Game Buzz – Flash Point: Fire Rescue

The Game Crafter is a website that launched in 2009 as a means to allow independent game designers to self-publish their games.  You upload files, you pay for the bits, you sell it in their marketplace.  It was a pretty cool concept that I thought about trying out, but was only hampered by the lack of a good idea.  Still, they have published thousands of games – some good, some not-so-good.  One TGC production, Jump Gate, won the Games Magazine 2011 Game of the Year (a choice that raised more than a few eyebrows).  Another publication, Flash Point, got picked up by Indie Boards and Cards and is now being published as:

image by BGG user T Worthington

Flash Point: Fire Rescue was designed by Kevin Lanzing.  It’s a cooperative fire rescue game for 1-6 players aged 10 and up, and takes around 45 minutes to play.  The game is currently on Kickstarter, and has raised over $29,000 to date (the original goal was $5,000).  If you want to get involved, you’ve got until Thursday August 18 at 12:04 pm EDT.  If they make it to $30,000, anyone who pledged $45 or above gets some custom fireman meeples (as of this posting, they’re only $208 away).  The object is of FPFR is to rescue people from inside a burning building.

This game comes with 6 firefighters; 33 threat markers; 18 POI (points of interest) markers, made up of 12 victims and 6 false alarms; 24 damage counters; 8 door markers; 21 action markers; 3 heal markers; 6 Hazmat markers; 24 hot spots; 8 specialist cards; 6 player cards; a red d6; a black d8; and 3 vehicles (ambulance and fire engine).  The game has two levels of rules – the family game and a more experienced game.  I’ll try to cover both here.

At the start of the game, the board is seeded with fire markers (pre-established in the family game, randomly determined in the advanced game).  Victim and false alarm markers are placed around the board, face down so no one knows which is which.  Players each get a firefighter that goes on any space around the board.  In the experienced game, each firefighter is a specialist – this is like the roles in Pandemic.  I’ll talk a little more about those later when I get to the advanced rules.  For now, I’ll just talk about the family game.

On a turn, a player goes through three phases: take action, advance the fire, replenish POI markers.  During the first phase (Take Action), you have four action points to spend.  You can move into an open or smoky space for one AP, or a space with fire for 2 AP.  If you’re carrying a victim, it costs 2 AP to move into an open or smoky space.  You can’t end in a space with fire, nor can you carry a victim into fire.  If you ever move to a space containing a POI marker, you flip it over.  False alarm tokens are moved to the rescued space.  Victims must be carried out.  As soon as you leave the building, you put them in the rescued space.

If you come to a door, you can open it or close it for 1 AP.  You can also try to extinguish a fire or smoke in an adjacent space.  It costs one AP to turn a fire into smoke, and another to eliminate the smoke token from the board.  You can also chop down a wall for 2 AP, placing a damage token on the wall.  Two damage tokens means the wall is destroyed, and destroyed walls can be moved through for one AP.  If you ever run out of damage markers, however, the building collapses and everyone inside dies horrible.

The next phase is Advance Fire.  Roll the d6 and d8.  This gives you the row and column in which you must place a smoke marker.  If there’s a smoke marker already there, it becomes a fire.  If there’s a fire adjacent to the smoke you placed, it becomes a fire.  If there’s a fire marker on the space where you’re putting your smoke, there’s an explosion.  Explosions radiate out in four adjacent directions, placing a fire marker in each, replacing smoke markers that may be present.  Damage counters are placed on the walls in between spaces.  If one of the fire markers goes on a space that’s already on fire, there’s a skockwave.  The first continues in its direction until it comes to an open space (which catches fire), a space with smoke (which turns into fire), a non-destroyed wall (which gets a damage marker), or a closed door (which is removed from the board).

After you’ve advanced the fire, you need to check for secondary effects.  All smoke that is next to fire turns into fire.  Any victims in rooms that are on fire are lost.  Any firefighters in rooms that are on fire are knocked down and taken off the board to the nearest ambulance parking space.

The last phase of a turn is to Replenish POI.  There must always be at least 3 POI markers on the board, so if there are less, you need to roll for new placements.  If you can’t place in the space rolled, roll again.

The game ends in one of three ways.  If the building collapses (all 24 damage counters are on the board), any victims or POI still in the building are lost.  If you have ever lost three or more victims, you lose.  If you end up rescuing at least seven victims, you win!

I said I’d go over the differences in the advanced rules.  One is that victims must be carried to the ambulance to be rescued.  There are also two vehicle actions you can do during your Take Action phase.  You can move either the ambulance or the fire engine around the board to a different parking space for 2 AP.  You can also fire the engine’s deck gun at the quadrant bordering the engine’s spot for 4 AP, competely extinguishing all fire and smoke in a target space that is determined by a dice roll, (as well as fire and smoke that may be adjacent).  You could also spend 2 AP to swap specialists with one not in the game.  The eight available specialists are:

  • The Paramedic, who can spend one AP to treat a victim, placing a heal token under them.  This victim can be moved without having to be carried, meaning that it doesn’t cost the extra AP to move (you still have to use one per space).  However, the Paramedic also pays double AP to extinguish fire or smoke.
  • The CAFS Firefighter, who only gets 2 AP during a turn, but 5 FREE extinguish actions.  The extinguish actions do not roll over.
  • The Generalist, who gets 5 AP per turn.
  • The Rescue Specialist, who gets three free moves in addition to the standard 4 AP.  The Rescue Specialist also must pay double to extinguish fire or smoke.  The free moves don’t get saved.
  • The Fire Captain, who gets 2 Command AP in addition to his 4 regular AP.  The Command AP are used to move another firefighter, or to have them open or close a door.  These cannot be saved, and only one per turn may be used on the CAFS Firefighter.
  • The Hazmat Technician, who may dispose of a Hazmat from his space and place in the rescued area for 2 AP.
  • The Driver/Operator, who only uses 2 AP to fire the deck gun, and may also reroll one or both dice when determining the target space.
  • The Imaging Technician, who may spend 1 AP to flip over one POI marker anywhere on the board.

During the Advance Fire phase, you add Hazmat.  If there was a fire in a space with a Hazmat marker, there’s an explosion there, and the Hazmat marker is replaced by a Hot Spot.  Hazmat is normally removed by carrying it out of the building.  If the advance fire roll lands you in a room with a Hot Spot, there’s a flare up – an additional roll.  After the last flare up is rolled, place a Hot Spot in the last space.  Also, if a firefighter is knocked down, they go to wherever the ambulance is.  In the Replenish POI phase, if your initial roll can’t be placed, you follow a diagram that moves it closer to the center of the board.

So, there you have it.  The game sounds pretty intense.  It’s a theme that isn’t used much – in Kevin Lanzing’s Designer Diary on BGG, he mentioned that he didn’t exactly know why, since you don’t often hear kids saying they want to be orcs or elves when they grow up.  I think this really expresses the difficulty in firefighting – trying to make that determination of where to go, sticking to a plan, and most importantly, working together.  I was talking with my wife earlier about what a competitive firefighting game might look like.  “Oh dear, I seem to have set fire to that group of small children, heh heh heh.”  “Ha!  Take that, water supply!  Heh heh heh!”  “I use my axe to knock down this fiery staircase that was your only chance of escape, heh heh heh!”  Probably wouldn’t work too well.

This game seems like it will play very quickly, maybe too quickly.  As in Pandemic, it seems that things will escalate a lot quicker than you want.  The addition of dice means that you can never prepare for the next place a fire will break out, meaning that you have to get done as quickly as possible.  It’s definitely one I’m looking forward to…it seems very challenging, and despite the intense theme, it seems like something that will engage a wide variety of people.  Thanks for reading!


    • I don’t know, I think it sounds pretty different from Pandemic. For one thing, the specialist roles not only give you a special ability, but also a limitation. Your object is not to put out the fire, but to rescue the people trapped inside. Still, I can see that the basic flow might be too similar for some people. That’s one of the problems with pure cooperative games – it’s difficult to come up with a format that’s not going to remind people of Pandemic since Pandemic was such an influential game. It’s like deck builders and Dominion – they’re all going to be compared.

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