We bought Maya a copy of 'Lovecraft Letter' for Christmas, but up until this weekend she'd not had a chance to play it. Yesterday we rectified that.
'Lovecraft Letter' is a variant of the classic 'Love Letter' game with an insane twist.
At its core it is the basic 'Love Letter' game. Indeed you can strip out the special cards and play it as such. However as well as the basic cards and rules you'd expect from 'Love Letter' it has a second set of cards which run an insanity mechanism. These have the same numerical values and rules as the basic cards (so 'The Hounds of Tindalos' insane card acts like 'The Great Race of Yith' normal one - both are equivalent to the 'Baron' in regular 'Love Letter'), but also have a special 'Insane' effect as well. Once you've played one Insane card, you can access the special effect on all subsequent ones you get. And some of them are quite powerful. However on each of your turns you must check to see if you go totally insane; if you do, you're out of the round.
Victory is slightly different. If you win a round then you get a token. You get one type if you were sane when you won, and another if you were insane. You only need two sane tokens to win, or three insane tokens. There's also an instant win condition on one of the insane cards, but it's very hard to achieve. That said, it is possible for someone to win in two rounds in this game, although it's quite hard to do.
It take a few rounds to get used to the unusual insane effects, but after that the game rattles along nicely. We enjoyed it and, whilst it seems more random than the basic game, the Lovecraft skin gives it an entertaining element which makes up for this.
Here's a combination you don't want to have; discarding either of these cards loses you the round. Not good.
(I did manage a victory in one game by a wonderfully obscure mechanism. The round ended with three of us still in contention. In this case the person with the highest card in their hand wins. I had a '1'. I was doomed. But the other two players both had a '5'. The rules say that in the case of a tie, all players involved are knocked out, and the next highest surviving player wins. So that was me. This gave me a second sane token, and victory. An underdog win if ever there was one.)
Anyway, if you like 'Love Letter' and enjoy Lovecraft, this is a great little game. The components, right down to the box, are gorgeous and, as seems to be becoming the norm for such games, you even get card-holders with a proper back and everything. Recommended.