Tabletop Review – Letters from Whitechapel

So I thought I’d review some of the games we’ve been introduced to. They might not be new to tabletop aficionados but to the majority of people they’ll be quite different. They won’t be long reviews, just enough to give you an idea. So without further ado…

Letters from Whitechapel is the first non X-Wing game I’ve played from FFG (Fantasy Flight Games, a big player in the tabletop market). They’ve managed to raid my wallet with Star Wars so can they do it with a different theme?

It’s off to a good start straight away, as we have an interest in Jack the Ripper. It all looks suitably Victorian. The board itself is pretty large (something to bear in mind) and appears to be a pretty accurate representation of the Whitechapel area. Our friends had only played it once and we hadn’t, so there was a fair bit of time familiarising ourselves with the order of play. One player takes the role of Jack over the course of 4 rounds (each one a night that Jack attacks), whilst the other players are the police trying to hunt him down. The rounds begins with a murder and then Jack has to get back to his safe house within a set number of moves. The police can ask if he’s been in certain locations, possibly picking up a trail, or can attempt to arrest Jack in a location if they feel he is there. After the first nice most of it clicked into place and it really got going.

The Police have a large area to cover. Where is Jack hiding?

With one board open to us and another smaller area used exclusively by Jack, I did get a Battleship vibe from it all. As we tried to deduce where Jack was there was a real sense of thematic frustration. All we knew was the location of the murder. We didn’t know where Jack was and we didn’t know where his safe house was. Even when we found part of the trail it was tricky. Had we caught a cold trail? Was he doubling back on purpose? Was he right next to us?

The teamwork of the police worked well, whilst the tension on ‘Jack’ was noticeable too. Overall it did a great job of bringing us into the world it was creating.

‘Jack’ keeps track of the areas he’s moved through. If the police ask ‘have you been here’ he has to give a true answer. Known areas he’s been in are marked on the Police map, possibly showing a trail!

There isn’t much on the negative side. It did take us a while to figure some things out, though that could be forgiven as it was the first time. The main issue for us personally is having people around to play it with. It’s a higher level than a lot of the other games we have (such as King of Tokyo and Takenoko), so we don’t have many people who will be up for it. That’s ultimately the reason that whilst we’d be happy to play it, I don’t think we’ll be purchasing it. I’ve already put myself forward to be Jack next time.

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