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Why Love Letter is in Everyone's Collection (and how your game can be too!)

Love Letter is an interesting beast. Pretty much everyone likes Love Letter (I gave it a 10 out of 10 on BGG), but it isn't anyone's favorite game. Despite this, it is a welcome addition to every game night and every Kallax. But why?

There are a few analogies that can help with this.

Firstly, let's talk about pizza! Imagine you are on a night out, you are crawling around the streets looking for a takeaway. In your group of 5, some people want Chinese, others want Indian, and one guy wants Greek for some reason... you can't decide where to go. Then, someone suggests pizza, no one hates pizza. Even if it's not anyone's favorite, the group decides on pizza.

Secondly, let's talk about beer! Budweiser is one of the most sold beers in the US, but people rarely say that Budweiser is their favorite beer. Why is this? Well, imagine you are having friends round to your house for a party or a get-together, and you want to cater drinks. You'll go to the store and buy a crate of your favorite beer, but you know that most of your friends don't like it so that crate is for you. Then you buy a crate of Budweiser, well because no one hates Budweiser.

To amend my statement at the start of the post, it's not that everyone likes Love Letter (which I can imagine raised a few eyebrows), but no one really hates Love Letter, no one will refuse to play it.

In a space where one of the biggest growing considerations that the consumer has is whether or not they will actually be able to play a game they have purchased, having a game that no one is opposed to playing is a big selling point. Nowadays, with everyone's collection growing, and Kallaxs getting overstuffed with new Kickstarter games, any game needs to provide the least amount of friction possible for getting that game from the Kallax to the table. This is how Love Letter does it:

For new players to the hobby:

  • Small and compact - non-threatening

  • Most of the rules are on the cards - a small rulebook plus learn-as-you-play

For hobbyists:

  • Lite player elimination

  • Decent and varied decision-making options at every turn

  • The time between turns is minimal

  • Good at all player counts advertised

  • Can bluff without actively lying (pain point for bluffing games)

  • Player behavior-based catch-up mechanics (can focus on getting out the player that is winning).

As an addition, small and compact is a great point for the consumer as well. Having something that can slip into an already crowded bag if you are traveling to a friend's house or a cafe makes it a much easier decision. So it has more opportunities to be played.

Hopefully, you found this helpful and interesting if you are a consumer (maybe you were thinking why everyone plays Love Letter instead of Gloomhaven despite the quality not being comparable). Hopefully, you found this helpful if you are a developer, maybe its time for you to make the least offensive game in someone's collection!

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