Title: Mr. Jack
Designer: Bruno Cathal Ludovic Maublanc
Play Time: 30 minutes
Setup Time: <5 minutes
Difficulty Rating: 4
Murder! Shadows! Suspicion! It’s Victorian England and the streets of Whitechapel are awash with the blood of helpless victims, you and your opponent are locked in a game of cat and mouse – one must hide while the other must chase! Whether you rely on your wits, your luck or your ability to hide in plain sight, players are interlocked in a murder mystery must foul (but a hell of a lot of fun!).
If you are a fan of strategy, cunning and deduction then you can’t pass up on Mr. Jack. First published in 2006, the game is a staple favourite among players who prefer fast paced two player games. The game is played from two sides, one player takes on the role of Jack and tries to flee the board or at the very least remain uncaught while the other is the detective hot on the trail of one of England’s most infamous serial killers.
The game requires some simple assembly, sticking character faces to markers and popping out a few other board pieces, after that it’s a very simple set-up which after a few games become second nature and in no time you’ll be able to do it in your sleep (organise the board, not commit murder!). Gameplay is pretty easy to pick up and the real difficulty comes in trying to outsmart your opponent – there are eight characters roaming the streets, one of them is Jack and the others are trying to catch him.
Divided into rounds, four characters are drawn and then the players select their two to play and move that turn. As well as being able to move around the board, each character possesses a unique ability designed to help or hinder the investigation. While characters move, the gaslights illuminating the dank streets go out one by one (round by round) and the hunt gets harder – after both players make their move, a light goes out and the detective must ask if anyone has seen Jack – if any characters stand next to each other or under the light from a gas lamp then they are seen and could be considered ‘Jack’ – all other characters are deemed innocent and so the search is narrowed. If no one witnesses Jack then on the next round he is able to make his daring escape from the board (only if he is within the distance to do so).
That’s it! It really is as simple to play as that – the board is also designed to help you track the turns and follow the rounds easily enough.
That said… the game is difficult to win if you come across a worthy opponent and this is where Mr. Jack excels! It’s a game of deduction, every move you make has to mean something and if you don’t pay attention you could end up blowing it all. The first game really is all about teaching/learning the concept of the game and shouldn’t be played to win (just my own two cents!) but the next game, the one where you both are aware of how it all works and what each character ability does then it all truly kicks off!
Now I live with someone who’d rather play Candy Crush Saga than the latest triple A title, getting him to play a board game is like asking me to take my driving lessons seriously – it’s just not going to happen. For the sake of this review though I was able to emotionally blackmail him into a game and after our first game (where I won… I don’t always pay heed to my own two cents) he had the hang of it and so we pit our strategy against each other as once more I donned my cape, the shadows and murderous intent (I really get into this game!). Four rounds into it, I had him, I was moving my character around the board careful to make sure the blame finger was pointed at everyone and not just me, I covered my tracks and made it look like others were edging the board to escape, my opponent (victim / boyfriend) looked perplexed and then… BAM! He caught me! While I was convinced I had him confused and beaten he was watching the moves I didn’t make and from those able to deduce my real identity and catch me unaware – the game was over and I had been caught! The real surprise followed when he asked for another two games, swapping identities with him taking on Jack and I the plucky young (and handsome) detective.
So if you fancy yourself as a sleuth or a dastardly murdered – if Sherlock, Hannibal, Miss Marple, Poirot, etc. etc. etc. then Mr. Jack is for you!
[easyreview cat1title=”The Arcade Verdict” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”9.5″]
If you want to pick up your own copy of Mr. Jack then the Arcade recommends you check out BoardGamer.ie
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!