Last Letter : a traditional word game but with cards

I’m going to guess that you have all played a version of this game when you were kids, probably even in a car. You pick a category, and string together words where the last letter in the previous word is the first in the next. Sound familiar? Last Letter is a spin on this, using large cards with really interesting illustrations to move the game forward. It requires speed and creativity, but I’m sure you’re up for it!


The Basics

lastletter-boxLast Letter is a very simple game. Each player starts with six cards in his or her hand, and whoever runs out of cards first is the winner. So how do you get rid of your cards?

The game begins with a card from the deck being flipped and put on the table for all the players to see. The dealer decides on a word that represents something in the picture on the card, or alternatively – the players decide together. It doesn’t really matter. Once everyone’s clear on the word, they all (including the dealer) look at the cards in their hand at the same time. Whenever a player can come up with a word representing something on one of their cards that starts with the letter the previous word ended with, they put that card on top of the previous while shouting the word. Whoever has a word and card that matches the new one can put that down (including the player who just put down her card) and give another word. On it goes until someone runs out of cards. If two or more players yell words at the same time, whoever puts down their card first wins the tie and everyone else has to keep their card.

In general, all words are allowed except names (you can’t just decide the dragon is named Barbara). But of course the words have to fit the illustrations. However, I really recommend you restrict the kinds of words you can use and which form. It is easy to just go “Painting!” and “Swimming!” or “Trees!” and “Animals!” except that means you have to come up with a lot of G- and S-words. Instead go with “paint”, “swim”, “tree”, and “animal” etc. You can restrict the words to objects or actions, and maybe exclude colours or emotions.

lastletter-cards
A potential sequence of cards: Alien – Night – Tree – Experiment

I’ve found that it is easy to get stuck on certain letters. In such cases we’ve  pulled another card from the deck, decided on a word from it, and on a count of three looked at our respective hands again – the game is back on.


It is definitely not the most exciting game out there. I am personally not a big fan of competitive speed games (I love co-op speed), but even disregarding that it is just a very simple basic card game. I think it’s far more suitable for kids. However, I must say that I’ve only ever played it as a two-player game. It is most certainly better with more players. It would be the perfect game for a language class as well, as long as all players are on an equal skill level. It is absolutely language independent (beyond reading the rules of course) as all cards are simply illustrations. Are you learning French? Then choose French words!

The quality of the physical components is great. The box is a bit different, being a slipbox (or whatever to call it) but of nice thickness and good quality. The cards are of good card stock and they are huge, which can be both a good and a bad thing. It means that the art shows very nicely, but the deck is difficult to shuffle and it obviously takes up more space. It’s still a portable game though, if you secure the box so it doesn’t separate in transit (which I’ve had happen). The art is wonderful, which is the most important thing. The styles vary but they are all pretty detailed so you can find many things to come up with words for.

While I wouldn’t really recommend this game on its own to adult gamers, it might be a fun family game and definitely a fun game for kids in school. What would however be interesting for adults (and families) is to try to play the game Dixit with these cards. I wrote about that game not so long ago right here. It is also based on cards with art on them, but the gameplay is much more interesting. The cards in Last Letter are slightly bigger than the cards in Dixit, but would fit the Dixit board well enough. Actually, it is probably worth buying a copy of Last Letter simply as an expansion for Dixit. This game comes with 61 cards, compare to the 81 cards in a Dixit expansion, but for about half the price. Might be worth a try?

Whether you have kids, teach people a language, are learning a language yourself, or simply want some extra art cards for another game, I hope you will like Last Letter!

THE SPECS

  • Title: Last Letter
  • Designers: Joe & Dave Herbert
  • Publisher: ThinkFun
  • Players: 2+
  • Time: depends on how quick you are
  • Type: cards
  • Size: small-medium
  • Release year: 2014

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