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Ten Years of Love Letters from Seiji Kanai

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Designer
Board Game: Love Letter
On May 13, 2012 at Tokyo Game Market, designer Seiji Kanai of Kanai Factory released Love Letter, a tiny game that I would argue has been one of the most influential games of the past decade, thanks both to its clever design and to the release of this design on a larger market courtesy of U.S. publisher AEG, which signed a license after Kanai demoed the game to AEG owner John Zinser during an elevator ride.

Here's part of what I wrote about the game in August 2012 following my first exposure:
AEG's Ed Bolme taught Love Letter to me and fellow BGG admins Scott Reed and Chad Krizan at Gen Con 2012, and we played a couple of rounds around a garbage can while BSing about various things. The next day, Bolme caught me and Reed walking across the convention hall for an interview with someone, and we played a round of the game while walking past all the booths. Few games meet that standard of portability — plus the design is incredibly clever. A tiny masterpiece...
That masterpiece has been in print continually since 2012, with dozens of versions of the game having been released by publishers around the world and more than three million copies sold, according to Arclight, the game's current Japanese publisher. You can find a summary of Love Letter versions and spinoffs on the BGG family page.

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To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Love Letter, Arclight plans to release three new editions of the game, although one won't appear until 2023. Sometimes mail takes a while to reach its destination...

The first title, due out in August 2022, is simply titled ラブレター 第2版, that is, Love Letter: 2nd Edition. Here's a short description from Arclight:
While keeping the same core mechanism as the original Love Letter, the second edition adds sixteen new cards — scholar, servants, etc. — that players can either swap out original cards for or simply add them to the deck for a wilder game. The original illustrator, Noboru Sugiura, will be part of this project, with her well-loved style appearing in a new and refreshed graphic design.
Board Game: Love Letter: 2nd Edition

The second title, coming in late 2022, is ラブレター10周年記念版, or Love Letter: 10th Anniversary Edition, which serves as a compilation of all that's come before:
Love Letter has been translated into 28 languages, with a great variety of versions based on strong licenses: Batman, The Lord of the Rings (The Hobbit), Archer, Adventure Time, etc.

Love Letter: 10th Anniversary Edition will gather all unique rules and extra components found in those earlier games in one package for the first time! Players will therefore be able to choose between a wide variety of play styles. We are planning a big crowdfunding campaign this year for it, so keep an eye on our next announcements!
Finally, the first half of 2023 will bring ラブレター・ストーリーズ, or Love Letter: Stories, with this title being tentative at this time. Arclight's teaser is even shorter, albeit more intriguing, for this title:
In this ambitious title by Seiji Kanai, players will experience a different story-driven game each and every time they play. More information on this future title will follow soon.
Feel free to share your love letters about this game to celebrate its tenth anniversary!

From gallery of W Eric Martin
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