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Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Tragic Events» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Impressions after three plays rss

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Robin
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I am so, SO much better at talking about flaws with things than I am at talking about the good points. I really like Flash Point and I really like Tragic Events so I thought I might not have that problem writing this up, but I do. So first up I am going to say: Tragic Events is awesome, and you should get it if you can.



I got my copy just before christmas, a little later than Kickstarter had led me to expect but no harm done. It was a few days before we were able to try it out. As usual, my partner and I took three firefighters each, and we included all the TE roles. We used the most basic board, the four-door house from the basic set.

We're used to our games taking just inside two hours. Two hours into this one, we'd had almost no trouble with the fire, found several blank POIs (thanks to the Event card that shuffles them back in), and saved - I can't remember if it was one person or none at all. Despite the appeal of the new stuff, and the coolness of the Event cards, this hadn't made for a terribly exciting game. Possibly we'd picked a team that was great at keeping the fire down but not so good at actually rescuing people. Possibly we'd got so excited about suppressing fire and moving smoke that we didn't focus enough on rescuing.

I don't yet find the Fire Deck less fiddly than hotspots. It's certainly much slower, especially once you get to the point that you're often chaining several Flare-Ups one after the other - and therefore several Events, some of which can take a while to resolve (e.g. going round the table and spending all your saved points.) I kept checking the rules to see if we'd missed a rule that there should only be one Event per turn. We have markers that we use to note whose turn it is, and to remind us if POIs need replenished, and we really need them with TE - we both have short-term memory problems, and we were spending so long on the Advance Fire phase that by the end of it we'd often forgotten whose turn it is. This is really my only beef with TE, and it probably wouldn't be an issue with a more players and one Firefighter each.

The Event cards add a lot to the game - some in thematic ways (a hydrant
breaks and you can't use the deck gun), some in more 'boardgamey' ways (you can choose to remove a Flare Up from the fire deck at some abstract cost) and some in a weird mix of the two (a wall collapses and puts out some fire, but the crew gets to choose which wall!) They definitely add variety, but in a turn-to-turn way rather than an "every game is different" way, since two of our three games have been long enough to get through the entire deck anyway. So we pretty much know at the beginning that all the special POIs will be added to the supply (although we might not actually find them), that there'll eventually be six or seven Hazmats and a permanent four POIs on the board. This might not be the case with fewer firefighters. The good news is that it invites designers to add more cards in future expansions (if this one goes to retail or gets integrated into a future edition of the core game, which it totally should.)

Which brings me to the turning point in our first game. We had been discussing for a while that someone should do a crew change so we could actually rescue someone, when we got the "Call for Backup" Event card, which allows one of the firefighters to change Role without moving. We decided to swap the Fire Prevention Officer for the Rescue Dog. The thought of him shrinking out of his uniform and emerging in canine form was delightful and really raised the tone of the game. We also started actually rescuing people, and parts of the building *caught fire*, which made it a lot more fun. The game took four hours in total, much more than we're used to.

We played again the next day with the two-door house, which still took longer than usual but was a lot more fun - I think we chose a better team. The next day we played on the Submarine, which was brilliant - we had plenty of danger going on in the engine room, and the Suppression Specialist came into their own sending the fire around the sub instead of blowing up the nuclear torpedoes diesel engine (again, somewhat more 'boardgamey' as it's hard to explain what they're actually doing in thematic terms, but still interesting and fun.) Some of the Event cards didn't quite fit - our submarine experienced a light drizzle, shaking foundations, and a burst water main, and we ignored the ones that referred to the fire engine and ambulance. But it was all good fun, and we won quite narrowly.

We'll still use the old hotspots system when we want a quicker game, but we'll use the cards whenever we can. And of course the new Roles can go into any game. The Suppression Specialist and Strategist particularly add tactical depth, and work together well, with the Strategist topping up the Suppressor's saved actions to keep the option of flipping the Advance Fire dice.

Summary:
- definitely an improvement to Flash Point
- adds thematics but also 'gameyness'
- games take much longer
- it's great
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Robin
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Addendum: I've now realised we missed the point that the Suppression Specialist can't use their two powers together, i.e. flip the dice so that the fire lands in a spot next to them, then ignore it. This might well be responsible for our games having taken so long!

Addendum squared: we just played the Merchant Ship. Right through the deck twice! But it's the hardest board in our experience.
 
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