FIRE!!!! What? Oh right - that's the theme of Flash Point: Fire Rescue.
Flash Point is a cooperative game in which the players take on the role of firefighters attempting to save victims from a burning building. As with all fires, things can get unpredictable, and it's difficult to initially know where all of the victims are. Each turn consists of spending four action points (this can be different on some characters). You can use action points to move (and the cost is modified if you're moving through fire, with a victim, or carrying hazardous materials), open/close a door, extinguish smoke and/or fire, chop through a wall, drive the fire engine and/or ambulance, change crewmen, or fire the deck gun. Any unspent actions are saved until the next turn. Next, you roll dice to see where the fire spreads. There are lots of rules we won't go into, but this can lead to large numbers of explosions and a lot of smoke turning into fire very quickly. Finally, if there are less than 3 "POI" (victims and/or false alarms) on the board, more are added. Once you have rescued 7 victims (by carrying them to the ambulance), you win! (Or, on a harder difficulty, once you have lost 4 victims, you lose. Or, if you run out of damage cubes, the building collapses and the game is over. It doesn't explicitly say it, but I'm going to go ahead and say you lose then, too.)
|Cool firemen meeples - feeples!|
Speaking of theme, that is definitely my second pro. In my opinion (which is the main one you'll find here), the game is bursting with theme. Now, I don't really care especially much if a game even has a theme, but when it has great mechanics and a great theme, it's wonderful. I really think that the theme is most noticeable when resolving the end of turn "advance fire" rolls. I don't know the designer, but I have a hard time imaging him as anything other than a firefighter. The rules are just too specific for me to think he is anything else - I really think that they came from years of dealing with real fires. Smoke re-ignites into fire, flare ups in the building can quickly cause havoc all over the place, improperly stored cleaning materials can explode. Then, you can also chop through walls to get to your POI's - and after all of that, it might have been a false alarm!
|One of the unique roles|
The one point of the game that I'll mention before getting to cons is dice rolling. It's important to realize that, to simulate the randomness of a fire, the "advance fire" part of the turn involves a lot of dice rolling. As with any dice game, this means that crazy things can happen. Rolling dice never works out statistically how it "should" (if I roll a 1 on a 6-sided die, and then I roll it again, it's not going to be friendly and go "oh, he rolled a 1 last time - I shouldn't roll that again until he's seen all the other numbers.") What this means in game terms is that you might be able to extinguish a lot of the early fires and then just deal with smoke popping up. Or, you might roll flare ups every turn and have the entire building explode regardless of how well you (intended to) play the game. In the games I have played, the dice have worked well and have been a good balance of explosions and smoke. However, in one of the games we played, nobody rolled any flare ups until one person rolled about 4 of them in a row. This is just something to be aware of.
Really, I only have one con for Flash Point. The advance fire section of the game is a bit fiddly. I think that there are two reasons for this - first, there are simply a lot of steps that you have to check for and then perform if appropriate. Second, Flash Point uses similar sounding firefighting terms that aren't part of my normal vocabulary. For example, what's the difference between a "Flashover" and a "Flare Up"? I've played the game several times, and I still had to just look up which one was which. This causes you to spend a decent amount of time grabbing the instructions and going, "ok, what was that again?" After you play it through several times, this upkeep phase will become much more fluid, but it still remains a touch fiddly.
Overall, I give Flash Point a 9.0/10. I expected it to be a good game, but what I found was a game that rivals Pandemic or any other cooperative games, trying to be my favorite.
If you want a second opinion, check out the Board Game Family's Flash Point: Fire Rescue. If you want to read about other cooperative games, you should check out Yggdrasil, Space Alert, and Forbidden Island.
I would like to thank Indie Board & Cards for providing me with a review copy of Flash Point: Fire Rescue.