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Subject: When the promised help doesn't arrive.... rss

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Zoe M
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I wear my Halloween costume all year round!
This is a variant on a variant. I was inspired by the May Flash Point Solitaire Challenge, where the Paramedic and the Rescue Specialist have to hold down the fort alone for the first four rounds, until the fire truck arrives with help.

I tried that challenge, and was successful. So successful, in fact, that I started wondering… what would have happened if the expected help just never arrived at all? The Rescue Specialist and Parademic obviously aren’t strong enough on their own to ward off house collapse indefinitely, but they might be able to delay the inevitable long enough to get most of the victims out—or could they? There was only one way to find out.

I had taken a picture of the board state at the end of the fourth round when I played through the challenge:

Things were going reasonably well, and I decided to play on from here to see what would happen. I would be sticking to just the Paramedic and Rescue Specialist for the whole game, and they would not have access to the truck. There would be no firing of the deck gun; the only fire being extiguished would be whatever they put out with their own power, paying double every time.

I knew immediately that I would have to revise my strategy from the first play-through. That time, when I knew that help would be coming soon, I just ignored the victims and focused on preventing the spread of fire. I knew that once the Driver/Operator arrived, I would be able to get the house under control and only then move on to rescuing the victims.

This time, I was pretty sure the house would never be under control. I had been lucky not to roll any hotspots so far, but that luck couldn’t last forever. I would have to start rescuing the victims in one area while fire raged in another. But I wasn’t willing to abandon the house entirely to the flames, either, because I didn’t want it to collapse any sooner than it had to. This was going to be a delicate balancing act.

It was the Rescue Specialist’s turn, and her move at least was obvious. I needed to get rid of that smoke on the POI. And while she was going that way, she might as well take that hazmat all the way out of the house.

From the first roll, I could tell that this game was going to be rougher than the last one. The dice were no longer on my side. I rolled a 1-1, which immediately flashed over into fire, and was also my first hotspot roll of the game. More smoke appeared in the kitchen.

I decided that, in general, I would have the Paramedic focus on putting out fire while the Rescue Specialist tried to save victims. There was plenty of fire in big clumps, so the Paramedic’s limited movement wouldn’t be such a problem, while the Rescue Specialist could dash around to wherever the POIs were appearing, and could also put out critical smoke that came up in unfortunate places.

So the Paramedic focused on the fire in the kitchen, but the Rescue Specialist wasn’t quite ready to start saving victims yet. I really didn’t want to leave that one fire in the bathroom, because fire in a small enclosed space can do a lot of damage. So she dashed back to extinguish it to smoke, and planned to get started on the POIs on her next turn.

Meanwhile, I was happy to have the Paramedic putting out fire in the kitchen, because more kept appearing. She had dealt with the fire on her half, but the smoke on the other side had flared up in the meantime:

The one bit of good news so far was that both of the POIs in the NE bedroom had turned out to be real victims, including the cat. So it would be easy to rescue both of those.

The bad news was that smoke appeared on one of the hazmats in the dining room just after the Paramedic’s turn, and before she could rush in to deal with it, I rolled that same spot again on the Rescue Specialist’s turn right after.

As expected, the fire was getting out of control. The Paramedic would keep doing what she could, but it wasn’t very much. At least I was about to rescue my second victim.

After that, the situation escalated. The fire in the kitchen had spread while the Paramedic was distracted trying to keep the dining room fire away from the other hazmat, and a POI appeared right in the middle of it.

It was almost time for the Paramedic too to start rescuing victims. But first, the Rescue Specialist rushed over in the ambulance and used a couple of saved AP to drag that victim into a slightly safer space.

He wasn’t out of danger yet, but at least the number of different rolls that would result in his immediate death had been cut in half.

And finally the Paramedic could put her special training to good use. She healed that victim and led him off toward safety, stopping when she reached the dog to heal him as well. Now it was the Rescue Specialist’s turn to focus on the fire, but it really wasn’t looking very promising:

On the bright side, I had already rescued four victims (including the two healed victims shown above), and there were a couple of unrevealed POI in relatively safe spaces near the exits. But then there was that other POI who had just appeared in the blazing living room…. Things weren’t looking good for him.

It was time for the Rescue Specialist to attempt a daring rescue, making the most of all her talents. On her next turn, she put out one fire in the kitchen and chopped through an already-damaged wall, ending up in the green bathroom and within reach of that POI.

The POI still had to survive two dice rolls, where any of three spots would kill him, but fortunately luck was on my side for the moment. The Rescue Specialist was able to swoop in and snatch him from the flames.

The house was not looking great, but at least things were going well for the victims. On her next turn, the Paramedic led another healed victim out into the ambulance and then drove around to assist the Rescue Specialist with the other one.

Half the house was consumed by fire at this point, but things were actually looking pretty good on the whole. I had rescued five victims already, and had another one on the way. Even more importantly, the house, although full of flames, had somehow avoided suffering significant damage. There were only seven damage cubes on the board, though surely more explosions were imminent.

At this point, my luck took a turn for the worse. I did carry out the sixth victim, but the convenient POI at 2-8 turned out to be a false alarm. There was an explosion at 3-2, and the next two POIs appeared in locations that were less than ideal. Suddenly, things weren’t looking so good anymore.

But at least there were still only 8 damage markers on the board….

Inspired by her last daring rescue, the Rescue Specialist decided to go after the POI in the southern bedroom. This required chopping twice, but there was really no other way to get in there. And while she was doing that, the Paramedic could drive over in the ambulance, so that that seventh victim would be very close to safety.

Everything went according to plan, except for one problem—that POI turned out to be a false alarm. So much for the immediate victory.

And of course, the POI on the hazmat immediately perished in an explosion.

There’s even more fire than is shown here, since the smoke surrounding the Rescue Specialist also flashed over when the door blew off in the explosion (it was a double explosion, with the first setting off the hazmat). I was just too eager to take pictures and see where the next POIs ended up, so the flashover happened last.

There is one big advantage to having half of the house completely engulfed in flames: the POIs have to clump together in the remaining space, near the firefighters and the ambulance. And that’s basically what happened here:

Of course, the odds still weren’t looking great for those three victims. But all I could do was start healing them and dragging them out. Ultimately, the two that were closest to the door made it, while the one farthest away was consumed by flames—but turned out to be a false alarm anyway, phew! Then another appeared at 4-5, but I wasn’t able to get back there before the house collapsed.

This is what the board looked like at the end; I didn’t bother placing the final damage marker for the explosion that collapsed the house.

If I scored this game, the results wouldn’t be too bad:
80 for victims rescued (8x10)
5 for hazmats rescued (1x5)
10 for victory
Total: 95

More importantly, I had a lot of fun with it. The inevitably growing fire, and the near-futility of fighting it, really increased the tension of the game. It was exciting to snatch the occasional victim from the jaws of death, rather than always trying to maintain control. I’ve often found that co-op games are most enjoyable when you’re losing, and this was no exception. I definitely think I’ll try this scenario again in the future.
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