If you were to ask most young kids what they want to be when they grow up Firefighter was probably somewhere on the list, right along with teacher, doctor, policeman and superhero. At leastthat is what most of the kids I grew up with wanted to do. We all wanted to help people. Flash Point: Fire Rescue allows us to play that role and attempt (that being the key word) to save the potential victims.
Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a cooperative game in which you work as a firehouse to extinguish a fire at one location or another and rescue 7 out of 10 victims (yes a 70% rescue rate is considered a victory). The base game comes with two modes that are great for allowing any group to join forces and fight fires. The basic game is a more family friendly or new gamer friendly version that succeeds in easing people into the game. It can easily help others get a grasp on how the game plays without overwhelming them with two many options. The expert game kicks it up a notch and makes it even more thematic. While making it more thematic it also makes it much more difficult, but a good difficult, if that makes sense.
Essentially the game plays like many other cooperative games where every person has a role and each role has a special ability. Each turn the player has a certain number of action points that they can spend moving, carrying victims, turning fire to smoke, removing smoke, driving the engine or ambulance or chopping through walls among a few other things depending on what map is being used. Some of the characters are better at removing fire, while others are better at removing victims. The captain even allows you to move another player on his/her turn. After the players turn is over, the fire continues to spread. In the base game it is as simple as rolling two die and placing a smoke (or fire if there is already a smoke present) or causing an explosion on the location the die tell you. In the expert game it gets a little more tricky with the inclusion of hot spots that cause you to re-roll the die and spreading the fire even faster. These die rolls (especially with the hot spots) can cause the sadist in everyone to laugh hysterically when you do nothing but roll to spread the smoke where smoke and fire already exist.
- The basic and expert modes really allow the game to be more accesible by the masses. If you are playing with kids or with newer board gamers then the basic mode might be the perfect amount to give them good choices, but not overwhelming them at the same time. Then the expert mode makes the game more suited for experienced board gamers and gives you someplace to expand to with repeated plays.
- The solo option is a solid one. Like most cooperative games you are playing multiple roles* and the only tricky part is remembering what order the characters take their turns. In the past their have been challenges on the Solo Gaming on Your Table thread where people compete to get the best score. Those definitely revitalize the game when they do happen.
- The dir rolls, while not the main mechanism add some good moments in the game. When you know that a couple different locations will end your game and yet you still have to roll the die to see where the fire spreads, it can addsome good tension every turn.
What’s Not So Good?
- While the base game allows it to be played easier, if you are contantly playing that level it can get a bit dull.
- There are a lot of expansions and while that is good (I’ll speak to that a bit more below) it is hard to getthe expansions to the table unless you have a consistent group who wants to play this leaving too many on the shelf unplayed.
What’s The Best Part?
- The variety of locations is a huge addition to the game. You can fight fires in a couple different houses, an office building, an autoshop and even on a submarine. Each of the maps add one or a few new obstacles or impediements to successfully fighting the fire, but mostly the maps provide an additional challenge because of the layout. These maps add a great amount of replayability, where the basics of the game remain unchanged, but the board is completely different. The players must adjust to the new maps challenges, but don’t have to learn a new ruleset in order to play them.
* It has been brought to my attention that playing one role has been successfully done by several people. It might be something I have to check out soon.