To write Flashpoin: Fire Rescue off as a Pandemic clone, or a Forbidden Island clone, is to miss the point. While both of those games and this share elements – controlling the environment through movement of pieces around a board while trying to get to the endgame – all three differ significantly enough to be fun. But what each has, in spades, is theme.
Pandemic – essentially Outbreak: The Game – is probably the most abstract of the three. You move your specialists around a world map trying to research a cure while keeping outbreaks to a minimum. Certain conditions lead to an explosive outbreak, chain reactions across common commuter lines drawn out for you. Forbidden Island makes things a little more personal – explorers on a sinking island rescuing treasure. You try to shore up certain tiles and keep a route off this miniature Atlantis open for escape.
Flashpoint, though, is Backdraft: The Game. You are a firefighter, or a an engine, and you need to rescue victims. Using an ingenious grid based system you roll dice to get tips as to where they are and to track the fire as it spreads through. Everything is a toss up between controlling the blaze, keeping exits open, and getting to victims. Do you chop through a wall – using two of a pool of damage tokens which, when they run out, mean game over – or take the long route?
I’ve only played the simple version, which doesn’t feature specialists, smouldering ruins, fire engines, hazard markers and ambulances, but it’s fantastic. It’s fast, easy to relate to, perfectly pitched as a family game and – most importantly for me – entirely solo-able. The 5 year old gets it too, though, which means that doesn’t have to happen too often.
With two different buildings offering different experiences from the box, two expansions boards (4 buildings) out already in the guise of 2nd Story and Urban Structure AND another expansion currently on Kickstarter, this game has got years of life in it.
I unreservedly recommend you get in on it now.