Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: Letters from Whitechapel (Board Game)


  • 2+ players
  • Competitive and Cooperative play
    • Cooperative requires at least 3 players
  • Good party game, new player friendly
  • Theme may not be appropriate for young kids


I have now played or watched people play Letters from Whitechapel a few times now. The mechanics are simple but still challenging. A similar game to this was Scotland Yard which I have not played for over 10 years.

The basic concept is that there is a character, Jack the Ripper, that has to navigate around the map to accomplish his objectives. Whoever plays Jack will be playing against everyone else (typically an experienced player). This is the competitive portion where Jack has to mislead or bluff to his goal.

The rest of the players are the detectives in hunting for Jack. 1 player or multiple players can play the detectives. They can cooperate with each other to find leads, cut off certain paths, and/or hopefully arrest Jack.

Pros

The best part of this game is that it has both elements of competitive and cooperative play. One of my problems in finding a good game for a party where everyone can play. Typical games are either too competitive (i.e. Settlers of Catan) or too cooperative (i.e. Pandemic). I think one of the biggest problems with people who usually do not play board games is that they do not want to upset other players because they do not know how to play. This is even more so when you have very competitive friends (who always wants to play so I rarely play coop games).

For Whitechapel, all the cooperative players should be on the detective side since they can all discuss strategies. Competitive players can play either Jack or detectives. On the detective side, they will tend to direct the other players. I try to encourage that the head detective (who rotates after each round) do most of the talking.

Cons

I do not have much against the game so far. With friends who I think are good at strategy, Jack has a high tendency to win (4 out of 5 games). With another group of friends who I thought were less strategic in their play-style, Jack almost always lost.

Personally, I've played Jack 3 times and detective 2 times. I've won all except one. The lost game did not follow the strategies I think was needed to win. The other time as detective, I think it was a fluke that we found Jack.

Overall

This is definitely one of my top party games with people who like strategy and minimal random factors (like dice and/or card drawing).