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Subject: A real treat for two rss

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Jon Cormier
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Phoenix is certainly a treat. I managed to snag a copy of Phoenix for $10.00 Canadian, online which made me extremely happy because it was fairly high on my wishlist of two-player games. I’m not going to advertise the website in my review though but if you’re interested I can put the url in the comments afterwards.

Opening the box:
This is where the fun starts because the moment you pick up one of the Phoenix pawns or the square “spectrum” pieces your brain reverts to some primitive pleasure centre. You hold a pawn and it just feels like this is the only game piece you’ll ever need to hold again. The wood figures are smooth and the colours are really bright and eye catching. They are, without a doubt, some of the best game pieces because they are simple. They are simple, yet of quality. They also come with a black pawn sack that all the pieces easily fit into.

The cards are bright and straight forward, although the "swap pawns on the ends of your line" cards were apparently meant to be simply "move the pawn from one end to the other" which means you shift your whole line down, as the designers note below. I say play with whatever works but it's certainly neat to see them paying attention to this review. I think this would definately offer a different dimension to the gameplay.

The board is what takes up the most space in the box and part of me feels it should have been made collapsible, perhaps into something like the Kahuna board. The board should have, at least, been folded in half. The fact that it is a solid board just makes the box unnecessarily big. The whole package could easily fit into a Kosmos two-player game package but then again I’m slightly in love with their packaging. I do feel in this day and age of conscious consumers that additional packaging is unnecessary and can be a deterrent. If there are reprints, I’d love to see Phoenix on shelves in half the size – shops could store twice as many and shipping would be cost the same but for twice the amount of product. Again, as the designers note the prototype was designed without a board and while I think can definately work without one should you lose yours or break it I do actually appreciate having one - I tend to lose track of things otherwise.

And finally there is the rulebook. The rulebooks is multilingual and the rules are straightforward and extremely easy to grasp. There is only about six pages of rules but most of the pages are diagrams of the cards and what they do as well as gameplay examples.

Game play:
So after you’ve opened the box, fawned over the beautiful bits, placed the board down and spent the five to ten minutes to read the rules you’re ready to get cracking. And this game does crackle. You will honestly be able to play this game within the first ten minutes you open it depending on how fast you read.

There will be some luck involved because you’re drawing cards but you will always have enough options to win or lose depending on how you play the cards instead feeling like you won or lost because of what cards you drew. Still, my feeling on luck is that two-player games have more replay value when a bit of luck is thrown into the mix as it means you need to react to a unique situation rather than having one player simply get better than the other usual opponent until the game loses all fun.

In the end, that’s what Phoenix is: fun for two players. It is probably one of the easiest games to explain and I can’t seem too many people not enjoying themselves when having a game. This is the third two-player game I’ve tried (Kahuna and Hellas are the others) and both me and my wife agree that Phoenix was by far the simplest and most fun out of all of them. And we enjoyed the other two, but Phoenix is just a game designed down to its most basic elements and presented in an inviting and attractive manner. The kicker is, it delivers on what it should.

I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a fun distraction over the holiday season that is rapidly approaching, or something to bring along on a family gathering/weekend. Almost anyone can pick up the cards, get it, and actually have fun.

Mobility:
This game is rather mobile when taken out of its packaging. All the wooden pieces fit easily in the black sack and the cards fit as well. It’s a good idea to get a plastic carrying case for the cards to avoid bumps and dents. Your only problem would be the board, but if you have a backpack or rucksack you can easily place the board between two books or with some paper in your briefing binder and away you go. Then again as long as you remember how many pawns each player has you won't even need the board. You may want to bring along the rule book for new players to reference.

Over all, this is my most recommended game for two players.
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Andrew Glynn
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I like Phoenix too, and second your comments on portability. My main gripe with it is the "swap ends" pawn cards; if you end up with a few of these in your hand at once (which happens), it's quite a disadvantage. We play a house rule that you can opt to discard and draw again if you pick up one of these and already have one in hand.
 
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Jon Cormier
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Hasn't happened to me yet but that's a decent rule. I'm a strong supporter of "if it's agreed upon in advance then it's a good house rule." I'm certainly no rule stickler - well not much of one except in Trivial Pursuit when it's for pie.
 
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Czech Mate
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joncormier wrote:
... I'm certainly no rule stickler - well not much of one except in Trivial Pursuit when it's for pie.


I tend to be a rule stickler WHENEVER there is pie involved

I think this stems from that ol' family ruling used when divying
up the last piece of pie between two hungry siblings:

"One person cuts, the other person chooses."

Makes for the most exact cut known to mankind!

mikey.
 
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mrbass
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andrewus wrote:
I like Phoenix too, and second your comments on portability. My main gripe with it is the "swap ends" pawn cards; if you end up with a few of these in your hand at once (which happens), it's quite a disadvantage. We play a house rule that you can opt to discard and draw again if you pick up one of these and already have one in hand.


Actually the swap ends pawn cards are actually not that according to the designer. It was mistranslated to English.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/554523#554523
 
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Czech Mate
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mrbass wrote:
andrewus wrote:
I like Phoenix too, and second your comments on portability. My main gripe with it is the "swap ends" pawn cards; if you end up with a few of these in your hand at once (which happens), it's quite a disadvantage. We play a house rule that you can opt to discard and draw again if you pick up one of these and already have one in hand.


Actually the swap ends pawn cards are actually not that according to the designer. It was mistranslated to English.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/554523#554523



I did not know that. Thanks!
mikey.
 
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Zach Greenvoss
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Yea - don't forget to play with the correct rules - those "swap end" cards are supposed to just be "take one pawn from one end and move it to the other."

Also, as to portability, it was originally designed with NO board in mind. The publisher thought people would enjoy it more with a board, but the original prototype had no board - the players simply lined up the pawns in two rows. This obviously still works fine, so don't be afraid to discard the board if it gets in your way.

Thanks for the review - it is always neat to hear how much people like the game.

Zach
 
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Jon Cormier
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Awesome - thanks for all the feedback folks. I've updated the review after playing a few more times and paying closer attention to the cards. I probably shouldn't try to write reviews the day after I play the game with the game locked away at my house (not that I write these at work...:what

I got a geekmail asking where I got my copy. I actually ordered two copies - guess what my sister and brother-in-law are getting as part of their Christmas gift?

I got my copy from Le Valet but I just checked their site and it isn't available for super-cheap anymore but still for sale at regular price. Sorry if I got anyone's hopes up for a great $10 game.

Check out their other deals if you like, they were really prompt and delivery in Canada was only $5.

http://www.levalet.com/index.htm

 
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