Phantom EFX
September 2, 2008

I’ve been in a pissy mood lately when it comes to card games.

Since moving to Boston in 2002, it’s been all poker, poker, poker. I like poker. I’ve made money at poker. I’ve paid for a trip to Vegas in the Harrah’s poker room. Though, I’m an awful tournament player (ask Mark Scalia).

It seems like computerized card games have boiled down to solitaire and poker, with every geek’s dream of going to the World Series.

I didn’t learn how to play poker for real until college. Growing up, we had two games: setback with my friends and pinochle with the family.

I’ve been really pleased to see Pinochle making an appearance on more and more commercial products, but no one has gotten it right yet with the rules and the artificial intelligence. (you’ll see an Old Shoebox article in a few weeks about someone who DID get it in 1993)

Reel Deal Card Games ’09 includes but doesn’t at all understand pinochle, but I’m not going to dwell on that fact any longer.

What you do get is more than 80 games and free online multiplayer, which is nice, but there aren’t exactly a ton of people lining up to play.

Phanton EFX, the game’s publisher, did manage to put together a good platform. What they should have done was give it away and just sell advertising on the multiplayer servers.

The artificial intelligence, while cute and often entertaining, is just really stupid. They get the rules wrong a log, they bet, raise and fold without any obvious reason in the poker games, but most of all they just aren’t programmed to understand the subtle nuances of most of the complicated games. (pinochle)

The game, packaged on two CDs, includes Harts, Bridge, Cribbage, Canasta, Golf, Rummy 500, spades, War, Pinochle, Gin, All Fives, Wist, Euchre, Pitch, Old Maid, Spite & Malice, Go Fish, Skat, Pepper, Crazy Eights, Memory Match, seven poker games, Blackjack, and 45 solitaires. As you play the games, you earn points towards virtual prizes, and that’s just ducky.

If you’re looking for a PC cards game, I’ve seen worse, and better.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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