Saturday, September 7, 2013

Every 100 Games Series - Mr. Jack Pocket

Mr. Jack Pocket was my 4,400 game played. I actually played it 4 times in a row with my friend Annie while at GenCon. I had played the original Mr. Jack a couple times before this, but it had been a long time, so I really was coming into this not knowing what to expect. Other than it would be a two player game, with one player playing as Jack trying to escape and the other would be the detectives trying to catch Jack.

Game Play
There are 9 large city tiles that are placed in the center of the table in a 3x3 grid with roads running through them in various ways. Then the four investigators (Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, and Toby) are placed around the city. According to where they are at, they can see down the roads and possible see the suspects that are printed on each city tile. As each round is played and the detectives move and the tiles rotate their view changes. At the end of the round, the Mr. Jack player declares whether he can be seen or not. If he can be seen, then all suspects that aren't seen get flipped over, narrowing down who Jack could be. If he cannot be seen, then those suspects that are in the field of view for the detectives get eliminated from the suspect list. There is a little more variation on what happens each round, but that is essentially it, the detectives are trying to trap Jack before he lasts long enough to get away and win the game.

Everything is card board in this and has nice light-hearted art. The game is extremely small, probably why they added "Pocket" to its name. The whole box would seriously fit in your pocket. It isn't that much larger than my wallet or one of those huge flat cell phones people refuse to call a tablet. The card board is all top notch in the game and there is no way to complain about the game lasting or being cheaply made.

This game seems to have a lot of strategy to me. I was impressed with how much they shoved into such a small game. It is all about forcing the other person to do something worthless or something they don't want to do on their turn. You can just get absolutely burned if the actions don't come up your way (they are randomly done each round), but there is enough depth in this game to make it thoughtful and yet still quick.

I really liked this game and it is one I'd be happy to own, even if my friends already own it, because of its quick 2 player nature that can be played just about anywhere. I'm not a deduction game fan, but I do tend to enjoy slightly themed abstracts, and that is the camp I'd put this in. It didn't feel like I was trying to figure out who Jack was, but rather I was trying to capture the Queen Bee in Hive or checkmate my opponent in Chess, but in much less time than the latter and more thematically in the previous. From what I remember of the regular Mr. Jack, I personally would play the pocket version every time over it.

Chase Game Fans - Those of you who really love Letters to White Chapel, Fury of Dracula, Scotland Yard and the others in this genre might not get our fill here. However, those games take a big time commitment, where this doesn't. So even though you might not get that huge glass of milk with Oreos you normally prefer, you could count this as a bit sized Snicker bar.

Abstract Aficionados - I'd say get it. This for me fills in with Robotory, Hive, The Duke, and any other non-classic abstract game. There is some slight luck, but overall it is all about forcing your opponent into a corner.

Theme Sensitive Folks - The game is about a horrible murderer from the late 19th century in England. If you are going to take that too seriously, then this might not be for you. There isn't any blood, everything is cartoonish, I just know some people are sensitive to that in the original Mr. Jack and thought you'd be aware. 

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here: Every 100 Games Series Reviews.

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