Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, Bruno Cathala Ludovic Maublanc

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I coveted Fantome d’le Opera for aaaaaaages. I saw it reviewed and thought it looked cool. That was about 18 months ago, and admittedly my tastes were a bit shallow. Recently I looked at the review again, and even though it wasn’t particularly glowing I thought ‘I still want this dammit!’. It looked to be out of print or at least hard to come by in the UK so my ‘covet-o-meter’ was going mad! After coming into some spare money (tax rebate!) I found it on eBay and decided to go for it. It’s in the same family as Mr Jack, which I’ve never played, and it’s a simple, but kind of tricky hidden movement game.
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You can choose to play as The Phantom or the other characters who are trying to escape his clutches. You move around the board using the movement ability and conditions on the character cards, to deduce who the Phantom is.  At the bottom of the board we have Carlotta and she moves up the track each round and can be ‘scared’ by The Phantom, and if she reaches the end before you’ve figured it out, you’ve lost! Personally I found playing as the characters and guessing too easy, it’s running away and disguising as The Phantom that is tricky!
 Now, in hindsight, maybe I should of taken heed with the video review I saw. It’s a bit thin. I don’t regret buying it, it’s a great game to have in the collection, and sometimes when the mood takes I could really fancy it. Also it’s worth remembering that since this was released in 2013 gaming has moved on somewhat, with small box games and print and play especially becoming more popular. It comes in a fairly large box (though not huge by any means) and has a nice board, big cardboard cards and chunky tokens. It definitely has an old school feel, which I really like. But because it’s quite ‘big’, you feel that there should be something more substantial to it, especially for a two player only game. But there really isn’t too much going on apart from what it says on the tin. It just seems quite unnecessary to have the board, the heavy cardboard etc, because it’s a filler game basically. It’s over really quickly, even when we house ruled to put the start marker two steps back so it takes a bit longer. I’m sure we never had a 30 minute game as estimated in the game overview. This could be a little card game or a print and play, it could probably be re-released as such, because it’s definitely a fun party or filler game.
Next time I play i’m lighting the candles and putting the soundtrack on! Not the one with Gerard Butler. That was weird. More Info
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Myrmes, Yoann Levat


We played Myrmes about 18 months ago and I had very little recollection of playing it except I was exhausted and felt brain dead at the time as it turned out I was pregnant! So this stayed on the shelf until last weekend and I suggested playing it. So there’s a bit of back story and here are my thoughts.

First off I thought why the hell did I suggest even buying this? I’m pretty much an insect phobic and despite the cute little ants on the box artwork there’s fairly uncute insects inside. Plastic ants that look more like spiders (though the board is really lovely and colourful) and words like larvae, nest, and birthing your ants, bleurgh. I actually made a throw up face at a couple of points. BUT being the responsible adult gamer know that I can be I set aside those feelings, and ended up really enjoying playing the mechanics rather than the theme which to be honest has grown on me, so I’m not a complete twat!


  
I found it hard to get my head round this one at first. However after a few 40 min games over a couple of days it became a lot clearer and I got on with the basic premise no problem. You can use your turns to make workers, soldiers, eggs and nurses, then go out and lay your pheromone trails or fight other insects. You use your workers as soldiers and you need more soldiers to kill wasps and fight for your opponents space. You need to ‘up’ the quality of your nest to gain further improvements which will help you do bigger and better things and you need to make more nurses to get more done in each round. Lastly you need to get enough food to feed your ant family every year. So this brings me on to the issue of time. It could be the result of a two player game or maybe just not being that good at it at this point, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do anything really worthwhile. I spent a lot of time forsaking the interesting stuff to feed the little bastards! So basically if you balls up in the first couple of ‘seasons’ like I did in my last game and lose initial points, you have to work really hard to claw the game back. Or if you don’t make at least a few nurses in the first rounds then you’ll really struggle to get anything done. It’s hard graft being an ant! I strongly feel that Myrmes could use at least an extra round per year, because you have three years and a spring, summer and autumn in each one, then on winter you don’t get a turn as such because you just feed your colony. There should be at least a round before the final food I think. Also there’s a dice rolling element which tells you what special ability you can use each turn and you can you use your eggs to jiggle this about a bit….but you need your eggs for other things! So there’s not too much control over that part. Last gripe; it’s a bit disappointing that there are no end of turn bonuses because it just kinda ends and you’re like ‘oh is that it?’. But I feel that it’s a good enough game to persist with as every round in this game is challenging and strategic. It’s difficult in a two player game as you’re struggling to fight for space and you’re only allocated a portion of the board in a two player. Which is fine if want to spend your turns using earth cubes to redistribute your ‘pheromone’ trails, as that is where most of your precious points are. But then there’s that time issue again. I’m definitely determined to crack this one, and maybe on another day when my mind feels a bit sharper and my concentration levels are better then I’ll have a eureka moment. So final thought is; I’d recommend Myrmes if you like a challenge! More Info