Phantom Fury – Review

BGG User Timothy Smith, AKA LordFlasheart has agreed to share his review of Phantom Fury from nuts publishing with us!
I’ve added images from the Big Board galleries.

Over the last few years I’ve found myself writing reviews on games that I’ve had for awhile and my thoughts on them after a period of time – in some cases, quite a considerable length of time. In some ways I think this is a fairer and actually gives a far more balanced view about the game. There is no “ooh shiny new box” excitement of getting a new game and a fresh and new experience, no rushing to be the first to post a review. I find that after a few years and plays and coming back to something over a period of time gives a better – well for me anyway – and more objective opinion. So with that in mind, I’m coming back to Phantom Fury.

I first got Phantom Fury (PF from now on) in January 2012, since then I tend to pick it up every couple of years to play (which is probably a travesty but more on that later). The subject matter interests me and I have quite a few books on the 1st and 2nd Battles of Fallujah, and especially on Operation Phantom Fury, so it’s fair to say that I’m more than a little au fait with the topic. As someone familiar with the subject, the first thing that strikes you about PF is just how historical and true it is to what it’s attempting to simulate. And that’s probably it’s first masterstroke of brilliance and this is in no small part due to the very, very, very smart thing of the designer to base the game design on a treatise that the USMC carried out specifically on MOUT (Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain) in Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury.

I won’t go into detail about the mechanics of the design and gameplay (there’s enough of that there in other reviews) but I will say that PF is almost the perfect balance of playability and detail.

There’s lots of chrome in the design simulating many things which were occurring during the fighting – drugged insurgents, HBIEDs (House Borne Improvised Explosive Device), but at no time does the detail sacrifice playability and the tempo of the game, something a lot of designers could learn from.

It flows very quickly and smoothly and takes very little time to pick up. Assaulting buildings is based entirely on the actual methods used and incorporates simply and effectively the advantages and disadvantages of each method. For anyone who has read books like “House to House”, “We Were One”, “No True Glory” about the fighting in Fallujah, playing PF makes you feel like you’re in one of those books, and that the game plays so true to its subject. It also happens to be incredibly tense and atmospheric, crossing a street with a squad or assaulting a building with unknown insurgents is nail-biting stuff.

The components are first class, nice thick counters, beautiful artwork and graphic design which really captures the feel of its subject, the rule book it excellent, concise and thorough and logical. Visually I think it’s just superb.

In conclusion, this is just a fantastic solitaire game, razor sharp on point to its subject matter, a brilliant and ingenious system which plays beautifully and develops huge levels of tension and suspense.

I love it and whenever I pick it up to play again I feel guilt that I haven’t picked it up again sooner. It’s a masterpiece in integrity to its subject and how it models it but also for being a simply great game. If you have a copy you should put it on the table and play it again.


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