Holly Black introduces Cruel Prince card game

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2019
Edinburgh International Book Festival 2019 / Roberto Ricciuti/GettyImages

Chances are if you are in a book community on social media (Instagram, BookTok, etc), you've likely heard of or read The Cruel Prince series by Holly Black. While the fantasy series may have been out for years, but it's still wildly popular, as is really anything that has morally ambiguous characters and fae. But now you can do more than just read the books. Now, you can get in on the strategy of the characters in a new game. It's called Enemies and Lovers: The Crown of Elfhame.

The game was first introduced via a Kickstarter campaign that, as you can probably imagine, was funded incredibly quickly. As of June 21, 2024, over 8000 pledgers had supported it with over $650,000. Most Kickstarters don't get that, but most Kickstarters do not have Holly Black's passionate fanbase.

So, what is the game about? I was lucky enough to get a sample of the card game. First of all, it's gorgeous! My pack is lined in green foil and the back of the cards have a design with gold foil. It's like a special edition of a book with sprayed edges! The art on each card is just as beautiful. And all the characters are included! Cardan, Jude, Wren, The Roach. and all the others.

But what about playing? Luckily, the game comes with pretty detailed instructions. To start, each player gets three cards. From there, each player will have a "Hand" (the cards they are holding) and their "Court" (the cards that are face-down in front of them). During each turn, players have to place one Court Card into their Court or remove or exchange one, play one card, and end their turn by drawing a new card. A card also needs to be placed into the Discard pile.

Holly Black's The Cruel Prince has been turned into a card game

Pretty simple, but what's the goal? To win, you want to end up with one Prince card, one Conspirator Card, one Coercion Card, and the Crown Card. And all these cards must be in your Court; not just in your hand.

The first time you play, especially if you're a fan of the books, I recommend just taking the time to go through all the cards and look at the art. Seeing characters you've only seen in your head in gorgeous art is always fun, but it makes focusing on the game a little difficult!

And before you ask, yes, Cardan's tail is included on his card. Holly Black knows what the people want.

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