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Mr. Jack in New York» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Early Impressions rss

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Jae Ha Woo
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This is my first review posting on BGG, and it's not going to be a full-fledged review. I got the copy (signed by the co-designer Bruno Cathala!) just yesterday; I played it four times so far, and I don't think I have enough experience to give a complete review. As such, I'm not going to cover the rules of the game. For that, I would simply refer you to Dean Ackles' excellent full review of the game, or Bruno Cathala's video presentation. In this posting, I'm just going to focus on analyzing and evaluating the gameplay, rather than explaining it. Due to the nature of this posting, it may feel somewhat like a spoiler.

Also, I will assume that you are familiar with the original Mr. Jack. If you are not, well, there are plenty of reviews to look at. You may particularly enjoy this cool little review recently posted by Paul Springer. Also, I want to make clear now that I am a big fan of the original (I gave it 8.5 on BGG), so this review is coming from that particular perspective.

...

1. The components are very similar to the original game, which is a very good thing. I like how you can just flip the subway station/building/gaslight tiles to the park side. The only thing that I noticed was that, in the beginning, I kept confusing Alfred Ely Beach and James H. Callahan, but seriously, this is not really going to persist as a problem.

2. I did not have much trouble understanding the rules. Maybe that was because I was reading all the previews and reviews being posted here, but I do feel that an experienced player of the original game should pick this up really quickly. Also, for the new players, I suspect that the rules are not any more difficult compared to the original.

3. People have already said that the new game is more balanced in terms of winning percentages compared to the original, and it definitely feels that way; in my four games, inspector and Jack both won twice each. Part of the reason seems to be that the basic setting has 6 characters visible and 2 invisible, as opposed to 4 and 4 in the original. This seems to help the Jack player in keeping many characters visible in the early rounds, and I like this. In the original, playing Jack can feel stressful (at least for me), especially if the Jack character turns up in Round 2, but I did not feel that way in this new game.

4. Of course, another reason why the new version is supposed to be more balanced is that, as has been said, it is now easier for Jack to escape. This certainly feels true; in my four games, the Jack player actually did not win by escape, but in every game Jack has been so close to getting away, and that rarely happened in the original game (at least in my experience). I see at least three contributing factors to this. First, there are now five potential exits instead of four in the original. Second, there are "two Lestrade's" in this game. By Lestrade, I mean a character that can open up a previously blocked exit, and in the new game Edward Smith and Callahan both can do the job. So there's a greater chance that the Jack player can get hold of either character and open up escape routes as he/she sees fit. Third, the Jack player can place subway stations right near the exit, and this helps tremendously. I really enjoy this new aspect of the game, as it adds a lot more tactical options.

5. Although I wonder if this will change after more plays, it seems to me that no new character is as powerful as Goodley. Again, I like this. When I play the original, most of the time I picked Goodley first, if only to prevent the opponent from using him, and I think I'm getting just a bit tired of that. So the new game feels definitely fresh in this regard.

6. I noticed that the alibi cards may not be as big of a factor as in the original, although I'm not sure. Alibi cards are most powerful in the early rounds, but in our four games I think no one got to Liberty Island in Rounds 1 and 2. I do not know whether this is an established feature of the new game, but if it is, I am not sure what to make of it. On the one hand, it seems to reduce the luck element of the game, and I'm fine with that. On the other hand, I really enjoy playing Jack with an early Alibi card to maximize the bluffing aspect of the game, but I didn't get quite the same feeling in the new game. Of course, there is still plenty of bluffing remaining in the new game, so it's not really a big deal.

7. I first thought that I would miss Bert; I enjoy using his ability to use the manhole and then covering it up so that no one can approach him, but you cannot do the same thing with Beach. However, I realized that you can pull off a similar feat with Mrs. Emma Grant. In fact, if you're using two characters in a row, you can first pick Grant to create a park and then place another character in it, so one can argue that the previous ability of Bert is now expanded in some sense. In general, I find Grant to be the coolest character, and I thoroughly enjoy how the new element of park adds a whole new tactical layer to the game.

8. As you can guess by now, as a fan of the original Mr. Jack, I'm really satisfied with this new stand-alone version. I tried to come up with possible reasons that a fan of the original might have for not enjoying the new version, and I think I just cannot come up with anything significant. The only thing I can think of is that the new version may be even more of a brainburner than the original, as there seem to be more scenarios to keep in mind. So if the original version hits the absolute threshold of the amount of brainburning that one is willing to tolerate, then perhaps one may not like the new version. For me, it really is not a problem because the game is short. Plus, the fact that I came up with such a convoluted reason in this section probably speaks favorably of the new game.

9. Will those who were not so enamored with the original game like the new version? Well, this is tricky because there can be many different reasons for not liking the original game. All I can say is that I seem to like the new version better "so far." I like the better balance among the characters, and I am in favor of most of the new elements, especially the park. I also get great satisfaction from just seeing how the board keeps changing. For me, it's the kind of game that arouses the feeling of appreciation to the designers.

10. My rating: 9.5 (#3 on my Top 10)

(edited for typos)
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Kevin Garnica
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Section 5: "On the other hand......on the *other* hand..." - How many hands do you have?!

Nice comparison-review. Keep up the good work. I'm an odd one in that I didn't care much for the original Mr. Jack (as in, I didn't like the game play) but somehow I find myself strangely compelled towards this new stand alone.
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Jae Ha Woo
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pacman88k wrote:
Nice comparison-review. Keep up the good work. I'm an odd one in that I didn't care much for the original Mr. Jack (as in, I didn't like the game play) but somehow I find myself strangely compelled towards this new stand alone.


Thank you. I think your reaction makes sense, as the gameplay is sufficiently different. There seems to be a more wide-open feel to it.
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Dean Ackles
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pacman88k wrote:


Nice comparison-review. Keep up the good work. I'm an odd one in that I didn't care much for the original Mr. Jack (as in, I didn't like the game play) but somehow I find myself strangely compelled towards this new stand alone.



I think those of you that felt a little caged in by the original will be much more receptive to this version.




unfathomable wrote:

I noticed that the alibi cards may not be as big of a factor as in the original, although I'm not sure. Alibi cards are most powerful in the early rounds, but in our four games I think no one got to Liberty Island in Rounds 1 amd 2. I do not know whether this is an established feature of the new game, but if it is, I am not sure what to make of it.


I think you will find that the cards DO play a huge factor in this game and maybe even more so than the original. The reason being is that it is possible to have all of the card active. Yes there was some attempt to make it difficult to reach Liberty Island in the first couple of turns because of the fact that a card can be drawn EVERY round not every other round like in the original.

It adds a little more gameplay to the begining of the game as the Inspector is trying to get someone to the island to do two things 1) get an alibi card and 2) it isolates them on the island (invisible until they leave the island)

Jack usually attempts to keep characters away from the island but there are many ways to play and many more strategies than in the original. On average, I would say that most games that make it to the 7th round will have exposed 3-5 alibi cards. In my experience there are far fewer as of my 100+ games less than half every make it to round 7.



unfathomable wrote:

there are now five potential exits instead of four in the original.


Actually there are 6 possible escape routes but only 3 of those could be utilized at any given time. 5 Harbors/ports and 1 land exit.

Thank you by the way for the kind words I do appreciate them and this was a very good overview.

For those who liked Mr. Jack but thought it turned a little stale with time, will be pleasantly surprised as so far the replayability is very strong with this one. It does not appear that there will be any further large expansions for Jack in the future but you never know that something small could be introduced.

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Jae Ha Woo
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wheels4hextall wrote:
I think you will find that the cards DO play a huge factor in this game and maybe even more so than the original. The reason being is that it is possible to have all of the card active. Yes there was some attempt to make it difficult to reach Liberty Island in the first couple of turns because of the fact that a card can be drawn EVERY round not every other round like in the original.

It adds a little more gameplay to the begining of the game as the Inspector is trying to get someone to the island to do two things 1) get an alibi card and 2) it isolates them on the island (invisible until they leave the island)

Jack usually attempts to keep characters away from the island but there are many ways to play and many more strategies than in the original. On average, I would say that most games that make it to the 7th round will have exposed 3-5 alibi cards. In my experience there are far fewer as of my 100+ games less than half every make it to round 7.


This is interesting to hear. The fact that the card can be drawn in every round surely does counterbalance my earlier point that it is not very accessible in the early going, I will definitely keep this in mind in my future games.


wheels4hextall wrote:
Actually there are 6 possible escape routes but only 3 of those could be utilized at any given time. 5 Harbors/ports and 1 land exit.


Yes! That was just a bad mistake on my part. Thank you for correcting me on this point.
 
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Jae Ha Woo
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Just a couple of things that I intended to mention but forgot.

1. In the excellent strategy guide of the original Mr. Jack by Loren P, it is pointed out that Letrade is the weakest character, and I found this to be true. Often, experienced inspector players can effectively cut out escape possibilities, regardless of what Lestrade does. In contrast, escape is a much more realistic option in the new version, and this seems to make the characters that open up the previously blocked exits that much more powerful. In my four games, I did not get a sense that any character is too weak or too strong. If there is such a disparity in the new game, it's not going to be as significant as that between Goodley and Lestrade, I'm sure. It's something worth noting.

2. In my first game, playing as an inspector, I just placed a new building tile right in fron of the land exit, thinking that I then wouldn't have to worry about that part of the board. Well, my opponent then chose Grant and just flipped the building into a park. Now, I was consantly worried that the Jack character might slip into this park and all but guarantee the escape, all the while feeling very stupid for my move. This is just to show how important and awesome Grant's special ability is.
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