donderdag 12 december 2013

Board game review: Letters from Whitechapel

Since a year or so, I have a small obsession with board games. I used to love them as a kid, but hardly ever played them anymore during my college years. I don't quite remember what it was that triggered my renewed interest, but it must have had something to do with being unemployed, having too much time on my hands and getting tired of spending most of my days inside, meeting relatively few people. My boyfriend and I used to watch many movies and tv series and although we still do this quite frequently, we feel it is often more satisfying to engage in activities rather than just sit and watch another screen together. Inviting friends over to play a game also creates the opportunity to bring people together that otherwise wouldn't necessarily feel like interacting. Pretty much all of my friends tend to not get along with each other very well, so spontaneous group meetings are never an option... For a game, however, they are willing to move aside their differences. One-on-one meetings are perfectly fine when it comes to friendship, but sometimes I really miss that special group energy. It also saves a lot of time to bring multiple friends together. 

After a couple of try-outs, we decided to organise a monthly board game night. The first game we've played is Letters from Whitechapel, which was brought along by my friend Joyce. It's a 90-150 minutes game with a maximum of six players. The setting is late 19th century London, where serial killer Jack the Ripper (one of the players) has to murder five prostitutes in the notorious Whitechapel area, before getting caught. The other players represent the policemen, hunting down Jack. 

The best thing about the game, in my opinion, is its cool design. The board looks amazing! If you're a fan of BBC's dark and clever series 'Ripper Street', you will especially love the game's setting! The streets of the Whitechapel area are laid out for everyone to see, with dotted lines indicating the routes that Jack the Ripper or the police can take. Carriages and alleyways speed up Jack's movements. The map is an accurate representation of the Whitechapel district and the names of Jack's victims and the exact locations where they were found dead are indicated on it. The letters mentioned in the game's title refer to the letters sent to the police at the time of the murders, supposedly written by Jack the Ripper himself. They can be read in the booklet provided with the game. It also contains a timeline of the mysterious events that took place in London between 1887 and 1891. 

The positive

Besides a terrific lay-out and an interesting theme, the game offers a huge deal of excitement. The hunt for the killer keeps everyone on edge and especially for the player that has taken on the role of Jack the Ripper, the game can be nerve-racking. The fun aspect is that the policemen can't see Jack moving around the board, but are able to gain clues and see what places he has already visited. Sometimes Jack was standing right next to a policeman, without anyone realizing they could have arrested him! Clever thinking, by excluding possible locations on the board where Jack is residing, will be crucial during the game. 
Another great aspect of the game is that it combines cooperation (the policemen) and competition (Jack killing and hiding from the police). 

The negative 

During the game that we played, we eventually caught Jack before he could commit another murder. The player made a tactical mistake and did not see the trap coming that was laid out by the policemen. We could imagine however that it would have been extremely difficult to locate Jack's exact position if he had not made that mistake. Jack is able to cover larger distances on the board and can easily put other players on the wrong track. The more often the game is played, the easier this will become. I guess I am not able to say much more about it at this point, but it seems to me that perhaps Jack has too many advantages, which could start to annoy after a while. But then reality he got away with it as well! :)

Grade: 8

2 opmerkingen:

  1. We used to love playing board games ... but we've gotten out of the habit ourselves. And we used to do a big family puzzle at Christmas time too, which we've also stopped doing. Maybe it's time to reintroduce those things!

    I've put Letters to Whitechapel on my Amazon Wish List... thanks for the review! :o)

  2. The puzzle sounds like fun too! There are such cool themes for puzzles nowadays. Thanks for reminding me of that. :)

    I intend to discuss more boardgames on my blog in the future.