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Subject: You Don't Know (who) Jack (is) rss

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Bob Flaherty
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Loves Park
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I recently acquired Mr. Jack and got a chance to play it for the first time with my wife. I have a copy of the Hurrican edition. There are a few errata, most notably the colors of the alibi cards when stacked can sometimes be determined. There is an errata sheet that shows a picture of the proper set-up (the manual has one of the characters in the wrong position) as well as a suggestion for using the box insert to shield the cards from the detective player. We played with this set-up. The final piece of errata is that on the game board, one of the gas lamps is not colored dark gray like the others. It should be as the lamps are considered obstacles and are impassable except by Miss Stealthy. None of these problems are a hindrance to playing the game (except maybe the edge of the cards, but this is easily solved).

The components are nice: a thick cardboard playing board, thick cardboard alibi and player cards, cardboard tokens for the gas lights and police barricades, and wooden disks one each of nine colors (eight for each of the characters and one for a turn marker). The artwork for the characters and gameboard is cartoony (but not juvenile) and helps to lighten up the dark nature of the game (you are trying to capture the notorious Jack the Ripper).

I read the rules to my wife. They are easy to understand and explain the game well. I have learned that I don’t explain games well, so I usually just read the rules. One player plays Jack. At the beginning of the game he picks an alibi card which is the character he is impersonating. His job is to evade capture for eight turns (the eight hours preceding dawn) or escape; there are specific rules about when and how he can escape. The other player plays the detective. His job is twofold. First, deduce the secret identity of Jack. Second, capture him. During a turn, four of the player cards are turned up and the person who’s turn it is picks one of the four to move. Each character has a special ability used either before or after movement. At the end of the turn, it is revealed if Jack was witnessed committing a crime. If the secret character is in the light (adjacent to a lit gas lamp or in Watson’s lantern) or next to another character, he was witnessed.

My wife was the part of the detective and I of the infamous Jack. The first turn was trying to exactly figure out what we were trying to do. We both talked about some strategies to playing. After the first turn, she had eliminated two suspects. But Jack’s secret identity, Watson, was safe. The second turn, we each knew a little more about what was going on. At the end of that turn, I used Goodley’s action to bring everyone that was in the dark into the light. Though Jack was still witnessed, no new suspects could be eliminated. (Nice play Jack.) Watson Jack was now positioned in the northwest quadrant, near the escape route, but it was currently barricaded.

During the third round, my wife eliminated a couple more suspects and also drew an alibi card (Sherlock Holme’s special move). This gave her an identity that only she knew was innocent. During the fourth turn, Watson Jack came up in the draw. It was my mistake not to move him first, trying to distract attention away from him (and leave him in the NW corner), hoping I would get to play him last in the round. My wife positioned characters strategically (there were only three suspects left), barricading the SE corner where one potential subject was alone, and then moving Watson into the light surrounded by three other characters. The last move I could make was to put another character next to Miss Stealthy. This left Watson and Stealthy as potential subjects and eliminated the final character. Unfortunately, my wife had drawn Stealthy’s alibi card so she knew she was innocent. On her first move of the fifth turn she correctly accused and apprehended Watson Jack.

This is a great little game that both my wife and I enjoyed playing. There have been many comments about Jack being at a disadvantage. This is probably true the first couple of times that you play the game. I know I had a couple of mistakes, and my guess is that being Jack is less forgiving. I am looking forward to playing this game more with my wife.

I currently rate this game at a 7.5. More plays will probably increase this rating as depth of play and other things surface with multiple plays.
 
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David McLeod
Canada
Ottawa
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Great report! The few errata you mention ALWAYS makes me nervous but this is a game I'm am eagerly awaiting to get to the table. Thanks!
 
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bruno cathala
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st pierre en faucigny
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Thank you very much for your great report..

Just some hint...
When playing Jack, you know you can escape the board only if you finished the precedent turn in the darkness...
But take care not to move in the dark to early.. it would be more easy for your opponent to identify your real identity...
My strategy is to move jack into the darkness only when i'm quite sure to escape on the next turn !!
 
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Bob Flaherty
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My wife and I played a couple more times last night. Again, I was Jack and she was the detective. During the first game, I made an obvious error that left Jack identified after the third turn (oops!). She caught me in the fourth turn.

The next game was a little more intense. Slowly she eliminated suspects until there were three left, Holmes, Stealthy, and Lamplighter Joe. She had them in a position to expose jack at the end of turn four. However, she left Goodly which I played and moved all three characters into a line - Jack was still unknown but was witnessed.

During the next turn, I moved Holmes to get the alibi card. However, she had one alibi card in her possession. Happened to Holmes. At the end of that turn, she knew who Jack was by eliminating Stealthy. At the beginning of the next turn (six) she apprehended Jack.

During the three games I have played (Jack in all three), I find the margin of error for Jack is slim to none. One bad play early, can cost you the game. I need to work harder at keeping Jack's identity hidden longer. Problem I see is you can't move all the characters in the first round and some of them ultimately become isolated. The trick is to minimize those opportunities and maximize the number of characters to be in the same position as Jack, either hidden or witnessed. Easier said than done.

Great game.
 
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Marcel Volker
Netherlands
Katwijk
ZH
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Hi Bob

We (my gf and me) have now played Mr Jack three times. Needless to say we really enjoy it! (the best is maybe that she actually lives in East end London - works in Whitechapel x) )

Anyway, our experiences match yours exactly. Three times the detective caught Jack, mostly by simply eliminating three characters first round, two more in the second, and one each in every next round. One game ended exactly like yours: two characters left suspicious but the detective had 'Sherlocked' one of them.
It is, as you mention, very very difficult to group characters into either darkness or light. My gf tried this first game (keeping them all in the light) but I simply could put one in the dark each round... and then her problem was that she could never run for it because everybody had been seen.

My closest attempt (and the only time I played Jack) was when I used my first turns to move several characters towards as many exits as I could. This forced her to choose and she nearly had to gamble. Unfortunately for criminality, she made the correct choice and used St. Whistleblower (who was Mr Jack really) to move the other two remaining suspects away from the exits, eliminating one more, and with three or four rounds to go I knew I could never run for it anymore (I was next to a closed-off exit), so I turned myself in.

But we are looking forward to trying new ways to keep Jack on the streets, so to speak .
 
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