In the new Disney+ Star Wars series: the Book of Boba Fett, the titular hero and our (original) favourite bounty hunter puts his Mandalorian helmet and bounty hunter coat away to play space mafia on everyone’s favourite planet with two suns: Tatooine. Boba Fett has appropriated the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the blubbering bastard and formed king of intergalactic crime, and demands respect from the major cities and crime families harbouring themselves on this sandy planet. Star Wars Jabba’s Palace: a Love Letter game, is set a little earlier in the Star Wars timeline. It is set during Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi, the same movie where Jabba meets his demise and Boba Fett gets swallowed by space serpent/plant hybrid. The heroes Leia, Luke, Chewie, Lando and two rust buckets try to rescue their frozen friend Han from the slimy clutches of Jabba and his wretched scum and villains. Which side wins?
Jabba’s Palace is a slightly reworked version of everyone’s favourite 5-minute card game, Love Letter. In Love Letter, you are one of the characters who wants to win the heart of the princess by sending her a love letter. But this letter doesn’t just arrive at the princess’s doorstep! You must try to get the letter to the princess via her court and fellow-royals. In Jabba’s Palace, there are several ways to win, but just like in Love Letter, it’s basically last (wo)man standing.
Each player receives a card. On this card a person who is present in Jabba’s Palace is featured: think of the aforementioned heroes, Boba Fett, Jabba or everyone’s favourite spin doctor: Bib Fortuna. The more influential this character is, the higher the value shown on the card. Next to the value, you can also see where character’s alignment (the good guys or the Hutt’s) and the special power of the character.
Each turn you must draw a second card and then play one of the two cards in front of you. Each card has its own power which (in principle) activates when you play it. For example, you can protect yourself from other people’s powers with Bib Fortuna, or eliminate an opponent if Luke appears and that player has a member of the Hutt family on his hands. In each camp, there are different cards with the same values and effects that also do something slightly different. That is the first important difference compared to Love Letter and, in my opinion, a very nice addition.
You can win the game by eliminating other players with effects, but the game contains 4 cards with a purpose. Each game of Jabba’s Palace you use one of these cards at random. The card used indicates the condition for winning this game. For example, there is a goal where the player who remains last with the card with the highest value wins the game, just like in Love Letter, but there is also a card where the player with the most played cards of a certain kind wins.
As Rick wrote in his review of the original Love Letter, “Love Letter is a fun and fast game which is ideal for in-between or longer play, whether at home or on holiday.” As for Jabba’s Palace, this is no different. The new rules and card effects are a nice addition and a welcome variation on the basic game. As a result, the game feels familiar, but different enough. As a Star Wars fan, the theme is of course great. Highly recommended for fans of a quick and simple Star Wars game and/or Love Letter fans who are longing for some variation!