Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a cooperative board game in which you and other fire fighters work together to save civilians and put out the fire before all civilians die or the building collapses. Before getting into the mechanics, a little background check for the game.
Flash Point started out as a Kickstarter project with a pledge goal of $5000. The final amount ended up being $51,398 from 891 backers. So it’s safe to say the Kickstarter was a huge success. The Kickstarter campaign boasted a few points on what made Flash Point worth pledging money for and they are:
Easy to learn: The creator of the game, Kevin Lanzing points out how the rules of the game are so simple that his five year old son can play the game just fine.
True to life: In this point Kevin mentions how limitless the possibilities are with the game as the “experienced” game mode is very realistic due to the amount of mechanics at play. The various mechanics within the game make it feel very realistic as if it feels like “fighting a real fire”
Fun to play: Kevin emphasizes that while the goal is to win and beat the game, difficulty had to be balanced correctly to make the victory feel worth it. In this point, the various difficulty modes are mentioned to emphasize that any one regardless of skill level can enjoy the game to it’s fullest
A great gift: Travis mentions that while he likes video games he also loves board games. In this point he mentions the appeal of sitting around a table with friends and playing the game.
With all of that in mind, let’s go into the mechanics and see how they effect the game. As someone who rarely plays board games and has limited experience with them, Flash Point was definitely a unique experience. Despite the Kickstarter advertising how the game had easy to learn rules, I had some difficulty learning them. Of course, this is coming from someone essentially completely new to board games outside of Monopoly. Learning them took a while however once things got going, they went fast.
Unlike monopoly, going through your own turn is quick. This is due to the limited amount of action points a person has per turn which is 4. Most things take up 1 point but there are occasions where spending 2 is absolutely necessary. For example, putting out a fire isn’t as simple as using up 1 point to put it out. 1 point is required to turn the fire into smoke and then 1 more point to completely put out the fire. The limited action points help keeps turn quick.
Another factor that keep turns quick is how the game is cooperative and other player’s actions can affect yourself. This is a huge contrast to Seasons by Régis Bonnessée where the focus on building your own things and rarely will you interact with other players. Instead of finishing your turn and waiting for your next turn, in Flash Point one player’s actions could completely change your own situation.
As fast as the player turns go, the system itself moves just as fast if not faster. See, as mentioned earlier the goal is to save civilians and put out fires before the building collapses. Just like in real life, fires spread at an alarming speed. Aside from the fires placed before the game begins, smoke is placed on any of the grids at the end of a players turn along with a civilian (with the possibility of it not being a civilian). If two smoke coins are next to each other, one smoke coin is replaced with a fire coin while the smoke coin is taken out. On top of this, if a smoke coin is placed on top of a fire coin, it causes an explosion. This explosion places fire coins around the place of origin and damages walls if the wall is close enough.
Despite being a board game, with all of these mechanics in place it moves the game along very quickly. On top of this, the cooperative aspect keeps everyone engaged at all times so everyone is keeping an eye out for any major changes all the time. As someone who’s currently in the middle of designing their own board game these mechanics are ones that I would like to take and tweak for my own game.