4 Chits, 4 Giggles
I am a theme strumpet! I love a game with great theme backed up by its mechanics. One reason I adore them is that you can really build an atmosphere when playing them. You haven't played Avalon properly unless you've played it by candlelight... IN A CASTLE.
I had a perfect playing experience when I sat down to play Mr Jack Pocket - a 2 player version of the popular Mr Jack series by Hurrican. In this game, one player plays as Jack the Ripper attempting to avoid being caught by the detectives who are played by the opposing player. This player takes control of Sherlock Holmes, Watson and even Toby the dog. Jack must try to evade the detectives finding him out. The game is made up of 9 square street tiles with different road shapes on, each one also has a suspects picture on it. The detectives are placed around the edge of the board and may or may not be able to see the suspects from where they stand. To avoid detection, Jack must make sure he is never the only suspect that can be seen at the end of a round. If he is, then he is caught and loses the game. However if he evades the detectives he gains a time glass. If he collects 6 time glasses he has escaped to kill again and wins. There are different actions that can be taken on your turn such as moving detectives or rotating street tiles to aid or evade the detectives gaze. This is where a lot of the strategy comes in as you have to think several steps ahead to win the game. Once you get the hang of it, the game is very simple to play and yet there is a whole lot of strategy for both players who are desperately trying to catch or evade the other.
My memorable gaming experience of Mr Jack Pocket occurred when my wife and I were sleeping over at the Museum of London... as you do. It was great because we could roam free through all the exhibitions in the dead of night. The sleepover event was Sherlock Holmes themed and so I couldn't resist bringing Mr Jack pocket along with me. At around 3:00am we found ourselves in the Victorian streets exhibit of the museum. We sat at the table in a replica Victorian pub playing a game all about Sherlock Holmes hunting Jack the Ripper. Perfect! I played some silent film music from my iPhone. Suddenly a little white mouse ran past our feet as we got ready for the first round of the game. The surroundings couldn't have been better. The atmosphere was incredible. All games should be played like this. Another visitor popped his head around the door of the pub, he was wearing a deer stalker hat. In the game I was playing as Jack and had to fight the urge to leap out of the pub window screaming "You'll never take me alive!"
We played many games of Mr Jack Pocket that night and it was probably my favourite gaming experience of all time. The game is great even when you don't have the Victorian surroundings. It is still one of the best two player games I own and it's an extremely thematic deduction game.
I would definitely recommend you get yourself a copy to shove in your backpack and pull out when you next find yourself in a dingy pub with a good friend and a pint of London Pride.
It has got me thinking of other games that would work well in themed surroundings. How about a game of Ticket To Ride on the floor of the tube carriage next time you commute? Or playing a game of Agricola down at your local farm? I’ve just booked my flights to Carcassonne...
Review by David Murcutt