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Letters from Whitechapel

Posted by admin On May - 20 - 2011

Description: In the London of 1888, be Jack the Ripper or a detective on his trail in this tense game of crime and investigation

Length: 15-20 Minutes
Age: 13+
Players: 2-6 (although best played with 2-3, allowing for much more significant play time)

Prelude:
Letters from Whitechapel is based on the infamous unidentified serial killer of 1888, Jack the Ripper. Attacks ascribed to the murderer were called the canonical five, generally female prostitutes from the impoverished slums in the Whitechapel district. The victims throats were sliced and the bodies were mutilated. The name originated from a letter written by an individual claiming to be the murderer:
Dear Boss, I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck. Yours truly
Jack the Ripper
Dont mind me giving the trade name
PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now. ha ha

Some believe the letter was a hoax, others think it may have even been written by a journalist to intensify the stories press. Regardless, the unfortunate killings of the canonical five were never solved.

Object:
The year is 1888. You’re an investigator in the Whitechapel district of London. The civil parish of Whitechapel in the East End is stuffed to the brink, living conditions are worsening, and poverty is flourishing. Men are drunks, women are prostitutes – “the wretched”- brothels are everywhere, and robbery & violence are in abundance. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, a brutal murder of one of “the wretched” just took place. Letters from self-proclaimed perpetrators are coming in, the media is having a field day, and any leads your are receiving are turning out flat cold. It’s you’re job to find the sadist before he finds another victim.


Shortening of the Manual:
At the start of the game, one person is assigned to be Jack and the other players divvy up the investigator tokens evenly. The “Ripper” chooses his hideout location, which is a circled number that he must return to each night after each murder.

There are five murders that occur in four nights (rounds):
First night (August 31st, 1888)
Second night (September 8th, 1888)
Third night (September 30th, 1888) – two murders happen in this night
Fourth night (November 9th, 1888)

At the start of each round, The Ripper and the Investigator place chips on the board in the positions they wish, mixed within these chips are fakes, so neither the Ripper nor the investigators know where each other will be. The Ripper has the choice of killing victim or waiting. If he kills a victim, he indicates which Wretched was chosen, the other Wretched are cleared from the board, and the Investigators positions are also revealed, and the chase begins.

If the Ripper chooses to wait, he gains more flight time to get to his hideout, but the Investigators may also move all the potential victims closer to them, meaning when the Ripper claims his victim, he is now that much closer to the investigators.

Once the chase begins the Ripper tries to reach his hideout before the allotted time, and the Investigators try to close in on him.

The Ripper Play: The Ripper is allowed to move one circle space keeping track of his movements secretly on a sheet of paper. He is also given a limited number special tokens that allow him to cross alleys, double movement, and pass through detectives without being spotted. These tokens become more limited as the game progresses. Once he reaches his hideout, the round ends and a new round commences.

The Investigators Play: Investigators are allowed to move up to two intersections and can either investigate a circle connected to their intersection or attempt an arrest. if they investigate the circles touching their intersection, the Ripper must lay a clue down if he crossed any of those circles being investigated. The more and more clues found, helps investigators find the path to the Rippers hideout…. hopefully before the last night! If the investigator feels he knows right where the Ripper is, he may try to make an arrest but forgoes getting potential clues from investigating.

End of Game: The Ripper wins if he makes it back to his hideout after every murder. The Investigators win if they either catch the Ripper, or keep him from reaching his hideout during he allotted time.

Final Thoughts:
Although the theme is a little, err… dark, it’s actually rather exciting to play, well as the detectives at least. I refused to be Jack the Ripper on the mere basis of having a soul, but the the player who was Jack was seeming to have equal fun.  The artwork was intense and very accurate of the Whitechapel district. There are a few issues I have with the quality.  I ripped (no pun intended) the holder that Ripper used to shield his movement in the first two minutes of opening the game, its very flimsy. And it will probably get a lot of handling so it should be made much sturdier. I also felt the alleyways were a little hard to distinguish at times, but after a little while you get used to it.

On a side note, its Easy! You can literally enter the game 10 minutes into it and catch on within seconds. However, it has a rather lengthy instruction manual for how easy the game is to actually play.

Final Final Thoughts:
Quality: 4/5
Fun: 4/5
Substance: 3/5
Re-playability: 3.5/5