Love Letter Princess Princess Ever After is the brand new deduction style card game from publisher Renegade Game Studios. Designed by Seiji Kanai, with artwork by Kay O’Neill, the game sees 2 – 6 players attempting to find a character that will carry their letter to Princess Isadora. As players aim to win the favor and heart of the princess, guards will eliminate players, while Oliver the Dragon will protect others. However, is this edition of Love Letter a game you’ll be playing for ever after? Let’s find out!
Love Letter Princess Princess Ever After reimplements the 2019 edition of Love Letter, retheming it and coming with a minor rule tweak. In your quest to win the heart of Princess Isadora, players will be playing cards often in an attempt to eliminate opponents and gain favor tokens.
To play the deck of 21 cards is shuffled, one card is dealt to each player and one is removed from play without anyone seeing it. If needed players can take a reference card, otherwise the game is ready to begin. On a turn the active player will draw a card from the central deck and then choose to play one of their two cards. Activating its ability the player will be trying to eliminate another player, protect themselves or gain a better card. Ending the turn in the same way they started, with a single card in hand, play then moves on clockwise around the table.
There are a number of ways to eliminate players, but primarily it’ll be via playing a guard. There are six guards in the deck and playing one allows you to guess the card of another player – though you aren’t allowed to guess guard. If correct they reveal it and are eliminated from the round. If incorrect they are still in and play continues to the next player. Another way to be eliminated is via the Librarians, which are Barons in the 2019 edition. This sees two players compare cards, with whomever has the lowest card eliminated.
Each card comes with an ability, from protecting against being targeted for a turn to trading cards with another player. The highest value card the Ogre (9) takes the place of what is normally the princess. This card cannot be played or discarded by a player, if they do they are eliminated. Why this card is strong is the way the points can be earnt.
The main ways to gain favor points in Love Letter is to either be the last person standing in a round, with everyone else eliminated, or when the deck runs out having the highest value card amongst those still in. As with the 2019 edition of Love Letter there are spies. There are two of these zero valued cards in the deck. If you are still in at the end of the round and are the only person to have played or discarded a spy that round then you gain a bonus favor token.
Love Letter Princess Princess Ever After isn’t just a reskin though offering a small rules addition. The two princesses, which are effectively Chancellors, have their standard ability but also offer another way to score favor. Mirroring the Spy card to some extent, if two players have played one of the two princesses and are still in at the end of the round they both gain a favor token. Depending on the player count, the aim is for players to get to a specific number of favor tokens first to win. If the number isn’t reached at the end of a round all the cards are collected, shuffled and, with everyone back in, the next round commences.
Putting aside the renaming and theming of the deck, the only gameplay change from the 2019 edition of Love Letter is that the 6 numbered cards have the opportunity to score points. It is however such a small change that it might not be noticeable to your group. Due to the way that rounds rarely end via the deck running out of cards in games with less than 4, the rule hardly ever comes into effect with lower player counts. This isn’t necessarily a negative though, as with winning a round, the spy and now the princesses there are technically three favor points up for grabs each and every round. If this were to trigger too often then the entire game could be over for a 5/6 player game within a single round – so by making it less likely to occur balances it.
Ditching the drawstring bag seen in the 2019 edition and the Marvel Infinity Gauntlet edition of Love Letter, Love Letter Princess Princess Ever After comes in a small box. This does limit the portability somewhat, as it’ll no longer fit into a coat pocket. Still, it’ll comfortably fit in any bag. This is a needed change though as the game includes 21 tarot sized character cards. Larger than normal playing cards this means there is plenty of space afforded to the artwork, whilst keeping the font extremely legible. The artwork evokes the panels of the Princess Princess Ever After webcomic and graphic novel, and the styling continues over to the 13 acrylic favor tokens – which round out the high production quality.
Love Letter is a phenomenal game of bluffing and deduction, with short rounds that mean elimination never sees someone sat on the sidelines for long. Adding in the slight twist and the Princess Princess Ever After theming and that core still shines firmly though. Regardless of if you know the IP there is enjoyment to be had, and whilst it’s a pleasant theme it doesn’t really add much – more than a slight logic and reasoning behind the new way to score favor. It’s a great production though of a thoroughly enjoyable title, so why not try to win the affection of Princess Isadora!
(Editor’s Note: Love Letter Princess Princess Ever After was provided to us by the publisher for the review.)