Mystery Rummy Case No. 4: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld
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This is the fourth game in the series of Mystery Rummy Card Games. Experience the mystery of Al Capone and his gang in a time when they ruled the streets of Chicago. The goal is to bust Al Capone and the members of his loyal gang. This 91-card deck is complete with Agent Meetings, Search Warrants, Raids and even Elliot Ness.
Mystery Rummy 4 : Al Capone
There are now something like 7 different variations of Mystery Rummy (not all with that title) and more on the way. Having only played Wyatt Earp, and the various public domain versions of rummy, I cant do too much comparing, but what I did get with this game is a solid, addictive variation on rummy that has been requested a lot by family and friends.
The basic principles of rummy are intact: melds (sets of 3 or more cards), lay-offs (cards that match your opponents melds that you may lay down) and picking up discards. But there is so much more to this game, mostly due to the very cleverly applied theme. Each player is an agent trying to bust Capone and his cronies by collecting evidence on the various mobsters. The draw deck is the Case File since that is where evidence comes from; the discard pile is the Underworld since you can go into it to dig up evidence on the bad guys; the melds are made up of Evidence cards. Even the special action cards are well themed: Elliot Ness lets players acquire more evidence than normal; Agent Meeting allows player to request evidence cards from fellow Agents; Search Warrant allows players to go into the Underworld (discard deck) and get evidence that had been previously been passed up.
Like standard rummy, players pick up, lay down, and discard cards, with players trying primarily to get large completed sets of evidence cards. The round ends when a player goes out (discards his last card) or when the Case File (draw deck) is empty. The different mobsters have different amounts of cards and different point values for both individual cards and complete sets. The more cards for the mobster (Ralph Capone has 7 cards) the more the complete set is worth, but smaller sets (Mike Heitler has only 4 cards) are worth more individually. Also, Al Capone, if completed, and the player is able to go out results in the other player(s) getting zero points! (After all, hes the big fish we are all trying to catch!)
Watching the discard deck, and clever timing of both melds and action card usage results in a tense game with a lot of tug-of-war, bluffing, clever card acquisition and the like. If you despise rummy, you will see right through all this, but everyone else should try this game. I know it suffers from being just another game in the Mystery Rummy series, but if youve played none of those, I can recommend this one highly. Since rummy is not too complicated, and the actions cards are well written, almost anyone can pick up this game make it a good game for families to play, and I could see old ladies who like rummy thinking this is the greatest thing since sliced bread! The game has a very high addiction factor since it combines the classic elements of rummy with a good theme and all kinds of cunning cardplay that take rummy to a whole other level.
I recognize that it is one more in a long line of these games, so that hurts it overall, but I suspect that of all of them, it is the one I will enjoy most. Avoiding the rather macabre theming of some of the others, Mystery Rummy 4 Al Capone succeeds in doing just about everything right and makes a pitch as a durable family, and rummy-fan, game.
As the name of the game implies, this is the fourth in a series of rummy-style games. As in basic rummy, the object to empty your hand of cards by playing them in matched sets. What sets this game, as well as the other games in the series, apart from basic rummy is the addition of action cards (referred to as 'gavel' cards) that do various things, such as drawing additional cards, searching the discard pile for a card, etc.
The gameplay here is almost exactly the same as all three of the previous games in the series--collect three matching cards and you can play them in front of you as a meld, additional cards that match it can be played by any player. The main thrust of this game is collecting entire sets of cards. Each of the eleven sets of cards in the game, which represent Al Capone and ten members of his 'organization' are worth lots of points if you have the entire set in play when the hand ends. The four different gavel cards (all of which are in the deck multiple times) basically allow you to mine four different resources -- the 'Eliot Ness' cards allow either drawing additional cards or revealing the top seven cards of the draw pile and taking any that match melds you have in play, 'Agent Meeting' can get cards from opponents' hands, 'Search Warrant' allows searching of the discard pile, and 'Raid' can swipe cards laid off on your melds by opponents and add them to your pre-existing melds.
One facet of the Mystery Rummy games that is used again here is the 'shutout' rule, which allows only one person to score points at the end of the hand if he meets a certain condition--in this case, have the entire set of Al Capone cards in play. At eight cards, this is the single largest set in the game (others have anywhere from as few as four to as many as seven) so collecting all eight of them is very difficult without liberal use of the gavel cards.
As to what else separates this game from the others in the series--the game is played to 200 points as opposed to 100, the deck (at 88 cards) is larger by about a third compared to each of the other games, and if you draw from the deck at the start of your turn, you draw two cards as opposed to one. These last two are largely reminiscent of the Mystery Rummy 'spin-off' game, Wyatt Earp.
The cards themselves are of pretty good quality with an extremely glossy finish on them that make them nice and slippery, though, and this, I hope, was only the case in my copy of the game--the cards are packed in two shrink wrapped packs, and one pack's cards were a little bit taller than the other. That probably won't make much difference when it comes to game play unless you stack the cards extremely neatly. The artwork on the cards themselves is rather nice, though.
In summation, Mystery Rummy fans will find themselves on familiar ground with this game, but if you were never a fan of rummy or these games, absolutely nothing here will change your mind.
Each suit, representing an infamous mobster, is made up of four to eight cards. As in regular rummy, each initial meld of a suit must have at least three cards. Thereafter, one or more cards in the suit of anyone's meld can be placed in play. Discarding a Special Card lets you draw extra cards, steal competitors' cards, or select cards from the discards.
When a player ends the round by going out, tally the value of your displayed cards--plus handsome bonuses for having all of a suit. What's more, only you score if you acquired all Al Capone cards and ended the round. This is an even more serious threat in the recommended Partnership variant. Highest score wins when someone reaches 200 or more points. Surely Fitzgerald will continue to attract a mob of faithful followers.
Many of us have played Rummy as children but the Mystery Rummy games are so much more fun than ordinary playing cards and each has a clever twist. The 4th in the series, Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld does not disappoint its fans. After all, who can resist being one of Elliot Ness's hallowed band?
Ten cards are dealt to each player; the rest are placed face down and constitute the Case File. The top card is discarded and forms the Underworld. The basic idea of the game is to form melds by collecting evidence cards for each gangster. When you have three evidence cards you are faced with the choice of laying them down on the table hoping to add to them or keeping them in your hand. Both options carry a certain degree of risk as in addition to the evidence cards there are Gavel cards. One gavel card may be played each turn and doing so has certain consequences as explained in the following paragraph. Each turn involves picking up a card from the Case File, playing melds of three cards or more, playing a gavel card and discarding a card from your hand.
There are four types of gavel card:
1. Raid - you name a gangster you have a meld of in play and collect all copies of the card currently in play from your opponents.
2. Search Warrant that allows you to search the Underworld and secretly take any one card or take all the cards that matches one of your melds from the Underworld showing the cards to the other players. (A good memory for cards that have been discarded is quite helpful when playing this card!)
3. Agent Meeting - you ask all players for a gangster or ask one player for a gangster in your meld. This forces the player to give you all the cards in his hand relating to gangster you requested. The players who have complied with either request must replace their hands with cards from the Case File.
4. The final gavel card is Elliott Ness himself. This card allows you to draw two cards from the case file or turn the top seven cards of the Case File over in the hope that some or all of them match any melds you have in play. The cards that don't match your melds end up in the Underworld.
The game ends when a player goes out by discarding his last card or the last card is drawn from the Case file. Finishing does not mean you win, it is the scoring of the points that makes you the winner. Complete sets of gangsters score bonus points, incomplete sets score the points denoted on the right hand corner of the evidence cards, gavel cards and any cards left in your hand score nothing. However if you capture a complete set of Al Capone cards and go out - no else scores anything! Be sure though that you collect the complete set of Al Capone cards and not that of his brother!
The cards themselves are beautifully produced and give a potted history of each gangster. However, if you are not interested in the gangsters personality profiles you could merely concentrate on collecting the Evidence cards by colour which in this particular game is very distinctive. The packaging of the game has also changed for the better, in that it is much sturdier. This is important since a game as innovative as Al Capone is going to be played several times and therefore needs to be able to withstand being handled over time.
A highly entertaining and clever game which allows you to go back in time and join Elliott Ness and the good guys in clearing up the streets of Chicago.