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Review: Flash Point: Urban Structures

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flashpointurbanstructures_boxcover

Suit up, fire folks, and get your pyromaniac impulses back in the closet. The fire is back and this time it’s not messing around, and it’s up to you and your national firefighting squad to stop it.

Down in the city, people don’t have houses and hotels. They have duplexes and high-rise office buildings. Okay, they do have hotels too, but that’s besides the point. The FLASH point. Get it? Okay. You’ll need to fight fire like a pro in all new, challenging scenarios.  Whatever you do, don’t use the elevator.

Flash Point: Urban Structures is a mini-expansion to the popular and critically acclaimed firefighting game, Flash Point.

How It Plays

Never heard of Flash Point or never played it? Good, go check out our review of the base game. Spoiler alert: it’s a good ‘un. From this point on, I’ll assume you’ve at least read our review if not played the game, and that you have a basic knowledge of how the game works. Y’now, you move around, fight fire, and try to rescue victims before the building burns down or too many people die.

flashpointurbanstructures_condos
Condos!

Urban Structures adds 2 new maps to the mix with a few minor rules additions, as well as a new Firefighter role.

The new buildings stick to the theme.  The first is a high-rise office building.  Now, you don’t have multiple floors to contend with, but you don’t have easy access to the building.  There are 2 ways in – the Elevator at the center of the building, and your fire engine has a big ol’ ladder (invisible to the player eye of course) to get in, but only if the outer walls are destroyed.

The second building is a duplex, featuring 2 adjacent homes.  Adjacent, as in sharing a wall – but no doors between them. These duplexes are part of a bigger building that prevents you from moving around the sides of each building – front and back only.  You can walk through the building or take a full turn to drive from one side to the other.

Welcome to the High Rise
Welcome to the High Rise

The new Firefighter role is the Structural Engineer.  This guy can repair damaged walls, removing those precious black cubes from the board and getting them back into your supply.  The catch is, his building tools prevent him from carrying any fire-fighting tools, so he can’t extinguish fire or smoke.

Great Chicago Fire, or Ashes to Ashes?

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, there is an elevator.  Yes, you have to use it.  Yes, in the middle of a raging fire. This isn’t so much a simulation as it is a fun cooperative game, and so in lieu of a building intercom and quarterly fire drills to command everyone to leave the building calmly, the elevator just represents a way to get in and out of the building in a restricted way. No one should ever say “well, Flash Point had an elevator you could use in the middle of a fire so I’m going to in real life!” and even though it seems lie it should be unnecessary, Indie Boards & Cards left a disclaimer in the rulebook.

Okay, glad we got that over with. Lets get to the guts of it.

The firey burning guts
The firey burning guts

Did you like the original Flash Point? Well, you’ll like Urban Structures too. It’s definitely worth the price of admission.  The game is a lot of fun to play, but using the same map over and over can get a little stale.  These mini expansions cost a few bucks and add a whole new level of replay value (I should have used that pun in my review of 2nd Story).

The changes are simple, but those simple changes do present their own unique puzzle to tackle.  You have to think about each map differently, because simply the way the rooms are arranged will change the way the fire spreads, thanks to the brilliant explosion mechanism.  That the elevator is in the middle of the building makes it a lot closer to any given POI, but it also means the one door in and out can easy be blocked by a wall of fire. You can use the fire truck ladder to escape, or even take a shortcut to the other side of the building, but you’ll need destroyed walls to do so – and we all know how we feel about destroyed walls. It gets crowded in their fast and you can get cut off from your teammates.  Yikes!

I will say,  there is a slight amount of rules confusion with the ladder here. There is no visible ladder – you just have to imagine it is there – and it took me several reads of the rules to understand how it worked.  Basically, you can move through a destroyed wall directly to the firetruck if it is on the same side of the building, and vice versa.

Elevators are just as good as ladders
Elevators are just as good as ladders

There was also a bit of confusion regarding movement and action points with the ladder – it costs more points to use the ladder, but it wasn’t clear about using the ladder to move onto Fire (you can’t fight fire from the ladder, unfortunately).  I had to ask the publisher, who had to ask the designer, and I believe it was determined that it would cost 4 AP to move from the ladder onto fire, which means you can’t do it unless you have saved AP (you can’t end your turn on fire). It’s a minor quibble, but I’m surprised that it wasn’t clarified in the rules.

The other building is another unique challenge – essentially two long, narrow buildings that make it difficult to move from one end to the other, and you can get blocked off by fire.  You can take the long way around with a fire engine or ambulance, or you can destroy more walls to free up your movement. Fire can do a lot of damage in those small rooms, so it’s a great risk/reward scenario.

And now introducing...
And now introducing…

The structural engineer is an interesting role. It is a bit frustrating not to be able to fight fire, but it is super swell to repair walls and remove hot spots.  In the game you tend to divide up into people fighting fire and people rescuing people, so the Structural Engineer definitely works and allows a completely different style of play.  Especially for someone like me who ALWAYS rolls hot spots when I advance fire, I really enjoy the new role.

There aren’t too many new components in this pack – just a double-sided board and the new role card, but it still adds a whole lot more fire-fighting action.  You’ll get hours more worth of playtime experimenting with the different roles teaming up, bringing the Structural Engineer back to some of the old buildings, and fighting different levels of fire.

It’s what you’d expect from a Flash Point expansion, and its definitely worth picking up.

iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Indie Boards &  Cards for providing a review copy of Flash Point: Urban Structures

Summary

  • Rating 8.5
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Summary

Pros

  • More firefighting!
  • New buildings provide new challenges
  • Same great taste
  • Structural Engineer offers a new style of play

Cons:

  • Minor rules confusion
  • Where am I going to keep all these extra boards?
8.5 Very Good

Futurewolfie loves epic games, space, and epic games set in space. You'll find him rolling fistfuls of dice, reveling in thematic goodness, and giving Farmerlenny a hard time for liking boring stuff.

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