Archer: Once You Go Blackmail…
Publishers: AEG and Cryptozoic Games
Number of players: 2-4
Average game time: 15-20 minutes
Recommended ages: 10 and up
Suggested retail price: $9.99 (varies by shop)
Another year, another variation of Lover Letter on the store shelves. Full disclosure- I currently own 6 copies of Love Letter. They are: Classic, Batman, Adventure Time, two copies of the Munchkin version “Loot Letter” and Archer. This was the first time I actually bought a copy. The others were either gifts or from past Big Game Nights at GenCon. Each plays nearly identical to the last, so how many copies does one truly need? And does this particular one deserve to be in the collections? Let’s find out…
Archer, like every edition of Love Letter, places out simply enough. Each player is dealt 1 card and then 1 card is removed from play. Each turn, a player draws a card and then plays one of the two cards in hand. Each card has an effect, one that can either aid you in putting another player or aid in protecting you from another player. The goal is to simply knock out your other opponents and be the last player standing, or at least the last player standing with the highest numbered card (in case of a tie). Win the round, recieve a point token. Rinse and repeat until a certain number of points has been reached.
Since being released in 2012, the core game mechanics has been identical in every rendition of the game. Save for a small change here or there, such as the Premium Edition being up to 8 players, nothing has changed. Some have equated this to being the boardgame industry’s equivalent to shovelware (annually released software in the videogame industry), arguing it offers to real merit. I’d disagree.
The Love Letter mechanics make it an ideal pocket game. At some point or another, a boardgamer will have played Love Letter. With that in mind, a player could throw this game into their backpack or deckbag, get in out, and just play. Even when playing this game with random strangers while in line for something at a convention, I think I’ve had to explain the rules twice.
There are three components that make up a Love Letter game: cards, tokens, and bag.
First, the cards. This edition opted to use screen grabs from the series, topping them off with a quote from the character featured. All of the main cast of characters are present:
Outside of the character screen grabs, each card sports a unique color and set of bullet holes under their number. The colors have a 1970’s feel to them, while the bullet holes serve a purpose. Each set corresponds to how many of that card there are in the deck. Sterling Archer has 5 copies in the deck while there is only 1 Lana Kane.
As far as the quotes go, I’m a little conflicted. They have no other purpose than flavor text/fluff, with no impact on the game whatsoever. Therefore, they are good. On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of the Archer series and can think of a dozen quotes more iconic than what they did use.
Next, the tokens. Every game of Love Letter uses some sort of token to keep track of points. For the classic edition, it used simple red blocks, while the Batman edition used little Batman symbols as tokens. For Once You Go Blackmail, an iconic prop from the show was used: Pam’s dolphin hand puppet.
Seriously, these things are too damned adorable and classic. I almost want to but a few more copies just to replace the tokens from the other games with these.
Finally, we have the draw string bag.
Even though this is my 6th copy of Love Letter, I rather enjoy this edition most of all. Stylish presentation (though not a fan of all the quotes, albeit) and great source material make it a game that I’ll happily throw into my bag and take with me to game night or conventions. Granted, some people may be perfectly fine with a singular copy of Love Letter in their collection. However, at a cost of $10, there is nothing wrong with having a couple different themed versions for different occasions.
So this game is…LATE NIGHT PLAYER APPROVED!
“Pocket Reviews” are reviews of quick, simple games with little to no foot print. These are the kind of games you’d throw in your backpack and take on a trip, to school, or to play while waiting in long lines at a convention.