Saturday, September 20, 2014

Love's Lost Legacy

While attending PAX Prime 2013 with friends, one of the highlights of the weekend was being introduced to the micro card game Love Letter. My good friend JP picked it up and showed it to us, having played it himself while visiting San Fransisco.

Love Letter, by designer Seiji Kanai, consists of a slim 16 card deck. The basic mechanic every turn is Draw One, Play One. You always have a card in hand, and draw a second, chose one of the two you now hold, and play it. Card actions are clearly described on each card, and none are particularly complex.

The round ends either when one player remains in play, or, if all cards are played, the remaining players compare their cards and the highest value card, displayed in the top left-hand corner, becomes the victor. The game is played traditionally on a first-to-four-points basis, though it works fine as a one round per game quick filler.

AEG's Love Letter is a wonderfully tight game, with beautiful art on every card, and presented in a beautiful red velvet pull-string bag. It's fast, fun and intense, resulting in lots of laughs and gasps of astonishment as people get knocked out in the most unbelievable way. Deducting what cards are left in play from those that are sitting exposed on the table is a fun, taxing time, with a light-hearted tension resting over the players.

As well as the red velvet bag edition of Love Letter, I also picked up the green velvet bag edition themed around the world of Legend of the Five Rings. This is the exact same game with roles and art reskinned to match the L5R universe.

Then I discovered Lost Legacy: The Lost Starship, from the same designer. Another micro game with a 16 card deck, and the same Draw One, Play One mechanic, this game has a fantasy tinged with Sci-Fi theme. It plays very similar to Love Letter, but the card actions are universally different.

The goal of Lost Legacy is to discover the location of The Lost Starship, a unique card in the deck. It also adds a Ruins location on the table, containing one or more cards. Card actions allow you to look at, swap or shuffle cards in the Ruins during the game. The endgame mechanic is unique as well, introducing an Investigation phase on top of the Elimination victory. If the game makes it to the Investigation phase, the players that are still active have a chance to discover the location of The Lost Legacy, either within the Ruins, or in other players hands. Whoever successfully discovers The Lost Legacy wins the game.

Like Love Letter, Lost Legacy is a tight, fast game. Some two players games have been over in a single action! The art is, again, beautiful, with very cool and interesting depictions of a fantasy world infected with Sci-Fi technology. Adding to my collection of beautiful packaging, Lost Legacy comes in a blue velvet pull-string bag.Unlike Love Letter, Lost Legacy is played in single rounds. The winner of a single round is the winner of a game. In the future, there will be sequel sets, Flying Garden and Whitegold Spire, allowing you to mix two sets for a bigger deck, or playing each set back-to-back as a campaign, which I'm ready to buy into.

While they seem very similar, both Love Letter and Lost Legacy share playtime at my gaming table, sometimes one directly after the other. They are equally fun and I love introducing both to new players and watching them understand how much depth can be had in just 16 cards. Highly recommended, if you're not already enjoying either of them.

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