Recommend
36 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

Phantom Leader» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Phantom Leader... from a primary solitaire player point of view. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
None
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Introduction:

There are quite a few very informative reviews of this game already, so I won't rehash all the rules and gameplay and concentrate what I like and don't like about the game and any comments that may be relevant, especially from a solitaire player point of view. I will make comparisons if relevant also. I am one of those poor sods that don't have a regular gaming partner and those friends that do play, play very intermittantly and are usually of short attention spans and wants to stick with what they already know how to play... unfortunately for me, that usually means Agricola... Me... I am a closet wargamer at heart or at least like games that are more involved and even hardcore. So if I see another meeple or carrot or sheep in my life, its too soon! I am working on Magic Realm at the moment... will write a review when I think I've got it down pat... (which could be awhile!) I also own a rather vast collection of old & new solitaire games and I will write more about them in time. Enough with my background: Back to the topic at hand:

Gameplay comments:

As you all know that this game is basically a solitaire game about flying missions over Vietnam. The game is remarkably replayable because there are two forces you can fly, the USN or USAF, the mission length is variable and can be as short as 2 days or 20 minutes or so to the full campaign stretching 3 years of the war and took me after a few short plays about 5 hours.

The full campaign is pretty epic and there are limited RPG elements where you take your pilots throughout all three years of missions. I say these RPG elements are limited because each pilot can only level once and that happens pretty quickly, so by the end of the first year, most, if not almost all your pilots have maxed their rather limited upgrade tree. Nevertheless, for those pilots do stay with you for the whole campaign (unless they get shot down and go MIA on you), you do get quite attach to them and I found myself getting a little perturbed when things go wiry for them. I think if games can elicit an emotional response it is usually a good thing (as long as its not: I hate this game type of feeling!).

What I look for in a solo game is (unlike a multi-player game), is a engaging game that has plenty of options and choices for the player, there are games that gives you tonnes of options (like Magic Realm) but can bog you don't during the learning curve and those like Phantom Leader, where the learning curve is simplier and less bothersome to learn and play. Setup for the game is really quick, the counters for the weapons are a little fiddly when you have to arm your plane, but its exceptable. The choice in this game comes from choosing your pilots (which is mostly managing their stress and pickting those with skills that are suitable for the mission at hand) and then arming them with suitable arms to accomplish the mission. There is a little probability guess work when you pick which weapons to arm your plane with, but I suspect that it is like that in real life also. I would say that picking your armaments are probably the most involved part of the game.

Then you fly the scenario and there are choices available there too, which bandits/sites to kill in what order, should you evade and get stressed which may affect your later missions or should you take some risks. In terms of meaningful choices it has remarkably quite a lot, not quite magic realm but much more elegant. (although the more I play magic realm the more elegant and genious I think it is... but that is another story for another day).

Many solitaire games is mired with randomness, I think randomness is essential for replayability and surprises during the game, but if there is too much, or if it applies too much to the outcomes of your actions, it can make the player feel a little pointless.

This game has made a good balance, in terms of randomness, not much, but enough to keep things surprising. The only problem I see, is the scope of the game is a little limited and can be broken down to very simple elements, of randomly picking a target/sites/bandits and then arming your planes with the same old rockets and things and even though the placement of the bandits/sites are different everytime, they are limited in types and numbers and you can essentially use the same strategies over and over again depending on your resources available at the time. There are event cards, that add in another thematic and random element, but there are only a limited number of these and only add so much in terms of variety. In light of this, I think even though the game is replayable, I can't see myself playing continuously for weeks on end, I will play it through a campaign maybe once in a few weeks (more frequently in the beginning of course, but becoming less frequent as time passes). This isn't really a huge negative, at least, I can be sure that I will play it again and again over the years!

Don't get me wrong, I am not contradicting what I said earlier about a good availability of options... I am just being as objective as possible and to see the game in as many different lights as possible (as many different types of players will be reading reviews).

Another element in a good game is theme. Is the game thematic? (does the theme feel tacked on?), does it draw me in that way? I like arkham's horror (solo of course), because of its theme and despite its randomness. And for Phantom Leader I would say a definate YES. You do feel like you are in command of a squadron and making a difference in the war. I like the event cards, which add a lot of flavor to the game (sometimes I think, no war games should be without event cards!).

I have never been too fussy about quality of the play pieces, but the ones in this game is very nice. Nothing stunning but all very servicible for a game of this type. Rulebook is great, game is very easy to understand.

In summary:

Good game, its fun and thematic. Won't last forever (what game lasts forever though?), but you will find yourself coming back to it over and over again whenever you get that flight leader itch. No regrets buying this game. Recommended.

I Rate this baby 8 out of 10 and a Strong Buy.

+8 points for bringing out a good theme, good gameplay, nice but limited rpg elements, good long campaign, variable game lengths depending how much time you have, gives the player the feeling of plenty of options that matter, quick setup & fairly portable (but not for the plane, too many chits for that!). Definately a game I will play repeatily over time, just not continuously.

-2 points for the the small scale/scope of the game which won't hold your attention for a long long time (good for the short/medium term though) and I don't think its quite the perfect solitaire, but it is what it is and what there is, is very good indeed.

(For those interested, my next up review will be some Victory point games, ambush!, B-29, B-17 and many other solitaire games... look out for them!)

A geeklist of my other Solitaire Reviews
42 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Luke Hughes
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Thanks for your review. I am debating buying this game and I thought you laid out the pros and cons very well and very honestly.

Luke
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Verssen
United States
Glendora
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmb
Eric,

Great review! Thank you for posting this!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
None
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks guys, I just wrote another solitaire review for Disaster on Everest by Victory Point Games, I am sticking to this format, so its easy to compare between reviews that I write.

Dan, great game! I am going to do a review on your other classic thunderbolt/apache game soon too!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
No No No Sheep
Russia
St Petersburg
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Garfink wrote:
Thanks guys, I just wrote another solitaire review for Disaster on Everest by Victory Point Games, I am sticking to this format, so its easy to compare between reviews that I write.

Dan, great game! I am going to do a review on your other classic thunderbolt/apache game soon too!


please do TAL review =D
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.