Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Its a Ripper

This week I managed to play Letters from Whitechapel. It's a very strongly themed Jack the ripper game where one player is Jack while the rest are the policemen trying to apprehend Jack before he can make it home.

If you have played Scotland Yard then you will have a very good grounding on how the game plays. I like Scotland Yard but think that Letters is a much better game. The components are better, the theme works really well and the mechanics of the game make for a tense experience, especially if you are playing Jack.

Game setup is very simple, the board is placed on the table. There is an explosion of numbered circles and black boxes on the board. Jack uses the circles to move while the police use the squares. Jack picks a location for his home from one of the circles. This is hidden from the rest of the players. To win the police have to apprehend Jack and knowing where he is moving to each night is a great help.

The game now plays over 4 night, each night Jack will determine which of the 7 locations he commits the murders. He must then make his way back home while the police are trying to close in on him.
All of Jacks movement is hidden and recorded on a separate sheet. He has a couple of special moves to play. These allow double movement with a carriage or sneaking through alleyways. These are limited per night and the number available decreases through the game.

The police move 2 squares and can then ask Jack if he has moved through a neighbouring numbered circle. If he has a clue marker is placed. This helps the police try to determine where Jack is going and ideally the location of his house.
If the police are certain that they know where he is, instead of asking for a clue they can arrest the location. If jack is there the police have won.

On my first play I was Jack and made it to the end of the third night. I was one step away from my house when I was caught. The last few rounds of trying to out maneuver the police was incredibly tense.
We played it again straight after, this time I was part of the police team. We managed to block Jack from getting home on the first night. Partly from a lucky break with the placing of the police but after you gt a few clues you can try and figure out where Jack has been.

Letters from Whitechapel
has successfully built on the Scotland Yard game and delivered a strong game with lovely pieces and a solid theme that ties everything together. I would definitely recommend trying it out.


Steerpike said...

what about length of the game? I've heard a few comments that suggest it can go on for hours.

Count Zero said...

Well, our first game took about 90 mins. It was new for 2 of us and the other 2 had played it about 5 times.
We got to the end of Night 3.
Second play was about 30 mins and we got to the end of night 1.

I would say it takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to play, maybe longer if you have players prone to AP, shorter if everyone knows what to do.

I could see it playing much longer if you have a few players with AP and the police spend too much time arguing/consulting what to do.