Review – Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace – A Love Letter Game

May 5, 2022 by fcostin

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Given the vast range of Star Wars titles on the tabletop, I wanted to try my usual deck-building hands with one of the newest Star Wars games fresh to the scene. When a new Love Letter is announced - I am always keen to see whether to find out which category it fits in. Enough to stand up as a solid standalone game? Or a simple reskin of the original?

Given the festivities of Star Wars Day, I decided to dip into Star Wars: Jabba's Palace - A Love Letter Game from Z-Man Games. With a pleasant surprise after a few rounds, I became a back-stabbing, pan-faced assassin dropping savage setbacks to my opponents. Picking up hoarding strategies as if I were playing each card with my life in the Palace itself.

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Taking a different route from a game of delivering a note to a Princess in classic Love Letter, 2-6 players are headed to Jabba's Palace during Return of the Jedi, placing rebels in the hive of Jabba's minions, mercs and deviants. Out to Tatooine in hopes of infiltrating the disturbing greed-soaked lair of Jabba the Hutt.

Gameplay

In Star Wars style standoffs, pitting the rebels against the goons of Jabas stronghold, there are two different colours in the game. Red symbolises The Palace, and green symbolises The Rebels. The rivalry between heroes and foes will prove apparent depending on which characters approach the stand-off. But, you've got to be lucky if you think Luke or Leia are going to come to your aid in the draw pile, having only 1 card in a pack, forcing players to work strategically without relying on the luck of the draw.

To introduce players into the mix after basic setup. New players to the Love Letter mechanic are encouraged to play the "Exalted One" card as the first winning condition of the game. This requires players to practically play a classic version of Love Letter: the player with the highest value card remaining in their hand wins the round.

The basic premise of Love Letter is incredibly simple: Players will get one card to start, and draw one more. From these two cards, players will pick the lowest value - aiming to leave the highest value card in their hand.  If that card works out to be higher than the opponents around the table - then that wins the round. Agendas - Jabbas Palace

The main difference between this Jabba's Palace and Classic Love Letter is the introduction of Agendas. Now, these agendas will change the parameters of the game completely. Taking the player away from a classic game of Love Letter into something a little more cut-throat and belonging in the world of Star Wars.

Once players are comfortable with the general and basic playthrough, they will begin to add in new Agenda before a game. This will change the winning conditions, thus completely changing the strategy of any player. This is where gameplay begins to get spicy, changing the goalposts and adding new rules for a winner of the round. Truly testing trust to the others around the table.

Player Cards - Jabba's Palace

The game is finished when the deck is depleted from the centre earning the most tokens, or when a player earns the required token count first. The core game changer is the Agendas, which will certainly promote replayability and a sense of tension when dipping into a Love Letter game that is thematically comfortable.

How Does It Stand Next To Other Love Letter Games?

Reskins are a bane of such successful mini and micro card games, especially easy-to-learn games like Love Letter. We have seen release after release of Munchkin and Fluxx, and honestly - unless I am completely connected to the theme of the title, I become tiresome after picking up new cards to a title that has already been stretched so far.

Jabba's Palace - Z-Man Games

Star Wars Jabba's Palace - A Love Letter Game // Z-Man Games

Let's get this straight; Star Wars: Jabba's Palace is not a reskin. Although it does fundamentally use the same gameplay mechanics as Love Letter, there are additions which place the title as a standalone. Think Love Letter, but with extra thematic steps. And these steps are Agendas.

Love Letter is certainly no stranger to many of us who dabble in board and card games. Although I originally burned out my copy of Love Letter, quite honestly - I couldn't have been more relieved!

Love Letter Variety - Z-Man Games

Love Letter Variety Games // Z-Man Games

By being forced into purchasing an alternative version of the game after burning out my original copy thanks to a lack of card protectors - I dove into Lovecraft Letter. What I imagined to be a reskin - I found new mechanics and a different experience altogether.

Needless to say on my Love Letter hunt, I trialled The Hobbit and Batman versions, and felt completely disconnected, as they didn't take me too far from the original game.

As much as delivering a devastated Princess a letter is quite fulfilling - I'd rather step into the role of rebels or palace dwellers attempting to be the last one standing! When given the choice to pick up Love Letter, do not approach Jabba's palace as another churned out reskin - because it is certainly not that! Think of it as a developed version which has been explored and expanded by theme.

Think you will be giving Star Wars: Jabba's Palace - A Love Letter Game a go? 

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