It had been over six months since the finale of Risk Legacy. The players had gone their separate ways, Leverage-style, though we kept in touch. And yet, the fire remained: Justin and Alex in particular would pester me every few months. “When will we play again?” I wanted to! Oh, I wanted to. But the timing never seemed right.
Until, one day, I said to hell with proper timing: let’s play some games. I knew Justin and Alex would have to be included, as they form the pure ideals of the event: Justin the Avatar of Gaming, Alex the Avatar of Beer. I also had a list of people who had expressed interest in gaming if I ever did it again, and so I tapped some — not even all! — of these people.
The game, we decided, should differ from the ideals of Risk. Cutthroat plotting and backstabbing had their place, but this time we decided to work together: the cooperative Flash Point: Fire Rescue.
Dan Conley: Your humble author.
Justin Frost: The winner of Risk Legacy. In case we had forgotten this, he brought his damn trophy. Since we last spoke of Justin he has ascended in the world, now in the position of Category Manager for Draft Beer and Homebrew at Kegworks.com
Alex Placito: Alex has kept busy as well, having become an assistant brewer at the Old First Ward Brewery.
Eric Stellrecht: The other half of the award-winning A.P.E.S. homebrewing squad, Eric also possesses one hell of a beard.
Ethan Cox: My life would look much different without Ethan: not only did he have the idea to turn our homebrewing hobby into a career, but he introduced my wife and I to Carcassonne years ago, starting my interest in gaming.
Drew Hardin: Drew certainly seems to want to challenge Alex’s position as “busiest person in the Buffalo beer scene,” being not only an assistant brewer at CBW but also head of the Prepaired beer and food pairing dinner series and, as of late, a Kegworks employee.
We kept the Risk Legacy tradition of naming a theme for the beers brought to the game. Not only does it give the choosing a bit of focus, but half the fun of the night comes from hearing the justifications people come up with.
This theme: a beer that’s brave.
Alex: Farmer’s Tan (Southern Tier)
Alex brought Southern Tier’s “session IPA” because he thought Southern Tier brave for reusing the name of an Imperial Pale Lager — quite a strong beer! — as a session IPA.
I found it pleasantly hoppy with enough malt to make it nice and drinkable. I enjoy pale ales (or “session IPAs” if you want to call them that) that can employ restraint.
Alex didn’t exactly agree with me. It reminded him of Stone’s Levitation. He would have liked more hops, commenting that their Live seemed to have more. Eric concurred, saying that he found it too sessiony. Ethan thought it tasted a little thin, not in the mouthfeel sense, but that it lacked more than one dimension.
Eric (1): Cream Ale (Eric)
Eric brewed this himself, along with his brother in law. He hopes to teach his family the tools of the trade. He brought this beer because
in a world where people are making meat flavored beers and double IPAs, who makes a cream ale?
I really liked this! It tasted light and drinkable, with a little toastiness. Alex said he thought it pretty sweet, which knowing Alex probably doubled as a pun. Ethan got lots of corn without the associated DMS that you risk with the style.
Eric (2): Lagunitas Sucks
Lagunitas had capacity issues in 2011: they just couldn’t justify brewing their Brown Shugga when it would take three times as long, so they owned up to their shortcomings and released “Lagunitas Sucks.” Eric considered this brave, especially because they kept making it.
Alex immediately said that he didn’t find the name apt: it did not suck. Ethan tasted oxidation in this bottle but thought it worked harmoniously with the rest, similar to an old ale.
It tasted really sweet, thought Eric, which set off a discussion on what specific type of sweetener it most tasted like: Alex thought maple sugar, Drew turbinado.
Ethan: Claymore Scotch Ale (Great Divide)
When we decided on the “brave” theme I knew I had an ace up my sleeve. I could choose any beer from Scotland, or any beer with a bear on it, and say “Like the movie!” I hoped someone else would think of it too, and thankfully the other parent of the group did not disappoint.
Not only did Ethan bring a scotch ale, but he taped a picture of Merida to the side! We certainly have no bond torn by pride. The current penultimate Disney princess 1 set off a discussion about which beers to match with which princess:
- Sleeping Beauty Barleywine
- Oyster Stout (Ariel)
- Snow Wit
Alex thought it tasted good, very sweet, but a little old. He detected oxidation. Ethan checked the bottle: Great Divide brewed it May 8th, so the oxidation came from something besides age. The sweetness fit, Alex said, but the oxidation covered up some of the beer’s complexity.
Unlike most other games (say, Risk) Flash Point plays cooperatively: we play as a team, winning and losing together. If you’ve played the popular virus-fighting game Pandemic or treasure-stealing counterparts Forbidden Island/Forbidden Desert then the mechanics will sound familiar: you play as a team of firefighters, moving through a house trying to put out fire and rescue civilians. Each turn the fire spreads by a roll of the dice (1d6 and 1d8 for the grid coordinates), but you need to balance putting fires out with rescuing civilians, as eventually the fire will overtake the house. Each player has a unique role, giving them advantages and disadvantages with different tactics.
My copy of the game came from the first Kickstarter campaign and featured cards with English text on one side and German on the other: as we waited for people to arrive Eric quizzed everyone on what the German roles meant.
We set up the board and chose our roles:
- Dan: Rescue Specialist. Has three extra move action and can chop through walls to make new passages, though doing so contributes to the house collapsing.
- Justin: Paramedic. Can heal victims so players don’t have a movement penalty while carrying them out of the house, but extinguishing smoke and fire costs twice as much.
- Alex: Generalist. An all-around character with 5 AP (Action Points) per turn instead of 4.
- Ethan: CAFS Firefighter. Has 3 extra extinguish AP, but only 3 all purpose AP. Can put out fire like nobody’s business.
- Eric: Hazmat Technician. Can spend 2 AP to remove one of the three hazardous materials tokens from the board, instead of having to carry it out.
- Drew: Imaging Technician. Some of the victim tokens are false alarms, causing you to have wasted the trip to rescue them. The Imaging Technician can spend 1 AP to flip the token and see without having to move to the same space.
We had a great mix of roles: Drew could image the victims, Ethan could spray a path to them, Justin could heal them and I could run them out to safety. Eric could spend the beginning of the game removing the hazmats and then switch to another role, and Alex could help out wherever the fire was worst.
We looked at the board, with two hazmats in the dining room and one in the kitchen. Convenient for us, yes, but we couldn’t help but wonder how much meth the residents cooked here.
Ethan jumped in and did what the CAFS does best: put out fires like a madman. Extinguishing takes 2 AP, meaning he could put out three spaces of fire in one turn if he didn’t have to move.
In which Eric makes everything explode
On Eric’s turn he removed the hazmat token closest to the door, then rolled for fire. On your turn you can take your 4 AP, banking any extras if you have them, and then roll the d6 and d8 to see which spot on the map the fire spreads to.
- If the space doesn’t have anything in it, smoke appears.
- If the space has smoke, it becomes fire. Any time smoke is adjacent (orthogonally) to fire, it becomes fire as well.
- If the space has fire it triggers an explosion: the orthogonal spaces also have fire in them. If they already have fire, it travels outward until it hits an empty space, a closed door or a wall. Closed doors get blown off their hinges, permanently becoming open, and walls take a cube of damage. If all the damage cubes have been used then the house collapses and you lose.
Additionally, the board started with six hot spot tokens. If you roll a hot spot you place fire normally, but then roll again. You resolve the second space and then it becomes a hot spot as well.
In theory this would end your turn. Unless your name is Eric. Then your second roll is already a hotspot, so you resolve fire and roll again.
And hit a third hotspot.
Rolling four times the amount of fire before everyone had had a turn did not bode well for our crew. We did our best, though the northwest quadrant found itself nearly entirely engulfed in flames. By the time we had beaten that down to a manageable state the eastern rooms were similarly ablaze.
Then it was Eric’s turn again.
In which things get no better, and in fact get much worse
He rolled, and fire spread to one of the hazmat tokens he hadn’t yet gotten to. Fire on a hazmat triggers an explosion and becomes a hotspot. Not good, we said. Not good.
Drew managed to rescue a victim, doing a better job of it than me, the actual Rescue Specialist. We made slow progress on the fire, but on Alex’s turn it spread into the same space as a victim, killing them. To win we would have to rescue seven people before the house exploded or four victims died. We had our work cut out for us.
Then Eric rolled.
Oh come on
He had gotten rid of the second hazmat on his turn, but then rolled fire onto the third. Another explosion. Another hotspot. Ethan asked if this game had a traitor mechanic ala Shadows Over Camelot or Battlestar Galactica.
I jest, of course. Eric had rolled terribly, beyond terribly, but we all found ourselves at the mercy of fickle dice. The fire spread, quickly and mercilessly. Luck remained firmly out of grasp.
Drew rescued another victim, while I twiddled my thumbs or something. He scanned another token and found a fake. The fire spread, claiming another life. Justin picked up the dog — one of the victims — and carried it to safety.
The final indignity
Ethan had charged in to a fire-laden room to try and quell the fire. An explosion rang out, fire gushing toward him.
When a firefighter dies in Flash Point they get revived in the ambulance outside. Ethan’s CAFS woke up, no worse for wear, but we only had one damage cube left: the house had become extremely unstable, liable to collapse at any moment.
We ran, doing our best to prevent the inevitable, but it came nonetheless. When most of the house contains fire nearly any roll will cause an explosion, and the dense inferno will spread it to the walls, bursting through them. We placed the final cube and the house collapsed, all of us inside.
A bitter loss.
To be continued
Although we played a second game that night, in the interest of not forcing you to read a post the length of Moby Dick I’ve split it in two. More beer and another game to come next week, dear reader!
Yes, Elsa and Anna count, gawd ↩