Bruno Cathala &
Ludovic Maublanc


No. of Players:

G@mebox Star



The game comes in a rather small-sized box with an edge length of about 0.3 foot, and it contains no classic gameboard but instead a set of 9 tiles showing different city quarters and suspects. To prepare the game for playing, these city quarters have to be set up in a three times three square area, and the upper side of the quarters showing the nine different suspects is visible for the players. As in all other Mr. Jack games, one player takes the role of the dreaded Mr. Jack (the Ripper), and this player has to draw a card from a deck containing cards of all nine suspect personalities so that he will know which personality will be his identity for the current game. The other player will take up the roles of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and their trusted dog Toby (known from the book "Sign of Four"). This player will have to find out the identity of Mr. Jack within a maximum of eight rounds, because otherwise Mr. Jack will be considered to have disappeared so that the detective player will have lost the game.

Playing pieces for Holmes, Watson and Toby are positioned at fixed starting positions around the nine city quarters, and the detective player will try to move these characters into positions from which they can see along the streets of the city quarters and spot the different personalities among these quarters. At the end of each round of play the detective player will ask the Mr. Jack player whether the personality of whom Mr. Jack has taken the identity can be seen by any of the three detective characters, and as the Mr. Jack player must answer truthfully the detective player now can turn all quarters showing characters which do not match Mr. Jack's status (seen or not seen) to their backside so that these personalities are no longer suspects.

Thus, the Mr. Jack player will try to keep the group of suspects as large as possible, and in addition he will try to maintain the status of not being seen, since every round which he player ends with his personality not been seen by the detective characters will earn the Mr. Jack player an hourglass token. If the Mr. Jack player successfully collects six hourglass tokens he will end the game instantly with a direct victory.

The movement of the characters and all changes of the city quarters' positioning are driven through a set of four action tokens which will be thrown into the air at the beginning of every odd-numbered round. These four tokens show the actions available to the players for the current round, and both the detective player and the Mr. Jack player will have to chose two of the tokens for determining this round's actions. The actions available vary from the movement of the three detective characters to the rotating or re-positioning of city quarters, and the players will have to use their options cleverly in order to pursue their own ends with a maximum of efficiency. So, the detective player will try to split the different personalities into almost even groups of seen and not seen characters in order to remove some possible suspects, but the Mr. Jack player will try to sabotage the efforts of the detective player through untimely shifting of the city tiles and movements of the detective characters so that both players constantly will have to watch for upcoming opportunities.

After an odd-numbered round has ended, the action tokens will not be thrown again for the even-numbered round, but instead the tokens will be turned over so that the players will have to play their way through all eight available actions within a matter of two rounds. A last action not yet mentioned is the taking of a suspect card. The detective player can use this action to draw a card in the hope of finding a personality which still is a suspect, thus releasing this personality from suspicion. The Mr. Jack player on the other hand can collect these cards to keep some uncertainty and - possibly - gather additional hourglasses which can be found on some of these cards.

As indicated, the game ends with a victory of Mr. Jack if either the eighth round has ended or if the Mr. Jack player has collected six hourglasses. The detective player on the other hand wins if there is only one suspect left so that this remaining personality must be Mr. Jack.

Yves had told me that the name Mr. Jack Pocket might be a bit misleading because it actually might suggest that the new game just would be a miniature version of the classic Mr. Jack game. Indeed, I was quite happy to discover that this was not the case, but instead Mr. Jack Pocket is a quite fast-paced new adaption of the topic which uses some of the known elements to create a somewhat new playing feeling. It somehow feels as if this small edition had been freed of some ballast, and the remaining core-game actually succeeds in posing a rather nice deductive challenge. The players now have to focus on the interaction of detective characters and the streets shown on the city quarters, and the right positioning of the detective characters at the ends of long streets will determine whether the detective is efficient in his efforts to find Mr. Jack.

The game comes with a somewhat reworked artwork, and to my mind it makes rather good use of the restricted size of the diminutive gamebox. The box contains all needed city quarters, personality cards, characters and action tokens, and even some hourglass tokens are included which also serve as a counter for keeping tracks of the rounds which have passed. Overall, all components of this small gem have been finetuned to a very high degree!

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Copyright © 2010 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany