Love Formula is a game by Dylan Gwin, published by Japanime Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of match maker as they do their best to recreate a couple’s most perfect date. Of course their opponents will try to throw a monkey wrench into their match making abilities in an effort to stop the date. In the end, the player that shows their best skills in relationship building will be declared the winner.
To begin, each player is given a Part Time Job card. Any excess Part Time Job cards are returned to the box. Each player places their Part Time Job card face up in front of themself. The remaining cards are shuffled together and placed face down in the middle of the play area. This forms the draw deck. The Heart Tokens are placed within reach of all players and play now begins.
The game is played over 2 rounds. Each round has 2 phases; a Draft phase and a Play phase. The first phase is the Draft phase. In this phase, each player is dealt 12 cards to form their starting hand. These cards should not be shown to any other player. Players will then simultaneously select 1 card from their hand to keep, placing it face down in front of themself beside their Part Time Job card. Once each player has selected a card from their hand, they will then pass the remaining cards in their hand to the player beside them. In the first round, the cards are passed to the player’s left. In the second round, the cards are passed to the player’s right. Players will once again choose a card from their hand and place it in front of themself with the previous card. This process is repeated until there are no cards left in a player’s hand. Once this happens, the Draft phase is over. It should be noted that players are allowed to look at the cards in front of themself at any time during play.
The second phase is the Play phase. In this phase, each player will begin by taking the cards they chose during the previous phase into their hand, along with their Part Time Job card. Each Play phase is then divided into 10 rounds, each consisting of 4 steps. The Round Counter is used to keep track of each round by turning the dial to show the number of each round. First off, each player will select one of the cards from their hand and place it face down in front of themself. This card may not be a Reaction card. Once everyone has chosen a card, each player will then reveal their card by flipping it face up. Players will then compare the Priority Value of their cards to determine the turn order, starting with the highest number. In cases of a tie, the small number beside the card’s Priority Value is consulted. Players will then, in Priority Order, take a turn by resolving the card that they have played. What happens is determined by the type of card that was played, more on card types in a bit. In addition to resolving the card, each player is able to move 1 Preparation card that is in their field. A player’s field is the area in front of them. This move may be done before or after resolving their card’s effect. These Preparation cards, when moved, can be attached to a Couple card, removed from a Couple card or shifted from one Couple card to another. One last thing of note, when a card is played other players may be able to play a Reaction card from their hand if the proper conditions are met. Once each player has taken a turn, the round ends. The Round Counter is adjusted to show the next round of the Play phase and a new Play phase round begins. Once the 10th round of the Play phase is complete, each player will then discard any remaining cards in their hand, except for their Part Time Job card. This card is set aside to be used during the next Play phase. If this is the end of the first Play Phase, an all new round begins starting with the Draft phase. If this is the end of the second Play phase, then the game ends and final scoring begins.
Once 2 Draft phases and 2 Play phases have been completed, the game ends and final scoring begins. At this time each player will add up the victory points from the cards in their field. Players earn points for each Preparation card and for each Couple card in their field. Players earn more points for Couple cards with a complete set of Preparations. Players compare their total number of victory points and the player with the most points is the winner.
Earlier I mentioned that there were different types of cards that a player can play during their turn, at this time I’d like to explain a little bit about how each one of these works. Action cards have one time effects that are activated and then discarded afterwards. Couple cards are how players score points and give a list of Preparation cards needed to collect the full amount of points. Preparation cards are attached to Couple cards to earn the most points but can still earn 1 point even if not attached. However, there is a limit to how many of these a player may have unattached in their field. Obstacle cards are attached to Couple cards in an opponent’s field and interfere with the player’s matchmaking abilities. Bond cards are attached to a player’s Couple card and provide positive effects for that player. Reaction cards aren’t played like any of the other card types. These are only played whenever the card’s specific requirements are met and can be very beneficial to the player that played it.
This game has over a hundred beautiful looking cards. The anime style is really cute and fun and fits the theme of the game really well. The designs look great and the text is easy to read and understand. Each card has a really smooth glossy finish to it that makes it extremely easy to shuffle. I really love the look and feel of each and every card. Each couple feels very different and has different requirements to fulfill their perfect date. Every card draws you into the game and this adorably romantic vibe. The game also comes with a stack of cardboard heart tokens. These help with keeping track of cards with durations that last longer than 1 round. By placing a couple of these on the card and removing one each round, it’s easy to remember and visually see how long the effect of that particular card will last. The tokens are fairly thick and are a light pink color. These are very helpful and quite cute too. The final piece that’s included with the game is a Round Counter. This piece has to be assembled with two pieces of round cardboard and a plastic attachment. The top piece is cut out so that during the Play phase, players can keep track of what round it is. This is a nice addition that could have easily been replaced with a die or a board and pawn. That said, I rather like the counter, it’s easy to see and looks cute too. The one thing that was a bit off about the game is that the box is a bit longer than needs be. With the amount of cards included in the game, there’s a whole lot of extra room inside the box. Even with the expansion, there’s still a lot of room left over. This seems to be the same problem with many of these long box games lately. That said, there’s plenty of room for expansions in the future. Overall I really like the look and feel of everything included with the game.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is very similar to all the other long box card games from Japanime Games. The one thing different about this one is that it’s in full color, which is a huge plus. There are lots of great looking pictures throughout the book as well as several examples of gameplay. Each of the phases and every step of the game is laid out in easy to understand detail. All of the different card types are explained along with a detailed description of each card’s design. The book isn’t long and it’s quite simple to read through. Everything is quite concise and to the point. About the only thing that I could ask for would have been some solo rules. As it is, the rules look clean and clear with nothing to complain about. Excellent work!
9 out of 10
This is a cute and fun game that combines elements of card drafting and set collection into an adorable dating simulator. Each round players will draft cards to play later to try and earn points by creating the perfect date for one or more couples. Of course players can mess with each other with some take that style reaction cards that simulate some of the bumps and hiccups of any real relationship. Over the years I’ve read a lot of manga and watched a lot of anime. In many ways, this game mirrors the chaos and hilarious situations that I’ve seen in those forms of media. It really feels like you’ve walked into one of those story lines as you try to find a way to connect your couples in the perfect way. A lot of the tropes from those storylines are present in the different couples and cards; like the girl taking care of the injured guy, the couple at the spring festival and the sports day competitions. I have to say that I really enjoy this one and find the cuteness of the game to be rather appropriate to the theme. This is one that I feel fans of anime and manga would really enjoy. I would like to point out that there are a few cards included in the box that depict girls with girls and boys with boys. If this bothers you, I’d suggest pulling those cards out prior to playing. I will say that there was nothing sexual or overly suggestive in really any of the cards, so this is one that could be played with your kids, if you feel the theme is appropriate. For me I think it’s a cute little romantic feeling card game that gets a thumbs up from me. I highly recommend checking this one out, especially if the theme appeals to you.
9 out of 10
Love Formula is a cute and fun card game that combines card drafting and set collection. The game doesn’t take very long to play. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes. The cards and components are really adorable and fit the theme quite well. I love the anime style artwork and the feel of the game. The rulebook is well designed and easy to read through. I especially appreciate that the rules are in color. I do wish that there were some solo rules included, but that’s just something from my wishlist and not an actual complaint. The game itself is very simple to play. The theme really comes out as you play cards attempting to create a perfect date for your couples. All the ups and downs of a crazy anime relationship are present and make for a very enjoyable experience. This is one that fans of anime or manga should really enjoy playing. Comparing this to the prototype that I played a couple of years back, I’m very happy with how this one turned out. I’m so glad that Japanime Games gave this one a chance. I highly recommend checking this one out. It’s definitely one that my family and I enjoy.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Japanime Games at their site.