In the first hand we saw some of the reason for the negative buzz. With 4 players a lot of cards get drawn and all of the Victims will end up in someone's hand by the end of the first run through the deck (except... see below). That means that either all of the Victims will be played, in which case The Ripper Escapes and someone gets 35 points; or a Commissioner Resigns card will cause all victims to come out and the ripper will escape giving someone 35 points. Here's the except - the only hope for the other players is that the person with The Ripper Escapes never gets a Commissioner Resigns, nor a Scene to retrieve one from the discard pile; or else the other players are able to get a victim into the discard pile and keep her there.
Overall, with 4 players it's just difficult to prevent the ripper from escaping and giving lots of points to one person and hardly any to anyone else. People end up holding onto Victims and Commissioner Resigns cards to prevent the person with The Ripper Escapes from getting them, and the game becomes distorted from what you'd expect rummy to be. I'm not sure it's meant to be like that. I've played the game with 3 and it was fine, and maybe with 2 it would be better again.
While I'm here, I'll talk about Mike Fitzgerald's other games:
- Mystery Rummy: Murders in the Rue Morgue - We played this quite a bit in 2005 and I still like it. It doesn't seem to have as many twists and turns as the other Mystery Rummy games, and the art is in being able to get the bonus points.
- Mystery Rummy: Jekyll and Hyde - I've only played this a couple of times but I liked the challenge of trying to engineer a shut-out.
- Wyatt Earp - This is a very good game where you're trying to balance going out with getting the biggest share of the reward. It needs more thought than I care to give it, but I don't mind losing anyway.
Anyway, back to the session report. CyberKev scored two Ripper Escapes in the first two hands and went out to a huge lead. Our best strategies couldn't hold him back and he won easily. We then went on to play Frank's Zoo with partnership rules, which is also a good game, and Mrs CyberKev won easily there.