Review – Phantom from Lundonaute

Review – Phantom from Lundonaute

Design – Xavier Lardy

Art – Morlock

Story – Anne C

I saw this game at Essen and was immediately intrigued. The game box is shaped like a book and when you open it up. there is a short story which sets you up before you get to the rules. Different for sure and as I am a sucker for story in my games, I picked up a copy.

From the website – Phantom is one of the Ludobooks create by Ludonaute

In this two player game, you run ghosts invading a house to scare its occupants. You will need to think carefully about your tactics to combine your cards effectively during the confrontation and scare the more characters you can. Cunning, boldness and anticipation are keys to victory!

Ok, so a ghost story game.

What do you get?

The box, as I said, is shaped lie a book and opens as such which is pretty cool. Phantom comes with –

32 Phantom cards which show the Group and kind of the Phantom, it’s Terror points, and it’s Effect

26 Place cards which show the Name of the Place, Terror points, Capacity of the Place and the Zone(s) where the place can be played

8 character cards which show the Name of the Character, the Fear threshold, Vulnerable Phantom effected by the character and
Victory points value

4 Zone cards which show each core area of the House

2 Reference cards

The art is very evocative and spooky, showing everything that you need to know. The images are very different from what I’ve seen before and I really found it a pleasure to look at. The cards are a bit too thick and as a result, are hard to shuffle which is a shame.

Game play overview

The goal of the game

From the rules –
Williamsburg’s several hundred years old house is occupied by two lost souls, John Pott, the English settler, and Opchanacanough, the chief of an Indian tribe. They both try to cast the other out of the house, having been seeking revenge for centuries. They pit their strengths against each other, creating the scariest apparitions so as to scare the members of the family who lives in the house.
You, reader and player, embody one of these two entities, and try to win the fight. The ghosts you create will haunt the different rooms of the house and ambush the family members! Each scared character will bring you victory points.
The winner is the player who has first gathered 11 victory points or the player with most victory points at the end of the game.
Phantom is a 2-player game, from 12 years old, with a playing time of 30 minutes.

Setting up
The players must face each other. One of them is the Englishman; the other embodies the Indian chief. The Indian chief plays first.

The house
Place the Zone cards in a row, in the center of the table, in the following order:
Garden – Basement – Ground floor – Upstairs. These are the areas where the Phantoms appear and the characters explore.

phantomsetup

Game flow
The players take turns playing until a player gets 11 victory points or until the Phantom stock and discard piles are exhausted.

Turn Sequence
During his turn, the active player must activate each one of the 4 Zones in the order he chooses. The last steps of a Zone activation consist in eliminating vulnerable Phantoms, and in checking the terror levels. The active player performs these steps before he activates another Zone. You can’t play again on a Zone that was previously activated, even though other Characters have appeared.

At the end of his turn, the active player draws cards until he has five cards in his hand. He can take face down Place cards, Phantom cards, or both, as he chooses.

Activating a Zone
Activating a Zone means performing the following actions, in this order:
1. Rotating the Activated zone card 180 degrees
2. Playing a Place or Phantom card from one’s hand to the apparition of the Activated zone and applying its effect
(Optional)

Place
A Place card can only be placed in front of the Zone it corresponds to. An apparition is always created by a Place card. A Place card can also be placed on an apparition that was previously created, in which case, it is added to the cards that have been placed before.

Phantom
You add Phantom cards to the cards that have been already placed in a previous apparition. A Phantom occupies a Place. Places have limitations as to how many Phantoms you can add. When a player adds a Phantom from his hand to an apparition, its effect must be carried out.
There are six kinds of Phantoms, each of which has a different effect.
Charmer, Yeller, Queen, Poltergeist, Invoker, and Squatter

The Phantoms also belong to four different groups: Specters (made of a bluish mist), Ghosts (consisting of greenish fumes), Shadows (made of the deepest darkness), and Souls (beings of light). Certain Characters can elimnate different coloured Phantoms.

3. Eliminate the vulnerable Phantoms in both apparitions of the Activated zone. So if both players have apparitions in the same zone, they are both effected.

4. Checking the terror level in both apparitions of the Activated zone to see if any characters are effected. The Active player counts the terror level of both apparitions of the Activated zone and checks whether the Character who is optionally present is scared.

End of game

Ultimately, this is all about being more effective at scaring characters than your opponent. Each Character scared by a player scores victory points for him.

The game ends immediately when a player scores 11 victory points or more, and this player wins the game OR if both the stock and discard piles of Phantoms cards are exhausted (which means that all the Phantom cards are placed in apparitions or in the players’ hands), the game ends immediately, and the player with most victory points wins the game.

It’s taken me a couple of plays to come to grips with the game process. Maybe there’s a little lost in the translation from French but its actually not a difficult game to play. I think that the rules could have been structured in a more straightforward way and that would help. That aside, once you have played through, you can see the process working pretty well.  The cards are easy to use once you understand the icons , which isn’t hard.

Do I like Phantom?

Well, Phantom works reasonably well and it looks pretty cool but I just don’t think its that much fun. Not for me anyway.

Yes, you have choices to make and thinking about card placement is interesting. I like the set up and how you are playing across the different zones of the house. I wish the characters had more variety of  impact rather than just getting rid of certain Phantoms. Maybe effecting player’s hands for example.

The main thing for me is that the story just doesn’t seem to come to life. Its all about the card placement but there doesn’t seem to be the feel of a story here as much as I hoped it would. Its almost a math exercise dressed up in very nice art as most of the effort goes into making sure that you have the right amount of Phantoms per location, and adding up the scare points. Now some gamers will like that very much. Personally, I prefer more story and atmosphere and there isn’t enough here for me. It’s very difficult to categorize Phantom other than as a card game which would ordinarily be ok except that it’s almost like this game needs to be developed into more an RPG or Adventure board game.

So, its not a bad game at all, but ultimately not a game that I would spend a lot more time playing.

For more information go to – http://www.ludonaute.fr/?page_id=1230&lang=en

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