“Oooo… It’s a co-op game!”
I’ve really grown to love cooperative games, ever since I played Pandemic and learned that there were good cooperatives out there, and that they weren’t all like Arkham Horror (i.e. five hour lessons in how to cope with boredom). Co-ops tend to be tense, with a built in “on the edge of your seat” feeling, that really makes me excited to play. And when you add in the fact that no one is eliminated and thus no one leaves the table in a foul mood… well, I’m sold.
You see, we were playing on the “Family Mode”. It’s the set of rules that you follow if you are a family of non-gamers, or have very small children that you want to help get involved in gaming. However, the difficulty rating wasn’t properly placed for gamers of our skill level. So we upped the anti to the “Veteran level” of the “Experienced Game” rules.
In the Experienced Game, each player plays a different kind of firefighter attempting to put out the blaze and rescue the family and pets inside. Each firefighter type has different specialty skills which will help hem perform different tasks. For example, one player can play as the paramedic. The paramedic heals family members and pets found inside the home, which makes them easier to save, however, that character can’t actually fight the fire very well.
Turns, and the actions you can perform on them, are dictated through a clever “Action Point” system. Different actions take different amounts of AP, but a simple cheat sheet makes this all easy to manage, and makes the game very interesting. By having the different actions require different amounts of AP to accomplish them, it really properly shows the difficulty of each action. For example, moving one space on the board only requires 1 AP, unless of course you are trying to move through a space that is on fire, then it requires 2 AP. Because, wouldn’t you think it’s more difficult to move through an area that is on fire?
After a player completes the actions they want, then the fire spreads. This is simulated by rolling two dice (a D8 and a D6) and locating the board space that this references. If there is no fire or smoke in this spot, then smoke now appears there. However, if there is smoke in that location, or fire adjacent to that location, the fire now spreads to this new spot. And what happens if there is already fire in this spot? An explosion wracks the house!
Explosions are what killed us 9 times out of 10. You see, when an explosion goes off, it damages walls, blows out doors, and spreads the fire even more. To demonstrate that a wall is damaged, you place a black cube on the wall. The game comes with a finite number of black cubes, and when they run out, the house collapses in and kills all the remaining people: Game Over.
In addition to the special roles, the “Experienced Game” comes with two special tokens that are designed to help the game kill you faster. Firstly there are hazardous materials that will explode if the fire spreads to their location. More explosions are always a bad thing. However, even worse than an explosion is a hot spot. Hot spots are marked by tiny flame markers on the board. Whenever you roll a hot spot location, you perform whatever is necessary for that spot (smoke, fire, or explosion) and then you roll again, causing more smoke, fire and explosions. Is the second role a hot spot as well? If so, keep rolling. If not, this spot will become a hot spot for future turns.
So, if you can avoid leader-itis, I think this is a fabulous co-op game. It’s different than any other on the market that I have played, and that change up in flavor is quite welcome within this small genre. I’ve played roughly six experienced games of Flash Point now, and have only won one of them. Personally, I really like that. I like a challenge, and this game has certainly proved to be just that.