24 May 2014

Letters from Whitechapel (boardgame review)

Letters from Whitechapel is a Jack the Ripper themed boardgame where 1 player controls the Ripper while 1-5 players control police officers trying to hunt him down.
It's a game of cat and mouse where the Ripper has to kill a specific number of victims each night and get back home to the safety of his hidden sanctuary and the Police must do their best to stop him by apprehending him.

The basic game is very simple, and to me it was familiar with "Fury Of Dracula", in both games you have a bad guy that plots his hidden movement behind a screen while the good guys move around on the large map and inspect area locations for clues of whether or not the bad guy had passed through or still is in that specific location. The difference between Fury of Dracula where Dracula has a much more active role and where there is a lot of tooling up your characters and fighting involved - Letters from Whitechapel is stripped of all that and solely focus on the chase.

Police characters as well as the Ripper must adhere to the a strict movement patter marked by a grid (one for the Ripper and one for the Police) on the board. The to make it a bit harder on the Police the Ripper has a few tricks up his sleeve, such as using a coach for double movement, alley and alley movements where he takes a shortcut through a neighborhood. The special movements are limited to a fixed number and varied from turn to turn. Playing the Ripper goes as follows, commit a murder instantly or wait for the prostitutes to move around the map (movement by the Police), once a murder is committed the Ripper must escape back to his lair - and he only has a number of turns at his disposal each night to do so. Should the Ripper fail to get back home the Police wins.

The Police move around the map each night, each cop can move 2 spaces on the map and do investigation of nearby numbered locations (one at a time). Should the Police find a clue on any adjacent numbered location then the investigation ends for that particular cop marker. Naturally the Police tries to follow the direction of the clues to determine which way the Ripper is heading and either attempt to cut him off from his supposed lair or decide to "apprehend" the Ripper in a location where he is suspected to be cornered. At the start of each night the cops are allowed to relocate a few of its members on the map but most of the force remains in place which can aid the Ripper as he can start his murder spree and movement next to a prostitute marker (most of the time out of reach) from the Police.

Apparently there are some additional rules for the advanced game mode, making the game easier for either the Ripper or the Police depending on how the rules are played, but the core rules provide enough challenge imo. The map is really well made in how the grid is drawn and the movement possibilities for the Ripper forces the Police to really think through how to move and consider all possible Ripper routes. It may be too much of a challenge for the Police if all the Police players are new players and you have an experienced Ripper, so give the game a few times to learn all the routes. Interestingly enough the game should be equally playable (if not more so) with 2 players only as the Police can all be controlled by a single player without problem. Playing with a limited number of Police players may also speed things up a bit.

Overall it is a pretty good game, but the stripped down gameplay may not be for everyone. If you are content with figuring out movement patterns and don't want to bog down with combat and other factors then Letters of Whitechapel is the game for you. If you on the other hand want more to do during your turn then you should perhaps consider Fury of Dracula instead.

Letters from Whitechapel: 7/10

7 comments:

  1. Sounds a bit like "Scotland Yard" , only Mr X has a knife this time :)

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  2. From what I heard this is a variant of Scotland Yard :-)

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  3. Very good report to read and also inspireing! :)

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  4. It sounds quite interesting IMHO.
    Thank you for the report!
    A.

    By the way you've been 'nominated' (for what is worth, of course- ;)):
    http://bloodbowlmayhem.blogspot.pt/2014/06/liebster-award.html

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    1. Thanks for the nomination Axtklinge! :-)

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