How to Play Hobbit Love Letter Card Game [B&C Review 008]


Hello, and welcome! Come on in!
We’ve saved a seat for you. This is
Boards and Cords, and I’m Jonathan, and
today we’re going to talk about the Hobbit
Love Letter game. You know, Peter
Jackson’s cinematic take on JRR
Tolkien’s works broke records in
movie history, and it gave new life and
interest into the world of Middle-Earth.
The Hobbit Love Letter adopts the theme
of The Hobbit movie trilogy, applying to
the popular card game Love Letter, and it
effectively conveys the tension of the
search for the Arkenstone into a fast
paced deductive card game. Here’s how it works.
The entire game is made up of only
seventeen cards. Between two and four
people can play and each is dealt one
card, with a single card being placed
facedown out of the game. Each of the 17
cards is number from eight, which is the
Arkenstone, down to zero, which is the One Ring, and
each number (and some of the cards are
multiples) has a unique action that’s
associated with it. These actions
cause certain effects on the other
players which may eliminate them from
that round or give information about
what the others are holding. Each player
in their turn will draw a card, bringing
their hand up to two, and then they
choose one of those to play. Each
previously played card is visible on the
table before the players, but only the
most recent one has an effect for the
respective player. So, for example, player
A plays the Kili and Fili card, which is
value five, and there’s two copies of it,
and chooses player B to discard their
hand, because that’s what this card
does. Player B happens to be holding the
Arkenstone card which is value eight, and
there’s only one of it. So according to
the text on the card a player B is
therefore out of the round. Player C had a
Gandalf card, so that means that she had most
recently played it (it’s value four,
and there’s two copies of it), so she was
protected against such cards action as
Fili and Kili’s, for example. So the
winner of the round is the player who was
the last after all the others are
eliminated, or if after all of the draw
deck is exhausted, the person with the
largest value card in their hand.
Each round winner gets a victory token,
and the person with the most victory
tokens at the end of the game, which is 4
to 7 rounds depending on the number of
players, wins the whole game. For the
components, the Hobbit Love Letter card game contains 7, sorry, 17 cards, and there’s 4
reference cards, there’s a rulebook,
there’s 13 victory tokens, and the whole
thing packs away quickly and easily into
a small drawstring bag. And that makes it
really easy to quickly set up, pack up, and
transport. It’s very portable. The playing
cards themselves display character shots
from the films and they’re beautifully
rendered on standard sized glossy cards.
You’ll probably want to sleeve your
cards as I have. This game is about
making deductions concerning which cards
are in the opponent’s hand so if a card
gets creased or otherwise marked, it can
make a big difference.
New players will also find the reference
cards invaluable, as they give reminders
about the cards that are in
game: how many of each there are, what
their values are, and what the abilities
they can do are as well. Even experienced
players will want to refer to the card
whatever they’re trying to count cards
and figure out what the other players
are holding. The rules are helpful and
compact. There’s really not a lot to
Hobbit Love Letter, therefore
elaborate and complex rules really aren’t
needed. It’s really quite an elegant game.
In a lot of ways it’s a
more complicated rock-paper-scissors in
what a lot of the cards interact with
each other. And so like I said,
everything fits right in this soft
velvet bag and transports easily in your
pocket or your purse, makes it easy to
take it with you and play. Finally there
are 13 of these little plastic gems, each
of them approximately the size of your
little fingernail, and these are used to
track the score. They’re pretty cool
in themselves and fitting with the theme.
The Hobbit Love Letter game is about
deduction, risk, and sudden death. The
rules are easy enough to learn, and it
can be easy enough to understand, so that
kids will be able to compete with the
older siblings with a bit of practice on
a fairly even footing. Luck does play a
role in this game, and your tactics will
depend on the cards you draw, but knowing which card to play
take some experience and some card
counting. We’ve played The Hobbit Love
Letter many, many times! For a few months, I played it with my younger kids almost
every day before school and sometimes at lunchtime when I’d visit them.
It’s a great game for a short period of
time, as each round can go by really
quickly, and so the entire game can be
played in 30 minutes or less.
This one is one that we might would even
play several times in a row. In our
family, we really love Tolkien! I have
read The Hobbit and The Lord of the
Rings to all my kids. I’ve listened to the
audiobook with them and I’ve even
watched the movies with my teenage kids. However, I have restricted the movies
to the kids who are 13 and older due to
my own convictions about the violence
and the content. The relevance here is
that these movie-themed games directly
reference movies that I want to allow my
kids to watch, although they are familiar
with the source material, and it raises
interest in them to want to watch the
movies. On the other hand, the cards
themselves of the gameplay is completely
free itself of the content that I find
as a parent to be objectionable. As
for the gameplay, my kids started
playing Hobbit Love Letter with me when they were about
eight and ten, and they were fully able
to understand and engage with the
strategy very easily. The box suggests ten
and older, but I think a bit earlier than that
would not be inappropriate.
All right. Well, strategy tips for this
game then! We start with a beginner’s tip.
This one is kind of obvious if you’ve
been playing enough to know the rules
well: you have to learn to count the
cards. Keep track or be able to
calculate the number of cards of each
type that have been played and not yet
played. You need to check the reference
card to remember the number of each card
in the game. Often you’ll need to deduce
which ones remain to be played. If you
can do that then you’ll be well on your
way to winning a lot of the games. For a
pro tip, while some hands will end early
on, many rounds of the game go right to
the end to the last card in the deck. You
and your opponent will be down to just a
couple of unknown cards, and you’ll need
to guess what the other person has. If
you have a Smaug card then try guessing your own card, the card
that you have in your hand, besides the Smaug. This may throw off
your opponent and cause them to deduce
that you have a different card in your
hand, giving you a critical advantage in
the last moments of the game. So final
thoughts then, what do I love about this
game? Well, besides the fact that it’s
Tolkien, and it’s a Peter Jackson license
of it, I really love how fast-paced this
game is, how elegant the rules work
as you play the cards. I love that I
can play it with my younger kids, and
they understand how it works and enjoy
playing it as well. It makes a great
starter game if you’re
getting warmed up to play another
longer game, or if you’re just if you
just have a short period of time. It
even could make a great gateway game
for somebody coming into
into the hobby of board gaming that isn’t
familiar or has the stamina for long, complex rules or games. This might
be a good one to play with them. Alright
I hope you found that helpful, and I’m
going to wrap it up for today then. If
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