All of the games that I learned as a child there was always a winner and a loser. Flash Point: Fire Rescue from Indie Boards & Cards is a title where all the participants can lose and the winner could be the game itself! It is a relatively new genre of game called cooperative. Some examples I can give include Pandemic, Forbidden Island and Hanabi. Each of these games require that all players work together before they can emerge victorious. Indie Boards & Cards has taken this kind of game and applied it to one of the noblest professions: Firefighting.
In Flash Point: Fire Rescue you and your fellow players are racing to rescue people, and even in some cases animals, from a burning house. You must do this before it goes up in a ball of flame or comes crashing down. Designer Kevin Lanzig has applied the theme of firefighting to the fullest extent with this exciting game. Players are given a firefighter to control. In the family version they all have the same abilities but you could be more adventurous and move on to the advanced game where each character has their own abilities to deal with the many issues that you are going to be faced with. For instance, some players are better running the fire truck. Some of the players may be better at knocking down doors or removing hazardous waste, and some are just better at putting out the fire before it spreads to adjacent areas. And while the fire fighters seem to have all the tools, the game itself is unpredictable enough to keep everyone on their toes because you really never know where that next flare up is going to start.
On you turn you get a number of actions. You could move about the house. Spray down smoke before it becomes fire or try and find those people that you are here to rescue. Once you have found the people, you have to make your way back out of the house to the awaiting ambulance before they are truly rescued. Then you must trudge back into the house to find that next person who needs saving.
Working as a team is crucial in this game. Going off by yourself to be a hero may seem like a good idea but could be a recipe for disaster. After each player takes its turn the game gets to strike back, and that is by rolling two dice and placing new smoke or fire breakouts throughout the house. Your team will be scrambling if this happens next to a piece of hazardous material, like a propane tank or an already existing blaze. If that happens you could see an explosion that will spread the fire faster than you can say “duck”.
The game comes with a double sided board. One side has a house with four entrances and if you want to raise the challenge a little, you can flip the board over and work on a house that has only two entrances. The cardboard components in this game are as good as all of the other similar pieces found in other games from Indie. But the stellar pieces in the game are the miniature firefighters themselves. Each plastic piece represents a player and it really helps you get into the game as you move them throughout the house executing their tasks.
The game is built for all ages. Unlike Pandemic the theme is not necessarily prohibitive to small children. The game is abstract enough not to frighten children when things go awry. But the building tension with each roll of the dice keeps adults and children alike glued to the board. As the fire builds at times you have no choice but to break through the walls in order to escape. This along with the various explosions causes irreparable damage to the house. If you do enough damage to the structure, the house collapses in upon itself. So you have to be careful at all times to balance your approach to the eminent danger.
There is plenty of game in the box, but Indie Boards & Cards has done a fantastic job of coming up with various expansions that add to the depth of play. From small expansions that add a fire dog to the play, to larger expansions that put you on a ship that is being consumed by fire. With support like this you could be playing Flash Point: Fire Rescue for years to come.
All this is a way of saying that Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a fantastically tense game with a rich theme that puts you right inside of a burning house. If you are able to pull off a victory you feel like you have accomplished something. Especially on the harder variations that you can apply to the game. There are not many games that provide a challenge to adults and children alike. This is one that is not only challenging but fun.
And a a price point of under $30, you cannot beat the value. Pick one up on Amazon or from your local Barnes & Noble or Target. Indie Boards & Cards has a number of other titles that we’ll be telling you about in the very near future. In the meantime, follow them on Facebook and Twitter to see what they’re working on next!