Mr. Jack Review

 

The hunt is on. Jack is on the run. Eight investigators are chasing this brutal killer through the streets of Whitechapel. Oh, but the cunning Mr. Jack disguised himself as one of them. Are you who you say you are?

Overview:

What you get for your money:
A board, 9 wooden disks, 6 gaslight tiles, 2 covered manhole tiles, 2 police cordon tokens, 8 character tiles, 8 alibi tiles, 1 witness tile and the rules. 
How do you play the game:
Mr. Jack is a two player only, deduction game. One player steps into the shoes of Jack, he wants to escape Whitechapel or at least not get caught.  The other player takes on the role of the detective, he wants to find out which investigator is, in fact, Mr. Jack himself and he wants to catch him before the night is over.
MrJack
The game board is composed of several hexes, picturing the streets and houses of Whitechapel. There are four exits, one in every corner, two of them are closed at the start of the game with police cordon tokens. 6 Of the eight lantern are lit (with the lantern tiles )and two of the eight manholes that are on the board are covered (with the covered manhole tiles). The eight investigators are put on the board, on their starting hexes. Every investigator token has two sides, a suspect and an innocent side. At the start they are all a suspects. The Mr. Jack player draws one random card from the alibi card deck and places it beside him, this is the investigator he will be impersonating. The turn token is set on turn 1, the witness card, witness side up, is placed next to the board and the hunt can begin.
MrJack3
At the start of a turn four of the eight character cards are turned over. These are the characters you can choose that turn. Depending on the turn, Mr. Jack chooses first, then the detective two times and then Jack again or the other way around. When you choose a character you can move a character and may or must use his special ability.
Sherlock Holmes must take an Alibi card, Watson must shine his own lantern in a certain direction, Inspector Lestrade must move a police cordon token and Sergeant Goodley must whistle and force some characters to move one or more hexes closer to him. These are some example abilities.
When that is done, Jack must announce if he is seen, are there witnesses or not. He is seen when he is next to another investigator or in an illuminated hex (next to a lit lantern or in Watson’s line of sight). The witness card is then turned to the appropriate side and investigator must use this information to turn over some investigator tokens to their innocent side. Mr. Jack can only escape when the witness card is on the no witness side!
At the end of the first round, one lantern is dimmed. When that’s done, four new character cards are drawn and a new turn begins. The game goes on for eight turns. When the detective puts a character on the same hex as another investigator/character and rightfully accuses him, the detective player wins. When an investigator is accused falsely, Mr. Jack escapes Whitechapel or Jack manages to stay out of the hands of the police, he wins.  
Review:
Theme
When I think of Jack (the Ripper), I think of a dangerous murderer who is on the loose in a dark, dreary London. This game does not feel that way. It feels more like a cookie thief got away and the angry villagers are treeing to get him. The theme of this game is much more family oriented.
It’s not bad, but it is something you should be aware of. Although, the box cover should have warned you already that this is not a dark and gruesome game. 
The sense of suspicion, the different character powers and the feel of a being part of a manhunt are pretty thematic and really work well.
Gameplay
Mr. Jack is an easy game to learn and a very easy game to teach. Both players use the same tokens throughout the game but do have different goals.
It’s a deduction game where you have to think about the moves you make and the characters you choose to move. You don’t want do reveal your plans too early and you don’t want to make it too easy for your opponent. So there are some nice decisions to take in your turn, maybe a little bluffing or trickery, and some cool ability combos you can make to surprise each other.
The game feels a little bit different every time you play because of the order the characters are drawn or the way the board changes during the game. Plus, you can change sides of course. But, it’s a very small bit, after all the setup is the same very game and the characters are the same. The minor changes aren’t enough to make it highly replayable.
Looks
As I already said in the theme category, this games appearance is very family friendly, very cartoony.  It’s very colourful, the illustrations are quite nice and very light-hearted. I like the fact that they have chosen for thick, coloured, wooden character disks with pictures on them instead of cardboard tokens like the lanterns for example. It gives the game another dimension and it just looks better. The game looks very entertaining to begin with. 
This appearance is better suited to this type of game (easy, family friendly) than a darker setting.
Quality of the components
The component quality is very good. They could have chosen character cards, but instead they chose thick cardboard pieces. That’s very nice. Not only the character cards, but all the other cardboard pieces are thick and sturdy. I already talked about the wooden disks, they are also great.
Fun
Mr. Jack is a good deduction game. The detective is constantly guessing and thinking: “Why does he do that?” . The Jack player on the other hand is trying to make the detective player think things he shouldn’t and escape unexpectedly.
I think this game is fun, but there’s a catch. I find this game only fun, once in a while. I don’t like to play it every week and probably not even every month. That’s because Mr. Jack feels the same after a couple of plays. So the fact that it’s a very light game, a two player only game and a game with little variety ensures that this game doesn’t hit the table very much, but when it does, I do really enjoy myself. 
A good thing is, everyone can play this, so when you have someone over who doesn’t play games, you can easily put this on the table (if he wants to, of course).

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There is an expansion for Mr. Jack. It gives you more characters and different ways to set up the game. I do not have this one, but it seems to me that it does increase the replay value of the base game. You must then spend some additional money though, but if you (think you would) like this game a lot: Why not?

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