Review by Jayne, Emily and Gregg.
LOVECRAFT LETTER BY SEIJI KANAI
2-3 Players, 14+
You are the cousin of A.J. McBride who has summond you to Egypt, but on your arrival you find he is missing. You decide to investigate by following a series of clues left for you to find. Be on the look out as some of these are forbidden secrets or protected by super natural beings!!!
What is in the box?
This is an elegant box, with magnetic fixing holding it closed, it opens up with a centre piece that houses the cards and a separate area for the poker chip style tokens. In this box is also a pack of well designed and manufactured set of card sleeves, these protect the cards from any damaging or accidental coffee spilling! There are more than you need, plus a set of sleeves for the double sided player aid cards, again more than you need. This gives it that extra special feel, that higher end quality of a card game, along with the heavy chunky poker chips, you feel like you have bought a very well made game that has longevity in its creation.
Sanity is key – either Insanity or being/remaining Sane itself, with duel sided poker chips which are used to keep track of your victories, each player can see who is on track to win or who needs defeating.
Retro Reviewer Criteria
- Overall strategy – what you need for this game is a good memory, this is to help you to remember not only what is in each players hand but what is in their discard pile also. The game requires a few play throughs in order for you to familiarise yourself with the deck, this will then help you to know when to play an insanity card over a sanity card to keep on top of the game. However, the game can ‘get’ you with its luck factor, so although strategy can be key, luck and the draw of the cards will not always be on your side.
- Originality and integration of theme – The theme is a really encapsulating fantasy, and for those of you that are familiar with Lovecraft or Fantasy Flight games will recognize the theme and artwork, but that is where this ends in terms of the theme being integrated with play. Albeit that the characters and cards are also set along the theme, it has no effect on the actual game play, and there is no real story to the game that incorporates the theme.
- Depth of skill needed – Skill is not needed in this game, it is more of a strategy building and luck based card game, the biggest skill is to get other players to knock themselves out or you knock them out before they do the same to you.
- Originality in the game mechanics – Lovecraft Letter is a card game in essence, draw a card, do something with it, discard it, move to the next player. Not an original mechanic but a familiar one which makes this game really enjoyable and familiar, and of course easy to learn.
- Interaction of Players – This is competitive not cooperative game as most traditional card games are, however you do need to interact as players, the game forces discussion around the cards you have and the actions you choose to play. Especially if you are impacting on someone else’s win tactics. There is a low level of simplistic interaction throughout the game play.
- Luck factor – Absolutely, luck based, will always depend on the next card that you draw and the one you hold in your hand, you also need to have a bit of luck when other players are choosing who to ‘attack’.
- Rule Book – The rule book is very easy to follow and takes a short time to read through it, although it has many pages, these are filled mainly with the background story of each of the characters on the cards. The instructions themselves cover 2 of the A5 size pages and can be followed easily, once you begin the game you will get to understand it very quickly. Like many games in the Fantasy Flight catalogue, there are questions unanswered and left to you as players to decide an outcome.
- Fun factor – (Eight kinds of fun)
- Sensation – Aesthetically this game is very appealing to look at, the art work is colourful and interesting, and has an air of romance and olden times attached to it, an almost vintage feel but with the fantasy of Lovecraft as we know it. The components are of an exceptional quality and you can feel this when you touch the cards and the tokens, especially once you place each card in a sleeve, they feel like silk when shuffling the deck.
- Fantasy – The game is themed in the world of fantasy, this allowing you to escape if you wish into a world that does not exist, it can also take you to the place where you played other games of similar theme ie RPG, thus bringing the emotions of those games into this one and allowing you to escape to those worlds during play.
- Emotions of players during and afterwards – During play emotions such as frustration and enjoyability were visible within everyone during the game at one point. especially if you were winning or loosing the rounds. It is easy to loose very quickly at the beginning of a round and to then loose again so quickly in the next, this is where the frustration can occur and of course we have the opposite; gloating and feeling elated when you see that you could win the overall game if things keep going your way, at the detriment of your fellow players of course!
- Replayability – We wanted to play again as soon as it was over, we felt drawn in by the hope that we would do better next time. There is a huge scope for replayabilty at the beginning of playing this game, there are many combinations of cards that can be drawn and once you get to know the game you will play it in a slightly different way depending on your fellow players and their experience of it. There are only so many variations of cards and some have very similar effects which can become rather repetitive at times, this is the only aspect which could affect replyability over time.
Overall the game is really enjoyable to begin with, and as mentioned we wanted to play again as soon as we had finished. It is one we will pick up when we are not ready for a heavy game, or on an afternoon when time is limited. The box is small enough to take away with you and can be packed neatly into a bag for travelling. In total it is just slightly larger than A5, and as it’s quick to learn and quick to play we think its perfect for long journeys.
One we would recommend adding to your games shelf for sure and a really good introduction to the art of Lovecraft and Fantasy Flight games.
This is a card game incorporating Cthulhu Mythos, a collection of each effect/Item/Character on the cards which include: (extracts from the rule book).
Investigators – “These Investigators are looking to decipher mysteries tied to the Necronomicon. They are willing to interrogate anyone who has been in contact with incomprehensible beings and stop those who have made a connection with it that is…. too deep”.
Deep Ones – “Amphibian creatures that serve Father Dragon and Cthulhu. They mate with human females to increase their numbers. The children that are born gradually get fish-like features, and will eventually return to the sea“.
Cats of Ulthar – “Due to a strange event in the town of Ulthar, on the other side of the River Skai in the Dreamlands, the cats there have become an object of fear.”
Golden Mead – “A drink used to heighten senses and see the unseen“.
Great Rach of Yith – “A psychic entity that, ages ago, fled to Earth as its home planet had been destroyed. On Earth, they inhabit great conical beings“.
Hound of Tindalos – “These hounds hunt their target through time and space and will pass through angles, appearing out of thin air to attack their prey“.
Elder Sign – “The most plausible theory is that this is a weapon made to fight the Great Old Ones. It is a symbol carved into stone, and can be used as a repellent against their servitors“.
Liber Ivonis – “This famous book of magic, originally written by Eibon, the great wizard of Hyperborea, has been translated in may languages over time“.
Professor Henry Armitage – “A professor at Miskatonic University. He has researched the unknown, learned magic and can give valuable information to those who dare ask“.
Mi-Go – “A being from Yuggoth“.
Randolph Carter – “Also known as “The Dreamer”, he can see hidden illusions and speak to cats“.
Nyarlathotep – “The Crawling Chaos. It is also named “The God of a Thousand Froms“.
The River Key – “The key, decorated with strange arabesques, has been handed down through generations in the Carter family, a family that has long been connected to forbidden spells“.
The Shining Trapezohedron – “A multisided object kept in a metal box. It is said that with it, one can summon Nyarlathotep iteself“.
The Necronomicon – “The book “Kitab Al Azif”, written by the “Mad Arab” Abdul Alhazred, was translated and later named “The Necronomicon“.
Cthulhu – “In his house at R’lyeh, Cthulhu awaits dreaming. The followers of Cthulhu believe that, when the stars are right, the sunken city of R’lyech will rise again from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, and with it Cthulhu will awaken“.
Mi-Go Braincase – “??” a specialty card that you will just have to try the game to find out!
Extracted segments taken from the rule book, Alderac ENtertainment Group (2017)
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