How the Game is Played
Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a co-op game for 2 to 6 players. In this game, the players take on the role of a squad of firefighters. The goal of the game is for the players to save 7 Victims (people or pets) who are trapped in a burning building before that said building collapses. Each person takes control of a firefighter, represented by a plastic token. They take turns assigning actions to their firefighter, which are generally among the four main action types:
- Move to an adjacent square.
- Open/close a door.
- Extinguish smoke/fires.
- Carry a Civilian/Victim to an adjacent square.
In a basic game of Flash Point, each player can have up to 4 action points, which are then spent on their chosen actions. Any unused action points can be “banked” and used in later turns. However, players can only save up to a maximum of 4 action points, which cannot be transferred to other players.
Fire is Your Opponent
Flash Point has several mechanics that allow for a different experience each time you play. Out of the box, you can choose between the front or the back of the game board. Each side has different layouts, and the changes in room, wall, door, and entry/exit placements will require different strategies.
Victims are represented by POI (point of interest) markers. Some POI markers, when flipped, reveal a victim. Others are blanks and are referred to as False Alarms. This mechanic represents the challenge of identifying people trapped in smoke-filled buildings.
Serving as the main challenge of the game are Fires. Fires are represented by two types of tokens: Smoke tokens which represent minor or starting fires, and Fire tokens which represent major fires. Extinguishing a Fire takes two steps – turn a Fire into Smoke, and then remove Smoke from the board. Fire tokens are placed randomly during the pre-game setup using a pair of dice. At the end of every turn, players need to roll these dice again to represent fires that start anew.
Flashpoint has several game mechanics that enact the different ways in which fires can spread, such as Flashovers, Explosions, and Shockwaves. Some of these are destructive and will result in structural damage. To represent this, the game has a pool of 24 Damage Tokens (black cubes). Every time the building takes damage due to the fire or the firefighters, a Damage Token is placed at the point of the event. When all 24 Damage Tokens have been used, the structure is considered to have collapsed and the game is over.
Additional Game Components
One of the things I like about Flash Point is the game is modular. While it is very enjoyable in its basic form, you have the option to add more gameplay mechanics to add variety and challenge to the experience.
One optional component is the addition of firefighter roles which give players different abilities. There are a total of eight to choose from. Some have more action points, others can chop down walls faster, or put out fires faster. These roles can add another layer of strategy and variety in the game experience.
Other components include the addition of Vehicles in the game to help the players deal with the game’s challenge, or Hazmats and Hotspots to further increase the challenge for experienced Flash Point players. It’s all up to your gaming group to decide how easy and simple or challenging and complex your Flash Point game is going to be.
The Actual Experience
The key to winning a Flash Point: Fire Rescue game is understanding how each player’s actions are optimized. The more actions are wasted, the more the groups’ chances of winning go down. The group will never be able to completely extinguish the Fires, so saving Victims are a priority. But ignoring the Fire and letting it rage uncontrolled can result in a quick building collapse. Determining when to shift the focus to firefighting and victim rescue then utilizing the available actions optimally will be crucial to success in this game.
Flash Point shines when all of the players are equally immersed and invested in the strategy of the game. In my experience, some people have difficulty in deciding what they will do during their turn because of the wide variety of options available. In other games, there is a tendency for dominant players to dictate their strategy to the group, essentially ordering the rest of the players what to do. I’ve been guilty of this, and since being aware I’ve tried actively to prevent myself from taking charge.
If you have the right people in your playgroup, the Flash Point: Fire Rescue experience will be awesome. The board game that provides a similar experience is Pandemic, with the group racing to find a cure before various diseases take over the world. Comparing Flash Point to Pandemic, I prefer the former as the smaller scale and “direct contact” with victims makes for a more personal experience.
I would recommend Flash Point: Fire Rescue to people who enjoy action point/resource optimization as well as to playgroups who enjoy working as a team. This game definitely has a place in my board game collection. I just need to be mindful of the people I play this game with.