Recommend
20 
 Thumb up
 Hide
9 Posts

Mr. Jack» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Saucy Jack, you're a naughty one... rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
♫ Eric Herman ♫
United States
West Richland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
I like elephants. I like how they swing through trees.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My first review on BGG... $0.25 GG to the first person to reference the movie where the title comes from...



WHAT IS IT?

Mr. Jack is a 2 player deduction game designed by Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc, published by Hurrican Games. One player plays as a Detective trying to catch the notorious Jack the Ripper, known for ripping the "do not remove" tags off of mattresses (if the other Jack the Ripper bothers you as a character for the game), and the other player plays as Jack.


WHAT'S THE POINT?

The object of the game for Jack is to try to escape through one of the exits on the board or to evade capture for eight turns. The object for the Detective is to correctly accuse Mr. Jack within eight turns (and the detective only gets one shot at an accusation).


WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME?

A game board; rule book in several different languages; eight very thick Character cards and eight Alibi cards; several round wooden tokens for the characters; character stickers, which need to be manually added to the tokens; punch-outs for lamp lights and manhole covers; a card to indicate whether Jack has been witnessed or not; a clock-tower token/sticker to keep track of the turns. The graphics by Piero Lalune are of top-notch cartoonish quality, and really add a lot to the flavor of the game.




WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT?

- Set up the board. The set up of the characters, lights and manhole covers on the board is the same every time, which may seem limiting at first, but the board is designed in just such a way to maximize the effect of the movement capabilities of the characters and the other factors involved (lights, manholes, exits, buildings). For a game that is played on a relatively small area with the same exact set up every time, there is a remarkable amount of diversity as far as what can happen.

- Players pick a side (Detective or Mr. Jack). The Alibi cards are shuffled and Mr. Jack selects one of them, which will be his identity for the game (I suppose that Jack could also choose which character he wants to be and remove that card from the Alibi deck). That Alibi card is kept by Jack and not revealed until an accusation is made or until Jack has escaped or evaded detection for eight turns.

- The game involves a series of turns, whereby four of the Character cards (not the Alibi cards) are drawn at random and placed face up. The turns have a specific order of play, which is quite clever and significantly affects the choices each player makes throughout the game. On odd-numbered turns, the Detective chooses the first character to play from among the four face-up cards, then Jack plays the next two, then the Detective plays the fourth. The sequence is the opposite for even-numbered turns (Jack, Detective, Detective, Jack). Even-numbered turns also have the distinction of the players knowing which Character cards will be available (the four remaining cards that weren't drawn the previous turn). When playing one of the character cards, players have to consider not only what the character(s) they choose can do, but also what the opposing player will be able to do with the remaining character(s). This can create some serious brain-burning, but is also what makes the game intense and fascinating.

- Each character has a special movement or action ability, as follows: Sherlock Holmes gets to draw one of the Alibi cards, a big advantage for the Detective to play, especially early in the game, as it will likely help them to narrow down the possible suspects); Dr. Watson has a flashlight which can shine in a particular direction to illuminate other characters (more about the lighting effect later); Inspector Lestrade can move one of the police cordons (which are blocking two of the four exits); Sergeant Goody calls other characters closer to him (a total of three spaces); Miss Stealthy is the only character that can move through building spaces or lamp post spaces, and is the only character who can move up to 4 spaces in a turn (the others can move only 1-3 spaces); Lionel Bert moves one of two manhole covers from one manhole space to another (manholes can be moved between by characters, affording quick movement across the board... but only if they're not covered!); John Smith changes the position of one of the lit lamps on the board; William Gull can switch positions with another player on the board in leiu of his regular movement.



- The Detective tries to narrow down the number of possible suspects in time to catch Jack. This is done by determining which of the characters is witnessed or not witnessed during a particular turn. At the end of each turn, Jack must announce whether he has been witnessed or not. Characters are considered witnessed if they end a turn in a space adjacent to another character or are next to one of the lit lamps or are in the path of Watson's flashlight. The lamp lights become less (or more) of a factor as the game progresses, as four of them are numbered 1-4 and are removed from the game after their respective numbered turns.

The Detective is trying to position characters in such a way that will reduce the number of suspects as quickly as possible. So for example, if the Detective can arrange it during the first turn so that four of the characters have been witnessed and four haven't, then the Detective is off to a great start. There are now only four possible suspects instead of eight. Once a character has been eliminated as a suspect, their token is turned over (the token stickers depict each character as colored on one side, and black & white on the other, and the game begins with the colored sides up to indicate that all characters begin as suspects). The exception to turning over tokens is when the Detective plays the Holmes character and gets an Alibi card... the Jack player shouldn't know that the Detective has eliminated that character as a suspect.

Meanwhile, Jack is trying to keep the highest number of possible suspects throughout the game, whether they are all witnessed or not. Some turns will lean in favor of Jack trying to keep people witnessed, and some the opposite. There is one significant factor that may play into that decision, though... Jack can only attempt to escape if he has not been witnessed the previous turn.

So in attempting to split off the characters who are witnessed or not, the Detective must be careful to keep a particular eye on the characters that are not witnessed. If Jack announces at the end of a given turn that he has not been witnessed, he may be able to escape the next turn if his character card will be available and if he is in range of an exit.



- To accuse a character of being Jack, the Detective must be able to move another character directly onto the space of the character being accused (normally, characters cannot occupy the same space at the end of a turn). It would seem easy enough to do this once you've narrowed down who Jack is, but depending on the positioning of the characters and the available cards, it may prove tricky or even impossible to do so. I have lost a few games as the Detective where I knew exactly who Jack was but could not reach him in the eighth turn, and it is a particularly nice balancing factor in the game where Jack can still win even though he's been identified and cannot escape.


WHAT TIME IS IT?

A short game of Mr. Jack (watch out for a potential second turn escape if Jack is Stealthy and not witnessed in the first turn) would last about 10-15 minutes, while a full eight turn game is probably about 45-60 minutes, give or take 5-10 minutes.


WHAT DO YOU CARE?

Mr. Jack is brilliant. Simple as that. It is quite cleverly designed to accentuate the elements involved to make it incredibly compelling and intriguing for both players, and has a great replay value. Others have described the game as a combination of chess and Clue, and I think that's very apt. It's a great game for couples and is fairly easy to learn, so it can be considered "light" in some respects, but it also has a heavy thinking aspect that should appeal to more serious gamers. Some have suggested the game is somewhat unbalanced in favor of the Detective, and I would agree with that to some extent, but I think any advantage to the Detective is very minimal at best and can be mitigated as players gain more experience with the game. There have been many games that I've won as Jack and lost as the Detective, and a player can certainly win as either side in any particular game.

I was very happy to discover the online version of Mr. Jack and try that out. Like most games, it took me a game or two of going "Huh?? What just happened??" before it all fell into place as to what I was supposed to be doing. At that point, a game can go a few directions for me; "Ah, okay, now I get it... Let's play something else now." or "Ah, okay, now I get it... We'll have to play that again sometime." or "Ah, okay, now I get it... Let's play that again!!!" This was definitely in the latter category for me, and once John Smith turned on that Mr. Jack lamp light in my brain, I immediately had to sign up for several more online games and ordered the box copy to play at home and on the road with the Mrs. And now the Mr. Jack Extension is on my "must have" list. Nuff said.

Grudunza's rating: 9.8/10
3 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
♫ Eric Herman ♫
United States
West Richland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
I like elephants. I like how they swing through trees.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lurch104 wrote:
Spinal Tap


You got it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hank Panethiere
United States
Kirkwood
MO
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
you're a haughty one too...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
AB
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
does this count http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/245552 ?



AB
 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
♫ Eric Herman ♫
United States
West Richland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
I like elephants. I like how they swing through trees.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Doc_Adam wrote:


Heheh. Sorry, no. Ah, what the heck, I gave you a GG penny for trying.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Henke
United States
Maple Grove
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I completely agree with this review! It's a great game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Marshall
United Kingdom
York
North Yorkshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Grudunza wrote:
Some have suggested the game is somewhat unbalanced in favor of the Detective, and I would agree with that to some extent, but I think any advantage to the Detective is very minimal at best.


Firstly, very nice review of a great game!

Secondly, I've played the game solo and ftf a few times now, and I think it's more a case of the Mr Jack side being less forgiving of clumsy play than the Detective. I suspect beginners would find the Detective taking most of the early games, but this would become more even with experience of the game.

I think Mr Jack needs to make sure his piece is in the majority (whether that be witnessed or not witnessed) come the end of the turn, especially in the early to mid game. That's likely to mean that Mr Jack is in the witnessed group at the start of the game, but as the lamps go out it becomes easier for Mr Jack to be unwitnessed, which hands the initiative to Mr Jack and means the Detective has to play a defensive game concentrating on preventing Mr Jack's escape as much as uncovering the culprit.

A great dynamic (one of many in the game)that keeps both players on their toes!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
♫ Eric Herman ♫
United States
West Richland
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
I like elephants. I like how they swing through trees.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi, Jim. Yeah, I agree that any Detective advantage is reduced and the game becomes perfectly balanced (or at least very nearly so) when players get more experience with the game. I added that to the review.

Thanks,
Grudunza
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.