The game of Rummy has been around since the 1800s and is one of the most popular basic set collection games. In Rummy you are trying to get rid of all of the cards from your hand by playing cards of the same number or by playing runs of the same suit. With Rummy being such a popular card game for so many years, there have been many variant rules and spin off games based on the Rummy formula. Rummy inspired a whole series of games called Mystery Rummy which tweaked and added rules to traditional Rummy. Today I am looking at one game from the Mystery Rummy series Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper which just so happens to be one of the highest rated Rummy games. Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper adds some interesting new mechanics to Rummy but still relies too much on card draw luck.
How to Play
Shuffle the cards and deal a number of cards to each player depending on how many players there are:
- 2 Players: 10 cards each
- 3 Players: 9 cards each
- 4 Players: 8 cards each
The top card from the draw pile is turned face up to start the discard pile.
On a player’s turn they follow these steps:
- Call a Vote (optional and only used once per hand)
- Draw A Card
- Play Cards
- Discard a Card
The first action that a player can perform on their turn is to call a vote on who everyone thinks is Jack the Ripper. This action is optional and can only be called by one player for each hand. The vote can’t be called until a set of evidence cards have been played. When a player calls for a vote, all of the players need to secretly write down which suspect they think will end up being Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper’s identity is determined by the value of the cards played for each suspect. At the end of the hand each player reveals their guess and whoever is right gets ten additional points.
Next the player has to draw a card. They can choose to draw the top card from the draw pile or the top card from the discard pile. This card is added to the player’s hand.
After drawing a card the current player can choose to play some cards. All cards are played in front of the player who played them unless the card has a zero printed in the top right corner since these cards are added to the discard pile. There are two types of card.
Gavel cards feature a gavel in the top left corner. Only one gavel card can be played each turn.
Evidence cards feature a magnifying glass in the top left corner. These cards are played in groups of three. A player can play groups of three matching evidence cards or can play single evidence cards that match a group of three evidence cards that have already been played by any player. No evidence cards may be played until a victim card has been played. A player can play as many evidence cards as they want on their turn as long as the other rules regarding playing the cards are followed.
After playing cards the player has to choose one card from their hand to place on the top of the discard pile. This player’s turn has now ended.
Here are a list of special rules for some of the cards.
Alibi: Only one alibi card can be in play at a time. When a new alibi card is played, a previously played alibi card is discarded.
Commissioner Resigns: All players must play all of the victim cards that they hold in their hand. The ability of being able to draw cards after playing a victim card is ignored. If all five victim cards are played, the player that holds the Ripper Escapes card may immediately play it to end the hand.
Ripper Escapes: This card can be played at any time (even on other player’s turns) but can only be played once all five victim cards have been played. This card immediately ends the current hand.
Ripper Strikes: When this card is played the player who played it starts drawing cards from the draw pile. If the card is a victim it is played in front of the current player and the card’s effect ends. The player gets to draw two cards for their hand due to playing a victim card. If the card is not a victim it is discarded. The player can draw up to five cards but the effect ends if no victim cards are found in those five cards.
Scene/Victim: If a scene card is played, you may take the associated victim from another player if they have played it in front of them. The reverse also applies where you can take a played scene card from another player if it matches the victim card that you just played.
Suspect: A suspect card can only be played if there are three or more evidence cards already played that match that suspect.
Wild: Wild cards can count as any other evidence card except for letter evidence cards. When played the player has to declare what type of evidence card it is representing.
End of Game
There are four different ways that a hand can end.
- A player plays the last card from their hand by discarding it at the end of their turn.
- A player plays the “Ripper Escapes” card.
- The game does not end before going through the draw deck two times.
- There is only one suspect that has cards played for them but the alibi for that suspect was also played.
To determine the winner, scoring is conducted. The type of scoring that is conducted is based on how the game ends.
If the game ended by a player getting rid of their final card, scoring is based on the point values on the cards in front of each player. Players count up the values in the top right corner of all of the cards played in front of them. All cards relating to Jack the Ripper are worth twice as much as is printed on the card. Players who guessed the correct identity of Jack the Ripper are awarded an additional ten points. All of the players that still have cards in their hand must then look through their hand. Any card that they could have played (other than scenes, victims or the Ripper Escapes card) can be discarded. All cards remaining in a player’s hand are subtracted from a player’s score. The player with the most points wins the hand.
To determine the identity of Jack the Ripper you must count up the value of all of the cards played for each suspect. If the alibi card for a particular suspect is in front of a player, that suspect cannot be Jack the Ripper. If there are two suspects with the same amount of points, the tie is broken by the number in the bottom left corner of the cards. The suspect with the lower number will be Jack the Ripper.
If the game ends from options two through four, scoring is much simpler. The player who played the Ripper Escapes card gets 35 points. Players also score points for victims, and scene cards that were played. No other cards score points and players don’t lose points for cards left in their hand.
The one thing that surprised me the most when I first looked up Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper was the amount of praise that the game received on Board Game Geek. It is quite hard to break the top 1,000 board games of all time and yet Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper is rated in the 600s. For a game to be rated that high it has to be really loved by the majority of players. While I think Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper is a good game I don’t know if it is deserving of being one of the top 1,000 board games of all time.
Being a game based on a set collection game, I have to admit that I was surprised by how much the additions to the game actually change the game. Basically the game feels like a set collection game mixed with a deduction game with elements from other card games. For the most part I really liked all of the new mechanics added to the game. The main reason I like them is that they add a decent amount of strategy to a genre that usually relies almost entirely on card draw luck.
The biggest addition to the game is the idea of making one of the suspects Jack the Ripper based on what cards are played in the game. While you don’t actually deduce anything, there is some interesting mechanics as you are trying to figure out what cards the other players have in their hand. This element actually plays a somewhat big role in the outcome of a hand. Being able to guess the suspect who is Jack the Ripper is valuable since it will gain you ten points. Even more important though is playing a lot of cards of the suspect that turns out to be Jack the Ripper. Doubling the points of all the cards of Jack the Ripper is huge and will usually determine who wins a hand if Jack the Ripper is caught. What makes this interesting is that players have reasons to want to change who becomes Jack the Ripper based on their guess and the cards played in front of them. With the use of alibi cards a player could switch things up easily and really mess with another player’s game.
The other major addition to the game is the idea of the Ripper Escapes card. Generally I am a fan of multiple ways of winning a game and for the most part I like this card as well. While I think it is too powerful (whoever plays it is guaranteed to win the hand by a ton of points), I like the idea that the game can end at any time. It makes the game less predictable and gives a player that didn’t have a lot of luck throughout the rest of the game a chance at winning. The idea that the game can end at any moment means that players need to think about what cards they want to play.
One problem with Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper is that it is more complicated than you would expect. Rummy itself is not a particularly difficult game since it mostly involves playing cards of matching numbers or suits. While Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper is not a highly difficult game, it actually takes longer to learn than you would think. This is mostly due to there being so many little rules that are hard to keep track of. It takes most of a full game to fully understand how to play the game. Once you fully understand the game it is easy to play but your first game will take longer than normal as the players adjust to the game.
While Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper adds quite a bit to the Rummy formula, at it’s base it is still a Rummy game. The goal of the game is to get rid of all of your cards which is mostly done by playing evidence cards in groups of three. While the new mechanics change things up, in most cases the basic Rummy mechanics will determine who wins the game. Evidence cards are key to winning the game. Being able to get evidence cards that you can play are key since they are valuable for winning a hand. First evidence cards are some of the more valuable cards to play in front of yourself. Second the evidence cards become quite valuable if they get a boost from the Jack the Ripper bonus. Finally since you can play as many evidence cards as you want on your turn, they are really helpful in getting cards out of your hand so you can be the first player to get rid of all of your cards. If one player is really lucky and gets dealt a lot of evidence cards that they can play out in front of them, they will likely win if Jack the Ripper is caught.
The evidence cards are just one example of why even if you can have a lot more impact on the game in Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper than you can in traditional Rummy, card draw luck is still crucial in the game. The player who draws the best cards is likely going to win the hand. Drawing valuable cards that you can play in front of you is really important in winning the game if Jack the Ripper is caught. If Jack the Ripper gets away; getting victim, scene and the Ripper Escapes cards are the only cards that score so it is important to draw those cards. While strategic play of cards can win you some hands, the large majority of winners will come from whichever player drew the best cards.
One of the most curious parts of Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper is the theme itself. While the game doesn’t have anything inappropriate on the cards and your not actually killing anyone as Jack the Ripper, I find it curious that the designer chose to make a game based on one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. While I don’t think the game will offend that many people, I don’t blame anyone for being offended by the game’s theme being based off a serial killer. While the theme does drive the gameplay in places, the game could have easily used a generic murder investigation theme or they could have changed the theme to something else and still kept the game’s mechanics.
For the most part I liked the game’s components. I thought the artwork was really well done. The card quality is pretty good. The text on the cards could have been printed a little larger though since some of the text might be hard to read for people that don’t have great eyesight. The included rulebook could also have used some work because at times it is not as straightforward as it should have been.
Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper is a pretty good card game. I was surprised that the tweaks from traditional Rummy actually make the game quite a bit more interesting and add more strategy to Rummy than I would have thought. For the most part I really liked all of the additions to the game since they improve on traditional Rummy. Despite adding more strategy to Rummy though, Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper still relies heavily on card draw luck. The player who draws the best cards will likely win the game.
While I think the additions to Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper really help the game, I don’t think they change the game enough to make someone enjoy the game that doesn’t really like Rummy/set collection games. If you like Rummy games though and are looking for a more strategic twist to the game I would recommend picking up Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper.
If you would like to purchase Mystery Rummy: Jack The Ripper you can find it on Amazon.