Individual Project Research: Love Letter

Isn’t it nice that research in this course is all about playing games. While I may play card games on the weekend as a means of relaxation, exploring the mechanics and context behind these games has really improved my enjoyment of them. Another game I’d like to talk about in the research of my final game project is a personal favourite, “Love Letter”.

While I am planning on creating my final game with a standard 52 deck of cards, this game uses a custom set of cards. While this may seem counter-intuitive, “Love Letter” is one of those games that have such a unique style in it’s core mechanics that makes it both fairly user friendly but also incredibly engaging at the same time. The basic objective of the game is to gain the affections of the princess. To do so you need to either a) hold the highest numbered card at the end of the game or b) eliminate all other players from the round. There are 16 cards in total with the amount equalling

1 Princess Card

1 Countess Card

1 King Card

2 Prince Cards

2 Handmaid Cards

2 Baron Cards

2 Priest Cards

5 Knight Cards

Gameplay is incredibly simple. Every player (2-4 are suggested) then draw a card and play a card. Each card has a specific action that occurs when played or even if drawn with another card in hand. Considering the fact that higher cards have (arguably) better actions gives the game an interesting slant considering the available objectives of the game. While it may appear that the main strategy is counting the cards already in play, from the start one card is put aside face down. This adds an element of mystery to the game, making it much harder to completely know what cards are currently in the deck.

I enjoy this game immensely as, even if a new player doesn’t completely understand the rules, they become readily apparent during playthrough. I would like to achieve a similar level of entry level fun with my final game, however, it is through the custom deck and interesting game mechanic that makes this possible. Using a standard deck requires use of all 52 cards and making a game that is similarly short and sweet is somewhat difficult. Despite this, I think there are certain rules that I want to either adjust or directly lift from this game for my own.

One of my favourites are the Knight cards which are the most plentiful cards in the deck. When one of these are played, you get to predict the card held by another player and, if successful, they are out of the round. This, just like in my previous card game “Cheat”, makes for an exciting and engaging game. Another aspect I hope to taken on for my own is the small amount of cards held by the player. This creates a more thoughtful approach as the user can either choose to hold on to a more powerful card or play it earlier. It also makes a somewhat easier play for newcomers as well.

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