One of my favorite franchises of all time is Star Wars. I have been a fan of Star Wars ever since I watched the original films when I was a child. This is one of the main reasons I am intrigued whenever I see a new Star Wars board/card game. The quality of Star Wars games can vary significantly. Some games are great while others are simple cash grabs to get money from Star Wars fans. Released earlier this year Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace was a game that I had high hopes for. This was mostly because it was a Star Wars themed edition of the popular card game Love Letter. While I am not as big of fan of Love Letter as some people, I still enjoy it. Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace is a fun little card game that does a pretty good job with the theme, even if it doesn’t differ a lot from the original Love Letter.
For those familiar with the card game Love Letter, you should already be quite familiar with the gameplay of Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace. The game consists of a 19 card deck. On your turn you will draw one card. Between this new card and the card already in your hand, you will chose one card to play. Each card has a special action that goes into effect when it is first played. The goal of the game is to use these different actions to eliminate the other players from the round. If you are the last player remaining in a round or best match the agenda card when a round ends, you will win the round. The ultimate goal is to be the first player to win the designated number of rounds based on the number of players.
If you would like to see the complete rules/instructions for the game, check out our Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace how to play guide.
With how popular Love Letter has been since it was first released, it is not surprising that there have been quite a few different games released for the franchise over the years. I am always a little cautious with themed games as I am unsure whether they are just the same game with a new coat of paint, or if they actually utilize the theme in order to tweak the original game. A while back I took a look at Marvel Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game. I was genuinely impressed with how much the game tweaked the original Love Letter in its attempt to merge the gameplay with the Marvel theme. In the case of Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace, I would say that it sticks considerably closer to the original Love Letter.
This is not necessarily meant to be taken as a complaint against Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace. For the most part the gameplay sticks very close to the original game. If you have ever played Love Letter before, you should have a good idea of what to expect from the game. There are only a few tweaks to the original game. First the game includes a few more cards, and has a different distribution of cards. Some of the card abilities differ as well. Some abilities are the same as the original game, but there are some new abilities as well. The new card abilities have similar effects on the game and give you new ways to eliminate the other players.
Probably the biggest addition to the game is the agenda cards. These cards only come into play if the draw pile runs out of cards. They basically give the players a way to resolve these situations to pick a winner for the round. These agenda cards range from having the highest card remaining, to acquiring the most/highest rebel or palace cards.
Based on my experience playing the game so far, I wouldn’t say that they come into play all that often. I would guess they would be used more if you play with more players. With lower player counts it seems too easy to eliminate the other players though. If you are getting close to the end of a round though, the agenda card may impact which card you decide to keep. Ultimately I thought they were a nice addition to the game, even if they don’t usually make a big difference.
With Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace sticking pretty close to the traditional Love Letter formula, my feelings towards the game is pretty much on par with the original game. Ultimately I enjoy the main Love Letter gameplay even if I might not enjoy it as much as some other players. There is a lot to like about Love Letter.
I think the most impressive thing about the game is how a game can work with so few cards. Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace only has nineteen cards that you use in the actual gameplay. Yet the gameplay is still pretty satisfying. In a way the game kind of plays like a deduction game. To do well you need to read the other players. This is because a lot of the cards need you to have a good idea of what types of cards the other players have in their hand. Sometimes you can make a lucky guess or use an educated guess to eliminate the other players. Being able to figure out what cards the other players have in their hand though can really help. This can be accomplished by doing a good job using the various abilities on your cards.
With a deck of only 19 cards, it is not that surprising that the game is also really easy to play. If you have ever played Love Letter before, you can pretty much jump right in after a quick look at the card abilities. Those not familiar with the original game can still learn it pretty quickly. Each card has its own ability, but they are quite straightforward. Just reading the text on most of the cards should be enough. I think the game could be taught to new players within a couple of minutes.
On top of this many of the rounds play rather quickly. You will play a number of rounds to determine a winner, but each round individually will only take a couple minutes. The number of players will likely have a direct impact on how long the rounds take as more players will naturally make each round take longer. I would guess most rounds will take a couple of minutes at max. This is a good thing as players are eliminated and will have to wait for the other players to finish up a round. It will somewhat depend, but I think most games will take around 20-30 minutes to complete.
As for the player count, Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace supports two to six players. It seems odd to play a game like this with only two players, but it does work at such a low player count. It will play a little different than if you had more players though, as you are directly going after the other player. You can have fun playing the game with only two players, but I would recommend trying to play the game with more players if possible. The rounds end too quickly and just aren’t as dynamic with just two players. You only have to eliminate one player in order to win a round after all. I personally would recommend trying to play with at least four players to get the most out of the game.
When it comes to strategy versus luck, Love Letter has always balanced on a fine line between both. There is definitely strategy in the game, but it also relies on quite a bit of luck as well. Most of the strategy in Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace comes from trying to figure out what cards the other players are holding in their hands. You then need to use this information to try and figure out a way to eliminate the other players. There is skill to how you play your cards. While you could just randomly play cards, you likely won’t win all that often. Instead you need to try to use each card in tandem with the information that you know. The game gives you a good sense of satisfaction when you eliminate other players.
There is no denying that the game relies on quite a bit of luck as well though. The cards you draw will have a pretty big impact on what you ultimately can do. On each turn you will get a choice between two different cards which have different uses. This allows you to always choose the card that works best for your current situation. Each card in the game has its own value, but the real key is when you get a card. Some cards are more valuable in certain situations. The player that gets better cards at crucial moments will have an advantage in the game. There is very little you can do to change what cards you have available to you.
Ultimately this brings me back to Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace gameplay in general. I had fun playing the game. The game is not the deepest. It succeeds though because it finds a good balance between strategy, simplicity, and a game that you can just sit back and enjoy without putting too much thought into what you are doing. If you like simpler card games, I see no reason why you wouldn’t have fun with the game. That said, there isn’t a ton to the “game” itself which will likely turn off some players. At times it feels a little limited how much your choices really impact the game. In a way it kind of feels like the game somewhat plays itself at times.
So did I enjoy Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace more than the original Love Letter? I think I would ultimately say yes. The additions to the game probably improve upon the original game, but they don’t drastically change it in a significant way. The main reason why I liked it more than the original game was the theme. I mentioned earlier that I am a big fan of Star Wars. I can’t deny that it had a positive effect on my opinion of the game. While the gameplay wasn’t drastically changed to fit the theme, I still think the game does a good job with it. The character abilities fit pretty well. If you are a fan of Star Wars, I think you will enjoy Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace. If you aren’t a fan though, I think you might be better off with a different Love Letter game.
As for the game’s components they are pretty similar to most other Love Letter games. The cards are pretty thick. The artwork is quite good and utilizes the theme well. Outside of the cards you get the victory tokens. They are made of plastic, but they are pretty thick. I liked them. Otherwise the game comes with the little bag included with most Love Letter games. I really like these bags as they give you an easy way to store the components. It also makes it easy to bring the game along while traveling.
For the most part Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace is what you would expect from a Love Letter game built around the Star Wars theme. For the most part the gameplay is the same as the original game. There are a few more cards, some new card abilities, and the distribution is a little different. The biggest change is the addition of the agenda cards which only come into play when there are two or more players remaining after all of the cards have been drawn. While Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace doesn’t differ much from the original Love Letter, I still enjoyed playing it. The game is quite easy to play, like the original game, but still has a decent amount of strategy. The game is a little simple though and relies on a decent amount of luck. Ultimately I probably enjoyed Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace a little more than the original game mostly due to the theme as I am a big fan of Star Wars.
My recommendation comes down to two things. If you don’t really care for Love Letter or Star Wars, I don’t really see a reason to pick up Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace. If you are a fan of both though, I think you will enjoy Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace and should consider picking it up.
Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace – A Love Letter Card Game
Year: 2022 | Publisher: Z-Man Games | Designer: Justin Kemppainen, Todd Michlitsch | Artist: Jasmine Radue, Samuel R. Shimota
Genres: Card, Deduction
Ages: 10+ | Number of Players: 2-6 | Length of Game: 20-30 minutes
Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: Moderate
Components: 19 character cards, 4 agenda cards, 6 reference cards, 13 victory tokens, cloth bag, instructions
- A good use of the Star Wars theme with the Love Letter gameplay.
- Maintains the fun simple gameplay of Love Letter.
- Doesn’t differ a lot from the original Love Letter.
- Relies on a decent amount of luck as the cards you draw will determine how well you will do.
Recommendation: For fans of Love Letter who also like Star Wars.
Where to Purchase: Any purchases made through these links (including other products) help keep Geeky Hobbies running. Thank you for your support.