Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group, Arclight, Pegasus Spiele, Switch Games
Designer: Seiji Kanai
Players: 2-6; 4 players is probably the optimal number
Playing Time: 10 minutes, give or take a minute
In Love Letters, you are trying to win the affections of the Princess. There’s no such “good” vibe in Lovecraft Letter. This game, you are competing with up to 5 other players for power and attention from the Old Gods and other Lovecraftian beings.
Lovecraft Letter plays very similar to Love Letter. You start with one card and draw a 2nd; you then decide which card to play, and discard that card. Each card, like Love Letter, has a specific number, amount of those cards in the deck, and power:
Above is the listing of cards. For example, if you play a “2 – Cats of Ulthar”, you can look at another player’s card.
This is where Lovecraft Letter diverges from Love Letter. Lovecraft Letter has “Sanity” cards (above) and “Insanity” cards, with more powerful – and deranged – effects:
Instead of the “Cats of Ulthar” sanity card, the #2 card on the insanity side is the “Golden Mead” card, above: you look at the opponent’s hand and get to draw/discard a card, essentially getting a 2nd turn.
You win the round if:
- you are the last person with a card in your hand
- you have the highest numbered card remaining
Sanity vs. Insanity
Sanity cards (left) and Insanity Cards
The “Insanity” aspect is a fun addition to the Love Letter template. The basics are: if you draw an Insanity card, you can play it like any other card. However, once you play, you are now considered “insane”. Each turn after that, the first thing you do is make “a sanity check” by drawing 1 card for each Insanity card that you have played. If you draw an insanity card, you fail the sanity check and lose the round; if you draw normal (“sane”) cards, you discard them (you can’t use their effects), then draw your 1 card for your turn.
If you are the winner of the round and you did not play a sanity card, you get one of the red tokens that are pictured below; you get the green token if you won the round while insane. The first player to get 2 Sanity tokens or 3 Insanity tokens wins the game.
There is also a 3rd way to win the game.
In “Love Letter” and “Lovecraft Letter”, you try to keep the #8 card as long as you can; discarding it will earn you a “loss” for the round. In “Lovecraft Letter”, the ‘Necronomicon’ is the ‘sane’ #8 card – you lose the round if you have to discard that card, for any reason. The ‘insane’ version of #8 is Cthulhu: you have the same ‘sane’ effect as ‘Necronomicon’. However, if you have at least 2 Insanity cards in your discard pile and you play Cthulhu, you win the GAME, even if you have no Sanity or Insanity tokens. Go for that version of the win… if you can handle the whispers of the Old Gods.
I like this twist on the Love Letter game. Lovecraft Letter keeps the quick game play and fun of the original game, and adds more cards and a little bit more strategy: do you want to go insane and try to win that way? Do you hold on to insanity cards, in order to win while sane? This is a game that is easy to learn but a bit challenging to remember all of the effects, at least at the beginning. Rounds take 10-15 minutes, tops, making it a great “ice breaker” game for a Game Night or a party. If you like Love Letter, you should give Lovecraft Letter a try. Just try to block out the Call of Cthulhu.