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Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A review of one of our most-played games rss

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David Boeren
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Marietta
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It's kind of been replaced now with iPhone games like Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne, but for a few years my wife and I frequently brought our Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper deck with us when we went out to eat.

We own most of them, but for us this is the best of the series for 2 player gaming and I personally like the theme better anyway.

You're collecting sets of cards which are evidence for different suspects who may or may not have been Jack the Ripper. At the end of the game (when someone goes out) whichever suspect has the most evidence is declared to be the Ripper and scores double points, so there is a lot of effort spent trying to get "your" suspects on top. If there is a tie, the suspects have a tie-breaker number which allows you to easily tell who takes precedence.

One set of evidence is designated as "Letters". There are fewer cards in this set and Letters cannot be the Ripper, but they're worth more points per card. These represent the anonymous letters sent to the police from someone claiming to be Jack the Ripper.

Now, all that is fairly standard Rummy (other than the 2x points part and Letters "suit"). What sets it apart is the added special cards and rules. First, there are five Victims and Scenes. Playing a Victim lets you draw two extra cards, this gives you a card advantage, but also adjusts your hand size upward - be careful about this as it may disrupt your attempt to go out. Scenes let you go through the discard pile and take any card, but you must show your opponent what you're taking. These help you keep some mystery about what you're collecting, and let you retrieve cards to improve your sets.

Next, there are Alibi cards. These provide an exception to the "most evidence" rule, as a suspect with an Alibi in play cannot be the Ripper. But, only one Alibi can be in play at a time, any prior Alibi is cancelled. This leads to more jockeying as players struggle to sabotage their opponent's melds and put their own on top for double points.

Finally, there is a set of grey cards which all have to do with allowing the Ripper to avoid capture. The main one is called Ripper Escapes. You can only play it if all five victims have been played, but if do the hand immediately ends with all evidence being worthless and a big point bonus for the player who successfully Escaped. The other cards help you make this more likely - Commissioner Resigns forces players to lay down any Victims they're holding WITHOUT the normal 2-card reward (you may not want to do so if you suspect your opponent has the Ripper Escapes card), and Ripper Strikes turns over the next five cards in the deck looking for another Victim. If one is found, you immediately put it into play and draw 2 cards as normal. Note that this also improves the discard pile and therefore makes any Scenes more powerful as well.

Going for a Ripper Escapes is tricky, but fun and rewarding enough that you'll want to try to pull it off.

Finally, there is one rule we do not use which makes more sense in a 3-4 player game. Once per game you can call a vote where each player tries to predict who the Ripper will turn out to be. With 2p though, we find it a needless complication and something else to keep track of.

To prevent things from getting too crazy, all the special cards have a Gavel symbol on them, and there is a rule that you can only play one Gavel card per turn so if you want to do a lot of special stuff you've got to plan it out over time.

Our original deck is somewhat worn by this point (one card is marked) and we've actually purchased two more decks to cover us for the future. It's surprising we had to do this though as the cards are some of the toughest I've seen in any game. Have you ever seen one of those movies where someone gets shot in the chest and a deck of cards stops the bullet? It was probably a Mystery Rummy deck. Seriously, they're THAT durable.

It's a relatively quick game, the first player to 100 points wins, and it usually takes about 3-5 hands to get there. We can generally finish a game by about the time our food arrives, but remember we've also had a lot of practice as it. If you want a longer game, it's pretty easy to pick your own point target and go for 150, 200, 250, or whatever you want.

Of course, there's a bit of history in the game too - the evidence, Victim and Scene cards contain information about the actual Jack the Ripper murders and may be of some interest. I won't say their choices of potential suspects are fully up to date (some of their choices have I believe been discredited) but I wouldn't fault the game too much for being a bit behind the times in this respect.
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Tim Royal
United States
Kirkland
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Good summary. I too have found that my wife and I prefer this entry in the Mystery Rummy series. We play a lot of other games, but this one always makes it to the table at least once every couple weeks.

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Brian Foster
United States
Kirkland
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An excellent review of one of my favorite games. Well done!
 
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meepleonboard
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Have this and have enjoyed my few plays, but your review reminds me that I should play it some more..!
 
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egan
Italy
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Vote is an important strategy of the game, also especially in 2 player, try it!
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Nick Thomas
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This is my wife's favorite game and we also don't vote.

But I agree it's an important part of the game. It's just hard to get pen and paper X2 every time we play and then remember we can vote.
 
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