Thanos, the Mad Titan, is out to gather all six Infinity Stones and then snap his fingers, destroying half of all life in the universe. Can Earth’s mightiest heroes stop him in time?
What Is Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game?
Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game is a one-versus-many hand management and deduction card game for 2-6 players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 15 minutes to play. It retails for $15, and comes in a small blister package. It’s available to purchase directly from the Asmodee shop, or from other retailers like Amazon.
Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game was designed by Seiji Kanai and Alexandar Ortloff and published by Z-Man Games and Asmodee, with illustrations by Monica Helland and various Marvel Comics artists.
Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game Components
Here’s everything that you’ll find inside:
- 36 Cards
- 9 Power Tokens
- 2 Plastic Sliders
- Cloth Bag
Not a lot! This is definitely a travel-sized game. Everything packs away into the cloth bag for easy transport. The cards have a nice linen finish to them, making them easy to handle and should add to their durability.
The plastic Power Tokens feel like they’ve leapt off the comic page, thanks to their shape and color.
How to Play Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
If you’re playing as Thanos, your goal is to either gather all six Infinity Stones, or to reduce the team of heroes to zero health. If you’re playing as the heroes, your goal is to reduce Thanos to zero health.
Choose one player to be Thanos. The other players are on a team of heroes. Everyone receives a reference card.
Shuffle the 16 Hero cards to form a facedown deck. Each hero player draws 1 card from the deck.
Shuffle the 13 Thanos cards into a facedown deck near the Thanos player. Thanos draws 2 cards.
Place the yellow tracker on the top left space of the life tracker card, and the purple tracker on the space matching the number of players (including Thanos). Place the life tracker card in the middle of the table.
Gameplay begins with the player playing Thanos, and then proceeds clockwise.
On your turn, you draw a card, and then play one of the cards from your hand to the table in front of you. You then follow the directions on the card that you’ve just played. Some of the actions you can take include peeking at an opposing player’s hand, guessing a card from an opposing player’s hand, gaining Power Tokens, or fighting an opposing player.
If you are playing on the hero team, you may never share any knowledge of what you’ve secretly seen in Thanos’ hand, nor what is currently in your hand.
When you play a card that says that you may fight, you have the option, not the requirement, to fight an opponent. If you choose to fight, then you and your opponent secretly exchange one card each from your hands that will be fighting (heroes will only have one card in their hands, but Thanos always has two cards in his hand).
If you and/or your opponent have any +2 Power Tokens, you must spend exactly 1 of those tokens in the fight.
Whoever has the higher value, including any modifications from Power Tokens, wins the fight. The other card is defeated.
When a card is defeated, the owning player places that card face-up on the table in front of them, and loses one health on the Life Tracker. Additionally, they immediately draw a new card from their deck to replenish their hand. It should be noted that if an Infinity Stone is defeated, it is shuffled back into Thanos’ deck instead of placed on the table.
If the heroes’ deck ever runs out, collect all the hero cards that have been played onto the table, and shuffle them together to form a new hero deck. Thanos never will reshuffle his deck, instead skipping the card draw.
The game can end in one of three different ways.
- If Thanos places all six Infinity Stones on the table, he wins. If at any time he has a combination of six Infinity Stones between the table and his hand, he may reveal his hand, and also win.
- If Thanos reduces the heroes to zero health, he wins.
- If the heroes reduce Thanos to zero health, they win.
Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game is GeekDad Approved!
Why You Should Play Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game
The enduring popularity of the original Love Letter, designed by Seiji Kanai, has resulted in several variants of the game since its original publication in 2012. Most of these variants provide minor changes in gameplay, as well as theming built around different intellectual properties like Love Letter: Batman Edition and Love Letter: Star Wars. I myself have an extremely well-worn copy of Munchkin Loot Letter, as well as an oversized Love Letter: Premium Edition. I think it’s a fair assumption that I’m a fan of the game series. It takes a fairly simple “draw a card, play a card” mechanic and turns that into a fun game of deduction and strategy.
What Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game does differently from the other variations on the original Love Letter is to introduce a one versus many element, which works perfectly with the theme. If you’re at all familiar with Thanos and the Infinity Stones (and if you’re a reader at GeekDad, it’s a pretty safe assumption you are), then the idea of a bunch of heroes teaming up to take down Thanos makes perfect sense.
At first glance, it might appear that the Thanos player has an advantage over the other players. While half of his deck is very similar in ability to the cards in the hero deck, the other half is notably stronger.
The Thanos card is the only value 7 card in the game, perfect for Thanos winning battles. But, as it has a rule that forbids Thanos from playing it from his hand, it’s an easy target for the heroes’ value 1 cards, whose ability states, “Guess a number. If Thanos is holding a card of that number, defeat it.” And the heroes have three value 1 cards in their deck.
The Infinity Stones cards, when played, act as turbocharged versions of the other cards of matching value in Thanos’ deck. For example, while value 4 Proxima Midnight gives Thanos 1 Power Token, the value 4 Power Stone gives Thanos 3 Power Tokens. And once Thanos plays any of those Infinity Stones, they remain on the table, inching him closer to victory.
There are a few gameplay elements that help to balance Thanos’ strengths. After Thanos takes his turn, all the other heroes get to play before it comes back around to Thanos. And if you’re playing 2-player, the hero player still gets to take 2 turns in a row before Thanos gets to take his turn.
Both the Infinity Stones and the Thanos card get shuffled back into Thanos’ deck should they get defeated. Importantly, that means that Thanos won’t always have a value 7 card available to him for battles, while defeating Infinity Stones in Thanos’ hand can delay his potential victory, giving the heroes a chance to defeat him.
A lot of the strategy in the game is both paying attention to the cards that have been played, and to the body language of other players around the table when they secretly look at cards in their opponents’ hands. Seeing what card gets defeated in a fight can also give you information. If a hero’s value 6 card is defeated, then it’s a safe bet that hero was defeated by the Thanos card.
I played several games of Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game and found the win/loss ratio for both sides to be about even. You’ll need different strategies for playing the heroes than you do for playing Thanos, but both sides are similar enough in gameplay that it’s easy to play a game on the hero team, and then turn right around and play another game as Thanos.
One of the hallmarks of the Love Letter series is that it’s a great “filler”-type game. It takes very little time to set up and teach, and each game usually takes about 10-15 minutes. Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game is no different in this regard. It’s a satisfying one-versus-many game which melds theme with gameplay perfectly. It’s also different enough in execution from the other Love Letter games that it’s worth a purchase even if, like me, you own one or more other versions of Love Letter.
For more information, visit the Z-Man Games Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game page.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.