4 Chits, 4 Giggles
Flash Point by Indie Board and Cards is atmospheric and intense. It is a co-operative game where you play as fire fighters trying to save victims from a burning building. If you manage to save 7 victims you win the game but if 4 or more die in the fire, you lose!!! It's a typical 4 action point co-op very similar in many ways to Pandemic. You can move, extinguish fires, open doors and chop through walls with your fire axe, etc. There are 3 'Points of Interest' tokens around the board that you have to investigate in the hope of finding survivors but more often than not you'll battle your way though the flames, run though the smoke, chop your way through a toilet wall only to find there was no one in the bathroom after all. It is a genuinely heart sinking moment, and that's great. The game makes you feel each wrong decision, if you're invested emotionally, it will punish you emotionally. Equally when you do drag an unconscious survivor to safety you get a real gaming buzz and will dash straight back into the smoke to try to save more lives.
After each player takes their turn, they roll the fire dice. This randomly determines where the next heat spot will be. If there is already smoke in that spot then it becomes fire, if there is already fire in that spot then hold on to your helmets because things are about to get seriously, an EXPLOSION occurs that spreads the fire in every direction. If there is a door in the way of the fire, it is blown off its hinges. Even walls cannot stop the flames as the structural integrity of the building is slowly damaged. You place black damage cubes on each wall section hit by an explosion. If ever there are 2 cubes on that section then the wall is gone. If you have ever placed all the 24 building damage cubes on the board then the house falls down on top of everyone still inside. My fire fighters have been crushed to death several times as I watched the rest of my team barely escape with their lives. As you'd expect, if the building collapses you also lose the game. Ouch!
Although extremely similar to games like Pandemic and Forbidden Island, I have had the most fun with Flash Point. In Pandemic I always feel a bit removed, while saving the world is great and all, I never real feel the pressure, I'm not that linked to the game as I guess the theme is so huge. In Forbidden Island it's fun to be a treasure hunter and I have enjoyed many games where we have just escaped in the helicopter as the island sinks beneath us. It never feels real though, it's an adventure. In Flash Point you can really get into your character, you are a hero who has to make tough choices, you need to work with your team to succeed. Sometimes you'll look down at the board which is engulfed in cardboard flames, you'll look up at the players and you'll all realise this has gone very badly. None of you will give up though, you'll all try to save just one more life, and that might win you the game. The fire roll is genuinely terrifying. You feel more responsible when the dice leave your hand than drawing off the top of a deck. It's your fault you rolled a 4 and an 8 and now half the building is a bonfire. The rolls matter!
Also we once played a game where we had 1 too many players. I decided to play as 'the fire', I'd roll the fire dice after each fire fighters turn. Although this takes away from the tension a little, I did really enjoy shouting Smaug the dragon quotes across the table.
"I am fire, I am death!"
There are alternative ways to play the game, each player can take a specialist roll to help combat the fire, this adds a new level of difficulty and is an enjoyable challenge. Flash Point has a lot of expansions, some change the location, such as the underground station or the submarine. Some expansions add new roles such as the fire dog. This character is amazing and there is often a pre-game fight for who gets to play as the fireman's best friend.
If you are a co-op fan or are looking for something similar after enjoying Pandemic then you'll love Flash Point. I'll leave you with this quote from the box that really captures the feeling of the game:
The call comes in... “911, what is your emergency?”
On the other end is a panicked response of “FIRE!”
Moments later you don the protective suits that will keep you alive, gather your equipment and rush to the scene of a blazing inferno. You must face your fears, never give up, and above all else work as a team. You must succeed... lives are on the line!
Dibs on the dog.
Review by David Murcutt