Are players compelled to use the power of a card, or can they choose to not use it (and simply discard it)? For instance, can I choose to

  • not have anyone discard after playing the Prince
  • not to compare my card to another player after playing the Baron
  • not to trade hands with anyone using the King?

Those three are the cases where I could see a distinct advantage to being allowed to not use the power. Other cases that are more questionable when it comes to assisting the player are whether one can choose to

  • not look at anyone's card with the Priest
  • not use the Handmaid's protective power
  • 6
    There's no such thing as playing a card in Love Letter. Every turn, you must discard a card. Whenever you discard a card, for any reason, is effect happens
    – ikegami
    Jun 7, 2015 at 16:19
  • @ikegami What if you can't find a valid target because of handmaidens? If all others have a handmaiden and you hold a princess and any attacking card like priest or baron, do you have to discard the princess, or do you simply 'attempt' and fail to use the card effect? Likewise, with prince could you attempt against a handmaidened player and opt not to against yourself?
    – Joey
    Jun 7, 2015 at 16:55
  • Sounds like it's a 3-player game where all players could have the Handmaiden since you'd never have a case even in 2-player where they all have it active. It expires at the start of your turn. I see the rules talking extensively about handmaidens being on every other player in each case, but oddly, they do not specify it for the Priest alone. Probably the intention is it does nothing in that case, as with most others.
    – Joey
    Jun 7, 2015 at 17:04
  • 3
    Since you're always a valid target for your own Prince, so you would have to pick yourself. "If all players other than the player whose turn it is are protected by Susannah, the player must choose him- or herself if possible." You would lose.
    – ikegami
    Jun 7, 2015 at 17:05
  • I have added some additional comments on the situation when all other players have a handmaiden out
    – Joe W
    Jun 7, 2015 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


No, you must always apply the effect of the card even if that card would hurt you, such as playing the prince with the princess in hand when the other 2 players have handmaidens out. Always having to play the effect of the card is spelled out in the rule book and making a house variant to change that would greatly alter the balance of the game as it would remove the negative side of some of the more powerful cards in the game.

The point of this is that there will be times when playing a card can be very bad for you and that is to balance out the fact that playing a card can be very good for you or at worst neutral most of the time

Love Letter PDF Rules

On your turn, draw the top card from the deck and add it to your hand. Then choose one of the two cards in your hand and discard it face up in front of you. Apply any effect on the card you discarded. You must apply its effect, even if it is bad for you.

If there are no valid targets because all other players have a handmaiden in play you can still use the card and in most cases nothing will happen.

  1. Guard - Nothing happens
  2. Priest - Nothing happens
  3. Barron - Nothing happens
  4. Handmaiden - Does not target others
  5. Prince- You must target yourself and discard your other card
  6. King - Nothing happens
  7. Countess - Does not target others
  8. Princess - Does not target others

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