Phone bomb (2019) Review
Today we are going to talk about Phone Bomb. Bomb, not Game. No, I'm not going to give you a review of Joel Schumacher's film with Colin Farrell. Here, no phone booth. However, you will need your phone. One is enough for the entire player group. And no, it is not supplied in the box. Here it is ...
David Cicurel, the author of Chronicles of Crime, continues to explore the mix between board game and digital through the use of the telephone. Indeed, to play Phone Bomb, you will need to download an application, in addition of course to the material included in the box. First thing to know, the application is not greedy and can work very well with any smartphone (for example), as long as it has a touch screen (yes the 3310 will not work .. at the same time it's not a smartphone ...).
Without further ado, we will learn together to become a real minesweeper (raising this flag will be useless). But for that, here are some rules to respect, before accepting your mission.
1. You will have to be thoroughly prepared
Ah! yes. ... I reassure you, you will not need that much preparation. You can remove all that ... Finally, to play it, come as you are.
So to be able to play Phone Bomb, you will need a table, chairs, a telephone, a copy of the game and ... that's it. Originally, the publisher seemed to have wanted to include real bombs in the box, but the ephemeral side of a part and the final potential cost dissuaded them. It is for this reason that the application takes over. A decision certainly more classic but oh so much more logical.
The game application is easily found. Come on, because I'm nice, I leave you the link to it. You just have to click there. That's it? Okay while it's downloading, I'm going to take this opportunity to present the game to you. Note that once on your phone, the internet connection is no longer mandatory.
On its launch, you’ll arrive in a very classic menu. You then have the choice between the level of difficulty (Discovery or normal), take a look at the options (to adjust language, music, sounds ...), and you can even click on the credits to discover the designers, authors ... But this is for the most curious. Last but not least, you can start a game. Attention, once you click on play, the game and the timer starts directly (there is no loading count as indicated in the rule). Click only when you are ready to play, otherwise you will have to go back.
An ultimately sober application, but one that goes to the essentials. What is most important. No fuss (or Goku), we know immediately what to do and we don't waste time.
2. Read the rule beforehand and explain it to everyone
Now that the application is installed and loaded, it's time to move on to the rules explanations. It's actually easier with the app in front of you, even if you can start without it.
The rules of Phone Bomb are very clear and above all very simple. Each player has a hand of four cards. On their turn, when the phone is in front of them, they become the active player and must play two cards and only two cards. Depending on what is played, they will have to interact on the application then pass the phone to the next player.
The possible actions will depend on the icons on the cards. When the active player plays two cards with matching icons, then they can perform that action on the phone. If they do not want to or cannot play cards where the icons do not match, they must then pass. Whatever the players do, they must indicate it by clicking on the right space on the screen and then pass the phone on.
Once these two actions are done, the player draws two new cards. And that's all. Simple, right?
3. You will have to pay attention to the other players
Phone Bomb is a semi-cooperative game. You will have to face crisis situations together: in other words prevent the bomb from exploding before the end of time.
Cooperating is therefore a great way to survive, or rather to deactivate as many bombs as possible before they go off. But there will only be one winner at the end of the game. It will therefore sometimes be necessary to be opportunistic in order to get ahead or leave before it is too late. Pay attention to others. At any time, they may seek to pull the blanket towards them, at the risk of wasting your time. Beware of the most smiling colleagues ... they are sometimes the worst. Opportunism and a sense of timing will sometimes be necessary.
4. You will learn to master time management
At the start of a game, you have one minute to defuse the bomb. Yes, very little time. As much to tell you right away, time will pass at a crazy speed. You will have to watch it because you'd be lost in what you want to do, sometimes forgeting it ... and there is the drama. Phone Bomb, and especially its application, offers a very pleasant timing system. The real-time aspect is something that I really appreciate. This helps build up welcome pressure and sometimes increased stress which can lead to situations of tension or unexpected error. The chronometer is like a sword of Damocles, merciless and continuous.
Of course, depending on the actions chosen, it will be possible to influence the time. For example, it will be possible to add time, but also to waste it. In order to prevent a system which could become too calculating, and therefore less fun, these gains or losses will not always be the same in terms of quantity. This unpredictable side adds a little tension and an uncontrollable variable which enhances the fun of the game.
5. Add time to breathe
It is therefore time to see the actions in detail. We will start by adding time.
As I mentioned to you just before, time management is a very important concept in the game. But a minute goes by very quickly. To allow you to breathe and because you are pros, you can add time. For that, it is enough that the active player plays two cards representing a watch. Once done, the player must click on the "watch" icon on the control panel. This will add about thirty seconds to the group.
6. Think before you act
The bomb control panel has fifteen wires, five of each color (blue, yellow and red). The object of the game is to cut the three good wires among these fifteen. Of course, you can go head down and cut at random ... at the risk of losing precious seconds. Or think and reduce chance.
To do this, you can play two cards with an eye symbol. Once done, you will need to select an eye from one of the three colors on the application. Just below, once you have clicked, symbols will appear which will guide you in your search. These symbols will correspond to the chosen color and only to this color. Thus, you will be able to learn if among these wires there are any: trapped (skull), defusing (pliers) or neutral (which are useless).
The little welcome subtlety corresponds to updating this info. This information corresponds to the moment when you press the eye. They are only updated when you perform this action.
7. Wire cutting
After a while, it is certain that time is running out and that we will have to act. Courageous as you are, you therefore decide to choose a wire to cut. To do this, simply play two cards with the same color.
If I play two blue wires, I can cut one of the five blue wires still available. If I have found a good wire, a green light will come on. If it is a neutral wire, nothing happens. If it is a bad wire, the bomb approaches the explosion and a red light comes on.
Three green lights, the bomb is defused; three red, it explodes.
8. Do not forget to do forward planning
It is well known, it is thanks to you, and only to you, that the operation is a success. If you play two cards with the microphone symbol, then you will have the opportunity to take the time to think about your future interview in front of the cameras.
These cards played, in this case, remain in front of you. If the operation is a success, the player who has prepared their intervention best will win 1 additional point at the end of the round. Yes, it's as much a part of the job as putting yourself forward. But beware, nothing is free. Indeed, when you take time to think about what you will say, you will actually take time. In other words, the group will lose between 5 to 15 seconds over the final time. Be careful it goes quickly ... You will have to choose the right timing to embark on this type of action.
9. Courage to run away!
The life of a bomb disposal technician is a high risk job. Sometimes, time flies too fast and the bomb eventually explodes. If this is the case, nobody wins points (even for the interviews, don't dream either, losers are not worth interviewing ... though).
To overcome this small inconvenience, by taking your courage in both hands and burying it deep within yourself, you can choose to flee. But flee bravely.
Yes fleeing is not glorious, but it can allow you to get out of a difficult situation alive and victorious. When you play two cards with the symbol flee, you exit the round (click of course on the corresponding button). You no longer have an impact on the current round. You have technically left the place of the bomb. Potential interview cards played before no longer count for you. When you choose to flee, this gives some time back to your colleagues still in play.
If the bomb is defused, no luck, you left too early, suddenly nothing for you except bullying and mocking. On the other hand, if the bomb explodes, well done. Not only have you survived, but above all you will gain 1 point (and not those who stayed).
10. To do nothing sometimes is to do something ...
While the active player chooses to do an action or simply pass, the other players are not outdone.
Phone Bomb wants to be a communication game. For this, during the active player's turn, the others can freely exchange cards with each other. Of course in order to respect the altruistic nature of the game, the cards must be exchanged face down, without being shown beforehand and the agreements relate only to those who believe them (therefore in no way be obligatorily respected).
Even if it is true that during the first games, you do not necessarily think about it, this notion is quite well seen and occupies the players during the rounds. This occupation contributes to the fact of adding a bit of deception but also to distract the players from the current objective. This distraction can waste precious seconds without anyone realizing it. It is important to communicate well and find the right balance.
And now you know all there is to know to become a good minesweeper at Phone Bomb. At the end of a round, we count the points. 2 points for those who stayed and who defused the bomb, 1 point for the one who most prepared the best interview and 1 only for those who fled when there was an explosion.
A full game is played over five rounds. At the end, you’ll proceed to the calculation of all the points, whoever has the most wins the game.
The game offers a few variations including bonus cards. Very quickly, you will find yourself playing with this to spice up your games. These are simple goals that will allow you to earn an additional point on success. This adds a little more and even more distrust without weighing down the game.
Phone Bomb is a success in its genre. The components are simple, but everything is clear and easily readable. The rules are well written, and easily readable. The iconography is well thought out. Once the game started, no more feedback on how to play is required.
The rounds are linked quickly, the game is fluid and there is no time to be bored on the contrary. Without upsetting the codes, Phone Bomb offers a very pleasant experience for short games. The mixture of real time, cooperative pressure with the tension of betrayal that can occur at any time works perfectly.
There is mistrust and bursts of laughter are not long in accompanying the game, especially once the players are chaining blows. The game is very dynamic and there is no real downtime.
The application is simple but relatively well thought out. No superfluous, the symbols of the cards correspond perfectly to those present on the control panel. You don't waste time figuring out what to do. Everything is instinctive and above all it responds well to touch. No latency. Playable on many supports, the application adds a playful side to the defusing touch as in the movies. There are some sensations of video games like Keep Talking Nobody Explodes or Them Bombs! (in less pushed of course). In addition, the publisher has announced that the application will experience future improvements such as the appearance of missions. Interesting thing that deserves to be followed.
Bonus cards offer a little extra and renew interest after several games.
The game is nevertheless not without flaws.
It remains a party game. This means that the more players, the better. Playing it at two (variant included) has no interest, and even if it is appreciated by three, it in no way delivers its potential.
However, the application has certain limits. In terms of pure use, it is a shame to see small things appear which certainly do not prevent the pleasure of play but which slightly increase the handling.
Again, this doesn't take away from the fun of the game. In the end, these are just small details, but things that can be easily improved to increase the fun and ease of use.
If you play in good company (it is possible to see some playing anti-games by taking more time voluntarily to win), the game is a real nice surprise. An ideal aperitif game, simple, fun and lively. A tasty blend of flavors that works perfectly. Knowing how to juggle between saving the team or putting themselves forward is a relatively tasty thing. Not to be hated by others while trying to get out of the game puts you in a place not so obvious but oh so enjoyable especially that must be added to that the pressure of time. Not only does the game work well, it also offers a really well-thought-out hybrid experience with good quality hardware. Phone Bomb is a game that I can only advise you to play with friends, family, with younger children, between adults, between people you do not know .... in short with anyone, play there! After locating the sympathetic Topiary, waiting for the very good Rescue Polar Bears, Aurora offers us with Phone Bomb a very good aperitif game. It would be a shame to deprive yourself, especially since it is at an explosive price.
Technical score 9/10
Compared to its category, Phone Bomb is doing really well. Very easily recognizable iconography, clear rules, simple but effective application. The cards are solid and pleasant to handle.
A little further application adjustments would have been a plus.
My BGG score 7/10
The game is very pleasant. The mix of genres works really well. It's always a pleasure to play it. It's dynamic, deceitful, fluid, fun, accessible and fast. Besides this last point makes it possible to prevent repetitivity from settling down. We can't wait to see how the thing can be developed even more thanks to the app to vary the pleasures. A very nice surprise for a game that works really well.
Combined score of 8/10
And now it's your turn to play ...