Introducing Flash Point: Fire Rescue

Some gamers have strong feelings about certain “over used” game themes – most notably anything involving trading in the Mediterranean or related medieval and renaissance themes. While the pushing around cubes on a map of sixteenth-century Europe isn’t quite as objectionable a theme for us as it is for some, we also appreciate the choice of a theme that’s fresh, new and engaging. And, if that theme meshes well with the game mechanics – well, that’s just all the better!

With Flash Point: Fire Rescue, you have the opportunity to play firefighter and to rescue victims from a blazing inferno – and that's a theme that grabbed our attention in a real hurry! Seriously, who hasn’t imagined themselves as a firefighter at some point in their life? Helmet on, axe in hand, kicking in doors, whisking grateful victims away from the flames – brilliant! Now this is theme anybody can get excited about!

Designed by Kevin Lanzig (see his Designer Diary about the origin of the game), Flash Point is co-operative game for two to six players which plays in about forty-five minutes. Players take on the role of a team of firefighters who are attempting to rescue a family from their burning home. The members of this family are scattered throughout the house, and players will need to work together in order to balance the need to battle the flames, while at the same time accomplishing the overarching goal of saving the victims inside. What’s particularly interesting about this game, however, is that that it can be played at both an introductory family level, as well as at a more advanced level if you’re looking for an additional challenge.

So, will Flash Point turn out to be as hot as the flames that you’ll need to fight as a courageous firefighter? Or will it turn out to be all flash and no dash? Read on to find out!


The kitchen is burning fiercely in a three player game

COMPONENT OVERVIEW

Game box

The box is sized about the same as the arguably similar cooperative game Pandemic, and the cover artwork immediately conveys a sense of action and tension as well as introduces the firefighting theme.


Game box

The back of the box introduces the fact that it's a cooperative game, as well as telling us something about the concept and the components:


Box back

Component list

So, here’s a complete list of what you’ll find inside the box:

● 1 Game Board
● 6 Firefighter Player Tokens
● 33 Threat Tokens
● 18 Point of Interest Markers
● 8 Door Markers
● 21 Action Tokens
● 3 Healing Tokens
● 6 Hazmat Tokens
● 24 Hot Spot Tokens
● 3 Fire Truck/Ambulance Tokens
● 24 Damage Counters
● 2 Dice
● 8 Specialist Cards
● 6 Player Cards
● Player Aids Cards
● Rulebook


Everything inside the box

As noted in the introduction, Flash Point can be played in one of two ways. In the first place, the game can be played with a set of introductory, family rules which ensure that the game is easily accessible to children and new players. However, the game can also be played using a set of advanced rules for experienced players looking for a greater challenge. We’ll first show you the components of the family game and explain the game-play of this version of the game, and then show you the additional components and game-play changes introduced by the experienced version of the game.

THE FAMILY GAME: COMPONENTS

Game board

The board depicts the interior of a typical family home. Overlaying this home (The Beach House), however, you’ll find a grid in which the individual spaces have been labelled with co-ordinates that correspond to the numerically labelled axis which surround the house. At the beginning of the game, the fire (as represented by threat tokens) will begin located in a number of specific spaces on the board. The direction in which the fire will inevitably spread will be determined by rolling the dice – more on that later.


The Beach House

Overall, the board has been cleanly, functionally and attractively designed. There are a number of nice additional touches, including the fact that each space of the board has been labelled with the specific dice that correspond to that specific location. The artwork is particularly good, giving a very realistic feel.


Board detail: the master bedroom

Player pawns

The game comes with six player pawns in different colours. The pawns, which are of a pleasant heft and size, will represent your character on the board. As functional as these pawns are, that doesn’t have to stop you from replacing them with Lego Firefighters kitted out with oxygen tanks, masks, radios and fire axes, or getting hold of the custom fire-meeples, to make for an added thematic touch that increases the fun-factor in playing the game.


The player firemen in six colours

Player cards

These cards simply serve as a reminder of your player colour and a convenient place to store your conserved action tokens.


Matching player cards in six colours

Threat tokens

These solidly made cardboard tokens will be used to represent the intensifying and spreading fire.


All the threat tokens

They are double-sided, with one side depicting the smoke that is indicative of the coming flames, while the reverse side represents the flames themselves. A number of these tokens will be placed on the board as part of the initial setup, and more tokens will be placed on the board as the fire spreads.


The two sides of each token

Point-of-Interest tokens

If you’re going to be a hero, you’re going to need folks to rescue. That’s where the POI tokens come into play. These tokens represent the locations of potential victims. Twelve of the tokens depict family members or pets (yes they're faceless, but that's to prevent anyone from being too emotionally involved in case they succumb to the flames!), while six of the tokens are blank on the reverse. The tokens represent the potential end-game conditions. If you succeed in rescuing seven victims before the house collapses and before four victims are lost to the fire, then you win the game!


All the POI tokens, including the false alarms

But it's not that easy, because all of the tokens have a question mark one side, and this is the side that is face up on the board, meaning that you'll have to make your way through the flames to find out whether a POI is indeed a victim or just a false alarm! Three of these tokens will be seeded on to the board during setup and players will need to get to these tokens to determine whether they are victims or false alarms. Whenever one is removed from the board it is replaced at the end of a turn, so there should always be three in play.


Question mark side of the POI tokens

Damage tokens

Yes, that’s right, you have to try and rescue seven victims before the entire house collapses in on you. As the fire spreads it begins to weaken the structural integrity of the house – and that gradual deterioration is quantified via these damage tokens. If enough damage occurs that all of the damage tokens are placed on the board, then the house collapses and the team of players lose the game!


Damage tokens indicate collapsing walls

Door tokens

As in any home, engulfed in flames or not, the various rooms of the home are separated by doors, represented by nine double-sided tokens. One side depicts a closed door – which can, at times, serve as a useful barrier to the flames. The reverse side of the tokens shows an open door. You’ll be able to pay action points to open and close the doors as necessary.


Closed and open doors

Action tokens

As noted above, you’ll have the opportunity to spend a set number of action points on your turn. However, if you don’t spend your allotted number of actions during your turn, they can be carried over for use on a later turn. These tokens are used to keep track of these held-over actions.


All the action tokens

Dice

The game comes with two dice – one, regular six-sided die and one eight-sided die. These dice will be used for a variety of purposes during game play, including placing threat and point-of-interest tokens by correlating each die to the relevant point on the grid illustrated on the player board.


A D6 and a D8

Reference cards

A good player aid can really help to smooth out game play and keep things running well – and the player aids in Flash Point accomplish this purpose beautifully. One of the player aids leads you through the three phases of the game, and second card enumerates the various actions available to you as well, detailing how they work and what they cost. These player aids were well done and are much appreciated.


Player reference cards

Rules

The ten-page, full colour rule book has been divided into two sections, one which presents the family rules, while a second section explicates the experienced rules. You should have little difficulty figuring the game out, to get up and running quickly. A few common questions about gameplay have arisen and there do seem to be some common mistakes made by new players, but any points needing clarification have been adequately addressed in the BGG forums, and there's no inherent problems with the rules as such. You can download the rules from the publisher's website here.


Instructions

The rule book has been clearly laid out, and sprinkled with relevant and helpful illustrations which help to clarify the game play.


Sample spread from the rulebook

THE FAMILY GAME: GAME-PLAY

Set-up

So how do you get this game up and ready to play?

First place the board in the centre of the table, within easy reach of all players, adding all of the door tokens with the closed side facing up on the door symbols that are inside the building. Gather all of the point-of-interest markers and remove two victim tokens and one false alarm token from the game, and place three random tokens along with fire tokens on the board as shown in the diagram below. Place the remaining point-of-interest markers (randomized and face-down), damage counters, fire/smoke tokens, action tokens, and dice next to the board.


Complete two-player set-up

Give each player a fire fighter token, and a player card in the matching colour, and a reference card. Each player should place their token on a space, outside the building and adjacent to one of the outer door symbols.

Flow of Play

Beginning with the starting player, and proceeding clockwise from that point forward, each player will work their way through a turn that is comprised of three phases. Those phases are:
1. The Action Phase
2. The Advance Fire Phase
3. The Replenish Phase.

Let’s walk you through each of these phases so you can get a good sense of how the game plays out.


A quick firefighters meeting mid-game

1. Action Phase

During the Action Phase, you’ll be allotted a specific number of action points which you will be able to spend in order to carry out a range of possible actions. Here’s an overview of the various actions that you can choose as part of the family game, as well as a breakdown of what they’ll cost you in terms of action points:

Move: By choosing this action you will have the ability to move your firefighter to an adjacent space. Different kinds of movement require the expenditure of differing amounts of AP:
a) Moving to a space without a fire costs one action point, while moving to a space with a fire costs two action points.
b) Carrying a victim to an adjacent space costs two action points.
In terms of movement, it should also be noted that if you move onto a space with a point-of-interest token, that token is automatically flipped over – without the expenditure of any action points. If you succeed in carrying a victim outside of the building that victim is considered to be saved and may be placed in the rescued space at the edge of the board. You may move through walls that have been destroyed, but you may not carry a victim through a space with a fire, nor end your turn on such a space.

Open/Close a Door: This action costs one action point and you indicate whether the door has been opened or closed by flipping the door token to the appropriate side.


Simple example illustrating use of Action Points

Extinguish: As with movement, here to there are different kinds of extinguishing that you can carry out:
a) Flipping a threat token from fire to smoke costs one action point.
b) Removing a smoke token from the board costs one action point.
You may do both consecutively to the same token, i.e. removing a fire token from the board costs two action points.

Chopping: You may spend two action points to place one damage marker on a wall segment that’s adjacent to your character. Thus chopping through a wall in a way that would allow you move through it via the movement action would require the expenditure of four actions points. Be careful here – too much chopping, combined with an unfortunate explosion or shockwave can bring the house down upon your heads!


A brave firefighter about to enter the burning building through a broken wall

One very important detail about the action phase remains to be noted. And that’s to say that you are not required to spend all of your action points during your turn, but may elect to save unused actions for use in a more profitable way during a subsequent turn. Take that Pandemic! To keep track of this you simply take one action token for each saved action and place it on your player card in front of you. You may have a maximum of four of these tokens on your cards at any one time, and they may be used on any later turn to carry out additional actions.

2. Advance Fire Phase

Fire shares something in common with many board gamers – it has an insatiable hunger to consume new stuff! And you’ll find that this is one ferociously hungry fire. After each player has carried out their action phase, they will move on to the advance fire phase in which they will determine where and to what extent the fire is going to grow.

Roll the dice: In order to make this determination, roll both dice, using the results as co-ordinates vis-a-vis the enumerated axis along the edges of the board to locate the indicated space on the board.
• If the space does not have a threat token on it, place a smoke token in that space.
• If the space already contains a smoke token, or is adjacent to a space with a fire token, flip the new token over to show its fire side.
• If the space already contains a fire token, you are about to experience an explosion. Read on to see how that situation resolves itself!


A severe explosion happens in the bedroom

Explosions: As you can imagine, explosions are not good things. When an explosion occurs, the fire will spread rapidly and it can even create damage to the walls inside the house. The fire spreads in the direction of each of the four cardinal compass points surrounding that target space.
• If the fire spreads into a space with no threat token, or where there is a smoke token, place a fire token in that space.
• If the fire advances into a wall that is not yet destroyed, place a single damage token on that wall (note that fire passes through destroyed walls/doors)
• If the fire advances into a closed door marker, that marker is removed from the board.
• If the fire advances into a space that is already on fire, it creates a shockwave and continues to the next adjacent space, repeating this process

Secondary effects: And it’s not over yet amigos! We still have to deal with the matter of secondary effects that can arise as a result of advancing fire.
Flashovers: After the fire has been advanced, you need to check and see if there are any smoke tokens that are located in an adjacent fashion, next to any fire markers. If so, those smoke tokens need to be flipped over to their fire side.
Lost Victims: If the fire has advanced in such a fashion that a both a fire token and a point-of-interest token occupy the same space, then the point-of-interest token needs to be revealed. If it is a victim, than that person has been lost to the fire and their token is placed on the lost location along the edge of the board.
Knocked Down Firefighters: The family members of this house aren’t the only ones endangered by the flames – so are you and your team! If the fire advances in such a fashion that it enters a space occupied by a players token, then that fire fighter is considered to be knocked down. Fire fighters who have been knocked down are removed from the building and have their tokens placed on the closest ambulance parking space outside the building. If that fire fighter happened to be carrying a victim, that person is lost to the fire.


A firefighter watches helplessly as a victim succumbs to the flames

3. Replenish Phase

At the end of your turn, you need to make sure that there are three point-of-interest tokens on the board (either inside or outside the house). If there are fewer than three, you will need to roll both dice, use them to locate the indicated space and place a random point-of-interest token in that space. If the indicated space already has a smoke or fire token on it, remove that token and place the point-of-interest token in that location, and simply re-roll if there is already another point-of-interest token in that space. If there is a fire fighter in that space, immediately reveal the token, and if it is a false alarm token, remove that token and re-roll for the placement a token.


Cries for help seem to be coming from just outside the burning kitchen area!

End of Game

The game ends immediately if one of the following conditions occurs:

Players lose the game as a team if either of the following happens:
● All twenty-four damage tokens have been placed on the board – in which case the house collapses.
● Four victims have been lost to the flames.


A loss as four victims have been lost to the fire

Players win the game as a team if (before either of the above happens):
● Seven victims have been rescued from the flames.


A win in a two player game

THE EXPERIENCED GAME: COMPONENTS

As noted already, Flash Point can be played in one of two ways, either with the family rules described above, or with the experienced rule set, which has been designed to provide a more difficult challenge. We won’t go over each and every detail of the experienced rules in this section of our review – but we do want to provide you with a solid overview of how the game plays out at the advanced level, as well as how the various additional game components come into play.

Specialist Cards

The game comes with eight specialist cards which allow each player to take on a unique role and function in the game. What’s really cool is that these cards make you feel as if you are a member of team who brings a specific set of skills to the table – and the particular abilities your character possess really do reflect those skills. The fire-chief for instance, can order another player to carry out a particular action. One of the characters can dispose of hazardous material more quickly, there’s also a paramedic who can tend to victims in such a fashion that they’re made more mobile. At the beginning of the game, each player will be assigned one of these roles – and it will be up to them to decide how to best place their particular skills in the service of the team. There's even rules making it possible to switch roles midway the game.


All eight specialists

Emergency Vehicles

The firetruck and ambulance tokens sit on and travel between the relevant locations along the outside edges of the home. Both emergency vehicles can serve as a means of transport for the fire fighters and in addition the fire truck allows a player to potentially douse the flames of several spaces at once, while the ambulance token becomes a destination point for both rescued victims and knocked down fire fighters.


The firetruck and ambulance tokens

Hot-Spot tokens

A number of these tokens (a number which varies with the number of players and the desired level of difficulty) are seeded onto the board during the initial setup. The hot-spots represent locations on the board that have just about reached the point of ignition, but have yet to burst into full flame. During the advance fire phase, when the target space contains a hot-spot token, you will be required to carry out an additional advance fire roll. This is called a flare-up and there is no limit to the number of flare-ups that can occur on a turn – each time the fire advances into a space with a hot spot token, you must perform another advance fire roll. Additionally, when the final flare-up has been resolved, a hot-spot token must be added to the location in which the final token is placed. There is no way to remove a hot-spot token once it has been placed on the board.


All the Hot spot tokens

Hazmat tokens

These tokens represent dangerous, flammable and unsafely stored materials that can be found in many households. As with the hot-spot tokens, a variable number of these tokens will be seeded onto the board at the beginning of the game. When the fire advances into a space which contains a hazmat token, an explosion will occur. After the explosion is resolved a hot-spot token will be placed in that space. Hazmat materials can be picked up and carried out of the house by fire fighters for the same action point cost you would pay when moving while carrying a victim. Any hazmat tokens that are carried out of the building are considered to have been safely disposed.


All the Hazardous Material tokens

Heal tokens

These tokens will only be used when the paramedic specialist card is being used. The Paramedic has the ability to ‘heal’ victims so that they are able to walk under their own power out of the house. The paramedic has the ability to spend one action point to resuscitate a victim. To indicate that a victim has been given medical assistance, place a healing token on that victim token. Now fire fighters can move with that victim for one action point, rather that carrying them at a cost of two action points.


All the Heal tokens

Alternative board

You can play the experienced game on the Beach House pictured on the game board. But as an added bonus, this board is double sided. On the reverse side you’ll find another floor plan, this time of a home with both a different interior design (The Ranch House), as well as fewer outside entrances. In terms of getting extra bang for your buck, this boost in replayability is a fantastic bonus.


The Ranch House

THE EXPERIENCED GAME: GAME-PLAY

Set-up

Random setup: There are a number of changes to the setup in the experienced game. In the first place you need to decide whether you want to play the game at the Recruit, Veteran or Heroic level of difficulty. The level of difficulty you choose will determine the number of fire tokens that you place on the board. The real difference with the set up is that the initial fire tokens are placed on the board in random locations, and they are resolved as explosions.

Hot spots and Hazmats: In addition to the fire tokens, a specific number of hot-spot and hazmat tokens will also be placed on the board in random locations. These make the game more difficult by causing flareups and explosions respectively, and the basics of how they work has already been covered under the components.

Specialists: Finally, each player will be given a specialist card – either randomly or by choice - which will give them unique abilities.


Setting up the Experienced game with Hazardous Materials and Hot Spots

Other changes

Ambulance: A key issue in the experienced game is that it’s not enough to simply get a victim outside the building in order to rescue them. Now you need to get them to the ambulance in order to have a victim qualified as rescued. The ambulance can be driven and/or radioed to move from one ambulance parking spot on the board to another for a cost of two action points.

Fire Engine: The real advantage that the fire engine provides is the potential for dousing the fire in several spaces at one time. For the low, low price of a mere four action points (a whole turn!), you can use the water monitor on the truck to extinguish the fire in up to five potential spaces (determined by rolling the dice) in the nearest quadrant. Like the ambulance, the fire engine can be also driven around the board. If you want to drive the fire engine, however, it can’t be radioed for like the ambulance, but you must be on the same space as the truck if you wish to drive it from one location to another.


The Experienced game adds emergency vehicles to game-play

Knocked Down Firefighters: When firefighter is knocked down by the advancing fire, they will be placed on location where the ambulance is parked.

Replenishment Phase: In the experienced game, you can only place a new point-of-interest token in a space that has no threat tokens of any kind. As such, in instances where the space where the new point-of-interest token needs to be placed is occupied, you will need to follow the arrows that have been placed in each space to find a legal location to place the token. This has the effect of keeping the tension of the game up, because now fire tokens can’t be replaced with point-of-interest tokens.


A massive house fire in an Experienced level game

CONCLUSIONS

What do we think?

Another explosion

Theme: “Fire Burnin’ on the Game Board!” One of the real strong points of this game is the tremendously appealing theme. This is a game that you can sell to just about anybody, from gaming newbies to experienced players alike. Sure, you could play a scientist in Pandemic – but that pales in comparison to playing an axe wielding firefighter who’s saving victims and battling the flames! When you pair the outstanding theme with the accessible mechanics and rules, you’ve got a product that’s going to be winner in just about any gaming circumstances.

The Family Game: “Keepin’ it Simple – Keepin’ it Real!” The fact that the family game has proven to be a satisfying game on its own merits – without needing to move on to include the experienced rules immediately – was also a very pleasant surprise. It should be noted that the experienced rules don’t actually add that much complexity to the game despite appearances and first impressions when reading the rulebook, and perhaps a reworked rulebook could make the transition to the experienced game easier, as well as clear up a few rule questions that were outstanding. Admittedly the experienced game does become a bit fiddly at times, but playing with the advanced rules of the game should still prove readily accessible even for younger players. It’s also the case that the experienced rules do add a level of nail-biting tension to the game that isn’t always present when playing with the introductory rules. Having acknowledged these realities, however, it remains true that the family rules provides for a very satisfying and engaging experience all on their own. Contrary to what you might have imagined, playing with the family rules is neither boring, nor is it devoid of decisions and fun, and the dice driven spreading of the fire means that you're always going to be up for a challenge even when playing with the simpler rules. There’s a real elegance, a genuine satisfaction in the simplicity of the family game that will keep you entertained all on its own, although you may find yourself wanting to experiment with a variable setup.

The Experienced Game: “Will it Blend?” While the above statements regarding the family game are certainly true, we’re of the opinion that there’s considerable merit in blending some of the experienced rules into the family game as a way of providing a kind of hybrid experience that may prove more enjoyable for the family gaming environment. It’s a pity that the rules didn’t provide guidance for a random setup using the family rules, or for introducing the experienced rules gradually, but there are suggestions in the BGG forums that will accomplish this quite easily. One way of doing this would be to start the family game with a random setup based on three explosions, but without the inclusion of the damage counters that might result from the resolution of these initial explosions. From there, you might decide to add the emergency vehicles, and finally work up to including hazmat and hot-spot tokens, as well as the specialist cards. As the designer suggests, "it may be more palatable to introduce new concepts one or two at a time. Specialists are a fun addition, but their powers make the game easier, so introduce hazmats or hotspots at the same time to compensate. Vehicles make the game in some ways easier (deck gun, driving) and others harder (ambulance), so can be safely added on their own." The important point is that you can quite easily adapt the rules to your personal tastes and group without fundamentally breaking the game. Having two sides of the game board with different house designs also helps enhance the case for variable setups, and variable levels of difficulty.


Seven rescued - we win!
Scalability: “Picking Teams?” Another wonderful thing about Flash Point is the fact that it can be played with as few as two and as many as six players. We all know how hard it is to find a good six player game – particularly a family game that will appeal to parents as well as to children of varying ages. To be sure there can be a little bit of downtime with the full complement of people at the table, but it’s not that big an issue, particularly if players make a conscious effort to divvy up the team and assign some players the task of rescue and others to the task of fighting the flames – if you have a sense of your priorities, you can accomplish a degree of planning before your turn, and because it's a cooperative game you're still involved when others are taking their turn. The two player game works quite well too, although it’s a little tougher to move around and accomplish timely rescues. All in all, regardless of the number of players you have at your table, Flash Point delivers a fun experience, with the varying number of players corresponding to a different type of challenge each time.

Comparing with Pandemic: “Which Way to the Research Centre?” This game obviously owes a debt to Pandemic in terms of its character and design, not just as a cooperative game, but also with respect to some of the mechanics. This is particularly clear in light of the specialist cards, and the action points. So how do the two titles compare in terms of actual game play? Well, both are solid and satisfying in their own way, but what Flash Point brings to the table in a way that Pandemic does not, is a stronger level of thematic immersion. You really do feel like a team of fire fighters that’s battling against the blaze of a quickly expanding fire. Further, because the advancement of the fire is determined randomly by the dice rather than card-driven, Flash Point has less of a puzzle feel than Pandemic – in which the path of the outbreaks can be somewhat more precisely predicted and strategies can be calculated. Of course this element of dice-driven randomness may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but it does serve to provide a genuine level of tension and realism as fire bursts out and explodes in unexpected directions throughout the house. Unlike Pandemic, the priority is to save lives rather remove the fire or find a cure, and there's numerous elements of chrome (e.g. emergency vehicles, hazmats) to play with and opportunities for customization. Fire Rescue probably has more of a fun factor that makes it serve better as a gateway game or in a family context. Both games have a very different feel despite some similarities in the engine driving the game, so owning one won't at all make the other obsolete.

Components: “Well Made Mr. Worthington ... Well Made!” The production quality of Flash Point, including the attractive rulebook, the great box cover artwork, the clear and functional board, and the visually pleasing cards and tokens, is really high and very satisfying. Publisher Travis Worthington of Indie Board & Cards is committed to quality in both the designs he publishes as well as their components, and it really shows.


Too late: the house collapses just before a fightfighter can remove the final victim from the house

What do others think?

The critics

As is the case with all good games, there's also some negative comments to be found, proving that even greatness and goodness isn't to everyone's taste. If you don't like cooperative games in general, this is not terribly likely to change your dislike for the genre, although some coop haters have confessed to enjoying this one, so be open to Flash Point changing your mind! But any dislike for the game on this account is a matter of personal taste rather than an objective weakness of the game's design. A few individuals have felt that it's too similar to Pandemic, but true fans of coop games will easily appreciate and identify the differences, and you're more likely to see them as similar if you dislike cooperative games in general. Somewhat surprisingly there hasn't been a huge amount of criticism about the randomness - most folks seem to agree that it is very thematic, and works well in a game of this sort.

The praise

Since its release just a few months ago, the game has already attracted a remarkable number of high ratings and positive comments, as attested by some of the following, which laud it for its theme and mechanics, components, variable levels of difficulty, and how it excels as one of the very best cooperative games on the market:

"This is an excellent cooperative game. The unusual theme is family-friendly, and works extremely well with the mechanics." - Kevin B. Smith
"Outstanding game. It's easily my favourite cooperative game. I'm not a very big fan of cooperative games, either, but the theme is great and it works very well with the mechanics. I see this as being a permanent popular fixture in our household." - Justin Rebelo
"Amazing cooperative game. The mechanics play great with the theme, and it really feels like you have to work as a team to put the fire out." - Juan Medina
"Everyone I've played with has bought copies of their own. This is THE BEST cooperative game I've ever played." Samuel Mitschke
"Excellent Coop Game. Has a Pandemicy feel to it, but with more options and variances." - Daniel Hurlbut
"Awesome! This game just drips theme, and that theme is well supported by the mechanisms of play." - Craig Somerton
"One of the best and most exciting co-op games there currently is, period." - Dirk E
"I love this game. It's a true co-op with easy-to-learn rules, a gripping theme, and lots of fun and strategy. A definite must have." - lordrahvin
"Awesome solo/co-op game! Both the Family rules and Experienced rules play great. Great game mechanics, and great for solo play." - Droopy McCool
"I cant say enough how much fun this game is even played solo. Just Incredible gaming experience. You can actually tell a story when your finished. Just utterly AMAZING! " - Paul Harmon




Recommendation

So, should you invest your hard earned pesos on Flash Point: Fire Rescue – or will your money just be going up in flames? Well if you’re in the market for a tense, thematic, fun, family friendly co-operative game then the answer is a resounding yes! Simply put, this game is awesome! The theme is great, the components are top notch, it’s genuinely a blast to play, and it provides a system of scalable difficulty that should keep everybody from children to the serious gamer engaged and entertained. This is, in our opinion easily one of the very best family titles to be released in 2011 and you should grab it while it while you still can! Bravo Mr. Lanzing! Bravo, indeed!


Yet another kitchen fire - will they never learn?

Credits: This review is a collaborative effort between EndersGame and jtemple.

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mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596

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Garry Rice
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Re: Ender's Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: Screaming Theme - Is it a bad thing that there’s smoke coming from the toilet?
Great review...and if the difficulty isn't great enough for you, get the expansion with the skyscraper scenario/board... This rapidly became my favorite co-op game, although I still enjoy Pandemic.
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Andy Andersen
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I've got the Kickstarter edition of this game. A brilliant review.


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Shaun Graham
Germany
Hamburg
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Hmmm ... Litko produces fire tokens, which could make this game look even more awesome than it already is and empty my wallet even more than it already is ... ? whistle
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Shawn George
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Great review, just noticed a couple minor typos that should be fixed. The Chopping section says "two much chopping", and the scalability section says "The two player game works quite well to".

But anyway, thanks for the review, this looks like a great co-op game to check out!
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Putts wrote:
Great review, just noticed a couple minor typos that should be fixed. The Chopping section says "two much chopping", and the scalability section says "The two player game works quite well to".

But anyway, thanks for the review, this looks like a great co-op game to check out!
Thanks for pointing those out. I do multiple proof-reads and a significant amount of polishing before posting a review, so I don't know how I missed those! I've made appropriate edits to correct them.

And yep, Flash Point is definitely a strong contender if you're in the market for a co-op game, the theme is really a strong selling point with this one!
 
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Blair
Canada
Winnipeg
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Great review as always Ender. I have only managed to play one game thus far of this. Definitely a well made game.
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Mathue Faulkner
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Austin
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I will say that the randomness is something that bothers me about the game (and I have read similar comments here on bgg). I understand that it's more thematic and fits this game best, but I enjoy the tension in Pandemic and Yggdrasil that comes from knowing what is more likely to come up. For me, the dice in Flash Point: Fire Rescue extinguish some of the tension and strategy of the game.

I'm keeping it, as I'm a sucker for co-ops and the game has its merits, but it's definitely one that will get pulled out less often.
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Jeff Kayati
United States
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Another excellent review. I'll also throw out there that this game plays great solo. Simply use multiple firefighters for the best solo game experience.

My one concern is in the Experienced game where it seems that you've just got to take either the CAFS or the Driver/Operator specialists. Attempting to control the fire without them is a bit overwhelming beyond the Recruit level of play.

It also seems that playing with BOTH of these specialists in one game makes the game too easy. If you can control the fire to such a great extent, then it's simply a matter of time before you win the game.

All in all a great game, one of the best from 2011 and highly recommended.
 
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Harvey O'Brien
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Dublin
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These reviews always make me want to buy stuff, Ender. Luckily enough, this time I already have it!
 
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Anders Pedersen
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mfaulk80 wrote:
I will say that the randomness is something that bothers me about the game (and I have read similar comments here on bgg). I understand that it's more thematic and fits this game best, but I enjoy the tension in Pandemic and Yggdrasil that comes from knowing what is more likely to come up. For me, the dice in Flash Point: Fire Rescue extinguish some of the tension and strategy of the game.

I'm keeping it, as I'm a sucker for co-ops and the game has its merits, but it's definitely one that will get pulled out less often.

I have played games where we really should have lost. But then victims started to appear right at the doorway leading to the ambulance.
At the other end of the spectrum we have had a victim die in an explosion, happening after player 1 took his very first turn!
So yes, there are some wild swings in luck due to the dice and it can lead to some unsatisfying end results, gamewise.
But then again, the game is very thematic and cinematic, and I guess it just can't be achieved without a good dose of randomness ( at least that is the argument I use to defend Dreadfleet ).
I still rate the game high, but prefer titles like Defenders of the Realm and Yggdrasil for their deeper and more challenging gameplay.
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Aron F.
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Champaign
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Another fantastic review!

I have never played a fire-fighting themed game, so this is unique, and the theme does appear to be very well executed. If only it wasn't a cooperative :/

But, I know that some people that like cooperatives a lot, and this is sure to be a hit among those groups
 
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Neil Christiansen
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Mount Pleasant
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If randomness is bothering people in terms of not being able to predict the spread of the fire, I suggest using the hot spots for this.

That is, roll one turn ahead where the fire will spread and mark that by the hot spot tokens. On the new turn, spread the fire and place new tokens.

Is still random, but adds some more planning.
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Mathue Faulkner
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chris1nd wrote:
If randomness is bothering people in terms of not being able to predict the spread of the fire, I suggest using the hot spots for this.

That is, roll one turn ahead where the fire will spread and mark that by the hot spot tokens. On the new turn, spread the fire and place new tokens.

Is still random, but adds some more planning.
For me, that doesn't really solve anything. If anything, that will reduce the tension more because it's still random, but now it's a turn ahead so we'll be able to handle the situation even easier. I feel like the randomness reduces the tension, and rolling one turn ahead will only reduce it more...

Even when we win, sometimes I feel like "wow, that was lucky" instead of "wow, we played well". And playing at a certain difficulty can vary so wildly from game to game in difficulty that the "lucky" feeling is just enhanced.

All co-ops have randomness, but Flash Point passed the tipping point for me personally. It has its place in my collection, but isn't my 'go to' co-op...

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Ken Newell
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Woohoo!!! Finally a review by you that doesn't make me want to run out and get the game!



That's only because my wife already picked up the game!cool
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Samuel Mitschke
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Austin
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Great review as always, Ender — thank you!

One particular element I appreciate is that Flash Point dodges (for the most part) the issue of one domineering player commanding the other players around the board. Particularly nearing the end of the game, everyone has a range of decisions to make during a turn, and there isn't always an obvious choice. Our games usually turn a constant group discussion over the immediate strategy – meaning everyone's involved on every turn. The dice-based randomness of the spreading fire means that the best-formed plan falls to pieces in no time, so even an experienced player can't plan so far ahead as to leave the other players behind.

Most of the folks I've played with were occasional Monopoly/trivia/poker players with little interest in a heavier game...and the firefighting theme didn't grab 'em at all (despite MY enthusiasm about it). By the end of the first game, however, those players were vocal and involved (and loving the tension), and everyone wanted to play another game right away.

Awesome stuff.
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Patrick C.
United States
Milford
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Great review as always Ender.

I don't understand how randomness can cause lack of tension. If a game with high randomness AND high theme lacks tension then it means this issue is the lack of connection one feels to the theme or to the experience in general such as your gaming group. Equating lack of tension with the unexpected is contradictory.
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Mathue Faulkner
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travvller wrote:
Great review as always Ender.

I don't understand how randomness can cause lack of tension. If a game with high randomness AND high theme lacks tension then it means this issue is the lack of connection one feels to the theme or to the experience in general such as your gaming group. Equating lack of tension with the unexpected is contradictory.

It's just a bit too much randomness for my tastes.

And I'm not sure if I can eloquently put it into words, but I'll give it a clumsy effort:
Let's say that by some mystical power, you are granted the knowledge that 1 of 3 possible events will occur to you tomorrow. Some may be amazing and awesome while some others may be horrific. Either way, if you're anything like me, then you'll likely spend the day contemplating those 3 possibilities as well as how you'll react to each one. And you'd likely start preparing for some (or all) of those events just in case. It would be a day filled with tension and excitement (at least for me).

Now let's say that instead of it being 1 in 3 events, it's now 1 in a million events. Now, there are so many possibilities that it's impossible to fully comprehend everything. Tomorrow's events are so random that it becomes difficult to really plan for anything. There may be some excitement, but it won't be near the levels of the previous scenario.

Of course, that is an extreme metaphor for how I feel. All co-ops require randomness, and a lot of the excitement and tension comes from playing the odds and preparing for certain likelihoods. Pandemic and Yggdrasil are the two co-ops that I have the most experience with. For me, Flash Point is just past the edge of too much randomness. There are so many possibilities in where the fire may spread that it just isn't quite as tense for me. I realize that this is a personal feeling, and I don't expect everyone to feel the same. But for me, there is so much randomness that I just don't feel the same levels of tension and excitement.

I said this before but even when we win, I feel like "wow, that was lucky" instead of "wow, we played well". And playing at a certain difficulty can vary so wildly from game to game in difficulty that the "lucky" feeling is just enhanced.


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Neil Christiansen
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I wonder if it would be possible to use a "dice deck" such as was developed for Catan and then allow some foreshadowing and manipulation of whether cards get placed on top or bottom (ala Torres)?
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Mathue Faulkner
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chris1nd wrote:
I wonder if it would be possible to use a "dice deck" such as was developed for Catan and then allow some foreshadowing and manipulation of whether cards get placed on top or bottom (ala Torres)?
In another thread, Travis Worthington (Indie Boards & Cards) said that he tried that out and it "sucked the soul out of the game" or something along those lines. I can see that....but I'd still be curious to try it.
 
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Neil Christiansen
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I also think it a sound idea.

How to implement? I have several decks of blank cards...

For example, there could be a 2-card feeder that is seen the turn before. Certain actions could allow the firefighter to place a card to the bottom or discard. Other events shuffle the discard and place it on top.
 
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Susie_Cat
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Great review - one question (to you or anyone with an opinion):

You commented on how it compared to Pandemic, but I'm curious how does it compare to Forbidden Island? I have both (which we love) and they have a very different feel to us, though essentially they are the same game with similar mechanics. So, I am interested, would there be a home for Flash Point since we already have Forbidden Island or would it feel like more of the same?

Thanks a lot,

Susie_Cat.
 
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