- Cover Artwork
Dark Whispering / Palastgefluster Review
I should really use “Love Letter killer” as title but that would stir the peace of all of Love Letter fans out there. Now, one should wonder what is this yet-to-be-known game that I am about to review. It’s sounds so alien and yes of course it’s far less famous (might still be unknown to you) than Love Letter. While all of you guys have been playing Love Letter full of laughter and unexplainable hilarious things with your friends and accomplices, I got to know this game and lo and behold it’s way better than Love Letter in so many ways (but not all).
As it’s listed on boardgamegeek.com, this game was published on 2007, which was years before Love Letter by Adlung-Spiele / Schmidt Spiele. Designed by one of the well known designers, Michale Rieneck. The game can be played with 3 up to 5 players and consists only cards in a small deck of 55 cards (49 Character cards and 6 King cards). So it’s easy to pack and carry with the pocket size deck. You can play it if you have 30-45 minutes to kill, waiting for a friend, movie and dishes to come out.
So what is it about? The game is quite abstract, the goal of the game is to collect a number of points in several rounds to win the game. To collect a point, players need to place 6 different characters on their displays. The catch is if a player cannot do so, the round ends and all other players get 1 point.At the start of each round, players will be given 6 cards from the deck. Starting from the first player (you can choose the first player randomly), each player plays a card into the his display. There are restrictions, player cannot place a character that he already has in his display, and each character placed has it’s effect resolved (unless it said otherwise by the active King card). The order of play is based on the color set of card played just before. So if a player placed a yellow card, then the next player to play is the yellow player. If a player played a brown colored card, the next player is the one with the least amount of cards displayed. If there is more than 1 player with the least cards, the player who played the brown card decides.
Sometimes there are situations where a player cannot place a card into his display, either he already has the character on the display or because he only has Jester when the King card allows no Jester to be played. When this happens, that player triggers Dark Whisperings, the round ends and each other players get 1 point. So it could possible lead to shared victory between more than 1 players. The tie breaker is the number of cards on player’s display.
- Game Components
There are 7 characters on each set of 5 player’s colors plus 7 characters in 2 sets of brown color. These characters have their own effects. These characters are Court Jester, Treasurer, Magician, Lady’s Maid, Cup-bearer, Custodian and Marshal. Court Jester has no effect (it’s the most easy to play card). When playing Treasurer, a player must show the rest of his hand to all other players (this always bad). Magician lets you trade hands with other players in secret (you decide how many cards to trade and only if the other player has that many cards). Lady’s Maid let you discard one card from hand and draw another card from the draw pile. Cup-bearer let you exchange one card with another from 2 displays without provoking the Dark Whispering. Custodian let you to take back one card from your display back to your hand (you cannot take the Custodian). When Marshal in play, a new King card is drawn, replacing the previous one.
Looking at the Characters, some of them give you positive benefits, such as Lady’s Maid, which can discard unwanted card, and also Custodian which can take back Lady’s Maid into you hand for second use. Cup-bearer gives you option and flexibility and of course Court Jester, which provide no effect at all. The rest are hindrances, Treasurer make your hands exposed, it’s better played last so you don’t need to expose any card. The Marshal is a gamble, you should play this if you need to change the King card, it’s a problem if the new King card ruin your next move. The Magician is mostly not good, since your opponent is most likely trade cards that you not need. It’s better if you play Magician as your first card, since your opponent would not know what cards you need or not.
The game works pretty well with 3 players as well as with 5 players. The main essence of the game is about hand management and the timing of playing the cards in your hands. It’s also about taking chances and setting your goal. You might not be able to win alone each round, but you only need to win alone during your last point, though it’s not an easy task. The game has a leader bashing element in it since each player do not want other players to win. It’s better to win together rather than do not win at all. The color of the cards you play also important, while in most other games, consecutive turns provide benefit, but not in this game. Sometimes your consecutive turns could lead you to your doom. Naturally, players will targeting player with the most cards displayed, since that player is the most vulnerable to hit.
- Player’s Hand
It’s a trick-taking game with bluffing, memory and deduction elements. I would say it’s a meaty Love Letter, with more depth, more planning and more trick. Overall it’s better than Love Letter in every aspects, except it takes longer than Love Letter and cannot be played with 2 players.