Firefighters on Kickstarter

Firefighters on Kickstarter

“Firefighters – The Unsung Heroes” is a cooperative board game with many innovative features, including a thriller gameplay, realistic fire spread mechanics and advanced event generating, ensuring a great theme-mechanics connection. Coming to Kickstarer soon.

About Firefighters

Firefighter tokens
Firefighters in the action, tackling the fire at a shop.

“Firefighters – The Unsung Heroes” is an immersive board game giving players the thrills and the experience of the life of a firefighter. Besides the fun it is designed to teach the players fire prevention and procedures in case of fire. At the same time, our goal is to give them the enthusiasm and respect for the firefighting profession.

The Plot

There is an arsonist in our little town. We have to catch the villain while saving the villagers and their property from the fires. Rescue victims from the burning buildings, extinguish fires and collect evidence to win.

Arsonist and Law officers
Arsonist and Law officers in pursue.

Gameplay

Players play together against the arsonist (it is a game the concept, not a player). This is a cooperative game, very popular in the last years – players don’t compete against each other, but work together to reach the common goal. Each player is the leader of a team of firefighters with different strengths. They have to make a plan and work together to tackle all goals of the game – rescue the people, extinguish the fires and gather the evidence to capture the arsonist.

Game box (prototype)

Thriller board game

Firefighters have a thriller structure. Story flows from tense peaks to calm breathers. And you can not predict when any of them will occur. You can move from the end of the world to a walk in the park in just a turn apart.

This aspect of the game is the most immersive element of our game – so we believe. But it is also the the first rule of making a great game of Matt Leacock – the author of Pandemic.

Alfred V with Matt Leacock in Essen 2015. (Game has old cover, we don’t use any more.)

Check my interview with Matt Leacock in Essen Spiel 2015 here.

How to play Firefighters

A few highlights of the game, for you can get the idea of its richness and simplicity. Also, we will briefly describe the basic firefighting concepts incorporated in easily understandable rules.

General concepts

Unlike most games where you have good – bad system of concepts (e.g. knights versus dragons), Firefighters have three main concepts (a sort fo paper – scissors – rock):

  • Arsonist / fire – the enemies of the players. IF you let them run wild, you will not have the best outcomes of the game.
  • Victims – citizens and firefighters can be injured in fire. They are not connected with capturing the Arsonist in any way, but you must treat them or you will lose trust of the locals.
  • Evidence – help you capture the villain and successfully end the game, but don’t help in fighting fires or rescuing the victims.

Therefore you have to make trade offs between this three main concepts in every turn. This make decision making much more challenging and game more fun to play and highly replayable.

Evidence sets help you capture the Arsonist. They come in three sets of different value and ease of gathering.

How to win

To win, you have to manage three main concepts of the game – fire, victims and evidence – to prevent lose conditions. There are many, but most often is the loss of trust in the local government that will fire you if let too many injuries to citizens or buildings.

Capturing the Arsonist is not mandatory, but it sure will help you finishing the game with a bang. Of course capturing the villain will also stop arsons and make your tasks of saving lives and property much easier.

Scoreboard keeps track of game and most importantly your trust level.

Fire, arson and buildings

Arsonist is attacking buildings in our town, setting fires (red crystal stones) to them. At every arson scene they will leave some evidence (chits with looking glass). Healthy buildings start with a white building chit on top – like the hospital in top right corner.

Hospital is on fire, but did not suffer structural damage. While shop in the center had already lost its top chit and is already on yellow. When you removed the top chit, you found two victims (panicked – green, and heavily injured – red).

Arsoined building with fire, evidence and victims.
Arsoined building with fire, evidence and victims.

Characters and actions

All characters can perform basic actions like moving and firefighting, bot some have additional abilities, that allow them to perform specialist tasks. For instance, Vicky is a medic and can heal the victims or stabilize them, to be safely moved to hospital, while Luc has a hazmat kit and can treat tiles contaminated with poisonous chemicals.

There are four character types in game:

  • Firefighter – general firefighters, specialized in fighting fires.
  • Special unit – hardcore, top of the line unit with abilities to fight fires but also contain hazardous materials.
  • Medic – specialized in treating victims of fire.
  • Fire marshal – specialized in collecting evidence.
Character cards
Tina (top right) is a firefighter. She can extinguish up to two fires per turn. Her character starts with an axe equipment, allowing her to move faster through fields with debris (Luc has it as an extra equipment). Tina has a medi kit as extra equipment, allowing her to act also as a medic.

There are five characters, but you can use only four in standards game, making you decide between their strengths and your needs. Anyway, you can change your team during the game.

Unique buildings

There are four unique buildings in the game:

  • Firehouse – your station and base for equipping extra tools.
  • Police station – center of law enforcement and forensics, where you can additionally examine inconclusive evidence.
  • Hospital – here you can treat heavily injured citizens and firefighters.
  • University – center of knowledge where you can study extra improvements.

You can only have three unique buildings in the game and Firehouse must be one of them. So again you will have to consider trade offs between them.

Detail from the Firehouse card. There is

Events

We have devised a very innovative Event system creating diverse and unique experience. Event cards are also used as house number generators making you skip some events.

Some events are removed from the game after they take effect while others can be reshuffled and can happen again.

Backs of the cards hold quick reference to some crucial game concepts like order of the turn and burning formula.

Improvements

Improvements add another layer of complexity to the game if like it because they add extra options to your decisions of spending your resources. They can be very powerful, but can also shift your focus from tasks in hand and have negative consequences.

Improvements are researched in the unique buildings.

Backs of improvement cards hold counters for unlocking next improvement. You have to decide if you want to spend improvement points for upgrading your existing improvements or open more improvement cards.

Firefighters Team

Meet the people behind the game.

Alfred Vesligaj: author

Professional product developer and project manager. He has more than 20 published tabletop products, among them nine for the Talking Tom franchise. He was lecturing Techniques of Creativity for the Media Production Management program at Middlesex University, London.

Alex Nikiforov – illustartor

Loved drawing from his childhood, Alex pursued an artist career later and now makes art for board games, big and small, working with small indie game designers and big publishers alike.