Mr. Jack Review

As I've been playing through my latest wave of games, one of the ones I held out the most hope for was Mr. Jack.

In Mr. Jack, one of the players takes on the role of Jack the Ripper who is posing as a detective. The other player takes on the role of the detective who is trying to determine which person Jack is impersonating. (I have no idea why it is based on Jack the Ripper - it is basically Hide and Seek as a board game). Each round there will be 4 of the 8 characters flipped. Next the players alternate controlling these characters in a 1-2-1 pattern (I go, you go twice, I go again). To mix it up a little bit, each character also has a special ability like lighting gas lights, moving manhole covers, etc. Once all 4 characters have moved, the player who took on the role of Jack announces whether he is witnessed - and the detective then eliminates all of the characters that can logically be eliminated. This continues until 1) Jack escapes (he had to not un-witnessed the previous round), 2) the detective accuses a character (if he is right he wins, if he is wrong he loses), or 3) 8 rounds have passes and Jack has not been caught.

The biggest pro of this game is that it is a game with actual gameplay value that could be played with children. Now, with that said, for some reason the publishers decided to name it after Jack the Ripper! I have no idea why this is. They took a game that is incredibly kid-friendly and named it after a mass murderer... bravo. (Just gloss over this fact with your kids). Either way, there is a decent amount of strategy and thinking that goes on in the game, and yet the rules and gameplay are simple enough that it could be played with just about anyone - it says 9+, but I wouldn't really be shocked if a 7 or 8 year old could play it.

The other thing that I liked about Mr. Jack was that they added enough variety to each of the different characters that you actually must determine what the best moves are from round to round. It is interesting to try to figure out the best way of having Jack blend in (or completely isolated depending on which role you're playing). All of the different character abilities were used and important in the games that I played, and so I liked that there weren't any characters that were useless.

Now for the gigantic con (if I only have one, shouldn't it at least be large?). I thought that the gameplay got stale pretty quickly. There aren't that many different ways that you can try to hide. Here's the strategy: if you're the detective, split the characters that you are unsure of into as even of groups between witnessed and un-witnessed as possible to eliminate the most each round; if you're Jack, do the opposite. How many times do you need to do this?

Overall, I give Mr. Jack a 7.5/10. For a game that can be played with kids, I think that it's phenomenal (thus the high review - if it were for adults only, I'd give it something closer to a 6.0). With that said, I don't have kids, so I don't really plan on keeping my copy.

If you're looking for games that can be easily taught, you might try the Monopoly Deal game, as well as Sorry! Sliders (which is a dexterity game), and Ticket to Ride.


  1. The biggest thumbs up I've given to Mr Jack is that it is one of those rare games that my girlfriend actually asks to play it, beside the fact that she would usually kick my butt on it.
    To me Mr Jack feels like an abstract game, a kind of cartoony chess with a theme that really fits well.
    It may sound weird but I've traded my copy of Tobago for Mr Jack and so far no even a measly sense of regret. :)

    Keep your great reviews up, Josh!

    Cheers from Brazil.

  2. Yeah, it's always nice when your significant other wants to play certain games. I may wind up picking up Talisman for that reason - my wife seemed to love it.

  3. I think whether or not the gameplay gets stale depends on your reference point.
    If you come from a background of games where 'multiple paths to victory' is the holy grail, Mr Jack might seem monotonous.

    However, Mr Jack is a game with a different scope. It's not so much about figuring out a way to keep Jack's identity unknown - that should be obvious after one or two plays. The game revolves around how you execute that overall strategy, and in this department I think that the game is very well done.

    The random character draws ensure that games cannot fall into a set pattern with pre-made opening moves, for instance. Which character actually is Jack is another variable that will influence player priorities and game style.

    To put it simply: the game seems shallow at first, like many games that rely on bluffing and player interaction to provide interesting gameplay. Once you know the game well enough to start actively involving the other player in your thought process, that's when the game begins to shine.

  4. A huge con with Mr.Jack is that only one player does most of the playing in any one game. This makes it dull for the other player. Playing a second where the players switch roles is unsatisfying.

    Mr.Jack is fair, not good.