Mr. Jack in New York
I enjoy a good mystery. I am not sure what appeals to me more…the leaps in logical deduction that I make during the ordeal or the smug satisfaction I feel when I finally figure out what really happened. I was secretly hoping that I would find a board game that featured the brilliant Sherlock Holmes, but Jack the Ripper turned out to work just as well.
In Mr. Jack in New York, one player takes on the role of Jack the Ripper while the other player assumes the role of the detective tasked with trying to figure out who Jack the Ripper is. Let’s take a look at what’s in the box, the gameplay mechanics, and finally how it measures up in the grand scheme of things.
Character Tokens – These round, colored tokens are double-sided. Both sides feature a picture of the character, but the side with the white background shows that particular character to be innocent. More on that in a bit.
Turn Marker – This round, hourglass token moves up the track as turns are completed. When the marker reaches the last space and Mr. Jack is not caught, the player playing the role of Mr. Jack wins.
Character Cards – There are eight character cards with light blue backs, one for each character. Four will be drawn each turn and both players will be moving said characters around the board and performing special actions.
Alibi Cards – There are eight alibi cards with dark blue backs, one for each character. The player playing Mr. Jack receives one in the beginning of the game at random and keeps the card facedown in front of him throughout the game. The rest are facedown in a pile, to be drawn later in the event someone lands on the informant.
Witness Card – The witness card is double-sided. One side indicates that Mr. Jack is “visible” and one side indicates that Mr. Jack is “invisible.” Throughout the game, Mr. Jack will be flipping this card to the appropriate side to “help” the detective eliminate suspects.
Tiles – There are multiple double-sided tiles that represent various structures that can be built on empty spaces during the game. These include parks, buildings, metro stations, and lit street lamps.
Informant Token – Players who land on this token can draw an alibi card. The character shown on the card is hidden from the other player. The detective could utilize this mechanic by eliminating suspects secretly to keep Mr. Jack guessing on who he / she actually suspects. By the same token, Mr. Jack could use the informant to remove just how many suspects the detective can secretly eliminate using this mechanic.
Investigation Tiles – Two investigation tiles that resemble police tape will be moving around the board, restricting the movement of the characters.
Steamer Tiles – Two steamer ship tiles will be moving from dock to dock, serving as a possible escape route for Mr. Jack.
1) Arrange the board so that the detective is facing the yellow border and to where Mr. Jack is facing the grey border. Mr. Jack will thus be looking at the board upside down.
2) There is a pre-arranged setup for all of the character tokens and tiles in the manual.
3) Shuffle the alibi and character cards (separately). Mr. Jack draws one alibi card, looks at it, and places it face down in front of him. The character on this card is Mr. Jack and the person who the detective must catch.
Every turn, four character cards will be drawn. Depending on where the turn marker is, the Detective and Mr. Jack will be able to pick one or two at a time in a set order, to move and perform special actions.
Each character has a special action, some of which MUST be performed before or after moving them. I won’t go into what each character does, but suffice it to say that these abilities will help both players in their respective tasks.
After the four characters are moved, Mr. Jack will announce whether or not he is “visible” or “invisible” by flipping the witness card to the correct side. A character is considered visible if they are adjacent to another character or next to a street lamp. A character is considered invisible if they are not adjacent to another character or if they are in a park.
Using the above mechanic, the detective will be able to flip over the character tokens that are opposite of Mr. Jack’s current status, marking them as “innocent.” The detective must eliminate as many suspects as he can every turn in this fashion and catch Mr. Jack before he escapes.
The detective wins if he / she manages to get another character onto Mr. Jack’s character and formerly accuse him before the time limit expires.
Mr. Jack wins if he manages to evade the detective until the time limit expires, if the detective accuses the wrong person, or if he manages to land on a ship space or the exit city space while the witness card is shown to be invisible.
As I’ve stated before, I love a good mystery. No matter which side I play, I find myself having a lot of fun. It’s like a chess game where both players control the pieces on the board, except that the pieces are all one color and only certain pieces can be moved at certain times.
When I initially read the manual, I thought that eliminating suspects would be difficult. After a few turns I came to the realization that it’s all actually quite simple. As the detective, you’ll want to manuever the current suspects in such a way where half of them are visible and half of them are invisible. This will maximize how many suspects are eliminated after each turn. Likewise, Mr. Jack will be attempting to maneuver all of the suspects to be either visible or invisible to limit how many characters are eliminated at the end of every turn.
The informant token is an excellent way of keeping your opponent guessing as to who you really suspect, assuming that you are the detective. Drawing an alibi card of someone you didn’t know was innocent will allow you to secretly zero in on Mr. Jack without him even knowing it. I’m glad that they included this mechanic.
The quality of the components are very good. The cards are nice and thick and the character tokens are solid. My only complaint is that the white ship captain character token is in fact, white…which is the same color as character tokens that have been flipped over and dubbed innocent. Thus, it’s hard to tell at a glance whether or not the ship captain is innocent or still a suspect, unless you have a good memory.
My eleven year old son’s favorite part of the game was figuring out who I was (he was playing the detective). I enjoyed watching his brain work and his eyes dart around looking to see what jumped out at him in regards to making the best moves. I managed to stave off his ability to eliminate anyone in the beginning of the game but he quickly adapted and got me down to three suspects by the game’s end. On the beginning of the last turn, I chose the character card that was Mr. Jack and moved him away from everyone else, thus ensuring my victory. He was forced to blindly accuse the only suspect he could reach, which turned out to be the wrong person.
The game is also fairly quick to play, especially when you get used to how all of the special abilities work. It’s perfect for two people who don’t have time to commit to playing something longer. If you like games that involve a little deduction and logic, then I recommend you give this one a look.
Final Verdict: 6/10