Friday, February 22, 2013

Flash Point: Fire Rescue Review

Flash Point: Fire Rescue
  • Designed by Kevin Lanzing
  • Published by Indie Boards and Cards
  • For 1-6 players. I've played with 4-6 and enjoy it with more people.  
  • Playtime is around 45-60 minutes.  Learning games can take longer.  

The call comes in... "911, what is your emergency?" On the other end is a panicked response of "FIRE!" Moments later you don the protective suits that will keep you alive, gather your equipment and rush to the scene of a blazing inferno.  The team has only seconds to assess the situation and devise a plan of attack - then you spring into action like the trained professionals that you are.  You must face your fears, never give up, and above all else work as a team because the fire is raging, the building is threatening to collapse, and lives are in danger.
You must succeed. You are the brave men and women of fire rescue; people are depending on you. This is what you do every day. (From the BGG page for Flash Point)

On your turn you have 4 action points(AP) to use.  APs let you do different things, such as move, drive the fire truck, carry victims, and even put out fires. (You know, like firefighters.) You can store any AP you don't use in order to use them on a future turn.  Knowing when to do this is a big key to the game.  After you take your actions, then you add smoke to the board by a die roll.  Finally, you replenish any POI markers that you resolved this turn (either rescuing a person or finding a false alarm.)
There are roles that give players special abilities, like the Paramedic, who can heal unconscious victims, so they move with you, rather than needing to be carried.

As a co-op game, Flash Point is group dependent for the interaction.  There is a lot of working together, thus group thought.  On the flipside, the game can be played by yourself, so interaction isn't the high point of the game.  Due to the theme, this game does lend itself to working together.  It's rare that one person takes control of them game.

The 8 different roles
Flash Point truly invokes a sense of fighting a real fire.  Sure, it's not the same as actually doing it, but the danger is there.  Fire can spread at any moment, injuring players and even removing POIs from the board.  It's a boardgame, so the theme isn't perfect, but this is one of the more thematic games I've played.  If you're looking for a game to play with kids who want to be a firefighter, this is the perfect game for them.

I have an early edition of the game, so I don't have the fancy firefighter tokens, which don't affect gameplay, but they do enhance the theme.  The board is great quality, and double sided to boot.  All the tokens have good heft and have stood up to repeated plays.  The artwork is solid, but it won't wow you.  Essentially, the components do their job without detracting from the game.  They're not amazing, but they do a good job for the game.

Learning Curve
Flash Point has a fair number of things to learn in order to play the full game, but there is a family game that introduces concepts without overwhelming new players.  If you're familiar with other co-op games, the concepts in Flash Point are not overly complicated.  The actions that a player can perform make thematic sense, which helps in learning the game.  Being able to play the game, and actually being able to win are two different things.  Most people should pick the game up quickly, within a few rounds.  Winning depends on a lot of factors, but it is rare to win the first time out.  Knowing what to prioritize and how to go about winning takes some time.

I've played it 8 times so far.  I've been able to play with a few different people, and it shows no signs of slowing down.  There are two different house layouts, so that keeps the game fresh, but even with only one layout, the game would still be enjoyable.  The variety of player abilities keeps the game different each time, or at least gives you something different to try.

Why I like Flash Point
The "A" side of the board
The "B" side of the board
Theme is the thing that stands out for Flash Point.  It's not just what the theme is, but the way that it's woven into the game.  The actions and gameplay evoke the sense of fighting a fire and rescuing people from a building.  It's not so tense that it causes issues, but everyone wants to do their best.  Also, the ability to carry over actions to future turns is great.

Why I don't like Flash Point
It can suffer from the boss syndrome.  Sometimes there aren't meaningful choices to be made. That is to say that sometimes there is only one thing that is even worth doing on your turn.
Player cards and the pawns

Flash Point is a winner in my book.  There have been some games that have been too easy, but that was also on easier difficulty levels.  Almost every person I've played with has enjoyed the game.  It brings out childhood memories of wanting to be a firefighter, or at least admiring what firefighters do.

Would it be a good game for Tabletop?
I really think so.  They covered Pandemic, so there isn't a stigma against co-op games.  The choices here are still interesting, and there's a lot more role-play that people can get behind. Flash Point does tell a good story, even if it's quick.

Want to buy the game? Here's a link to Amazon, and you'll help support the site.

1 comment:

  1. I literally bought this game as you posted this. We played last night. I enjoyed it.