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Subject: Epic Love Letter variant rss

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Jeff Wessel
United States
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"Where are your nuclear wessels?" (Chekov, Star Trek IV)
Now that we own the original Love Letter as well as the Hobbit and Batman versions, my daughter has insisted we play each of the three versions in succession when she sits down with me to play (winner of two out of the three is the overall winner).

A few nights ago, however, she decided to change things up. I had told her some time ago of the "epic" variant of Thunderstone, and so she decided to do something similar. After we finished playing, we agreed this will pretty much be the only way we play from now on (at least with just us two). My son declared the same after sitting down to play Love Letter for the first time ever (I think he was suckered in when we called it "Epic").

By the way, we only played two-player, but I'll try to adjust rules to make sense for any player count. Also, this may not make a ton of sense unless you are familiar with all three versions. There really are just a few tweaks to setup and gameplay, as well as a few special cases we noticed we had to cover. Enjoy!

Epic Love Letter Variant

Setup changes:

1. Place all scoring tokens for each set in the playing area.

2. Shuffle all Love Letter versions together.

3. Set aside one card from each of the sets (could remove four from each set if you want for a two-player game, but we simply enjoy removing only one regardless of player count).

4. Start playing as per normal rules, with changes and clarifications as noted below.

Gameplay changes:

1. When the last player is knocked out for a round, the winning player gains a scoring token based on the Love Letter version card used to knock that person out. For example, if you use Smaug to guess and therefore knock out the Prince, you gain a scoring token from Love Letter: Hobbit.

2. After the last player is knocked out for a round, instead of combining all the cards and reshuffling, simply leave cards where they are and continue with a new round. Only combine the cards and reshuffle if you're down to, say, two or three times the number of players. For a two-player game, we typically reshuffle if we're down to about five cards or less. Adjust as you see fit.

3. Game ends when one player has accumulated the winning number of player tokens of any one of the sets you are playing with. For example, in a four-player game, a player has accumulated three tokens from original Love Letter, one token from Hobbit, and six tokens from Batman (recall that Batman requires seven tokens regardless of player count) and wins a round with a card from original Love Letter. They receive their fourth token for that version and therefore win.

Gameplay clarifications:

1. If you make it to the end of the deck, and one of the players wins due to holding the higher of the two cards, that player receives the scoring token associated with the card they are holding. If you actually happen to make it to the end of the deck and there is a tie for highest card, nobody wins that round (it's not worth bothering to add up all the cards in front of you... see picture below).

2. When naming a card, such as with the Guard, you do have to say the name of the card rather than just a number. For example, if your selected player is holding a Baron (3) and you guess Bane (also 3), the player is not knocked out. Note that this will not be any more difficult than the normal game if you play without sleeves or with different sleeves for each set, since you can see the back of the card you're guessing. However, it is more challenging if all the sets you combined share the same sleeves (and may slow the game down a fair amount).

3. The (7) cards from each set are not affected by those from a different set. For example, if you have the Prince (5) and draw Harley Quinn (7), you are not forced to discard poor Harley.

4. In the Batman version, if you use Batman to knock out a non-Robin character, you normally gain an extra Batman scoring token. In this variant, you do not gain that extra token if knocking out a character from a different set.

Here's a sample photo of my play area after completing several rounds of a two-player game in case it helps you visualize things. Recall that for a two-player game, I would need seven scoring tokens from one of the sets to win. If this were my playing area during a four-player game, I still would not have won yet since as noted earlier the Batman version of the game still requires seven tokens to win. I could, however, win after simply receiving one more original Love Letter token or one Hobbit token.

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