Game Buzz: The Phantom Society

On the eve of GenCon, here’s a game that will be there:

image by BGG user Funforge
image by BGG user Funforge

The Phantom Society is a new game from designers Fréderic Colombier and Hervé Marly that is being published by IELLO and Funforge.  It’s a 4 player game (with 2-3 player variants) that takes about 20 minutes to play.  It’s a team game where one side consists of ghosts, and the other side consists of hunters.  The ghosts want to cause lots of destruction in the house, while the hunters want to catch them.

The game comes with a board that consists of four sections that connect puzzle style.  Each piece has nine holes, spots for the 4 ghost tiles and 36 room tiles.  There are also 16 objective cards, which are only used in the advanced games.  Players are separated into teams – two ghosts and two hunters with four players, one hunter and two ghosts with three, and one each with two.  Tiles are distributed – there are nine tiles of each color.  Each player gets one color (and possibly two with fewer than four), and takes turns placing one room tile in a spot on the board.  Once that is done, the hunters close their eyes and the ghost tiles are placed under four different rooms.  The ghosts must match the color of their hiding space.  Each ghost player controls two ghosts.

Play begins with ghosts.  One of the ghost players devastates a room in one of the adjacent spaces to one of their ghosts.  This is accomplished by simply removing the tile from the board.  It will have a score of £1000-6000.   On future turns, ghosts may devastate tiles on the other side of ones they’ve already removed.

On a hunter’s turn, they remove one room tile.  If there is a ghost under it, the ghost is out of play.  If not, the ghosts gains the tile and the associated score.  If both of a player’s ghosts have been captured, that player is out.

The hunters win if they catch all four ghosts.  The ghosts win if they cause £45,000 worth of damage.

The advanced game adds a bidding system to determine who is the hunter team, and who is the ghost team.  Each team bids a certain amount of damage they think they can do, using the objective cards.  Whoever bid higher is the ghosts, and they have a winning condition equal to the lower bid.

I was initially attracted to this game because it looks very nice.  The character art was done by Xavier Gueniffey Durin, aka Naiade – if you don’t know him, you should.  Go read my previous post.  The art looks great on this game, and pieces are pretty cool – the board looks very well designed, with a unique tile mechanism to hide those ghosts.

That being said, this game doesn’t look all that interesting to me.  It seems to be a standard deduction game, with hunters making guesses based on limited information, and ghosts trying not to give too much.  It makes me think of Level 99 Games’ NOIR: Killer vs. Inspector with the deduction aspect – however, that game has the benefit of the killer being able to move.  The ghosts here cannot.  This game seems like it will be really fast, which in itself isn’t a bad thing – I just wonder if it will be over before it gets a chance to get going.  The advanced bidding variant at the beginning means you might have some variable win conditions, but it seems weird and convoluted, and not really an advanced variant at all.

This game is probably going to be good for casual and non-gamers.  However, for me, I’m going to have to give it a pass.  I’ll play if someone has it, but it’s not one that I think I’ll seek out.  It just doesn’t seem to be for me.  Oh well – thanks for reading!

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