Hi everyone (and welcome to me – first BGG post!),
Like a lot of people, I’ve been a huuuge fan of Love Letter for a long time, but not really keen on the theme. So long before Batman, LOTR, Archer, Adventure Time etc. etc. etc. all came out, I did what so many others have done (I see there are about 100 re-themes here alone); I re-themed. Mine’s a gothic horror version, with zombies, vampires, witches and the like. I call it Servants Of The Dark.
Ho-hum. Why should you care?
Well, whilst crudely throwing together some cards, I decided to increase the deck size as we often have 5 players in our group (and sometimes 6). So I put in a 0, a new 4 and a new 6. But that simple process was enough to get the creative juices going, and along the way I came up with a heap of new(ish) ideas of how to stretch the basic mechanics of the core game. I say ‘newish’ because a lot were similar in function to existing cards. For example, the Bat (the re-themed Priest) lets you see an opponent’s card; but the Imp lets you reveal the top card of the deck and return in anywhere in the deck. This type of card gives away a little information. I noticed the different levels of cards each provide a different role or function within the game.
So what eventually emerged from the collection of ideas were three complete decks of cards. Or, a better way to put it; a Love Letter game where for each ‘level’ (except 1) you have 3 distinct options which you can plug and play. This has added sooo much subtle variety that we’ve been playing about 5 hours of Servants Of The Dark every week for well over 2 years now and we’re still not the least bit bored!
Given there are over 59,000 possible deck combinations, I think it’s safe to say we haven’t tested every possibility but we’ve played hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of combos and they’re all fun in their own unique way.
One thing I’ve been a little disappointed with (particularly from AEG) is that each re-theme is simply that; the exact same mechanics and cards with just a different name and picture. I’m hoping this opens up some robust discussion of how much potential there is to expand this wonderful game.
Anyway, in the next few posts I’ll put all the card descriptions and some other material. (As a note: we usually play to time (an hour) instead of to a points cap.) I apologise in advance if anything is not entirely clear – we just threw stuff together as it evolved and our group all has a solid understanding of the intent behind each card and haven’t needed to rules-lawyer it to death yet. Let me know what needs to be reworded for clarity. Please have a read, try out anything that catches your eye and post any C&C!
Note: I haven’t included the cards themselves. I’m far from a competent graphics designer, so the cards I have are literally Google Images pics pasted into a Powerpoint template I made up. I then just print on paper and put into card sleeves with regular playing cards for added strength. It is really rubbish, but also there might be copyright issues if I reproduce them here. PM me if you want a copy to print, cut and play.
The Card Descriptions
The Servants Of The Dark are separated into eleven different power levels, ranging from 0 to 10. Some of the power levels will have two or more copies within the deck (namely 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7).
Level 0: Mimics
Mimics do not have any abilities of their own, but copy those of other Servants within the Deck. There will be one Mimic in the Deck.
The Doppelganger mimics the powers of another Servant in your play area. Apply the abilities of any other Servant you have played this hand.
The Blob morphs itself to use the powers of a Servant you have not yet summoned this Round.
[The Blob has an Elemental Affinity, and will be even more powerful and revered when the Elementalist is in the Deck.]
Roll the die. Poltergeist takes on the abilities of the Servant of that power level. You may choose to reroll once.
Level 1: Minions
Minions are the standard attack units in Servants Of The Dark. There will always be 6 Minions in the Deck.
Choose a player and name a non-Zombie Servant. If they are holding that Servant they die.
Level 2: Spies
Spies allow you to gain knowledge of what your enemies might (or might not) be holding. There will be two of each Spy in the Deck.
Choose another player and look at their hand.
Reveal the top card of the deck and return it to any location in the deck.
Look at any 2 of the cards in the reserve deck.
Level 3: Duellists
Duellists force the Servants in two players’ Hands to fight to the death. The greater the power of the Servant, the better their chances of survival are. There will be two of each Duellist in the Deck.
You and an opponent compare Servants: the higher wins and the lower dies.
Compare Servants with an opponent; the lower dies. Add 10 if a Servant has an elemental affinity.
Choose any two players to compare Servants: if it is a tie, the caster of Summoner dies; otherwise the winner discards either Servant to the loser’s discards.
Level 4: Tricksters
Tricksters like to play with the order of things, and hide knowledge from your enemies. There will be two of each Trickster in the Deck.
Choose any player to put their Servant on the bottom of the deck. Then they draw a new Servant.
Look at one card in the reserve deck. You may choose to swap your current Servant with it.
Keeper Of Secrets
Choose any player to place their Servant face-down in their play area. Then they draw a new Servant.
Level 5: Defenders
Defenders will protect you from the vile attacks of your enemies. They each have an Elemental Affinity, and are thus even more powerful and revered when the Elementalist is in the Deck. There will be two of each Defender in the Deck.
Until your next Turn, you cannot be targeted by any effects.
For each Hydra in your play area, if a player fails with a Zombie attack, immediately name a non-Zombie Servant; if they have it they die.
If Phoenix is the top card in your play area and you die by any means, draw a new Servant and continue the round as if you survived.
Level 6: Seers
Seers will grant you the power of looking into the future (near or far) and changing the fates of yourself and your enemies. They each have an Elemental Affinity, and are thus even more powerful and revered when the Elementalist is in the Deck. There will be one Seer in the Deck.
Look at the top 2 cards of the deck and return them in any order.
Look at the bottom 2 cards of the deck and return them in any order.
Look at the top and bottom cards of the deck and return them in any order.
Level 7: Witches
Witches have the ability to force Servants from your hand, and to manipulate the size (and order) of the Deck. There will be two of each Witch in the Deck.
Target player puts their Servant into their play area and draws a new one.
Take any card from the deck and put it into any players’ play area. Resolve its effects immediately as if that player just played it.
Choose a target player: if their Servant has an Elemental Affinity they die, else they put their Servant into the Reserve Deck and draw a new Servant from the deck.
Level 8: Mages
Mages are cursed Servants, who will try to betray you and cause havoc. They are best parted with swiftly. There will be one Mage in the Deck.
Choose another player and swap Servants.
All players hand you their Servants face-down. Shuffle them with your own and redistribute all cards randomly.
Draw a card. On your next turn, do not draw a card
Level 9: Sirens
Sirens are treacherous and will try to give away knowledge to your enemies. However, they can also be used to bluff and disguise your weaknesses. There will be one Siren in the Deck.
You must play Witch Hunter if your other Servant is either a Witch or a Mage.
If your other Servant is a Zombie, you must play the Zombie Queen. Else, you must play your other Servant and keep Zombie Queen.
You must play Banshee if your other Servant has an Elemental affinity.
Level 10: Dark Lords
The Dark Lords are the most powerful Servants in the game, and the most terrible. Each has its own curse and will be a target for your enemies, while being very difficult to rid yourself of. There will be one Dark Lord in the Deck.
If the Vampire enters your play area by any means, you die.
If you can reveal two Vampires in your Turn (by using a Mimic) you will instantly kill all other players.
When you play the Demon, it devours the souls of the first two Servants in your play area (remove them from the game for this round). If you do not have two Servants, you die.
You cannot play the Demon if you have any Zombies in your play area.
If any other player puts a Zombie into play while you have this in your hand, you must reveal it and crumble to dust.
[You cannot play the Mummy if you drew it that turn.]
B C Z
Are you familiar with the AEG title Lost Legacy ?
Lost Legacy: The Starship
Lost Legacy: Flying Garden
Lost Legacy: Second Chronicle – Vorpal Sword & Whitegold Spire
Lost Legacy: Third Chronicle – Sacred Grail & Staff of Dragons
Lost Legacy: Fourth Chronicle – The Werewolf & Undying Heart
(among others, apparently)
It has the same structure as Love Letter, but different cards at each rank, similar to what it sounds like you've done.
- Last edited Thu Jan 4, 2018 9:26 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Jan 4, 2018 9:24 pm
Some rules clarifications
Mimics – can only copy powers that are in the Deck, not of alternate Servants not being played with.
Doppelganger – will always draw any duel (from Necromancer, Elementalist or Summoner).
If it is the first card you play for the round, it has no effect.
The Blob – will count as a 0 for a Necromancer or Summoner battle, but has a value of 10 for Elementalist battle; hence will draw with the Dark Lord.
Poltergeist – if you have a Poltergeist and enter a duel, you may roll the die to determine your power level for that battle. You do not benefit from a re-roll and have no elemental affinity (so a roll of 5 or 6 will lose to a Defender or Manipulator if it is an Elementalist battle).
Imp – the player who plays the Imp must place the revealed card back in the deck in a manner in which either all players know the location, or no players do.
Harpy – be careful not to alter the order of the Reserve Deck when looking!
Witches – if a Witch is played on the last Turn, hence there is no Deck to draw from, the target player will draw from the Reserve Deck. In the case of the Green Witch, the target player discards their (presumably non-elemental) card into the Reserve Deck and then draws any card; this may be the same card they just placed there or a different one.
Chaos Mage – Any player under the protection of a Golem does not participate.
Chronomage – until your following turn, you will be holding two Servants in your Hand. If a Zombie attack hits either of them, you die.
All other effects, which require a single Servant as a target (Reaper, Red Witch, Necromancer etc) will target one random Servant. This also applies if the Round ends and you need to determine what your last Servant is.
Vampire – if another effect, such as a Red Witch or Grey Witch, force the Vampire into your play area, you die instantly. You cannot play two Vampires (if you have a Mimic in your hand) since it is not in your Turn.
If you reveal two Vampires in your turn and a player is protected by a Golem, they do not die (you draw another card and the round continues). If a player is protected by a Phoenix, they will die and draw another card and then you draw a card and the round continues.
Demon – when the Demon enters your play area (and if you survive), physically remove the first two cards in your play area. This will have second-order effects, such as reducing options for the Doppelganger, increasing options for The Blob and decreasing your Countback score.
Mummy – you can play the Mummy at any time and by any means outside of your Turn in which you drew it. Therefore, if a Red Witch is played on you (even by yourself) it will not kill you. If a Grey Witch forces it into your play area, you are not counted as drawing it that Turn, and so do not suffer the effects.
For the purposes of Soul Drain (see Optional Rules: The Graveyard), when a Zombie is played the Mummy is considered to have destroyed itself, not the opponent who played the Zombie. Thus, they do not steal your gem.
In order to play with these optional rules, you will need the Graveyard play mat and figures/tokens to represent the Grave Digger and the Sad Ghost (we use LegoTM minifigures).
The Grave Digger begins the game in the centre of the Graveyard. After each round, he alternates between digging a random grave (roll a 10-sided die) and returning to the centre (no special rules apply).
Each of the 10 graves has a special rule that applies for that round (see below).
The Sad Ghost is used to indicate which player is currently ranked last; that is, the player with the fewest gems and, in the event that is tied, the player who died first in the previous round. It is displayed proudly before that player as a symbol of their pitiful weakness.
1. Open Grave
The bottom card of the deck is kept face-up.
Note: If the bottom card is moved (by a Reaper, or Imp, or Old Hag, or Grey Witch) turn the new bottom card face-up (and the old one face-down, as appropriate).
2. A Dark And Stormy Night
Before drawing each turn, place all non-active cards in your play area face-down.
Note 1: The Hydra is always active, and so should be kept face-up at all times.
Note 2: Any player is allowed to look at their own play area at any time.
3. Arcane Knowledge
The Sad Ghost secretly removes one card from the deck for this round.
4. Feast Or Famine
This round is worth 2 gems.
5. The Dark Lord’s Curse
If a player is killed with the Dark Lord in their possession, they lose 2 gems.
6. Stealer Of Souls
This round is worth 0 gems. If you kill another player, steal one of their gems.
Note: If a player plays the Summoner and selects two other players to duel, the winner of the duel steals the gem from the loser. If it is a draw, no players exchange gems.
7. The Book Of Light
Each top tier player reveals their hand at the start of their first turn, before drawing.
If you kill a top tier player, gain a bonus gem at the end of the round.
9. Zombie’s Revenge
If you are killed by a Zombie attack, you may instantly return a Zombie attack from beyond the grave.
Note: If the last player killed gets their Revenge on the sole living player, then nobody wins the round and no gems are awarded.
10. The Penance Of Death
This round is worth 0 gems. If you die, you lose 1 gem.
Are you familiar with the AEG title Lost Legacy
(among others, apparently)
It has the same structure as Love Letter, but different cards at each rank, similar to what it sounds like you've done.
I have never seen that! Thanks B C Z. I'll check it out - hoping it doesn't completely undermine all our work, but I love the mechanics Love Letter introduced.