Review: Phantom Society – Scottish ghosts have specific humor
Do you know the poltergeist? These are monsters, that throw things off the table, set hanging pictures askew, but especially move door with creaky noises, when you sleep. They are simply creatures, which the children and some adults are afraid the most. Ajar closet usually means a ghost is hiding inside.
One such spirit appeared in our house and that’s the reason, I write to you. At first, we did not know what it is, but tonight was terrible. There were a lot of broken things on the ground. I heard that you engage in hunting of these transparent creatures. So I would like you to plead on behalf of the entire family – come as soon as possible, we have not slept for a week! Thank you, Count Von Schwarz.
Community of spirits is the secret place, where poltergeists are hidden between attacks in different houses and go back there, when someone expells them from our world. And this exorcist is you. At least Phantom Society game wants you to become one. So what do you do? You should take this difficult mission with no hesitation at all.
Authors of this hunt for ghosts are Frédéric Colombier and Hervé Marly, which published their game under the company logo of FunForge in year 2013. Their work was completed by illustrators Vincent Dutrait Xavier and Gueniffey Durin. It is one of the hot new French companies with really interesting games. Besides Phantom Society, we should mention also Tokaido, because we are preparing a review for it too.
When you order game, poltergeist courier delivers it to you carefully wrapped. So do not be surprised, he will behave a bit strangely, and you will not see him properly into his eye. Ghosts hates it, when you look at them. This is one of the well-kept secrets. The box has a dark brown color with portraits of various exorcist, you can become.
Inside the box, four parts of game board are hidden. And you can see at first glance, you will have to join them together like puzzle. When put up together, it is made of 36 holes in six rows and six columns. In these little windows four ghosts will hide, whose portraits will you free from punch-out sheet together with 36 square room tiles. They will help spirits to hide their presence.
Ghosts come in four colors – green, blue, orange and white. The last piece of the puzzle is sixteen cards of tasks split into two decks by numerals, that can be found on them. Their usage is optional and you will most likely not use them in your first game. Therefore we also will not talk about them now, and only mention their purpose after we explain basic rules of the game.
At the beginning of the game, players split into two teams. One will play for the ghosts, while the second becomes hunters. In four and two players, it is clear, how they should split up. While in three, two players become ghosts and only one will be hunting them. If match has four players, members of each should sit opposite to each other across the table.
Now you just have to build a house of four pieces, so each of parts fits into the holes in the adjacent section. Each player gets a stack of with room tiles of one color. Gradually, players then fill the house. Note the images are two-sided. On one, there is illustration of room in order, while the other is destroyed by rampaging spirits. You should now have all the rooms with their tidy face up.
Very important is also number in lower right corner of each room, representing its value in thousands of pounds. Numbers are always ranging from one to six in each of the colors. Once players fill the whole room house, hunters must close his eyes for a while. Representatives of ghosts now must secretly place all four ghost tokens somewhere on the board, under any room in the same color as is the ghost and then cover it, so hunters do not know, where the ghosts are hiding.
Each player in ghost team is in control of two poltergeists with the exception of a duel, when one player must become all four spirits. He must well remember their exact position, because he will soon start destroying everything around them.
Game consists of turns of players rotating around table, which should result into both sides alternating. Task of the ghosts is to do as much damage as possible, before their unveiling. Conversely hunters are trying to find ghosts, before they accumulate a certain number of points. The winner is side, which succeeds sooner in fulfilling its victory conditions. Unveiling of a poltergeists or collecting fixed damage worth £ 45,000.
There is always only one player on the move from ghost and hunter team. Each ghost ruler can use any of available ghosts to destroy a room, that is adjacent to his position in any direction.. At the beginning, there are total of eight locations corresponding to that condition.
His main motivation is the price, so he tries to destroy the most expensive first, if possible. But at the same time, he must be careful to not uncovered any of the other hidden ghosts or some evident clue to his location. Room devastated by ghosts is turn with destroyed face up and players immediately gain points corresponding to its value.
There is more and more space freed from destroyed room on the game board and this allows ghosts to reach further. They can destroy every room, they are able to see in a straight line without any interception. It means, there there must be no other untouched chamber between the ghost and his their destructive efforts. So, poltergeists influence is gradually expanding and can more confuse hunters.
Other side of duel has one simple action available during their turn. Trying to find a room, where a ghost resides. You simple take one tile and peak under it. But in the case, that there is noone hiding there, room was destroyed by the search and must be handed over to your rivals. They can add it to their victory pile for full point value of that room. More fundamental part of hunter efforts takes place during ghost turn, when they are trying to deduce regularity in their attacks, and thus also the place, where they are located.
Because poltergeists can not move, hunters will eventually find some. Search will then become easier for hunters, because this ghost stays, where it was revealed. And since each spirit can be only under the same color as is his own, you know right ahead, which other haunted rooms in the house are empty.
Game ends, when the hunters reveal all four ghosts. Or, on the contrary in a situation, when ghosts manage to destroy (with the help of hunters) rooms totaling in 45,000 pounds. That is how easily you decide, which party has won the duel.
Phantom Society is a game based on locating of hidden characters. They do not move this time, like in Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion Clan (review), but instead remain in place and destroy everything within their grasp.
Tasks of the two competing teams are fundamentally interconnected and influence each other. Any revealed spirit not only helps hunters by reducing number of colors on the watch, but also brings injury for ghost players.
But your chances of winning can be influenced even at the beginning of the game. What is important is not only distribution of spirits, whose position at the very edge of board does not pay off due to fewer adjacent pieces, but also by placing rooms themselves. Since the players do this together, they can dramatically affect, how valuable rooms are placed. This then prepares for example easier position for attacks on valuable rooms.
At the same time, there are also some things, you can influence by choosing place for your spirits. For example, when you put it under more valuable room, you are thereby lowering chance hunters will reveal it. But at the same time, you cannot use destroy this room and will be missing it in the scoring pile. Hunters have a really difficult position, because they must choose rooms really carefully.
Very clever and reasoning of authors was to limit distribution of ghosts under rooms of matching colors. Thanks to this truly ingenious way, you can really deductively determine their position according to affected rooms in several moves.
This game is a paradise for players, who love deduction. It is elegant and simple. However, the game time ends in around half an hour, so it is not any challenging fun to reserve more hours to. You can repeat the game several times in one day, perhaps with exchanged roles.
Has this game actually a negative? Processing is certainly not it. The beautiful illustrations of all rooms create an awesome executed game board perfectly suited to the whole concept of the game. So if we were really to find something to criticize, it will be perhaps not quite perfect game in two or three players. In a duel, a ghost player has difficult role, because he must remember positions of all four colors and cannot make even one mistake. In the three player game, hunter stays by himself against two players for ghosts.
Great news is hidden in variant of the game, which finally uses the mentioned cards. Both sides secretly determine, what point are they willing to acquire, if they play for the ghosts. A team that offers a higher amount will play for poltergeist side, while the lower value takes hunter role.
Phantom Society is a very nice game revolving around deductive abilities of players. Very simple rules are reason, why game keep focus right on experience. Topic of spirits destroying the building is well prepared and it all plays really nicely. Therefore, we can only recommend it and especially, if you play in more than two participants.
Review: Phantom Society – Scottish ghosts have specific humor
Phantom Society offers option for every detective to become also an exorcist. You are entering a house roamed by ghosts, whose activity is driven by strictly logical and clear rules. They destroy only rooms, which are in their direct sight and they are unable to move even a little. Their target is to cause as much damage as possible. On the other side, hunters crave to hunt each and every one of ghosts down. Players become members of two teams, each containing two players. This makes the game not so appropriate for fewer numbers of players, because teams are not equally split or each player is forced to control more ghosts/hunters. And the match loses a little of its elegance. But even then, an interesting match awaits you. You will not move forward, when you plug in a good dose of deduction skills. You simply must follow hints of ghosts destruction and figure out, where are they hidden. Its not easy, but you will have a great feeling, if you succeed. Phantom Society is a nice game for everybody, who likes detective work..