Friday, January 3, 2014

Evolve Your Game: Love Letter of the Blooded

Evolve Your Game:  Love Letter
Game: Houses of the Blooded

My partner and I recently acquired a beautifully crafted card game called Love Letter by Seiji Kanai.  The game revolves around a group of suitors (played by up to four players) who hope to show their affection towards a Princess by sending her love letters.  However, since all the other suitors are trying to one up each other, the players must try to get their letters to the Princess through intermediaries.  These are represented by the other characters in the cards.  The game is played in multiple rounds, with each round having points awarded to the player who either remained in play or has the highest scoring character as his intermediary.  The player accumulating the most points at the end of all the rounds wins the game.

First, let me say that the game is just beautiful and there is an elegance in its simplicity yet strategic challenge.   Each player has a card in hand, and draws a second card, and between the two cards must choose which one to discard.  Most cards have an effect once discarded, and players vie for being the last one in the round to win the points of affection.  The cards come in a red velvet bag with is adorned with golden letters and a golden rope to tie it shut.  There are small red wooden pieces to use as counters, which I feel might have been better if they were stylized hearts of metal or tiny dried flower petal like counters.   But the cards are artfully illustrated, the writing is superb and the rules are very cohesively written.

You can find the official rules of the game here:

Just after a few rounds of playing the game, my partner and I very quickly realized how much the game reminded us of the infamous Althua that the Ven would celebrate during Winter.    The act of achieving goals through intermediaries whom were disposed of once no longer needed struck a chord with how the Ven were towards others.   We jokes at how in our next Houses game, this would be a great addition to have during a party scene.

I felt, however that I could go a step further.   Given how there seemed to be some other fan variants of the game (including an Adventure Time variant which had both Marshall Lee and Marceline?) I thought of making an unofficial version of the game with the Houses as the characters.  Given the superiority of the Senate, it seemed apt to make them the highest ranking card (and discarding the card would mean the Senate threw away your proposed matter to be discussed) while having the Veth as the last card seemed apt to symbolize how the lowly vassals tended to overhear things which, if used successfully could oust a rival from a political arena.

 So here you have it, each House matching a special ability that a card conferred.  The Bear, for example, found protection from their Circle of Protection blessing, while the Elk were ousted whenever an alliance with either the Falcon or the Wolf was raised.  Of course, the Serpent was given the chance to peer at another's hand, given their ties to Wisdom.  And the sly Fox would help upset an opponent, so long as you called upon their services at a time when you are prepared to make such comparisons.

I hope you enjoy this unofficial hack. And I do hope by not reprinting any of the actual rules (save for those already found online via images), I'm not breaking any rules.


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