others. Whoever was most recently on a date goes first (if tied, the younger player wins the tie).
Object of the Game
In the wake of many recent tragic events, Empress Iweko I has sought to bring a note of joy back to the Imperial City, Toshi Ranbo, by announcing the gempukku of her youngest child and only daughter, Iweko Miaka.
Prominent samurai throughout the Imperial City have immediately started to court the Imperial princess, whose hand in marriage would be a prize beyond price in Rokugan. You are one of these suitors, trying to get your love letter delivered to Miaka's hand. Unfortunately, she spends most of her time in her private quarters within the Imperial Palace, and when she does appear in public she is surrounded by guards, handmaidens, and spiritual advisors. A personal meeting is impossible, so instead you must use your political influence to arrange an intermediary to carry your message.
During the game, you hold one secret card in your hand. This is who currently carries your love letter for Iweko Miaka.
Make sure that the person closest to Miaka holds your love letter at the end of the day, so it reaches her first!
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 Iweko Miaka, 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 Iweko Miaka's heart and the game.
On your turn, draw the top card from the deck and add it to your hand. Then choose one of the two cards 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.
Likewise, if you have any questions about special cases regarding the card, you'll find the answer there.
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 onto.
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 (do not apply the card's effect) and takes no more turns until next round.
A player could cheat when chosen with the Guard, or fail to discard the Sensei when that player has the Manipulator or the Hatamoto in hand. We suggest that you don't play with people who cheat at fun, light games.
End of a Round
A round ends if the deck is empty at the end of a turn. The Imperial residence closes for the evening, the person closest to Iweko Miaka delivers the love letter, and Iweko Miaka retires to her chambers to read it.
All players still in the round reveal their hands. The player with the highest ranked person wins the round. In case of a tie, the player who discarded the highest total value of cards wins.
A round also ends if all players but one are out of the round, in which case the remaining player wins.
The winner receives one token of affection. Shuffle all 16 cards together, and play a new round following all of the setup rules. The winner of the previous round goes first, because the princess speaks kindly of him or her at breakfast.
End of the game
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
Here are brief profiles of the people in the game.
8: Iweko Miaka, Princess
If you discard the Princess-no matter how or why, even to the Hatamoto-she has tossed your letter into the fire. You are knocked out of the round.
7: Togashi Gozato, Sensei
Unlike other cards, which take effect when discarded, the text on the Sensei applies while he is in your hand. In fact, he has no effect when you discard him.
If you ever have the Sensei and either the Manipulator or the Hatamoto in your hand, you must discard the Sensei. You do not have to reveal the other card in your hand. Of course, you can also discard the Sensei even if you do not have either the Manipulator or the Hatamoto in your hand. He likes to play mind games....
6: Doji Takato, Manipulator
When you discard the Manipulator, trade the card in your hand with the card held by another player of your choice. You cannot trade with a player who is out of the round, nor with someone protected by the Shugenja.
If all other players still in the round are protected by the Shugenja, this card does nothing.
5: Matsu Misato, Hatamoto
When you discard Matsu Misato, choose one player still in the round (including yourself). That player discards his or her hand (do not apply its effect unless it is the Princess) and draws a new card. If the deck is empty, that player draws the card that was removed at the start of the round.
If all other players are protected by the Shugenja, you must choose yourself.
4: Isawa Tenkawa, Shugenja
When you discard the Shugenja, you are immune to the effects of other players' cards until the start of your next turn. If all players other than the player whose turn it is are protected by the Shugenja, that player must choose him- or herself if possible when applying the effect of his or her card.
3: Kaiu Akemi, Diplomat
When discarded, choose one other player still in the round. You and that player secretly compare your hands. The player with the lower rank is knocked out of the round.
In case of a tie, nothing happens. If all other players still in the round are protected by the Shugenja, this card does nothing.
2: Shosuro Yamazaki, Courtier
When you discard the Courtier, you can look at one other player's hand. Do not reveal the hand to all players. If all other players still in the round are protected by the Shugenja, this card does nothing.
1: Seppun Tasuke, Guard
When you discard a Guard, choose a player and name a card (other than a Guard). If that player has that card, that player is knocked out of the round. If all other players still in the round are protected by the Shugenja, this card does nothing.