We have a guest author today. Nick, a newer member of the Muskegon Area Gamers, has become a bit of a Letters from Whitechapel aficionado in his short time with us. He tried his hand at winning as Jack the Ripper several times only to be thwarted by Tasha (another member of our group). Then, when Tasha couldn’t make it on a Thursday, Nick wanted a rematch. And then he won. Here are his thoughts about that session and about the game in general…
I was initiated into the world of Whitechapel as any good gamer should be, as a constable. I looked at the board for the black squares I could move on and not much else. My second game I started to try to think like Jack, and from that moment it was clear that I would need to be Jack in order to truly understand the game as a whole. This article is my written on my first win as Jack in the game Letters from Whitechapel. It assumes that you, the reader, know the basics of the game. If, for some reason, you don’t, I apologize. I also only have literature on my movements through the night which might lead to some inaccuracies as to why I did what I did. Again, my apologies.
Being Jack requires thinking like your opponents whether there is only one or the full complement of five constables. This comes to play in where you set your hideout, how you maneuver through the night, and when you actually decide to ‘go home’ at the end of your night.
In the games of Letters from Whitechapel I have played, I have moved my hideout around the board. My first game, I chose 141 which is in the middle of the board and as such I thought I would be able to get there easily. I was caught (by accident) on the second or third night. On my second and third games, I chose 64 and 86 respectively. At this point I figured it didn’t matter where I picked and thus picked birth date and birth year as my starting points. These are absolutely places I might go again, but it would have to be after the metagame has evolved to a point that my opponents would not expect those picks from me. On my final game, I chose the space 177. I tried to be very analytical about this location. 177 has a two square buffer on each side which makes it unlikely for the constables to lock it down unless they are fairly convinced I am hiding out there. It is not perfectly central to the board (which would probably be bad) but it is near a main traffic pattern of the board.
Every night Jack’s resources reset but reduce by one. I have realized this means that using them as much as possible on the first night is the right choice. Using carriages while somewhere near a constable leads them to believe that you have walked through them. Using alleyways when nowhere near a constable casts a massive shadow of doubt over most constables. What I mean by this is: use the resources given in the proper manner proactively rather than reactively. In the game mentioned above, I used all three of my carriages one after another on the first night. This lead to only my first one or two moves being noticed by the constables by the time I was almost home. When they realized where I must have gone, I alleyed twice and moved twice in order to shake them even though they were nowhere near.
As I just mentioned, going home requires careful thought on the first night and, to some extent, on every night after. Night one, I like to be home before I’ve been tracked at all. If that doesn’t work, I want to leave a few spaces of movement unknown to the constables before I go home. This gives my hideout a buffer area that is hard to box in. On nights two and three my main focus is just to get home without leaving the constables on my doorstep. 177 allows for this handsomely. I did just barely get home both of those nights. (Never have I been more stressed than trying to walk home on hour 15.) On the fourth night my main focus was just to evade and get home as quickly as possible. It was also my shortest night.
The last real thing to mention in a game as Jack is that the people sitting across from you are specifically responsible for how you play. It’s as much a chess game as it is a game of high stakes poker. With one type of player across the table, I can carriage next to them and they won’t think I’ve done that because it’s reckless. With another (whose name might rhyme with Sasha) I have to be as far from the constables as possible at all times or lose to the random ( I say random because there are literally at least 14 places I could be and 4 I could reasonably be) accuse loss on night 2.
Winning as Jack is the most stressful hours of tabletop gaming I’ve ever had. I am absolutely ready to hang up my rippin’ hat for a while and let some fresh blood take over the reins.
-Nick, on behalf of the Muskegon Area Gamers