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Subject: A test run with the Rescue Dog rss

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Josh Lozano
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After an email with some information enabling people to test out the Rescue Dog Specialist, I was eager to give it a shot. For those who don't know, the Rescue Dog is planned as a stretch reward for backers of the upcoming expansion, Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Extreme Danger. If I recall correctly, its something that will be available for purchase as well.

There are currently 3 variants of what the abilities for the official Rescue Dog will be. I went with the second, as it seemed more interesting (although I discovered the third one after this play, so will be trying it soon as well). The rules for the Rescue Dog overall make sense:

-Limited to moving and dragging victims. Unable to open doors, climb ladders, fire the deck gun, etc.
-Can reveal POI markers in its space and all adjacent spaces.
-Cannot carry Hazmat or other objects.

Specifics of the #2 variant:

-10 AP
-Move(1AP) - Can move through Damaged Wall Segments (The cost was changed on the #3 variant to 2AP to move through a Damaged Wall Segment, which seems better I think)
-Carry Victim(4AP)
-Can't carry a victim through Damaged Wall Segments.

We (me and 3 others) played on the Brownstone board from Urban Structures. For our roles, we had the Fire Captain, the Rescue Specialist, and the Generalist (and of course the Rescue Dog). Its also important to note that I was concerned with the theme of this Specialist, so that helped us make a couple of decisions in the course of the game. We quickly decided the dog couldn't move through fire, because he didn't have protective gear. We also decided that the dog couldn't call the Ambulance to get someone rescued because 1) He probably didn't have a radio and 2) Barking is not a viable form of communication with humans.

We definitely had to work around some difficulties in the game. The biggest was not being able to open doors. Fortunately, I was able to work around that, moving from one duplex to another to rescue victims. Eventually the doors were opened and I could zip around pretty quickly. Similarly, not being able to move through fire (which was assumed in our game, but was added to the third variant) was tough. Again, I was able to move back and forth between duplexes to overcome this.

I ended up doing most of the victim rescuing during this game. I appreciate the fact that it costs 4AP instead of 2 for the Rescue Dog to "drag" the victim. It balanced out the fact that he has 10AP to work with. This meant that he could shoot across the board if needed, but still had to really work to get anyone out. We ended up winning this game, although near the end fire really started to break out a lot. Fortunately, we had gotten enough done already that we were able to quickly get the last 2 victims out without having to deal as much with the fire.

I appreciated in this variant the fact that the Rescue Dog had 10AP, as opposed to 12 in the other two. It limited him just a bit in dragging victims, and put him more on par with the other specialists in that he can only move someone 2 spaces per turn, but can save some and maybe do 3 the next. I also liked the idea of moving through damaged walls, although we ended up not having to do that this game. Another thing I think was really important was keeping the theme of it being a dog, meaning that he couldn't open doors, or put out fires, or move the ambulance, etc. There seem to be some people who want the dog to be able to jump at the door to break it down, or bark to call the ambulance. However, I just dont feel like thats something that would really happen, and I like it that way. It keeps the Rescue Dog from being THE specialist to be, and instead makes him fun to use like the other specialists.

Lastly, I'll say that if you haven't checked out the Extreme Danger Kickstarter page yet, you should. Im really excited for this expansion, and you should be too. Flash Point: Fire Rescue is one of my favorite games, and the expansion seems like it will add some sweet stuff. A lot of the stretch rewards are really great sounding too. Such as the Rescue Dog! If you want to play with the Rescue Dog during a round of Flash Point, be sure to check out the Kickstarter page!
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Scott Wheelock
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Nice report! I haven't been anywhere near a FP board, but I really wanted to see how the dog played.
 
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Adam Porter
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To keep these playtest reports together, I'll repost my comments from the Kickstarter thread here.

I play-tested version 1 and 2 of the Rescue Dog rules yesterday.
The dog was a lot of fun to play, and created a lot of laughter as we discussed the situations it found itself in. Thematically, the dog is a blast.

The first game, we used the dog rules which allow movement through walls with one block of damage, in the duplex apartment from Urban Structures. The most exciting thing about the dog is his speed. It can move from one side of the board to the other, provided a few doors are open and there are a few damage counters around. Therefore, it becomes more useful later in the game.
One question raised was: Can the captain move the dog with his "Radio" tokens? It seems a little odd thematically. Another thought was whether the dog can move through fire, as other specialists can. Clearly, it doesn't have protective clothing, but it is faster and more agile to avoid the flames, so I think it should be able to.

Our second game used the rules where the dog cannot pass through damaged walls. We used the 2 story house from 2nd Story. In this game, the dog was no use at all, acting as a substandard "imaging technician". With doors closed, and no access through damaged walls, and unable to climb ladders, the dog struggled to get anywhere. When it did arrive at a location, it was impossible for the dog to carry anyone out of the building, because of the limitations to movement from the various blockages. So, the dog just became a second (weaker) method of identifying POIs.

One situation which emerged was that the dog was on one side of a closed door, and an unrevealed POI was on the other side, directly adjacent. According to the rules, the dog can identify a POI in an adjacent space. Thematically, it felt right that the dog should be able to identify a human even through a closed door (because of enhanced smell, hearing etc.) but I assume the current rules don't allow this.

The dog was a bit of a pain for the deck-gun operator, because he was often running from one board quadrant to another, and this limited where the deck-gun could be aimed. (No firing into a quadrant with a specialist in it!) Several players felt maybe the dog could be an exception to this rule.
The dog certainly introduces a need for more AP tracking counters. Playing a six player game, we did not have enough counters for the dog player (with its large amount of AP), and had to substitute other tokens.

Overall, I massively prefer the rules where the dog can move through damaged walls, and flames (at the cost of 2AP). It is exciting to run ahead of the other firefighters accessing areas they can't reach. Without this ability, the dog seemed very underpowered despite its massive AP allowance.

After the latest update, the dog's abilities have been reduced a little in version 3. It can't move through fire (a shame I think) and squeezing through gaps costs extra AP, also a shame in my view. It has increased AP which makes up for this a little bit though, and can bank 6AP instead of 4 as normal. I do like the option of diagonal movement. This is a logical improvement for a specialist which we haven't seen before, and it makes thematic sense here. I haven't playtested this latest version of the rules, but it still looks like a fun addition to the game, albeit still pretty useless in a two story building!
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Andreas Krüger
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Quote:
One situation which emerged was that the dog was on one side of a closed door, and an unrevealed POI was on the other side, directly adjacent. According to the rules, the dog can identify a POI in an adjacent space. Thematically, it felt right that the dog should be able to identify a human even through a closed door (because of enhanced smell, hearing etc.) but I assume the current rules don't allow this.


When there is a wall or door, the spaces are not adjacent.
 
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Brian
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It's sounds very interesting already. I can't wait to try it when it's released.

I feel like there should be a special rule regarding pet cat and pet dog. Perhaps the rescue dog doesn't like the pet cat so he can't (won't) save it? Perhaps it's only 3 AP instead of 4 AP to move with a pet dog (or cat if you want to let it save the cat)?

For an expansion, it would be nice if the POIs were differentiated so it's more than just false alarm or victim.
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Zeddy
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Similarly, I'll post a play test here, to keep this info centralized.




Used Rescue Dog #3 on a Heroic session of the ‘back side’ of basic board (long corridor, 2 external doors) with 2 players, each managing two firefighters (including Veteran #1 as discussed here). No Driver/Operator available and Rescue Dog #3 was used later in the game in lieu of normal choice of Rescue Specialist.

We initially started with Rescue Dog #1, but #3 seems to effectively supersede it.

1/. I noticed in other BGG posts that people were using the dog to lead treated victims, and were having to cap victim AP to prevent ridiculous movement distances with treated victims. Note Travis’s follow up clarification:

“c) The Rescue Dog cannot lead treated victims”

This seems the best solution, rather than yet another sub-rule.

2/. Not totally convinced by the 4AP to drag a victim cost (I’m sure many will disagree, but I think this is too low a cost....). My read of the intent of this specialist is a more tangible way of revealing POI’s than the rather abstract Imaging Technician, with some ability to rescue (I visualise the dog pulling a victim out of a smokey room into a hallway for a firefighter to ‘collect’, whilst the dog then continues on with POI IDing.. ). This little guy can move a long ways by himself, but I cannot see him being able to drag 80kg unconscious person any great distance nor easily.....

Currently in open areas, the dog can drag a victim 3 squares, which is identical to the Rescue Specialist (who has 7 MP available; 2AP to carry means 3 squares of victim carrying plus 1AP banked). A dog can move victims further than all other human specialists, except the Rescue Spec?? This meant we pretty much used the dog to identify and rescue all victims, rather than focussing more on victim identification with some (secondary) victim movement. Perhaps 5AP to drag a victim one square would allows the dog to still move victims somewhat, but not as effectively as Rescue Specialist, and focus dogs role more on POI identification?

I think Smandero alluded to this with Rescue Dog 1 having only 10AP, and 4AP to drag:

Smandero wrote:
I ended up doing most of the victim rescuing during this game. I appreciate the fact that it costs 4AP instead of 2 for the Rescue Dog to "drag" the victim. It balanced out the fact that he has 10AP to work with. This meant that he could shoot across the board if needed, but still had to really work to get anyone out.


Dog #3 with 12AP and 4AP to drag just seems too overpowered in terms of rescuing victims....


3/. We didn’t run with the dog until later in the game (my partner swapped out the Fire Captain for Rescue Ralph (as she named her dog) back at the fire engine), as we were well aware of the closed doors issue blocking Rescue Ralph, which I don’t mind. We generally focus on firefighting in early game, during which doors will start being opened anyways (and walls damaged, with adjacent fires extinguished). I’d be struggling to see a valid reason for running the dog from game start.


4/. I couldn’t see any justification for the dog being able to open doors (it would personally kill the theme of this specialist for me); it’s simply a limitation on this specialist. Ditto with ladder climbing; there are simply boards / environments / scenarios where this pooch is inappropriate. This could be a problem for ‘selling’ it to kids, who want to play the dog from the get-go, but then get frustrated that it can’ t do anything for awhile.


5/. Never had need to use its damaged walls ability, but would like to have. Not sure about the “2AP to move through damaged wall “. Is this a cost like a door? Is it 2AP to breach the hole, plus the 1 AP to enter adjacent square (i.e. 3AP total)? Or is it 2AP total to breach the wall and enter the adjacent square? I think the latter, which seems fair?


6/. Can’t comment yet on the fire issue many have discussed, with suggestions of a diagonal movement (2AP) cost to circumnavigate some issues therein. That being said, Engineer cannot fight fire either.... Ralph moved through many smoke tiles, and we made a concerted effort to watch/suppress smoke around main exit points that would impede Ralph. No opinion on the diagonal movement suggestion atm, though I am a fan of KISS, which diagonal is not....


7/. We did have both ‘dog meets dog’ episodes (with much figurine ‘barking’ at each other), and ‘dog meets cat’ episodes (with compulsory cat POI screeching, and an expectation that the cat would move away from dog one square, once only per dog turn, when dog within one square...) ;D


8/. AP carry-over at fire engine specialist change-over. I saw a proposal of a 4AP carryover of points max, when changing over from dog to other specialist, but since 4AP is the average AP of most specialists, this seems extreme (you’d be effectively doubling the new characters movement, even if dog has used 2/3 of his APs). I’d think something like 2AP max, or even none, would be the simplest option.
 
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Scott Wheelock
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Gnarly wrote:
Currently in open areas, the dog can drag a victim 3 squares, which is identical to the Rescue Specialist (who has 7 MP available; 2AP to carry means 3 squares of victim carrying plus 1AP banked). A dog can move victims further than all other human specialists, except the Rescue Spec?? This meant we pretty much used the dog to identify and rescue all victims, rather than focussing more on victim identification with some (secondary) victim movement. Perhaps 5AP to drag a victim one square would allows the dog to still move victims somewhat, but not as effectively as Rescue Specialist, and focus dogs role more on POI identification?


I'm not sure why you'd want to make the dog into a crappy version of the Imaging Tech. It can't put out fires, it can't open doors, it can't call the ambulance or operate the water cannon, it (presumably) can't climb ladders or operate the elevator... all it can do is get to POIs fast, identify victims for 1AP less than the majority of roles, fit through small spaces (this hardly ever came up in our playtest, and hasn't in any other playtests I've read), and carry victims at a good pace.

I'm not sure I like the dog much, actually. It's got one of the worst features of the existing roles in the game: the inability to douse fires of the Structural Engineer, who is (to me) boring to play, due to the lack of decisions that need to be made (you can fix a wall or clear a hotspot, or you can do neither because of the smoke that just popped up). If you increase the AP that it takes to carry victims, you risk recreating another role drawback: a cyclical version of the Hazmat Tech's diminishing returns. That is, the HT is good if there are Hazmats on the board, and has no special power once there aren't; the Rescue Dog is good at getting to POIs, and then the same as everyone else once they've found them (and if it costs more to drag victims, worse), with the added drawback of being able to be trapped by fire.

Which isn't to say you don't have a point. Should the dog be able to drag victims that far, or should we specialize it a little more? Maybe it should be great at getting to victims (high AP, ability to move diagonally, 'squeezing', even though that comes in handy very little of the time), average at moving them out of danger (either 5AP to move one square, or 4AP to move one square, maximum two squares per turn), and great at identifying victims vs. false alarms.

I would remove detection of victims from one square away; instead, once per turn, if a dog reveals a false alarm, immediately remove it, and put another POI on the board, using the standard rules of placement (i.e., following the arrows). The dog's turn then continues.

This way, the dog can do something nobody else can do: reduce the impact of false alarms. Now they have two strengths: false alarm avoidance, and getting to victims in precarious positions, and moving them out of danger (albeit slowly, or just as slowly as any other role).

 
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Slamin Perfect
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Quote:
1/. I noticed in other BGG posts that people were using the dog to lead treated victims, and were having to cap victim AP to prevent ridiculous movement distances with treated victims. Note Travis’s follow up clarification:

“c) The Rescue Dog cannot lead treated victims”

This seems the best solution, rather than yet another sub-rule.


Thematically I have a real hard time with this change. I'd much prefer a rule that limited the movement of the dog with a victim.
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Mark Judd
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Slamin wrote:
Quote:
1/. I noticed in other BGG posts that people were using the dog to lead treated victims, and were having to cap victim AP to prevent ridiculous movement distances with treated victims. Note Travis’s follow up clarification:

“c) The Rescue Dog cannot lead treated victims”

This seems the best solution, rather than yet another sub-rule.


Thematically I have a real hard time with this change. I'd much prefer a rule that limited the movement of the dog with a victim.

+1

I found stories online of dogs barking and trying to show the way to lead people out of burning buildings. It probably takes more time than following a fireman due to confusion, difficulty seeing the dog, lack of trust, etc. but I have no problem with the dog guiding a treated victim for 2 AP instead of the normal 1 AP.
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Rich Charters
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It seems that one problem with the rescue dog is that he can run through the house quickly, but then needs to wait at a shut door for a fire-fighter to open the door for him. Here's a thematic thought/suggestion for the Rescue Dog to address that point.

Introduce the "Rescue Bark". If the Rescue Dog is next to a closed door he has the option to try a rescue bark (2AP) ....which is a bark through the closed door so that a victim within 4 spaces of the door can hear and respond (they move toward the safety of the bark....as long as there is no fire between them and the door).

More specifics:
The rescue dog would know which door has a potential for a trapped victim because of his superior sense of smell and hearing.

If the rescue dog is next to a closed door with a POI within 4 spaces of the other side of the closed door, he can perform a resue bark (2AP) his turn immediately ends. He can save 6AP prior to performing the rescue bark.

At the beginning of the next term, the POI is moved to the inside of the closed door (as long as there is still no fire between the POI and the door....if fire crops up, the POI doesn't move) and flipped over.

One of 3 things happen depending on the POI:
1) if blank a new POI is placed at the end of his turn (per the normal rules). Thematically....the dog has confirmed through his bark, sniffing through the door and listening carefully, that there is not a victim near the door.
2) if a person, the door is immediately opened at the beginning of the turn (the person overcame his fear due to the calming adn reassuring influence of the rescue bark)...however, the person is so overcome that he collapses and must be dragged out by the dog or carried out by a fire-fighter (as usual)
3) if a dog or cat nothing happens, other than the POI has been revealed and moved to the door

3a) my other thought was that if the POI turns out to be the cat-victim, the rescue bark scares the cat so badly that he immediately runs into the nearest fire and another victim is lost. Which I thought would be pretty funny and somewhat thematic, but I'm not sure the cat lovers would agree.

Thoughts about the Rescue Bark?
 
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Zeddy
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Rick, note that the 'Rescue Bark' idea was proposed on the Kickstarter threads quite sometime ago (or was it you who did it there? if so, ignore this). I can no longer access the comments, as I removed my solo pledge for a group purchase instead, so can't link to the references.
 
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Mike Campbell
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I think that an easier solution than giving the dog more AP (12 is a lot) is to lessen his max and costs slightly. He should still have significantly more AP than the other roles, but I'm a little worried about the possible ramifications of someone having to consider all possible uses of their 12AP each turn.

Currently, with only 4AP average for the roles, taking each turn is quick and relatively straight-forward. I think having this much AP will inevitably lead to frequent episodes of analysis paralysis that could draw from the play experience, particularly for other players.

I don't think he should have any more than 8AP, and maybe even as little as 6. But he can move diagonally when not moving victims and drags victims for 3AP. So it balances the loss of max AP for the most part. He'll still be arguably more mobile than the rescue specialist with diagonal movement, but doesn't overshadow her when rescuing victims. It also kind of solves the treated victims issue. But given what he's generally going to be used for, I think that game-mechanically, he shouldn't be overall worse than most of the other roles at moving victims.
 
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Mike Campbell
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What if the dog had the ability to leap fire? Like say, he can move through a single space of fire to a space free of fire at no AP penalty, and can do this in conjunction with squeeze (1AP to move into fire, 2AP to squeeze through the damaged wall).

Maybe... May move diagonally without a victim in tow?

I also like the ideas of being able to detect and move victims from a short distance away. I think it's a logical new ability direction. Obviously it should have limits though. I'm not trying to suggest a full-on Fire Captain for victims.

I'm not sure i like that he can't interact with doors in any way. What if he's able to smash through doors for 2AP, then rendering the door destroyed?
 
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