Flash Point: Fire Rescue
Blazing With Theme
Co-op games found new life with the release of Pandemic in 2008. Since then the genre has exploded, and one of the better entries into this category was kickstarter success Flash Point. In Flash Point, players work together as a team of firefighters racing to rescue as many people as they can from a burning building. As far as themes go, few fit the nature of co-ops as well as that. In fact, the theme of Flash Point is probably the primary factor for its success as a great game. Let’s see why.
The goal of the game is to rescue seven victims from the fire. If three are killed or if the house collapses, everyone loses. The central mechanic of the game revolves around action movement turns where the players must spend action points to move into the house, find the victim, and get them out. However, the team also needs to be aware of extinguishing fires before things get out of control, because if fire ever lands on a space with a victim, they’re dead.
Each firefighter has a role which makes them better at certain parts of the game. The rescue specialist will, well, rescue people more specially. The CAFS guy puts out fires better. The driver gets to shoot the water gun, which is always a lot of fun. These roles both add to the theme of being a team and gives each player at the table their ow feeling of purpose.
As thematic as this game is, there are a couple things that don’t quite make sense. For example, while there will be up to 10 victims in the house, there are only three available to be found at any time. So where was that one guy when you just went through this room earlier?! Also, The water gun doesn’t make a ton of sense, unless you picture the roof having collapsed, which would cause a lot more problems. But honestly these are minor quibbles in a game which gives an overall gestalt which really makes you feel the theme while playing.
This is an area where Flash Point really takes that all-important theme and solidifies it. First off, each character has their own coloured figure which is shaped like a firefighter. These guys are awesome and add to the motif a lot.
Other components include lots of tiles: smoke and fire, victims, trucks and ambulances, explosives, etc. They are all designed with nice art and all contribute to the firefighting aesthetic. And there’s even cat and dog victim tokens!
The board is also great. Its double sided, with each side offering a new house to start on fire (Not literally. Now THAT would be theme integration!). They are well-planned out to make things challenging, while offering lots of décor details to add to the immersion.
Flash Point is simply a lot of fun. It’s an easy-to-learn co-op in a similar vein with Pandemic, but different enough to justify playing and owning both. Its not as mechanically solid as Pandemic mind you. There are some aspects like using the dice which don’t flow as well. But the theme is one that everyone can get behind and it really creates an atmosphere of both tension and enjoyment.
The great thing about Flash Point is that it creates experiences. It’s one of those games where everyone can get into their roles and into the “story” of it all. Neat scenarios can arise which make more memorable game moments. For example, having to choose between saving a person or the cat, and choosing the cat. Or having every player race to the top floor (sorry, different floors are from the expansion) to rescue the dog as the last victim to win the game, only to have the whole building collapse.
So if you like your games thematic and are looking for a great cooperative experience, or just like good gaming experiences in general (so, everyone then), light up some Flash Point: Fire Rescue!