Archer: Once You Go Blackmail
(A Love Letter Game)
AEG & Cryptozoic
Game Time: 20 minutes
From the main AEG product page:
“Your mission is to dig up dirt on Malory Archer and sell it to the highest bidder. To succeed you’ll have to deal with secret agents, the HR department, ocelots, and a mad scientist.”
Review by Fish
Archer Love Letter is a fast paced card game based on the popular Love Letter series, with a few minor changes to fit the theme (dolphin tokens that I would have paid for regardless). The theme can sell the game on its own, but there actually is a really fun experience to be had here in addition to shouting “Dammit Archer!” every so often. In my opinion, the greatest selling point is the simplicity of the Love Letter series. Players only ever have 1-2 cards in hand and a few rounds of guessing games happen before a winner is decided. It is listed at around 20 minutes, but the reality is that you can fit several rounds in under 10 minutes once you know the rules.
If you’ve never played a Love Letter game, the overall goal is to force other players to discard the highest value card (Malory in this case) or to win a one of the guessing games built into the cards. There isn’t a lot of strategic thinking here, but the game makes for a good refresher after playing other more complicated, competitive tabletop games. Granted turns can sometimes end a bit too quick, if the right situation happens, but it doesn’t happen often enough to really impact the playability. Especially since the game runs through several rounds before points decide a winner.
Final Score: 8/10
Archer: Once You Go Blackmail is fun, with rules that are so simple anyone can learn after a few turns. To be clear, this game isn’t reinventing the wheel or providing a profound gaming experience, however that’s alright. Sometimes an easy game makes for a GOOD game, and Archer Love Letter does what it is supposed to do.
- You enjoy games that can be played between other games.
- You want nice quality dolphin tokens.
- You enjoy games for more than 2 players.
- You love to watch Archer.
- You want a complex gaming experience.
- You prefer 2 player games.
Review by Jared
While I agree with my colleague’s assessment of the game, I feel there is something that needs to be elaborated. He mentions that the game does not have much in the way of strategic thinking. He is correct that it is just “draw a card and play a card”, but I feel he is not hitting the subtle depth and finer points of this game. While anybody can play this game, it becomes apparent that the more you play the less random winning becomes. This is not a game based on luck, it’s a game based on observation.
This is deduction-based game where the information is presented to you and players should be able to make an educated guess on what cards other players may have in their hands. I have played this game a lot with others and when we play, we are not just randomly guessing cards and hope to get lucky. We are observing the cards that are played as well the players revealing them. Everyone at this table knows how many cards are in the deck and how many of each card is available. As more cards are played, you can start narrowing down the information and make better guesses. People who are able to card count and read people will find themselves winning more often.
Final Score: 8/10
Still, this is a great quick game that you can play with just about anyone. It doesn’t have to be played as seriously as others, but the option to is there – I know I have! Whether you play casually or seriously, there is always fun to be had.