I had a long-time customer tell me the other day that Flash Point: Fire Rescue has become his go-to game for co-operative play. This was a big announcement because for years his favorite co-operative game was Pandemic, a game many of you readers will know as an excellent co-operative game.
But, you know, I think he might be right…
In Flash Point: Fire Rescue, players are members of a firefighting brigade. The game board is a map of a home— like a detailed blueprint. Around the outer edge of the board outside the home are numbered squares representing the street, sidewalk and lawn. At the beginning of the game, firefighters arrive on the scene of a fire. Inside the home—the exact location unknown—are a number of occupants. Players win by rescuing a predetermined number of occupants. Players lose if four occupants are consumed by the flames or if the building becomes structurally unsound and collapses.
To make matters even trickier, there are hazardous materials in the home—paint cans, propane, etc—that will explode if fire reaches them. An explosion is a nasty bit of business, spreading flames in a straight line in all directions and even damaging walls. It is good strategy therefore to remove those materials from the home early in the game.
Players choose which firefighter they want to be. Each has a unique ability that benefits the team. One, for example, can more easily move hazardous materials. Another can scan the building to locate occupants. Another can operate the deck gun on the firetruck to douse the raging inferno in one sector of the home before the firefighters enter.
Yes, you get to drive the firetruck and use the deck gun. How cool is that…
Unlike most cooperative games where you choose a character (or have one randomly assigned to you) and you must stick with that character for the duration of the game, Flash Point: Fire Rescue allows you to change characters during the game. Thematically this makes sense. There are a number of specialties within a firefighting brigade and those individuals are employed in the fight where and as required. In the game, therefore, you can, for example, send in the hazmat character at the start of the game because that character allows you to remove hazardous material from the home more quickly. Once the danger of explosions has passed you could bench the hazmat character and switch to the firefighter better equipped to locate the occupants of the house.
Like Pandemic with its spreading viruses and Forbidden Island with its disappearing game board, Flash Point: Fire Rescue brings the tension with its spreading fire, sudden explosions, and the addition of black markers on walls to simulate damage. As the flames spread—often to locations you already put out—and the structure of the home becomes weaker, you start to feel like time is running out. You come to realize every decision you make is important. Plan your routes carefully, coordinate your efforts, and you might just win the game.