Love Letter

Oink Games from Japan is known for small card games which pack a big punch. Past hits from Oink have been the excellent games A Fake Artist Goes to New York, Insider and Deep Sea Adventure. Oink has just announced their next 2 games coming to western shores – Mr. Face by Jun Sasaki and Tricks and the Phantom by Takashi Saito.

Mr. Face is a social guessing game, where players play cards with leading phrases, such as “The clouds look so nice”, or “What is that smell?” One player attempts to build a facial expression on the board with supplied components, representing their phrase card. Afterwards, all players place phrases into the middle. Players then try to guess which odd phrase was the one which inspired the face. Mr. Face can also be played by taking selfies for the facial expressions.

Tricks and the Phantom is a deduction trick-taking game with a tiny deck of only 10 cards. The values and colors of the cards in the deck are known to all, reminiscent of Seiji Kanai‘s megahit microgame Love Letter. Each player plays one of their two cards face down to the middle, but denotes the color of the card by placing a token on the back. Players then try to guess which card is the “culprit” – the highest card. Cards are revealed, and successful guesses earn points, but be careful, several of the cards have special abilities, and the Phantom, the lowest card, can not only pretend to be any color, but also earns points for each other player tricked into incorrectly picking it.

Mr. Face and Tricks and the Phantom should be available in stores in the beginning of August. For more information, check out the Oink Games website here.

The award winning card game Love Letter (2012), by designer Seiji Kanai, has been the poster child and gold standard for the burgeoning genre of microgames. With only 20 cards, Love Letter is easy to teach, easy to carry and can fill just a few minutes of gaming satisfaction anywhere, anytime. Now Z-Man Games has announced a new version of this classic, which includes two new character cards to shake up game play. The Chancellor (#6) allows players to draw multiple cards, keeping one and placing some on the bottom of the deck.

Did you find yourself constantly asking who was still in the round? Now you won’t have to worry about that! Once a player is knocked out of the round, they’ll flip over the character reference card to reveal a broken wax seal. A quick glance around the table will tell you who is still in the round and whose letter didn’t quite make it.

The Spy (#0) gives players a more valuable win for a round, that is if no other players have also played the Spy. This new edition also includes handy reference cards that flip to reveal a broken wax seal, when a player is eliminated from a round. For more details and pictures, check out the story from Z-Man here.

Love Letter, a popular card game of social deduction and player elimination, has been acquired by Z-Man Games.

“We are thrilled to have Love Letter join Z-Man’s diverse catalog,” says Steve Kimball, Head of Studio at Z-Man Games. “This gem of a card game packs a lot of fun in a tiny box (or velvet bag) and fits perfectly with the many other acclaimed card games that have been a hallmark of the Z-Man brand. I’m excited to work closely with Seiji Kanai to help Love Letter reach new audiences and realize its full potential.”

Love Letter was designed by Seiji Kanai in 2012 and has been reimplemented with various themes including Adventure Time, Batman, The Hobbit, and Lovecraft Letter.

“Love Letter and Lovecraft Letter have been a pure joy to develop and share with our customers,” says John Zinser, CEO of Alderac Entertainment Group. “We would like to thank Seiji Kanai and our partners at Japon Brand for entrusting us with the smallest but most valuable of treasures. Our friends at Asmodee have the capability to take Love Letter and Lovecraft Letter to even greater heights and we are excited to watch the games make this transition. We are sure that everyone who has sought the favor of the Princess will be delighted with Asmodee’s stewardship of these great games.”

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has announced the latest iteration of Love Letter, Lovecraft Letter, featuring excellent art by Vincent Dutrait and Kouji Ogata. There are no princesses in this Cthulhu Mythos inspired game – instead you are trying to eliminate your rivals and understand the cosmic horrors that exist just outside our “reality”. Watch as madness consumes your enemies, or take the initiative and remove them yourself.

Read more about Lovecraft Letter here.

eight epics

AEG is not slacking off as the year comes to a close with several new game releases and a few more expansions.  The first game on the list, coming in October, is the game Eight Epics.  Eight Epics is a cooperative dice game from Seiji Kanai, designer of the popular micro game Love Letter, and has you and up to 7 other players trying to save the world.  There are eight different obstacles that must be overcome and you will use red and black dice to play the game.  Red dice will activate heroes to help you in the game, black dice are what you use to defeat the enemies.  Each enemy has a value you must reach based on the number of dice you roll, so luck will have to be on your side in order to win.

treasure lair

The next game being released is called Treasure Lair, and it’s all about the money in this game.  In Treasure Lair you are forming your party to go adventuring to find the greatest treasure you can, but there in lies the issue.  Each cache of treasure has different requirements in order to get them such as strength, or stealth, or even wilderness lore.  So you will have to carefully craft your team in order to get the most treasure possible and be crowned the winner.  This game will be released in November of 2016.

royal decree

Next is an expansion to a popular dice game called Dice City: By Royal Decree.  This expansion to the game will add a new trade board with dice for that board, new locations, and a new type of card called Queen’s Plans.  From the sound of it the Queen’s Plans cards may work similar to the boat cards, but we will find out more as the release date gets closer.  Look for this expansion to hit stores in November of 2016.

letters seals

Last is an expansion to another popular game and that is Istanbul: Letters and Seals.  This expansion adds more tiles to the game for even more variety, but also adds a couple new mechanics.  The first is an added postal system which gives you the ability to deliver letters to shops to get points.  Another mechanic being added is the auction mechanic, where now there are places, like the auction house, where you bid to buy more bonus cards.  Last is the addition of a companion to your group, but what makes him different than your regular discs is that he can move and act independently from the rest of your pieces.  These new additions will bring more strategy and variety into an already excellent game.  Look for this also to hit store shelves in November of 2016.

love letter premium

Amazingly, this is not an announcement for another retheme of this versatile micro game, instead it’s for an upgraded version.  AEG has announced Love Letter Premium, an edition of Love Letter that has been given the royal treatment so to speak.

The cards have been up-sized to tarot size, sleeves for the cards are included, a fancy magnetic closure style box, and it includes an extension to expand it to 8 players.  It also comes with small heart tokens instead of regular cubes to make the upgrade complete.

The game is currently up for pre-order with a quarter 4 release date, you can read more about the upgraded version and see previews of the cards on the AEG website.

aeg logo 120

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has three new products releasing in April:

all that glitters

Dice City: All That Glitters is the first expansion for Dice City, a “dice-crafting” game where you are building a city. The expansion introduces new locations as well the Gold Mine – a Commodity location.

4th chronicle

Lost Legacy: Fourth Chronicle is a new set in the Lost Legacy family, a sci-fi series of card games based on a variant of Love Letter. It comes with two sets of game cards: The Werewolf and Undying Heart. The sets can be played independently or mixed with other sets.

twilight squabble

Twilight Squabble is a short card-game that allows you to relive the abridged version of the Cold War in 10 minutes.

To join the AEG mailing list, go here.


adventure time love letter

As the 47th iteration in the Love Letter line AEG has announced Adventure Time Love Letter.  Will it be Finn or will to be Jake that ends up with Princess Bubblegum in the end?  Play for this version is like any other version of Love Letter, everyone starts with a single card and on their turn they draw one card and play one card, attempting to eliminate all the other players or hold the highest value card at the end of the round in order to score a point.  First to a set number of points wins, but this version adds a new twist for winning a round.  In this set you can win a round by reuniting the two main Heroes, Finn and Jake, through playing the one and forcing the other to be discarded.  As with other implementations this won’t break the mold but just adds another theme to the line for you to pick from.  Release has only been alluded to as in the next couple months and the art will have the Adventure Time characters dressing up as the Tempest version characters.

Facebook post from AEG

batman cartoon

Tiny Wooden Pieces is a weekly web comic written by Colin O’Mahoney and illustrated by Aileen Cudmore about board games and the people who play them. Every Friday they put out a new comic with a short blog like write up. I’ve been following them for a while now and find their comics entertaining and their short write ups equally so.

This past Friday they ran a comic about the latest version of the very popular game Love Letter: Batman Love Letter. In Batman Love Letter instead of chasing the Princess  you are chasing the various criminals including the Joker. The comic shows their take on how this unusual combination of Love Letter and Batman possibly came about.

I would highly recommend stopping by on Friday’s and seeing what they’ve come up with each week, so far I haven’t been disappointed. You can visit their site here.

Love Love Letter?

Even if you aren’t enamored with the phenomenon called Love Letter, one must respect how much impact a 16-card card game had on the hobby gaming world. Even lovers though are sometimes left with the want for something more.
To evolve the game, the creator Seiji Kanai along with fellow designer Hayato Kisaragi, kept the rules simple but added more dynamic card combination, player actions and lastly, customizations between card sets. Thus Lost Legacy was born. When originally produced in Japan, each release in the Lost Legacy series contained two 16-card sets. This emphasized the inherent design concept that one can create their own game by switching out cards amongst sets or even combine sets to increase the number of players from the usual 2-4.

Here is a brief overview of the rules of all the sets and a display of the simple design:

Objective: not be eliminated and be the player to locate the card Lost Legacy
Shuffle the 16 cards, draw one to form the Ruins, a facedown side by side pile of cards, and each player receives a card for their hand
1) Draw a card
2)Play: Choose one of the two cards in hand by placing it faceup in a pile in front of player
3) Effect: Carry out the played card’s effect
4)End: If there is at least one card left in the deck, the turn goes to the next player; if not, the Investigation Phase starts. It is during this phase that players try to locate the Lost Legacy card. It could be in someone’s hand or in the Ruins that was built and manipulated during gameplay.

It is that simple and yet there is a lot of game in these 16 cards, even more so than Love Letter. Add in the ability to switch cards between sets, cards that have all different kinds of effects, and you have an incredible amount of different games here.

When AEG wisely negotiated the release of this Kanai game to the market on this side of the Pacific, they initially released each set individually: The Starship and The Flying Garden. This was to emphasize that each 16-card set has a strong story and is a strong game in and of itself. The story covered in these first two releases is that long ago a starcraft bearing powerful artifacts crash landed. The numerous broken apart pieces of the ship became the Lost Legacies. In the first set, a piece of the Starship itself is the object of desire and in the second set a Flying Garden that grew out of a piece of the craft.

Emphasizing each set worked to highlight each story but the trade-off was that it wasn’t obvious enough to consumers that combining the sets, which were separated by months of real time, provides a plethora of game combination possibilities. To remedy the situation, for the next release in AEG’s Lost Legacy saga, the next two “stories” will be released together as Lost Legacy: Second Chronicle. This release will include two 16-card sets: Whitegold Spire and Vorpal Spire. This release is expected in April 2015 and furthers the story that the first two releases of Lost Legacy started. The Spire was once part of the starship but now is a citadel full of powerful partygoers ready for intrigue. The Vorpal Sword is not only a weapon of the Legacy, it is also a key to unlock further mysteries found within the starship.

AEG has now announced Lost Legacy: Third Chronicle which will include:

– Rulebook
– 16 Game cards (for the Sacred Grail set)
– 16 Game cards (for the Staff of Dragons set)
– 4 Reference cards
– 13 Victory point tokens

As for the storyline, a royal family has long ago discovered a piece of the Legacies and named it the Grail which has provided the family with great power, honor, and tragically, envy. The story continues with another Legacy, a staff that allows the wielder to control dragons. Now who would want that kind of power? Oh yeah, everyone!

Expect this Third Chronicle in July 2015.

AEG may market this as part of their “5 Minute Fun” series but like that fabled potato chip, you cannot play just one game. These five minutes do sure add up for some incredible gaming experiences!

For more information, visit AEG’s Lost Legacy site here.