Mystery Rummy: Escape From Alcatraz is a game by Mike Fitzgerald and Andrew Korson, published by Eagle-Gryphon Games and U.S. Games System. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of guards at the most infamous federal prison, Alcatraz. They will be trying to foil escape attempts by gathering information on plans and capturing mastermind and co-conspirators. This will be done by playing cards to score points. The player that can reach the point goal first will be declared the winner.
To begin, the cards should be separated by backs. Each player is given a “Foiled!” card which they will place in front of them. The Action cards are shuffled and placed face down on the table. The Plans cards are shuffled as well before being placed facedown on the table. This deck is now known as the Cell Block. Any discarded cards are spread out in a row so that the edge of each card is visible. This row is now known as Solitary. One player is chosen as the dealer. They then reveal cards until an escapee card is found. That card is placed face up beside the Solitary row. This area is now known as the Yard. The revealed cards go in the Solitary row. The dealer then deals out 10 cards to each player. Play now begins.
On a player’s turn, they must follow a series of steps. The first thing they must do is either draw 2 cards from the Cell Block or take the top card from Solitary. They may then gather information on an escape attempt through playing plan and/or escapee cards. The player is able to start a new plan if there are no cards for that particular escape plan present. The player places 3 or more matching plan cards face up in their play area. If a plan has already been started either by themself or another player, the player may play matching plan cards in their play area. I should mention a few things. There must be an equal or greater number of escapees in the yard as compared to the plans in play before a player may play a new plan. One other thing is that the player must have at least one card left in their hand for discarding. If playing a plan would deplete their hand, they can’t play it. Multiple plans may be played as lone as the aforementioned requirements are met. Once the player finishes, they must then draw a card from the top of the Action deck and follow the instructions. It is then placed face up in the discard pile. The player may also add an escapee from their hand to the yard if so desired.
Another thing that the player may do is to foil an escape plan. This will be how a player gains points at the end of the round. To do this, the player must make sure that the plan they wish to foil has 8 or more plan cards on the table and at least one of those plan cards must be in front of them. The player must then identify the mastermind. This is done by playing an infamous escapee whose color matches the plan or one of the generic gray edged escapees. All of the plan cards and the escapee card that was used are placed under the player’s Foiled! card. If another player has cards that match the plan already in front of them, they are then able to place these under their Foiled! cards as well. Players can also play an escapee card that matches the plan card from their hand and place it under their Foiled! card as well. A player is only allowed to foil an escape once per turn. Once the player has finished their turn, they must discard a card from their hand to Solitary. Play then passes to the next player.
The round continues until either a player discards their last card or there are no more cards in the Cell Block. Scoring then takes place. Players add up the points on all the cards under their Foiled! cards. If a player goes out, they gain 3 bonus points per escapee left in the yard. If a player goes out before any escape attempts have been foiled, they will receive the full point value for each escapee in the yard. Once a player has 100 or more points, the game is over and that player is the winner.
This game includes two decks of cards and 4 Foiled! cards. Each one has a very thematic look to them. They look really nice. The artwork is black and white drawings and each one in the Plans deck has the history of either a plan or escapee. The action cards have the same stylized art but have the description of how to use each one. The Foiled! cards look like something from an old case file. The cards come packaged neatly inside a really cool looking box. The box has a tray with 2 places for the cards and ribbons inserted to help pull them out of the insert. The box opens up like a book and has some more really neat looking artwork inside the lid of some of the escapees. I really like the artwork and like the attention to detail for this simple card game.
8 out of 10
The rulebook is very nice and folds up neatly to fit inside the box. It has lots of pictures of how to set up the game along with a few examples as well. Each of the different action cards is explained in thorough detail. Everything is really simple to read and understand. There’s nothing difficult here and it won’t take long to read at all. The design is nice and compliments the game really well. There’s nothing else more that needs to be said.
8 out of 10
This game, as you may have realized already, reimplements the game Rummy in a very thematic and fun way. It is actually the fifth in the Mystery Rummy series. I’ve always been intrigued by Alcatraz so this game already had sparked my interest. I also enjoyed Rummy, having played it many times with grandmother over the years. The main idea of the game is pretty much the same as any game of Rummy, to get rid of all of your cards and to go out. Of course reaching a score of 100 points is the only way to win. Depending on the hand that you receive will determine a lot of what you’ll be able to do and whether you can quickly burn through your hand before another player is able to score any points or if you’ll actually have to work at every move that you make. There is a bit of skill involved but much like Rummy, luck can play an important factor as well. The game is really simple and this is one that most anyone can play. Each round plays really quickly, so a game doesn’t take more than about 30 minutes to play. I like the theme and the few subtle changes in design to make the game more in line with the Alcatraz feel. I rather enjoy the game.
8 out of 10
Mystery Rummy: Escape From Alcatraz is a light card game based on the classic game of Rummy. It’s a very simple game and quick game. Most games sessions last about 30 minutes. Anyone with experience playing Rummy can easily play this game with very little instruction. It’s pretty family friendly and is one that can be played with almost anyone. The theme of Alcatraz is nicely woven into the actual game itself. Fans of Rummy or historical games should enjoy this one. I really enjoyed the way the game plays and love the theme. It’s a great little card game with a very good production value. I would recommend giving it a try. This is one that you shouldn’t let escape.
8 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out both Eagle-Gryphon Games and U.S. Games System at their respective sites.