Flash Point: Fire Rescue - a game of high-stakes trade-offs

Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a co-operative game about firefighting for 1-6 players. Both its difficulty and its complexity are hugely adjustable, such that it's suitable for anyone from families with elementary-age children to groups of adult gamers. Where Escape: Curse of the Temple is frantic and breathless, Flash Point is deliberate and tense. Jon Seagull reviews.

By Jon Seagull at 4:00 am Wed, Jun 11, 2014

The game is played on a board showing the layout of a house with tokens indicating areas that are filled with smoke or actively on fire. There are also a number of “points of interest” that may either be victims in need of rescue or false alarms (you find out when you get there). The goal is to rescue at least seven victims from the building before the building collapses from accumulated structural damage or too many victims are lost.

Each firefighter gets a small pool of actions (move around, extinguish some fire, open a door, etc.) to spend on their turn or save for a later turn; and after every player's turn the fire spreads based on a dice roll. The spread of the fire is very well done mechanically; making the progression unpredictable (the dice could give you anything from gently spreading smoke to a huge cascade of building-damaging explosions) but not totally random (you can see where bad things are going to happen before they do).

flashboard Flash Point: Fire Rescue ($28) is available from Amazon.

What makes the game so tense is the tradeoffs your group must constantly make. Moving victims toward the outside of the house (which you need to do to win) means you're not spending actions fighting the fire (which you need to do to not lose). Chopping a hole in the wall for quick access to a room means adding game-ending structural damage to the house. This means that even the games you win frequently end on the knife edge of disaster; your firefighters pulling the last victim to safety as the house teeters on the brink of collapse.

The game has a two-sided board with different house layouts, as well as a set of advanced rules for older kids and adults that makes the spread of the fire more dangerous (and accelerates the fire over the course of the game); adds explosive hazardous materials and a driveable ambulance and fire truck; and gives each firefighter a specialized role that makes them more or less suited to various tasks (the Rescue Specialist can move and chop walls quickly, but has a harder time fighting fire for example, while Fire Captain can use her actions to move other players' pieces.)

Note to parents of young children and squeamish people - nowhere in the game's rules or imagery is death mentioned specifically. Firefighters caught in the blaze are “knocked down,” and start their next turn in the ambulance; while victims are “lost.”

[Image: Madeleine Ball. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic]

Published 4:00 am Wed, Jun 11, 2014

About the Author

Jon Seagull is an illustrator based in Philadelphia who plays rather a lot of games.

From our forums

  1. tntjarks

    @waetherman This is an issue that the groups have, not the game. It was a problem in my group, and the solution for us was that the Alpha Player was told to not say anything unless directly asked.

    It was humbling. I was the one who was told to be quiet. I didn't even realize I was doing it. And I'm the one who keeps bringing the co-ops to the table (Arkham Horror, Pandemic, Flash Point, Castle Panic, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.)

    Don't fear the Alpha Player situation unless it starts happening, then I would suggest just asking them to wait on suggestions until directly asked for it.

    ..

    Flash Point was my most recent purchase and my daughters (11,9,6) have been enjoying playing it with me. We've only played three games, and haven't used the specific role cards yet. We've won each time save the first. Solid Co-Op game.

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