Zoe M
Canada
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I wear my Halloween costume all year round!
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This is my attempt at the April Solitaire Flash Point Challenge, Will You Please Save My Pets, Please?

This is a scored challenge, so the goals were a bit different than usual: in addition to saving the victims (with a focus on the pets, who run around inconveniently when first discovered), there are a lot of points awarded for damage markers remaining at the end. As a result, I changed my whole strategy for this board, with mixed success: I scored a lot of points, but one person died. Oops.

Normally I think the key to the Ranch House is chopping. There are only a couple of doors, both at the same end of the house, so it can take a long time to evacuate a victim from the other side. The cost of doing 2-4 additional damage is usually outweighed by the benefit of saving people faster.

In this case, though, every bit of damage mattered. I was not going to be chopping any holes here. This would be a long, slow process of dragging victims across the house.

It also seemed that the key firefighter in this scenario would be the Structural Engineer, with his ability to repair damage. Of course, the trade-off there is that he can’t put out fire or smoke at all, so things can quickly get out of hand. As we’ll see shortly….

The starting set-up was pretty nerve-wracking, with two critical areas: one smaller fire by the door, and one larger one in the back bedroom/bathroom. Both were only a die roll away from disaster: the small fire near the door was next to both a hazmat and a POI, while the large fire at the back was also next to a POI, right at the end of a long row of 4 fires, meaning that any of those 4 rolls would result in death. I could only deal with one of these situations on my very first turn, and would just have to hope that the first die roll would spare me.

I decided to start with the Driver/Operator, CAFS, and Hazmat Technician. Since points were awarded for clearing hazmats, the hazmat technician was an obvious choice, and the other two would be able to address the two critical fire areas: the CAFS could quickly fight the fire at the entrance, while the D/O could hopefully get the fire in the back.

I counted up the critical spots: four in the smaller front fire (including two that would explode a hazmat but not kill a victim), and four in the back fire, all of which would incinerate that poor POI. In the interest of saving victims, it made more sense to start at the back with the Driver/Operator, and just hope that my first dice roll would avoid those 4 danger spots at the front.

The Driver/Operator was extremely successful. His first roll was 3-5, which put out four fires at once, although it left one right next to the POI. His second roll, after re-rolling both dice, managed to hit the other two fires. Sweet. The bedroom and bathroom were clear of flames.

Then came the moment of truth: would that critical dice roll succeed or fail? Again, I was in luck, and managed to avoid killing a POI on the first turn. The CAFS got to work, and the Hazmat Technician followed him in. They continued in the same vein on their second turns, while the Driver/Operator waited. The POI near the front door turned out to be a false alarm.

It looked like everything was going really well. The Driver/Operator had pretty much finished with his work, and the fires seemed to be under control. It was time for the Driver/Operator to do something else. He changed into the Structural Engineer, and drove around to the front of the house, where there were some damage markers close to the door. As time progressed, with the other firefighters working on the fire, the Structural Engineer repaired that damage and headed deeper into the house to work on the next damage and also check on a POI that had appeared nearby. Things seemed more or less under control at this point:



But of course, the problem with the Structural Engineer is that he’s completely useless when it comes to smoke and fire, which meant that they were accumulating more rapidly than usual despite the removal of a hotspot or two. There were still only three actual fires on the board—but of course, I managed to roll one of them anyway.



Things quickly went downhill from there. The Hazmat Technician had just started putting out the fire in the pink bedroom when the one fire remaining there managed to explode as well.



And of course, another POI had chosen just this moment to appear in the living room, surrounded by flames on two sides. The Fire Captain (who had replaced the CAFS at some point) didn’t have enough action points to put out both of those fires, so he just darted in and snatched her out, just in the nick of time:



By this time, I had realized that fighting fire needed to be a priority again, and sent away the Structural Engineer. He was replaced by the Generalist, and the Fire Captain spent his whole next turn rushing the Generalist in to the danger area, where a fire had spread next to one of the victims. Unfortunately, the Generalist didn’t manage to accomplish anything, because he was knocked down by an explosion before his next turn.

That same explosion also killed the person in the bathroom.



Needless to say, this was the low moment of the game.




By this point, fire was again raging out of control in the back bedroom and bathroom, and the Generalist had been sent back to the ambulance. The only thing that saved me at this point was the fact that the ambulance was right next to the truck. The Generalist was able to hop in, drive around, and fire off an initial shot as the Driver/Operator just a couple of turns later. It was tense there for a while, but eventually things got under control again.

Of course, I still hadn’t made much progress toward winning the game. I had saved only one person, and revealed two false alarms. The beloved pets were still hiding. Basically, I was not really any farther along than when I’d started, and one person was already dead.



But there was nothing else to do except regroup and keep trying. I still wanted to bring in the Structural Engineer to repair the building, but I was going to be more careful this time. Even though everything seemed to be under control, I knew how quickly that would change. I wanted to make sure I was in the very best position possible before doing anything drastic.

That meant making sure that I had the best firefighting crew for the given moment. I was happy with the Fire Captain, but the Driver/Operator was no longer needed, and the Hazmat Technician too had already served his purpose. I decided to replace the Driver/Operator with the Generalist again, while the Hazmat Specialist (yellow) would check on the nearby POI, then head out of the house, dragging either that POI or the victim near the door with him. At all times, I would prioritize putting out nearby fire and smoke over dealing with POIs, even if it meant walking a couple of spaces out of the way. And only once the Generalist was well into the house would the Hazmat Technician make his way outside, and then, assuming there was still no sign of impending disaster, the Hazmat Technician could be replaced by the Structural Engineer and get to work on the building again. It’s normal for firefighters to wander around outside the house fixing the walls while the victims languish inside, right?

Finally, things started going according to plan. The Hazmat Technician looked at the POI in the pink bedroom, and finally discovered the first pet, which immediately ran off. Fortunately the Fire Captain (blue) was able to deal with the smoke in the other bedroom, so the cat wasn’t in too much danger in its new location. It was going to be a long haul to drag that cat out without chopping a hole in the wall, but at least the Fire Captain could help with that. Everyone just continued working, fighting smoke as it appeared and slowly, slowly dragging the victims towards the exit.



The situation remained calm for a while; several victims were rescued (including the cat), and the Structural Engineer was able to clean up the house a lot, ultimately removing all of the hotspots and the damage. I didn’t take a picture at that exact moment, but here’s one from when we discovered the dog:



But of course, time spent repairing the building and dragging out victims always has a cost. The Structural Engineer and Generalist were at the front of the building, while the Fire Captain was just issuing orders from the pink bedroom, so of course the smoke accumulating in the back bedroom ended up being neglected. And of course, neglected smoke leads to fire, and then explosions. I was so close to finishing the game with an undamaged house, but one final explosion hit me just a couple of turns before the end. And so here is the final picture:



I was actually really happy with how this turned out, given that rocky period in the middle. Of course, it might have been better to save all the people instead of the house, but at least in terms of scoring, my strategy paid off:

10 points for winning
90 points for victims rescued (9x10)
15 points for hazmats cleared (3x5)
46 points for damage markers remaining (23x2)
no dead animals

Total: 161

Thanks for a fun challenge!
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Ryan Mayes
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Gilbert
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“Whilst I count my schnookels”
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Great write-up. I have to say, using the structural engineer on the outside of the house has never crossed my mind. Brilliant!
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Zoe M
Canada
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Thanks! I really appreciated the way this challenge made me think of everything slightly differently.
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Ryan Mayes
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db, I'm sorry that the dog died. I always feel it's a loss, when the dog dies, no matter the outcome.
 
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