Had my first game of Flashpoint today (after having it highly recommended to me by a local gaming group). As skeptical I was at first, not being a major fan of co-op games, this has turned my interest around and I look forward eagerly to playing the next game!
First of all we decide to ignore the Family version, but went for the Easy version instead (we had x1 boardgame noob playing, and we wanted it to not be too challenging - especially as it was a first game for everyone too).
After running through a few of the variants available we decided:
- No Ambulance (we assumed we had people outside willing to escort unconcious people away)
- A Firetruck
- A blank POI would spawn a HAZMAT in its place
- No Role change (Random role deal-out; role permanently fixed)
- Hot spots would be used
With that decided, 5 firemen (well 3 men and 2 women) took to the smoking building.
At first we seemed to get things under control. My girlfriend (Hose-Worker; can't recall the role name) worked the Fire-Engine with incredible precision, soaking sections of the house each round. My best friend (Fire-Chief) mobilized everyone into locations as he moved around himself to put out any smoking sections. My other close friend (Rescue Worker) dashed through the house, and was the first to drag unconscious people out and rarely put his axe to use, while his sister (Generalist) made effort to extinguish the minor fires and even remove some HAZMAT. While they were doing their roles, I (the Paramedic) moved to each victim to revive them and hand them over to my peers to evacuate, or found myself motivated by my Chief to swiftly remove them myself.
The first three fires were brought under control quite quickly. We were amused that despite the Firetruck hosing down one section, smoke kept billowing out from the bathroom toilet (making us seriously question what had this family been eating - and/or what did they flush to avoid discovery?). We were able to ID the POI swiftly, but the discovery of all 5 HAZMAT did raise concern (and make us decide we had stumbled across a methlab!). Within a few rounds, governed by the great direction of our FireChief, we had found and safely removed 7 of the 10 POI with minimal damage to the house (despite one explosion coming from the smoking toilet... seriously! What was this family EATING last night??? I blamed it all on Chilli dogs.)
While the victims were out, and the building secure, I felt our task was done. Even if one entire side of the house was ablaze, we had achieved our task.
Yet instead of packing the game (which i assumed my non-gamer friends would be ok with) they looked at me with semi-pleading eyes that just stated "But... what about the last 3?? We can't let them burn!"
Shocked and amused, we played on. The explosion was starting to get under control due again to the fire-truck's IMPRESSIVE accuracy, but the hazardous material stored in the middle of the house was looking threatening with the smoke starting to generate from it. The hot-spots were also starting to take effect (we'd been lucky before) and smoke was starting to fill the house. Eventually it came down to one last victim - a young girl in her bedroom (who, we suspected, was drugged off her face and likely setting the fires!)
Our Generalist went in after her. She was only in a bedroom adjacent the outside wall, so felt it wouldn't be an issue. She went in, flipped the gal onto her shoulder and turned around to discover the doorway was now obstructed in flames. I shouted at her on the radio, telling her the fire was approaching the HAZMAT in the building and she needed to get out!
Panic and tension rising, a brave fire-fighter trapped with a victim, an imminent explosion - things looked to be razor-edged.
The Chief however again took action (and proved why he was the head of the department). Jumping on the nearby Fire-truck, he ordered the engine driver (my girlfriend) to drive them around the house (and park - fortunately - adjacent the wall dividing the Chief from his brave employee). With the actions he had saved up from tactical planning, he hacked the wall down to create a hole and ordered his Generalist Fire-Fighter to move out (thematically though, we decided the chief instead hacked the wall down, jumped in the hole he made, grabbed both fire-fighter and victim and pulled them both out with an adrenalin pumped burst of power!)
He was just in time too. EXACLTY as they left the building, the fire ignited a HAZMAT adjacent x2 other HAZMAT which caused an incredible detonation and massive series of expanding shockwaves (practically causing the house to erupt into flames).
No only that, we were down to only 2-damage cubes left. While we didn't play it, we assumed the building collapsed on itself the turn after (as the chances of a secondary explosion were almost certain). It was an epic finish with no lives lost, not even a single Firefighter knocked down or needing medical assistance.
I wanted to play another game of it (flip it to the alternative building), as the game had flown through in nearly under an hour (and with 5 people too) which had felt closer to 20-mins. However people needed to leave, and other games were promised to be played. So we left it there.
That being said, it was very fun. I can see why it was recommended to me and its appeal. While not a fan of Co-Op games, I am a fan of team-games. And Flashpoint seems to be more the latter - with an AI generated opponent (aka the fire). Agreeably we played it on the second lowest difficulty, and gave ourselves a handicap of no Ambulance, but that finish did make the message clear that this could have easily gone bad for us.
The pressure is high and the theme of the game impressively realistic (the fires do spread randomly, suddenly, and violently). While the rule of "Firemen can be Knocked Out" is family friendly, its easier for the more mature group to consider the Fireman lost and dead and a replacement sent in.
One house rule I am considering implementing (added to the "No Switching Roles" variant) is that a Fireman who has been killed prevents that role being re-spawned (i.e.: if your Fire-Chief is "Knocked Out", they no longer get their "Fire-Cheif"). Instead, the replacement Fireman is automatically a Generalist (this specalist role is removed from the initial choices). I'll see how it plays out, but the punishing option of your character being killed could be thematic. We'll see.
Also, while it won't be needed for our group (we play VERY quick and easy), I could see a simple addition of a pair of 1-minute egg-timers (or sand-glasses; I'd say hour glass but I'd recomend only 1-minute :D ) to be used for each player's turn. If time run's out, stock pile your actions and spread the fire via smoke.
All in all, a great game. I look forward to my next fire (even if stating that is mildly sadistic...). Heck I even look forward to it being even worse! (... ok... thats not comming out right. End session summary with Game Good - MUST REPLAY - MUST RECOMMEND! DEFINITELY BUYING THE EXPANSIONS)
- [+] Dice rolls
Note though that the 'hose-worker' cannot target quadrants in which any other 'fire-persons' are present (not sure if you did or didn't do this?). I mention this solely because with fixed roles, this could be seriously frustrating for the 'hose-worker' if all quadrants are 'busy' or smoke/fire-less....
Sounds like you'll need to implement the ambulance next time for some added tension..
- [+] Dice rolls