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Subject: Kevin's Fun-Filled, Five-Point Reviews rss

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Kevin Garnica
United States
West Covina
California
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MR. JACK IN NEW YORK

2 Players
30 Minutes
By Bruno Cathala & Ludovic Maublanc

Background:


My reviews will not focus on the rules of the game. There are better reviewers on that format than I could ever contribute. The purpose behind my reviews are to highlight one, and only one, overriding aspect of any game: fun. That’s it. As a big kid at heart, I play games in order to have a good time. In the end, all I really care about is if I’m going to want to play the thing again, and will anyone else. Hence, I’ve chosen five areas to highlight that are all aspects of the game’s funness. Examined from this paradigm, these are all aspects that I believe should be enjoyed during the whole experience of playing board games.

All right already, enough philosophizing, on with the review…

1. Out of the Box:

The components are very lean, yet beautiful. There are not many bits, but what you do get is well designed and executed. You get a very nicely illustrated board of lower Manhattan and Elise Island. You also get a variety of standard cardboard tiles that are placed on the board throughout the game. The alibi cards and character cards are really nice. They are of thick (and I do mean THICK) cardboard stock and should last for a very long time. The character cards do a nice job of containing all information (movement and special ability) in an organized and logical fashion. And you get the wooden character tokens that are played on the board. Also very well done. Although, you do have to affix stickers of the characters faces on them, which can be a nervous process if you’re as anal retentive as I am. Everything is very nice wood or cardboard. I really can’t find anything to nitpick about regarding the components. They are really quite good.

- Streamlined & beautiful pieces
Fun-o-meter: 5/5

2. Rules:


Oh my God, the rules – 48 page? Don’t worry, that’s not a bad thing, I’m just impressed. For one, they are written in (seven!) languages, so they’re only 6 pages, really. They are crystal clear, and even suggest to the reader how to go about learning the game from scratch. Take that for what it is, but I think that’s very considerate on the part of the designers.

The rules expound on certain concepts pertaining specifically to the Mr. Jack series before it begins the rules proper – another good thing to note. One thing they have done is explain the entire flow of the game first, then go back and describe, in detail, all of the characters’ abilities and how the hexes come into play. I like that way of organization. In fact, the rules are a very good model for how to go about teaching the game to someone. There are two miniscule typos, but that’s almost beside the point. Kudos for a well- laid out and written rules set.

- Good lay out & easy to understand
Fun-o-meter: 5/5

3. Ease of Play:


If it’s confusing to remember how the turn taking works, there is a player’s aid chart printed on the turn track to help with this, another bonus point for the design. Players essentially alternate a certain pattern of turn-taking each round; moving characters and activating their special abilities, all in an effort to achieve their own respective win condition(s). That’s it. It’s a fairly simple game to play. Sometimes, it gets a little daunting trying to remember what each character’s ability is, but the symbolic pictograms on the character cards are very intuitive once you know what they mean. Usually, just one explanation will do the job.

- Simple game play + low learning curve = good times
Fun-o-meter: 5/5

4. Weight/Length Ratio:


The box says it should take about 30 minutes. I would say it’s more like, “under an hour” – that’s including explaining the rules to a first time newbie. Still, a very respectable mark for a game that has a good amount of tactics involved. It’s not a heavy game by any stretch of the imagination, but the number of small choices you have to make each turn keep things really interesting. And each turn, your tactics will almost inevitably have to change. I like a good game that keeps me thinking on my toes. The addition of the informant to this game really adds an interesting element. The Detective now has the option of knowing one more person who is innocent. Or Jack can use the informant to keep the Detective from closing in on him. Very tense, indeed.

Actually, the game feels a bit “heavier” than the time it takes to play, but you don’t mind because it is wholly engaging. You know how some games take a long time to play, but the time flies quickly? Well, this game is just the opposite; you will come away feeling as though you’ve been playing for hours (but you don’t mind!), but when you look at the clock you’ll think, “It’s only been 30 minutes?” That’s even better in my book.

- Nice tactics in a short time, very satisfying
Fun-o-meter: 4/5

5. The “F” Factor:


This game is quite fun. Despite the grim and historically true subject matter, the artwork keeps it approachable and no one should take it too seriously, except if you happen to be playing with a descendant of one of Jack the Ripper’s actual victims. I also like the historicity of the characters’ backgrounds. The rules explain the importance of each character’s contribution (or evil doings) to Manhattan during the last part of the Nineteenth-century. And each of their special abilities directly corresponds to what each of them did. For me, that adds a real flavor to the game, making it big on theme.

There’s little down time since players *almost* alternate taking turns. Analysis paralysis should be low, although I suppose one can spend a lot of time thinking about who Jack actually is, and how best to use the characters on a particular turn. Replayability is fairly high, even with a static setup that remains the same at the start of every game. The draw of the character cards, the order of choosing between the players, and the alibi cards all keep it fresh and new each game. You can never “predict” too early, who Jack is, and Jack also has an equal chance at winning the game.

Overall, if you enjoy deduction-type games, then I highly recommend it.

- Very good, clean fun, 2-player “cat & mouse” game of deduction
Fun-o-meter: 5/5

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Walter Greer
United States
Mint Hill
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Great review. One of my favorite game franchises.
 
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Kevin Garnica
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Thanks. I think it's great, too. Can't wait to play it again...
 
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