FTW Staff Picks - Mr. Jack January 31 2018
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Designer: Bruno Cathala, Ludovic Maublanc
Player Size: 2 Players
Game Length: 45 minutes
For fans of: Clue, Nuns on the Run, Scotland Yard
Clue is one of those classic games that people love to go back to. It's far from perfect, but it brings a nostalgia factor that is rivalled only by other big hits like Monopoly. The problem with Clue is it's not a very good 2-player game, and yet many people come in to the cafe and try to make it work. Enter Mr. Jack, a game that brings all the things you love about Clue and puts it in a proper head-to-head package.
In Mr. Jack, one player acts as the Detective and the other acts as Jack the Ripper. The Detectives job is to deduce which of the 8 characters is Jack, and make an arrest. Jack's objective is to successfully remain hidden and escape the city. Each round both players will be able to 2 characters each. At the end of the round, Jack must indicate whether his character is Visible or Not Visible. If a character is standing adjacent to another character or a lit lamppost they are considered Visible. Jack can only escape if he was previously Not Visible. In order for the Detective to make an arrest, they must have one character on the same space as the one they wish to accuse. If the Detective's guess is correct they win the game, but if it's incorrect then Jack wins the game automatically.
Unlike Clue, where there's a lot of random guesswork to find a solution, Mr. Jack provides a lot of twists to keep bother players in a strategic battle of wits. Each character has a special ability that can (or sometimes, must) be used, which slowly works to unravel the different layers. Additionally, one of the lampposts goes out each round; giving the game a sense of "closing-in" akin to Werewolf. It may seem like the best route for Jack is to find an opening to escape, but sometimes the superior strategy is to simply fool the Detective. Because there's only one attempt at a guess, there's a lot of pressure for the Detective to narrow their possible suspects.
Clue was one of my favourite games growing up, and I'm glad there's a great alternative to it for 2. Mr. Jack is among our favourites to recommend for any duos starting up the hobby. Its asymmetric gameplay gives players a chance to learn each role gradually. And since you'll wanna try both sides, there's incentive to play it multiple times before packing it away.