If You Can't Take The Heat - Flashpoint: Fire Rescue - Extreme Danger Review

Ah Flashpoint Fire Rescue. My first review I ever wrote for the blog and also one of my favourite Co-Op's in my collection. When I first heard about Kickstarter I was just too late to get in on the backing for this expansion so I've had to wait a LONG time before it hit retail shops as normal. Another expansion is on the way called "Dangerous Waters", which I'll get on to when it's out.

There are two small expansions already out called 2nd Story and Urban Structures but it's not that easy to get hold of them and they are "mini-expansions" which added a board and some extra rules but not much else. I own Urban Structures, but not 2nd Story which is a shame as it offends my Completionist Syndrome to not have it.

Extreme Danger seeks to rectify some component issues that players had with the base game as well as introduce multiple new boards which you can piece together to form multi-storey buildings. In addition there are new rules and hazards that can get in the way to make the game more complex. Do I recommend getting this expansion? Read on.




Designer: Lutz Pietschker (2013)
Publisher: Indie Boards & Cards
# of Players: 1-6
Ages: 10+
Play Time: 45+ minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: n/a/7.81
Dice Tower 2013 People’s Choice Rank: 58 (Base Game)
Category: Expansion to Base Game

Game Overview

This expansion is almost modular in its composition and contains three major additions to the base game. You get two extra boards, both double sided, one of which contains the new Mechanic Garage and Lab locations and the second board that has the "add-on" attic and basement rooms. The attic and basement cannot be used together obviously, but can "attach" to any of the new boards to create an extended building to work with thus creating 6 different combinations of location styles increasing the variety substantially from the base game.

Each board has a plethora of new rules to bring in and there are tokens to represent all of these from fire doors to explosive objects to ladders to chemical spills. I highly recommend getting a Plano or fish tackle box to hold these in along with the base game tokens.

The final main addition in the game is one that proves that the designers and publishers are listening to their fans and taking their comments into account. We spoke up about wanting unique miniatures in the game as the base game just had single colour plastic models that were generic across the board. As a result this expansion now contains nice plastic models that can be painted that are unique to every role in the game including the Structural Engineer from the mini expansion "Urban Structures" A key is provided on the back of the box so you can tell them apart and some flexible removable coloured bases are provided so that you can identify the player controlling them at a distance.

"Definitely an improvement and if unlike me you're a painting fan, you can go nuts!"

It sounds like a lot of components and it is, but from personal experience you can fit everything including Urban Structures and the promo pack (Veteran and Dog) in the two large boxes you have. I don't own 2nd Story as it's sadly unavailable for me to acquire, but I see no reason why you couldn't fit this in as well. I personally keep the boards in one box and everything else in the other and it works just fine.

Differentiating The Boards

This is the real you bought the expansion. Assuming you don't have the mini-expansions, you likely only have the doubled sided board from the base game which represents a generic bungalow with slightly different layouts. As entertaining as the game is, those two boards can get repetitive over time. With 6 new combinations to try, that problem is thrown out the window. Each board plays very differently.

The Garage is still one storey, but it contains a large workshop and lots of little office rooms and corridors. I'm quite shocked at how accurate this representation is, I swear I've been to a garage on my accounting run that looked very similar to this. It differentiates from the bungalow however by restricting the area around the building that the vehicles can drive.

"The Garage - big open spaces, but explosive objects can be fitted around the place"

The Lab is two storeys straight away which creates a new dynamic in that it's harder to cover the whole building as you can only access the top floor to begin with through one staircase. Each floor is only half a board in size so it all fits on one board but you can only drive the vehicle around two sides.

"The Lab - two levels, small rooms and lots of windows can make this look a little crowded"

The Basement and Attic are not standalone boards, but are instead designed to be attached to either main board to create a second or third floor depending on the board choice. These really change the locations as the more floors you add, the harder it is to cover the whole area. Combined with the extra rules which I'll get to later, they add a great deal to the theme and variety of the locations.

"The Attic - the easier of the two supplement boards to use"

"The Basement - this is harder to use because of the floor damage rules (see below)"

A Lot of Additional Rules to Digest

With these new boards, there are a lot more rules to take in. These are responsible for why these boards play so differently.

For starters you now have windows which can be opened in a similar manner to doors providing more access into the building. On their own this sounds like clutter, but then bring in the ladders, which when retrieved from the fire engine allow firefighters to access higher floors and suddenly those windows are needed. On a similar front you have upgraded fire doors which can stop the path of explosions, but have a risk of jamming in the process meaning you have to chop away with your axe to bypass it.

Now imagine how this works on the different boards. The Lab is already two storeys high, but now bolt on the Attic and suddenly you have a three storey building. To attempt to save the day on this board without any ladders is just plain crazy. The second game I taught to some new entrees to the Co-Op world I used this layout and it was such a blast (no pun intended) as you now had to think about the most efficient way to get up and down the building and ladders don't magically extend/contract once you've placed them. They are fixed until you take them down and put them back up again. Works with the theme and adds a new tactical aspect to movement - trust me the CAFS Firefighter has a hard time without these in place.

The Basement adds another problem for the team in respect of floor damage. If an explosion occurs underground it damages the floor above it. Any further explosion destroys the floor entirely restricting movement and allowing fire to spread from one floor to the other. I'm not sure why this rule wasn't included for the Attic as well, but maybe that would have just complicated the game too much.

"Garage with the Basement - my friend and I tackled Heroic difficulty with just two of us!"

The last major rule addition is explosive objects such as cars and chemical barrels. These can be added to the board as an optional rule and they essentially act as a source for a giant explosion if enough damage counters (the black cubes from the base game) are placed on it as the result of other explosions. Letting these go off is very bad so it's important to keep the fire under control where these are located.

A few other minor optional variants are also included, but I've covered the major ones above. Now the good thing about these new rules is that the game can be tailored to your hearts content and it plays very differently with each one. I now religiously use the new boards unless I'm teaching the game to new players as they provide such a nice challenge. However having all of these new rules with setups, effects and AP costs does add to the fiddly aspect of the game. A reference sheet printed from BGG helps, but be warned that you may get a rule wrong once or twice in your plays because there's a lot of little bits and pieces to remember particularly with regards to floor damage.

"AND WE WON!" BOOYAH!! - even saved the cat!"

Verdict

Just when the base game was starting to get a little repetitive, this expansion jumps in to save the day. With the wealth of new rules, optional variants and board layout choices, the re-playability of this game has increased dramatically and with Dangerous Waters around the corner, it's going to get better. The revised miniatures also make the game look better on the table and every player now gets into their character more.

However I would still advise not teaching this expansion to new gamers. Having lots of additional variants/rules means there's more fiddly-ness to the game and thus more rules to get wrong and it can potentially be overwhelming, particularly when you show them a reference aid for the action point costs and it's one page long! I would say using the Basement is "advanced" mode with the floor damage, but you could get away with the Garage and Attic for a simpler introduction.

The setup time is also extended as the rules differ depending on which board you use and whether it has an attic or a basement on it. Either you need additional explosions or you have to add different types of tokens around or you have to ensure all floors have a minimum and maximum amount of explosions and victims. Hot spots are the easiest one to get wrong! 

For veterans of the game, this is an excellent and worthwhile expansion and it's really boosted my appreciation for this game in my collection. For new gamers or first time players, I still think it's close to being an essential expansion, but learn the base game in full first before overwhelming yourself with the additions in this one.






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