Friday, 15 November 2013

Interlude: Playing Flashpoint

Last monday I told you I had tried a new game last weekend. Let me speak a little of this boardgame called 'Flashpoint: Fire Rescue'.

If you still didn't know what was the game about...
We all are used to wargames, battlefields, swords, guns, tanks, killing the enemy, killing it again when it goes zombie... but a game about firefighters? Wow, that's totally new for me! Cool!

Being a board game, the rules are necessarily easy to aprehend. This is a coop game in which the players take control of a group of firefighters who must get into a house and save its dwellers before the building collapses. So... '911, what is your emergency?'
The board depicts a house (two, in fact, one house each side). First of all you have to randomly set three 'Person of Interest' (POI) markers and ten Fire markers. This is made by rolling dice (1D6 and 1D10) and using a abscissa/ordinate system.

This is your battlefield
The POI markers are unknown to the players until they reach them. Only then the markers are revealed and you know if you are to save a person or you were confused in the thick air and it was just a crumpled blanket!

Players have to choose their characters, as you can play a number of specialists. For this game, we used these two:

Yup, that's a girl with a chainsaw; honestly, who can resist that?
Every specialist has a number of Action Points and a few specific skills.You can spend Action Points on moving one tile (one point per tile) or extinguishing Smoke or Fire markers (one and two points respectively). Besides, each one can use their special skills (free extra movement, identify POI markers from the distance, etc.).

In the first turn, the Rescue Specialist run into the burning house and reached the first POI marker. It's a person!

Hey, we got one over here!
The Imaging Technician opened one door (that also consumes points) and begun to extinguish some fire.

Ain't those minis cute?
And that's pretty much a turn! Then it's fire's turn. Glups! You roll the dice to determine the coordinates where a Smoke marker must be set.

The bathroom? Seriously? What the hell were these people doing?
But as the Smoke marker is just adjacent to a Fire marker... Fwoom! It flips into Fire!

This is escalating quickly...
Second Turn! Any Firefighter can carry a victim, but then he needs to use two action points to move a tile, not just one. The Rescue Specialist took the first victim out of the house.

The game is over when the team rescues seven victims and take them out of the house or when four victims die (or the building collapses due to damages. We'll get into that later). Rules can become more complex; for example you may have to take the victims to the Ambulance, not just out of the house, things like that.

The other Firefighter extinguishes some fire, but a new Smoke marker appears!
There are always supposed to be three POI markers on the board. So each time you take one out of the board, you must roll the dice to randomly set another one.

Again this bedroom? Oh my, they are locked and there is a fire inside!
The firefighter reaches the room but...
Fake marker! You were deceived by smoke and fire
But this is a real victim
We rolled to place another Smoke marker, but this time we had a catastrophe. The marker appeared just where there was a previous Fire marker. So it immediately flips into Fire too...

Seriously, what's the problem with this bathroom?
And Boom! It explodes! The explosion knocks the door down and spreads towards the adjacent room.

The black die depicts damage on the wall
As a fake POI marker had been discarded, we rolled and set a new one. Oh, no! Just in the middle of the fire! While the rescue Specialist carries the second person out, the Imaging Technician runs to save the new victim.

When using advanced rules, you set the POI marker wherever there is no fire
Oh, it was not a person! Just the plant on the corner, it made confusing shadows :P
I guess by now you get the game dynamics. The Imaging Technician is quite useful to reveal far out-of-the-way markers.
Thanks to that we didn't have to go to the room at the corner, it was a false alarm
But Mr. Whiskers also deserves to be saved! Oh, and the lady there. But the cat looks great in the news
We focused on people rather than in extinguishing the flames and we were quite near to save everybody while the house was tearing apart in flames.

Come on! Hurry up!
A new Smoke marker appeared, connecting fire and smoke...
You know what's about to happen...
The building is about to collapse! Each wall can resist only one damage point. If it gets two, it burns and falls apart.
We have three dangerous walls here...
But we finally managed to save the seventh inhabitant. Phew, a hard day!

The game took us no more than 30-40 minutes, so we decided to flip the board and play another game on the other house!

We changed the characters and used these two:

One to save people, another to extinguish fire
This was the setup. Tricky one:

My mate was totally devoted to the game as you can see
We used the Ambulance, wich can be also moved spending action points. The only variation is that you need to take the rescued persons to the vehicle.

We soon realized that this corridor could be a deadly trap!
You have to use a little bit of imagination here, just to see the Firefighters running through the flames, with walls about to collapse. Insert epic scene here:

Once again, that bathroom is burning! What's the matter with you guys?
The Paramedic focused on saving people. Paramedic's special skill allows injured people to run with the Firefighter, instead of having to be carried, so the rescue is much quicker.

The CAFS Firefighter extinguishes the fire
 Well, it looks like the situation is more or less under control (though we had one wall down)...
Easy day
But in a glimpse...
Man down! Man down!
When a Firefighter gets caught into the fire, he's considered as injured and immediately taken out of the board, but the character is re-activated and comes back in the next turn (another mate takes his place!)

The house is slowly collapsing
But saving Mr. Puppy has to give lots of charm points!
In the meantime, explosions keep shaking the home!
Catch the [censored] cat and get outta here!!
Oh, no, explosion in the kitchen!

Easy day you said, huh?
So the CAFS guy opened a path while the Paramedic escorted the dweller.

Team work, dude!
Finally everyone got saved!

But the house is almost destroyed!
Whew! This was close! This game was about another half an hour. By now my mate's wife arrived and... we decided to have another round! Yes, this is escaping our control...

Three different guys again
We added some... emotion. We had to deal with some dangerous substances, hence the Hazmat Technician. We also included the truck, so you can see the Driver/Operator.

The new scenario
Things got wild pretty soon!
We dared to try some of the advanced rules; one of them is the use of 'Hot Spots' markers, places where fire is specially aggresive. No matter what you do, they won't extinguish during the game. But if a Fire marker is eventually set on a Hot Spot, it will cause a Flare Up, making the fire advance again and causing a new Hot Spot to appear.

Ugly place to get stuck in, all the corner of the house is down
This guy was caught in fire, so he had to be removed from the board and begin next turn from the Ambulance.
Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur... Get out of the house!
The Ambulance can be moved from a place to another around the house, by spending action points. No need to personally drive it, calling for it will be enough.

Move your truck! I can't move any further!
We suddenly had another explosion on the corner...

You better all get out of that hell
It clearly was time to get serious...

To the truck!!
The Driver/Operator moved the truck to the proper quadrant and used the deck gun.

Woosh! Woosh! (Hose sound here)
The deck gun can be pretty unbalanced, as it really does its part with incredible efficiency, specially when the Operator is in charge (I guess that's exactly the point). You roll the dice as usual to determine where the deck gun aims; but if the target is out of the proper quadrant, you can flip over any dice. So that pretty well ensures that you are going to hit the fire and extinguish it.

Almost no fire in the room (or what was left of it)
So with that area under relative control (if we can say that of a collapsed ruine), it was easier for the team to focus on POI's.

POI's or annoying fake markers!
Man, I don't like the aspect of that concentration of smoke over there
Quit whining and just take these people out! What could possibly go wrong now?
Told yaaaaa
So the Firefighter was knocked down and we needed to replace the man with another team member.

The house was turning into a pile of rubble
But we finally managed to take the last POI out of the house, not without having another unfortunate event...
Not my day. Defintely it's not.
And so we finally ended the game! This one looked easier than the previous, but we had terrible losses. No one said this was an easy job...

My general thoughts on 'Flashpoint'? The game itself is fun and somehow highly addictive (as you can see by the fact that we played game after game!). It's quick to play and easy to learn,  ideal for non-gamers or any people who want to go for a change from their usual games and move into something different. I particularly find it totally refreshing fighting fire instead of enemies. It has a totally different original scope and the whole concept is just great.

Maybe its weakest point could be the randomness in the setup of the Persons of Interest, but I think it's totally understandable, that makes the Firefighters move from here to there all over the house instead of focusing just on one or two rooms. If you believe it lacks some logic, you could easily say that POI's appear suddenly in different spots as they are running through the house and only under certain circumstances they are noticed by the Firefighters. You know, whatever story you make up.

However, the rules clearly encourage you to improve them or to change whatever you may consider necessary to improve your experience. I really believe that, though the game being quite complete, it could be easily turned into a tabletop game by adding little details here and there, additional maps or other rules.

In any case, I cannot but recommend 'Flashpoint' if you want to take on you the pressure of moving through the burning debris and counterclock running not for your life, but for others'. An experience totally worth of the try, trust me :).


  1. What a great game. It looks and sounds brilliant. Thanks for the review and the AAR's

    1. It really is! The game is unexpensive and gives you some quality fun. It's nice for a change :)

  2. Gran informe. Tiene muy buena pinta el juego, de esos que te generan tensión y estrés (me encantan). Has encontrado ya figuras de bomberos en 28mm o te vas a hacer tu versión en otra escala? ;-P

    "Once again, that bathroom is burning! What's the matter with you guys?"

    Me parto... X-DDD

    1. El juego es muy entetenido, totalmente recomendable.
      Hay muy pocas figuras de bomberos a 28 mm. en el mercado, tengo que seguir buscando ¡o me veré obligado a esculpirlas!