There are two main types of cards used in this game: "Evidence cards" and "Gavel cards". Most of the time you will be trying to catch "Jack the Ripper" by making melds (three or more of a kind) of Evidence cards. The Gavel cards will help players trying to catch Jack as well as the player who may be trying to escape. They provide a strong strategic element to the game not found in traditional rummy.
There is also one special "Ripper Escapes" card. With this card, you may decide to try to win the hand by helping Jack the Ripper escape. Playing the Ripper Escapes card ends the hand immediately with lots of points for the person playing it.
- 6 Suspect Cards
- 5 Alibi Cards
- 5 Victim Cards
- 5 Scene Cards
- 2 Commissioner Resigns
- 2 Ripper Strikes
- Evidence cards (36)
- 1 Ripper Escapes card
- 4 overview cards
Object of the Game
The object of this rummy card game is to score the most points. The game ends when at least one player has scored 100 points or more. This will usually take between 3 and 5 hands.
Points can be scored in several ways:
- Playing melds of Evidence cards
- Playing layoffs of Evidence cards on other melds
- Playing Gavel cards with point values
- Voting correctly
- Playing the Ripper Escapes card
Players will need a pencil and paper to keep track of the score and votes during game play.
Randomly determine who will deal the first hand. The dealer shuffles the deck and allows the player on his or her right to cut the deck.
- For 2 players: 10 cards are dealt one at a time, face down, to each player
- For 3 players: 9 cards are dealt in clockwise order, face down, to each player
- For 4 players: 8 cards are dealt in clockwise order, face down, to each player
The remainder of the deck is placed face down in the center of the table, and the top card is revealed and placed face up next to the deck. This forms the discard pile. The draw deck is called the "Case File" and the discard pile is called "Scotland Yard".
This game uses a closed discard pile. The top card is the only card that should be visible in the discard pile. Players are not allowed to look through the discard pile unless a card they are playing instructs them to do so.
Play proceeds clockwise around the table starting with the player to the dealer's left (or opposite him if two are playing). Each player completes the following steps before the next player's turn begins:
Vote (optional) -> Draw (mandatory) -> Play (optional) -> Discard (mandatory).
The following is an explanation of each step of the turn in detail:
(Optional, once per hand and includes all players)
Voting is an optional action. There does not have to be a vote.
- A vote may only be done once per hand.
- If you want to call a vote, it must be done at the start of your turn before you draw.
- To call a vote you must have at least one meld in play.
- Every player votes simultaneously when it is called.
When a vote is called, all players secretly write down the name of one of the six suspects who they think will be the Ripper at the end of the hand. (Whether they have Evidence cards on the table at that time or not).
- Letters Evidence cards satisfy the requirement for having a meld in play, but you cannot vote for Letters as a suspect and Letters cannot be the Ripper.
- You cannot vote for the Ripper escaping.
Votes are revealed at the end of a hand during Scoring.
- A Suspect card does not need to be in play for that person to be the Ripper.
- If you vote correctly, you will add ten points to your score.
- If you vote incorrectly, there is no penalty.
Draw one card from the top of the Case File or take the top card from Scotland Yard (discard pile). Add this card to your hand.
Gavel cards: You may only play one Gavel card per turn. If the Gavel card has positive points in the upper right hand corner you play it into your play area. If it has a 0 point value, you discard it into Scotland Yard.
When playing a Scene Gavel card you are allowed to take a Gavel card out of Scotland Yard and play it right away as long as it is playable. You may only play one Gavel card per turn.
Refer to game overview & strategy for detailed instructions on how to play each type of Gavel card. Note the exceptions to one Gavel Card a turn under Ripper Strikes and Scene card explanations. Abbreviated prompts are also given on each Gavel card. Gavel cards are played alone, not in melds.
Evidence cards: No one can play any Evidence cards until there is a Victim card in play. Evidence cards are played in melds. A meld is three or more Evidence cards of the same color. You can also play Evidence cards by themselves if they go with a meld that is already on the table.
For example, if a player has a Jill the Ripper meld in play, you can play a Jill the Ripper Evidence card in your play area. This is called a "layoff".
After you have played all the cards you want to, you must discard one card face up to the top of Scotland Yard. You may discard any card. Play continues in a clockwise direction around the table until the hand ends.
Ending a Hand
There are four ways a hand can end:
A player discards his last card, known as going out.
A player plays the Ripper Escapes Card.
The last card in the Case File is drawn. That player completes his turn and then the hand is over.
A player is forced to discard his last card when someone plays the "Commissioner Resigns" card. The player who played the "Commissioner Resigns" card finishes their turn and the hand is over.
Note: This can result in the fifth Victim Card being played in which case a player with the Ripper Escapes card can play it immediately ending the hand there.
You are playing in a two-player game of Mystery Rummy. You look at your hand of ten cards and group them by color. You have two blue Evidence cards for Druitt, as well as the blue Druitt Suspect card.
You decide to pick up the top card from Scotland Yard, which happens to be another Druitt Evidence card.
You would like to play a meld of Evidence cards for Druitt since you have three of them. However, there is no Victim card in play yet, so you cannot. Looking at your hand, you notice that you have the Victim card for Mary Nichols, which has the gavel in the upper left corner of the card.
You are allowed to play one Gavel card per turn, so you play the Victim card in front of you and follow the instructions on the card.
Now that there is a Victim card in play, you may begin to play Evidence cards. You play your Druitt meld in your play area.
The Druitt Suspect card can be played now that there is a meld of Druitt Evidence cards in play. However, since it is a Gavel card and you already played a Gavel (Victim Mary Nichols) this turn, you must wait until your next turn to play it.
You discard a Letters Evidence card into Scotland Yard to end your turn and it is now the next player's turn.
The scoring method will depend on the outcome of the hand and whether the Ripper is caught, escapes, or is still at large.
A. Ripper is Caught-scoring
The Ripper is caught when the hand ends without the Ripper Escapes card being played and the Case File is not empty. To find out who the Ripper is, add up all the points for cards played for each suspect.
The suspect (or color) with the most points on the table is the Ripper. A Suspect card does not need to be in play for that person to be the Ripper. Important: When there is an Alibi card in play, that suspect cannot be the Ripper-even if he or she has the most points.
You must then take the next highest point total to determine the identity of the Ripper. If there is a tie, refer to the suspect order number on the lower left corner of each card relating to a suspect. The lowest number is the Ripper. All points in play for the Suspect determined to be the Ripper will be doubled.
Add up all your points on the table. Remember to double all points on Evidence cards and Suspect cards you have in play for whoever the Ripper is this hand. Points for other suspects count at their face value. Be sure to add cards like Victims, Scenes, and Alibis, as they have a point value on them as well.
If you are not the one who went out and have cards remaining in your hand, you must look at your hand and subtract from your point total any cards that could not be played. Any cards that could have been played are set aside and do not figure in scoring.
Scenes and Victims in your hand are always subtracted from your score when the Ripper is caught. (This rule allows you to strategically hold cards that could be played to help the suspect you want to be the Ripper).
Ripper Escapes Card Special Scoring: If a player is holding the Ripper Escapes card when the hand ends, it counts as minus 2 points per Victim Card in play. It is not -35 points.
If a vote was called, check the results. If a player voted correctly, add 10 points to that player's score for the hand. There is no penalty for voting incorrectly.
B. Ripper Escapes-scoring
When the Ripper Escapes, the only points scored are for Victims and Scenes in play and the Ripper Escapes card. The player who plays the Ripper Escapes card receives 35 points for playing that card.
All players score for Victims and Scenes in their play area. No points are deducted for cards remaining in a player's hand.
C. Ripper Still at Large-scoring
This is exactly like the Ripper Caught Scoring except you do not figure out who the Ripper is and Vote results are ignored. No points are doubled. Players only score face value for cards in their play area.
End of the Game
After scoring the hand, total all scores for the game. The game ends when at least one player has scored 100 or more points.
The player with the highest score wins. If there is a tie, play another hand.
Pay attention to which Alibi cards have been discarded. Having a Scene card toward the end of the game (which allows you to retrieve the right Alibi card) can be key.
Pay attention to how many Victim cards are in play. When the fifth one goes into play, any player can play the Ripper Escapes card and win instantly!
Be aware that it is fairly common for there to be a tie for who the Ripper is. Pay attention to the Suspect order number (in the lower left-hand corner of the card). The lowest number wins a tie.
Try to call a vote when you know you will be able to change the situation during a turn so that you might be the only player to vote correctly.