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

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The lair of the galaxy’s most notorious gangster is a place of danger and deception. In Jabba’s Palace: A Love Letter Game, players compete using members of the Rebel Alliance and denizens of Jabba’s Palace to outwit and outlast one another. In a quick card game of rebel bravery and vile deceit, can you carry out your agenda while outthinking your foes?  
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Awards

Value For Money

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Fits in the pocket as a great pub game
  • Easy to learn
  • Perfect filler game

Might Not Like

  • You need to like Star Wars
  • Some bad luck can really put you behind
  • Player elimination
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Description

The lair of the galaxy's most notorious gangster is a place of danger and deception. In Jabba's Palace: A Love Letter Game, players compete using members of the Rebel Alliance and denizens of Jabba's Palace to outwit and outlast one another. In a quick card game of rebel bravery and vile deceit, can you carry out your agenda while outthinking your foes?

 

Letters Of Love –

We now live in a world of ‘Love Letter‘. Designed by Seiji Kanai and first published in 2012 this mini card game has become a staple filler game in most collections. The original game themed itself around the eligible men of Tempest as they seek to woo the princess. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, and you must rely on others to take your romantic letters to her. Did she lock herself in Jabba’s Palace?

The word ‘theme’ is used very loosely here as what you are really doing is trying to deduct what card the other plays have in their hand and take them out of the game. There is a huge similarity to Coup from the same year, where characters give you different powers to help with the deduction, but here they often contradict what the main theme is meant to be.

Luckily the mechanisms of the game are what make it interesting. And with such a short play time, it attracts playing game after game. This addictive game-play has lead to a whole host of ‘Love Letter”s. Some add characters and others re-skin completely for various intellectual properties. A strange highlight was the release of ‘Batman Love Letter‘ where the princess had been replaced rather oddly by the Joker. This title quickly became a joke in itself, and continues to be voted one of the strangest titles in board game history.

It wasn’t until ‘Marvel Love Letter‘, that led to changes to the game play in an attempt to thematically link to the theme. Unfortunately, they changed things so much that it lost what made the original so charming. However, with the newest version, lessons seemed to have been learned and the brand feels like it is taking massive steps forward.

From One Palace To Another

In comes the newest entry to the catalogue, ‘Jabba’s Palace‘. You will notice that this is the first to use the phrase “A Love Letter Game”. It is this placing in the world of the game rather than trying to explain to an audience why you’re trying to send a love letter to Arkham’s worst, that might break the curse of absurd titles. Now we are transported to the iconic palace of Jabba the Hut, as seen in Return of the Jedi.

The game is presented in a fabric pouch (which will be recognisable to any ‘Love Letter’ fan), and is perfect for stuffing into your pocket for a trip to the pub. You will also get a handful of plastic point markers, like those introduced into the deluxe edition, a number of years ago. And finally, you get your cards. The deck is made up of characters, numbered from one to eight with powers getting stronger at the higher end. Rather than focusing on the princess, this version is more interested in the two sides of good and bad. On one side is the rebel alliance starting with C3-P0 on card one working up to Luke Skywalker at seven. On the other side is the palace and it’s ruffians, including Bib Fortuna, Boba Fett and right at the top on the highest card sits Jabba himself.

Scum And Villainy

The game of Jabba’s Palace is simple. You all start with one card in your hand and one card is removed from the game. On your turn you will draw a card and play a card. Powers include, “choose another player and guess a number. If they have that number they are out”, “Draw two cards and pick one. Place the other two on the bottom of the draw pile” and “Choose another player, if they have a rebel card they are out”.

The point of the game is to figure out what card other players are holding. This gets easier as the game goes on as discarded cards are placed face up in front of each player. What I love about this mechanism is that it is just as satisfying to make a Sherlock-like deduction as it is to guess blindly and be correct. Usually, last person standing wins that round and the first to a certain amount of points wins the game. This version also introduces tie breaker cards, but I can’t say I have seen a game to that.

The Force Is Strong With This One

Having played a number of iterations of this game, ‘Jabba’s Palace‘ has quickly become my favourite. It has the elegance of the original but has enough new stuff to make the decision making more interesting. The two suits mean that there is a little more to track but they add a much needed variety to the game. It’s hard to advise against the elegant simplicity of the original, but thematically it can leave you cold. If you have an interest in the Star Wars IP then this edition ties in the theme to the mechanisms so much better. And let’s be honest, any game with a Rancor is worth a try!

To fans of the Love Letter games, it will come as no surprise that this widely popular card game has had equal success in a Galaxy Far, Far Away. That’s right, it seems nothing is safe from the grubby hands of Jabba the Hutt, least of all Love Letter. Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace swaps the royal romance and careful courtship for the slightly less elegant setting of, you guessed it, Jabba the Hutt’s palace. Playing with some of the Galaxy’s best-known heroes and villains, up to four players will battle it out to see who can fulfil the Agenda the quickest.

Set Up

To start a game of Jabba’s Palace, all 19 character cards get shuffled, and the top one is placed face-down in the centre of the play area. Then, each player is dealt one card, and the remaining stack is placed, also face-down, in reach of all players. Players then will decide on an Agenda card. These Agendas are the win condition, and so the first player to complete its requirements wins the round. There are four to choose from, and it’s recommended that newbie players start out with the Exalted One Agenda, as this is a little easier to get your head around. This Agenda focuses on the number of cards in hand, which is a little misleading. As players can only ever hold one card in hand, references to ‘cards in hand’ mean the number shown in the top left corner of the card you have.

Gameplay

To start the round of Jabba’s Palace, the first player draws a card from the face-down stack, choosing which of their two cards to keep, and which to play. The player then resolves the effect listed on the card they choose to play. These effects can cause others to discard cards, which are placed face up next to them, or be knocked out, preventing them from winning the round. Then, it’s on to the next person, going clockwise around the table. This continues until either the deck runs out or there is only one person left in the round. When the deck has run dry, players determine who has won out of only those left in the round. The winner takes a victory token, and then play resets with the same Agenda card and continues with the winner of the last round dubbed the starting player. Players keeping battling it out until someone has enough victory tokens to win the game. For a two-player game, this is six tokens, but this decreases by one token for every additional player down to three tokens for five or six players.

And just like that, you’ve learnt how to play Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace!

 

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Fits in the pocket as a great pub game
  • Easy to learn
  • Perfect filler game

Might not like

  • You need to like Star Wars
  • Some bad luck can really put you behind
  • Player elimination