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Tromdial

Got Dracula, so…

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I love mystery games, but I also enjoy the longevity of a game because of its complexity. When reading the product details of Letters to Whitechapel, it seems you get more in your purchase of the Dracula mystery game than this latest product. I have heard Whitechapel is a good game but if I already have Dracula, especially with items, events, and encounter tokens, what does Whitechapel have to offer?

Any owners of LW out there who can compare or make a suggestion?

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That was exaclty my point in a different thread, Tromdial. If you look at the dynamics, the two games look very similar

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Is the suggestion here 'got one deduction game, seen em all'?  I have the old GW Fury of Dracula and am extremely interested in Letters of Whitechapel BECAUSE I really like it a lot.  Really happy to hear about this announcement.

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I'll certainly wait to see them all, but since the game is an "improved edition" of a very recent game, and FFG stated that the rules are unchanged (apart from the inclusion of the Errata), it shouldn't be that difficult finding someone who played the original and can say whether it's similar to Fury of Dracula or not.


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I' ve played both the games and I've liked Letter from Whitechappel much better. In fact it's part of my collection and I have no intend of getting rid of it. I' ve playded Dracula only once, so maybe I haven't got to know it well enough to give you fair comparison with LfW. They are pretty different, despite the fact, that main idea is the same: group of players chase one guy, who has no pawn on the board and his moves remain hidden. The biggest difference beetwen them is, that in Dracula you can rely on cards and dice rolls that are relatively unpredictible and random. There is no such thing in LfW. There are no special card or dice rolls that can help you. Jack the Ripper has several special movements tokens, but policemen know how many of them he has and when does he use them. You've got to focus on predicting yours opponents moves and on that only. It's an ultimate battle of the minds.

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Barbus said:



The biggest difference beetwen them is, that in Dracula you can rely on cards and dice rolls that are relatively unpredictible and random. There is no such thing in LfW. There are no special card or dice rolls that can help you. Jack the Ripper has several special movements tokens, but policemen know how many of them he has and when does he use them. You've got to focus on predicting yours opponents moves and on that only. It's an ultimate battle of the minds.





Now things start getting interesting. I played around 50 FoD games in the last years, and, even if I love the "battle of minds" part, I hate from the deepest of my heart the combat system based on dice. I have a *horrible* luck while throwing dice (I remember a Nantes combat where I tried to escape, and I lost 13 rounds of combat in a row because I rolled less than my opponent) and even the greatest games often ended in scorn and frustration. So, no dice sounds like a great news to me.



May I ask you about the balance of the game? And the replayability? Are there some "forced" movements (I mean, a certain series of things you have to do in order to achieve a certain result and hence after some games some actions are really predictable?) you have to take?


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I think replayability is on a satisfying level. There are nearly 200 numberd spaces on the gameboard and in each time Jack chooses one of them to be his hideout throughout the entire game. His goal is to reach that hideout after each of 4 murders, which may also take place in different spaces each game. With varying locations of hidout and murders each game is different and requires using different strategies from players.

Game is rather unbalanced in favour of Jack. In my group detectives have lost 3/4 of our games. Theoretically detectives have four gameturns(nights) to catch Jack. During the first three nights they should narrow down the area of investigation and then at fourth night cut Jack off his hideout. Practically Jack is able to finish the game at the very beginning of the fourth night. He can do that, by choosing his hideout on space adjacent to the last murder site. He does that at the beginning of the game, by it's very easy to plan that ahead. So basically if detectives don't catch him at third night(which is very difficult, because small amount of clues) they are going to lose the game.

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Thanks both of you for the feedback :-) 200 locations are good (Dracula was limited to 60, IIRC). This should offer a lot more chances.

As for the balance issues… I guess it's ok with a difficult game (from the detective POV), assuming that the rounds spent "chasing the clues" are still fun, and not a random searching here and there hoping for luck. But if it's all strategy, then, yeah.

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I own both the Fantasy Flight edition of Fury of Dracula and the Nexus edition of Letters from Whitechapel.  I enjoy both and would play either one again and again.  As others have said, LfW strips away all of the random elements that are in FoD.  LfW is a pure battle of wits and as such is more tense.  Any slip up by Jack and the game is over with no second chances or lucky draw of an Evasion card.  LfW offers a few variant rules (the "letters") to address balance issues but none of these, to my recollection, introduce any random elements.  My gaming group has yet to play with these variants.

Both games drip with theme and come with boards that could be framed as art.  Both games feature a blood thirsty fiend who moves in secret.  Beyond that, luck plays a part in FoD's gameplay while there is only strategy and wits in LfW.  If you hate luck in your games get LfW.  If you enjoy random surprises either throwing a wrench in your strategy or saving you after a miscue, then stick with FoD.  If you're like me and you enjoy both types of games depending on your mood or fellow gamers' preferences, get both of these games!

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I've also played several games of both and I'm happy our group has both in our collection.

Dracula is a fantastic game, with lots of subplots and choices (equipment, events, encounter) and such. Dracula is also more of an "event" game in our group, and would likely be the only game we played that night.

Whitechapel is much simpler and faster and could be played by non-gamers without too much trouble. It could even be considered a "family" game, for the nights when your family wants to play a game involving a serial killer who slaughters prostitutes.

If I had to pick only one, it would be Dracula, for the same reasons I would pick Battlestar over Shadows Over Camelot, or Arkham Horror over Witch of Salem. But there is always room for another fun, fast game and Whitechapel is good.

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I wouldn't agree that LfW is much simpler and faster.  There are fewer rules, that's true. You're able to teach that game in 10 to15 minutes. But in my opinion it requires more thinking than Dracula just because Jack has a lot more option for movement than Dracula does. It can be pretty hard or even brainburning depending on who you play with. It may be fast if you catch Jack during the first night:) Otherwhise the game can last for 3 hour or more.

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Cool. Thanks for the input, guys. I think I will monitor the reviews for it when the new edition gets released and judge then if I want it or not. Something I won't know till I start to see a little more hands on and if it's up my alley. Main thing is I like the variety Dracula offers with the event and item cards and I don't think this one supplies anything like that.

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Barbus said:

 

Game is rather unbalanced in favour of Jack. In my group detectives have lost 3/4 of our games. 

Personally, I like this factor in the case of this game. While an unbalanced game can be frustrating, in this case I like it. Thematically it fits, since Jack the Ripper wasn't caught. But it'll still be tense for all players

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My wife and I are occasional Fury of Dracula players so this looks great. The system is a litle less "fussy": more pared down in mechanics and removes dice (that's GOOD for players like us) and it clearly stresses logic and deduction over all else (also great). NOT so sure she will find a game based on the historic murder of women so appealing (!). Dracula is a cartoon, albeit a compelling one, in this sense, relative to Jack. So, we'll see. I'm definitely awaiting the release with interest.

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Whether you prefer one or the other largely depends on your gaming preferences:

you may prefer Whitechapel over Dracula because the absence of random elements puts more emphasis on the strategic aspects. You may also appreciate the fact that the game is skewed towards Jack, making the hunting players'  task more challenging (although I believe long term players somewhat dispute this and claim the game is essentially balanced - It certainly doesn't feel that way to me, but I haven't really played it that often to dispute that claim). The larger map adds some tactical diversity.

OTOH, you may prefer Dracula over Whitechappel, because the random elements add some more variance. Even though the theme is reasonably well represented, Whitechapel may feel more "dry" to you, more of a "mathematical" exercise than a game. It can also be downright frustrating for the detectives, as a competent Jack player will probably be very difficult to trace, at least in the first few games, leaving the other player fumbling for clues more or less at random. IMHO,  Whitechapel is closer to "Scotland Yard" in feel than to "Dracula". Playing as Jack, you may experience extended downtime as the game puts a lot of pressure on the detectives, who must carefully analyse and plan their moves just to stay in the game (incidently, this suggests that the sweet spot is just 2 players - It can be challenging to accomodate more than one Detective player, as not all players will be able to manage the frustration and complexity of the task at hand. YMMV).

 

My own personal preference goes to Whitechapel.

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I own both games and they're not all that alike really. The theme of both games is evasion - in FoD it's part of the game, but in LfW it's the entire game.

LfW is actually not a particularly good game. It's heavily inbalanced in favour of the Jack player, often degenerating into a dull guessing game for the police, and the play time is way too long for what it does (especially once your gaming group work out that it's in Jack's best interest to extend each night of the game for as long as possible). There are threads on board game geek where people ask what strategies the police can use and to date none have been proposed that have any merit. No kidding.

So, my advice is keep your money and avoid LfW unless the idea of a game of pure evasion appeals to you. There's very little deduction when playing as the police so it tends to only be entertaining for one of the players (Jack). FoD isn't perfect, but it's far better than LfW.

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The trouble with 'extending each night of the game for as long as possible' is that you only have a limited amount of turns to make it back to your hideout. With every step you remain on the board there is a risk you'll leave a trace as to where you've been. And each night you're on your way back to X. So it doesn't take long to get a loose impression of where Jack is headed, and for the dectives start to block those routes.

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That's true, but in my experience the police have to be very lucky (not deductive) to find the clue which gives them any real notion of which way Jack is heading. If they don't find that clue by the end of the third night then it's game over. I won't go into the various tricks Jack has to confuse the police, but he does have them. In exchange the police get nothing. It's better for Jack to extend each night (except the last, obviously) for as long as possible since that way he actually gives the police less information, not more. Are the police close to finding a clue which may give them an idea of which way you've headed? Yes, then go home and end the night. No, just walk up and down the street outside your house to stall. Simple, but highly effective.

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I cannot see how your method could possibly work. You immediately know from move one where Jack is. It's not just a matter of luck finding his trail, he's obviously set off down one of generally four paths.

Extending the night gives the detectives more chances of extending Jacks trail.

 

 

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Avalanche Master said:

I cannot see how your method could possibly work. You immediately know from move one where Jack is.

No, you know where he was, not where he is. Apart from night 3 (which is incidentally the best chance the police get in the whole game - a fact which does actually lead to one potential police strategy), then Jack is a move ahead of the police. Given the tools at his disposal it's going to be pure luck if the police catch him early on. Once he's escaped the net he's gone for the night.

 

Avalanche Master said:

Extending the night gives the detectives more chances of extending Jacks trail.

Well, yes, but if you're the Jack player and you know the police are guessing badly (and they will be guessing once the trail goes cold), then you know that's just not going to happen. If Jack is playing to maximise his chances of winning the game he'll take as long as possible to get home. This makes the game incredibly dull for long periods of time - "I search for clues at 100", "Nope", "101?", "Zip", "102 then?", "Nothing there either".

If you've played the game and successfully employed a strategy to catch a clever Jack player then I'd be delighted to hear how you did it. It would give a new lease of life to a game I really wanted to like but didn't.

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Laban Shrewsbury said:

If you've played the game and successfully employed a strategy to catch a clever Jack player then I'd be delighted to hear how you did it. It would give a new lease of life to a game I really wanted to like but didn't.

 

A clever jack can only be caught by cleverer detectives.

 

Some tips are to hang back, and don't overtighten the net too quickly. You'll end up moving past Jack. It is often wise to expand rather than contract, which will force Jack to detour even further.

 

Concentrate on some of the junctions, and wait. Jack will again be fored to detour, or attempt to use a Carriage or Shortcut. Again ,don't rush in, but widen the netalways checking behind you first.

 

Making an Arrest rather than an assumption  can sometimes be just as effective. In certain cases if Jack isn't there on the arrest, you'll know he hasn't been there at all.

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