Mystery Rummy Case No. 1: Jack the Ripper
second edition (2003)
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from 16 customer reviews
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Will you succeed where Scotland Yard failed? The case of Jack the Ripper is re-opened in this innovative card game that combines the elements of an exciting mystery with the strategies of traditional rummy. Each suspect, victim and murder scene is depicted with historical accuracy in this challenging game of intrigue and suspense.
Average Rating: 4 in 16 reviews
Jack the Ripper isn't complex and it won't impress many of the seasoned gamers who prefer more complex games but it will impress just about everyone else.
The interaction of this game is fantastic and the theme is well done. It's just dark.
The ability to interact with the discard pile (Scotland Yard) and other melds really makes for a wonderful light strategy game. Don't play the Scene too early because you're going to need it to dig out that Alibi for suspected Ripper!
It is best played with 2-3 players. If you want a great 4-player partnership game, this isn't it. However, its sibling Rue Morgue is!
The game is well reviewed above so no sense in adding to that. Yes, the game is at its heart a rummy card game. But alas, the low-scoring reviewers miss the point. The game is not trying to reinvent the wheel--just putting a different spin on it!
The wife and I find it a lot of fun, and anyone who enjoys playing basic card games will too. The Jack The Ripper theme really works well and was well thought out. Gather the evidence, look for suspects and alibis, now another victim is found, etc. So while it plays like rummy, it feels different.
Bravo! Well done! Now I must return to the game--another victim has been found!
I've played it with my wife about 20 times, its one of our favorites. As you play it more, some subtle card plays (tactics) will be discovered. It's not just a simple game--there is some bluff and psyching out the opponent, plus some risk taking. Plus subtle plays. Far superior to rummy.
My only concern is the frequency of the "Ripper Escapes" card being played. We find that the card gets placed about once every 2 games and there is not much you can do about it. It's worth 35 points, and that can easily determine a 100 point match. The designer says it very rarely gets played, but there's not always much you can do about it.
Still, the game is a good blend of luck and skill. Highly recommended. Were looking forward to playing Mystery Rummy #2 The Rue Morge with 4 players.
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Rummy games are common and old as mankind, yet Mike Fitzgerald has managed to take this ancient concept and create a fresh and new-feeling idea. Using the basics of card melds, two to four players compete in an environment where victims are slain, evidence is gathered for different suspects, alibis protect the innocent, and several other surprises pop up.
At the heart of the system are two types of cards: "gavel cards" and "evidence cards." Each card has a point value, and play begins by dealing 10 cards to each player and establishing a face-down draw pile ("Case file") and a face-up discard pile ("Scotland Yard"). On your turn, you draw a card from either pile, then play cards as desired, and end by a required discard. Only one "gavel card" can be played per hand, and this is a constraining variable as the mischievous and higher-value cards are designated with the gavel. All the melds are made with the evidence cards, and the more evidence against one of the six suspects the better chance that person will be named the Jack the Ripper for the round. When the typical hand ends, players score points for the cards they've played less any cards they hold that could not have been played on any existing melds on the table. In addition, all cards related to the suspect who is designated as the Ripper are worth double their value.
The gavel cards include five Victims, which when played allow you to draw two more cards from the case file. No evidence melds can be played until a victim is played, but once one victim is out the field is open for all suspects. Each victim has a corresponding Scene card, which comes with the very nice feature of taking the victim card if it has already been played plus allowing you to sift through Scotland Yard and take a card previously discarded. The six Suspects are also gavel cards, as are Alibi cards for each suspect. Consistent with the theme, suspects and alibis can only be played after a corresponding evidence meld has been offered.
In addition to the basic cards described above, there are several interesting cards that spice up the game play. "Commissioner Resigns" cards force anyone holding a Victim card to play it immediately and forfeit the two draw cards that normally come with that play. "Ripper Strikes" cards force a draw of up to five Case File cards in search of a Victim. And lastly, the single "Ripper Escapes" card allows you to "shoot the moon" and cripple your opponents when all five Victims have been played. This adds tension once the fourth victim shows up (if you're holding the escape card!), and in combination with the "resigns" or "attacks" cards can really turn the tide. The Ripper Escapes card can be played as soon as the fifth victim appears, even if it's not your turn.
Mystery Rummy plays fast, is fun, and very well thought out. Individual cards can be played against the melds of another player, making the pace of the round quicken as more cards are revealed. Many nice features are built into the play, including one Alibi card being usable for only one of two victims, and the previously stated feature of not deducting points for held cards that could have been played. For example, this allows you to hold an alibi card of a suspect for which you have played a lot of evidence, improving the chance your suspect will be named the Ripper but not penalizing you for the held card. The Scene cards, which allow you to go back to the discard pile, are also a valuable card to play later in the round when you need that third evidence card for a key meld or want to thwart someone else's plans by surfacing an alibi. A few evidence cards are "wild cards" and these can be very handy both to complete a meld and to strengthen the evidence against the suspect of your choosing. A discard is required even for going out, a feature that makes the decisions about which melds to collect and which to discard more subtle. Also, at any point in the round a player can call for a vote, requiring each player to privately bet on which suspect will be named the Ripper, with added points given to those who guess correctly.
The game is nicely produced, with good-looking and historically accurate cards. It makes a great filler or opener, works well with 2, 3 or 4, and the replay value is stronger than you'd expect. The "case #1" title obviously promises [page scan/se=0456/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]more to follow, and it's interesting to think about how this concept can be applied to other mystery-type settings. Bonnie and Clyde, Search for the Loch Ness Monster, or other historical and fantasy situations could be modeled similarly, although the addition of new types of cards and relationships is what will keep the game fresh. Let's just hope Jeffery Dahmer doesn't show up any time soon!