As I've mentioned it's been pretty hectic here but I did get a chance to try my new copy of Phantom Leader this weekend. This has been on my short list for a while now and I found a copy for the right price and picked up up.
Phantom Leader is a solitaire game simulating air missions during the Viet Nam conflict taking place between 1965 and 1971 or so. In the game you manage a squadron of pilots and attempt to complete missions and accumulate victory points. Your job is made harder by both enemy action and by unexpected political events. For example, one mission might require you to attack enemy air defense installations. But then "Peace Demonstrations" might occur and limit your weapons choices. On the other hand, you might get unexpected air support. As the player you have to assign pilots and arm them based on the mission requirements but keep in mind that unexpected events are pretty likely to crop up.
I played the simplest of games and flew a few missions during the early air war. Briefly (I'm tired from the d%$# painting) I found the game to be well balanced and very exciting. The random events and long list of possible missions keep things varied. The game components are top notch. But mainly I felt like this game walks the line perfectly between being demoralizingly hard and boring. Winning takes some work and effort but it's possible. In contrast, as much as I admire and enjoy Death Angel it does get to be a downer to lose 90% of the time.
I'll be playing more Phantom Leader soon, and if I can track some some more games in the series at a decent price I'll be pretty thrilled.
As an aside, someone might reasonably ask how this game could possibly be fun, considering the historical subject matter. I don't really have an answer. I'm well aware of how insanely ill advised and horrible the war was. So yes, good question. I suppose for me I can enjoy the game while simultaneously regretting the horrible judgement that got the United States into the war itself. Just one of those odd things.