…had my break after my last article now. Thanks for waiting. I got a bit distracted and watched a lot of crap on Netflix instead of work. I just got it this weekend and I’m still in the honeymoon period of watching 5 minutes of everything on there. Except Family Ties. I stuck around for the whole first episode of that. It’s worth watching to see the end where the Dad and Michael J Fox agree to disagree about exclusive whites-only country clubs. I’d have battered the little…
FLASH POINT: FIRE RESCUE is a superb co-operative game that I had the pleasure of playing at my local board game club last Thursday.
Ooh, it was fresh out of the box too. Never been played with. Just the manual, which appeared to explain the game well, had been thumbed though. POP-POP! There was many a cardboard piece to pop out. I knew right then I was going to have to get my own copy because my missus loves that bit of opening a new box. POP-POP!
I’m going to get into the mechanics of the game quite a bit here. If you want more detail, have a look on Board Game Geek as there are summarised rules on there. If you get board I’ll shout in CAPS when it’s safe to read again.
The board is a layout of a house split up into a grid of squares. Setting up the board you place down freshly popped cardboard pieces representing a few explosions of fire with hot point markers in the centre of the blast, a few hazardous materials (we all have drums of oil in our houses, right?) and 3 poor souls stuck in the house. Well, 3 potential souls as the pieces have question marks on one side and either a person, beloved family pet or nothing at all on the other. They are all positioned on the map based upon the roll of a D6 dice and a custom D8* as notified by the pictures of dice around the board.
Your job it to get your fire-fighters** to save the people inside by dragging them out into the street and calling round the ambulance to take them away. Once you save one of them, another is added to the map by rolling the dice again. They must have been hiding in a cupboard or something. People do strange things under pressure. The game is won when you save seven people.
Each fire-fighter has a number of points that they can use on a turn to move around, extinguish fires, open doors, chop down walls, carry people, call an ambulance for them once outside, get in the fire engine and roll the dice to spray a section of the house.
You pick from a selection of 8 character cards what kind of fire-fighter you want to be. I ended up being a Rescue Specialist on my first game that had a few more points for movement and it cost less to chop down walls to get into fire blocked rooms. Then I played as a fire engine driver, as I’ve always dreamed of, that could have a second roll of one or both of the dice to aim my mighty hose.
On each player’s turn, after patting themselves on the back for their great work, they then have to roll the dice to place more smoke tiles in the house. With one hand you giveth, the other you taketh away. It really makes the game feel like it’s against you by forcing you to make things worse just as you’ve done your good deeds for that round.
If a smoke tile is next to a fire tile, then the smoke becomes fire and that could chain out of control in a smokey room. If a smoke tile is placed on a fire tile then BOOM! Explosion! The fire presses out in four directions to the nearest blank space. Or blow out a door way. Or damages a wall. Run out of wall damage pieces during the game and the whole building collapses on itself and you lose the game.
Roll a smoke tile onto a hotspot tile and you have to roll again to add even more smoke. It can quickly get out of hand, or indeed not be so bad at all …so you have to decide if and when you can push your luck focusing on rescuing people rather than holding the fire back.
Fire kills. You don’t have to save the the victims…but you feel every loss. Poor Bob. He had a wife and kids. Worked for a charity. Funny when he got drunk. He will be missed.
BORING GAME MECHANICS BIT OVER!!!
After a few rounds you realise the rules are quite simple. Use points to use fighting fires: Good. Fire appearing: Bad! There are three difficulty levels to choose from and easy is pretty darn easy; You’ll wrap that up in under an hour and be keen to use that knowledge to go straight into a more difficult scenario. Then you’ll fail and realise that as simple as the game is, the aim of the game is to work together to save the day.
My favourite thing about this game as that your turn isn’t just your turn. Everyone has an input into what you should do next. The great variation in the pros-and-cons of each type of fire-fighter means that you really have to focus on what you do best and what you should leave for the others to do.
You’ll be right on top of a person to rescue and nearly move the pieces to do so, but someone will chip in saying that you should extinguish the fires in the room as the rescue specialist is in the next room. They could get the person on their next and out the house before you could. But then someone else suggests the guy in the fire-truck is next and could take out more of the fire in the room, so you should maybe take the victim some of the way to the doorway ready to fight the fire on your next go as the rescue specialist turns up. Or …you get the idea.
Needing to coordinate with the other people at the table really makes it an enjoyable social experience. A brilliant way to break the ice with people that you’ve never really talked to before at a board game club!
I think Flash Point: Fire Rescue is the perfect game for the home too. It’s a sociably acceptable theme that you’d happily play with a understanding-but-distraught spouse and non-boardgaming friends. There is nothing to be ashamed of here. No orcs or elves. No economic systems that would confuse the IMF. Just a simple points for action system controlling real everyday heroes.
The game scales the amount of stuff to deal with depending upon how many people are playing. So disclaimer: I played as 4 player so where my review gives numbers that may vary slightly. Don’t worry about it! It’s 2-6 player and I think it would be perfectly fine to just play with that special someone as well as a group. I was thinking throughout playing 4 player that if I were to play 2 player I’d probably play the 4 player version and control 2 fire-fighters.
Highly recommended. The randomness of the placement of pieces and 8 different fire-fighter types is more than enough variety to make it different every time. RRP is £30 so it’s good value too. Not that the more fanatical of us care about such things. At that price I tend to find it’s best you support your local game store as any online saving will end up being P&P. Ask and they’d probably order it in for you.
If you don’t have a copy of Flash Point: Fire Rescue then you should.
I haven’t got a copy yet. As I haven’t been paid yet. I am sad.
* the custom D8 dice in the box I was playing from was incorrect. The manual admits to this. The opposite side to a number is supposed to be +/- four of that number. This is for when doing dice rolls focused in a corner of the house like when you spray water from the fire-truck. Roll an 8 in a 1-4 area and that means 4. It’s fine though. It’s not difficult maths and if you had a correct dice you’d probably just add up rather than look anyway. But does anyone know if that’s sorted now?
** the pieces for the fire-fighters are made of wood. Anyone else think that’s silly?