The Library is on fire, the books are burning – Do Something! Can you be the bravest librarian of all and save the books from the Fire in the Library?
Fire in the Library is a game about exactly this, and as a real life actual Librarian, how could I resist?
In Fire in the Library everyone takes turns running into the library and trying to save as many books as possible before fire blocks their path. But, since the library continues to burn, the fire spreads and it becomes increasingly harder to accomplish your task. Luckily their are some handy tools lying about that should help.
The Quick Bit about How to Play:
Fire in the Library is a Press Your Luck game that is mitigated somewhat by having tools that can control/change the outcome of your turn.
So…Basically, you are going to be drawing cubes from a bag (my Bag has fire on it). These cubes represent books that you are saving. Except for the Red cubes which represent FIre. If you draw too many Fire cubes or even just one in a Risky space, your turn is over, your collected books burn and the game speeds even closer to its end. If however, you make it out, you score points based on which books you saved and how rare they now are (due to other books of the same color having already burned).
As books burn, you remove a card of that color, making that color book more valuable (less copies = more valuable). Also, some of the cards have a fire symbol on them, meaning that you add another Fire cube to the Bag (more Fire = harder to save books).
Before each turn everyone gets to pick in what order they will act this turn. Whoever has the lowest score currently picks first and so on until the last player, being the current points leader, is left with whichever turn order card remains.
Think of the turn order cards like this: If you go into the fire first, you will not know where you are going, smoke is everywhere and it will be much harder to save books. But you will be considered very Brave. Each person that goes in to the fire after you will benefit from your trip in to the fire. “Watch out for that fallen bookcase!” “Don’t turn right, that way is blocked.” So the second player’s trip will be a little easier and a little less Brave. And so on. The last player to act isn’t really that Brave at all.
So, the turn order cards reflect this. The first player to act only has 1 safe space before their journey becomes Risky, but if they make it out with more than 1 book, they are awarded Bravery points in addition to their book points.
The second player has 2 safe spots, then all Risky and so on. But it doesn’t matter how many safe spots you have, if you pull 2 Fire cubes, you Burn, no matter what.
The more books you manage to save, the more points you earn and of course, more Bravery. Thus the press your luck.
The Tools allow you to counteract Fire cube, yours or someone else’s, Remove them to a card, make all your spaces Safe spaces, or even throw a little bad luck another player’s way (just a touch of Take That too – I’m looking at you Slingshot).
These are of course just a few examples, there are 10 different types of Tools, and there are always 3 available in the Tool “market.” You can acquire Tools if you don’t score any Bravery points, or if you Burn, or just by trading one in your hand for a random Tool card at the end of the round.
At the end of your turn, you either score points for the books you have saved (+ Bravery points), or you Burned your books and you get a tool as compensation.
After every player had acted, the round is over and another section of the library burns (the one with the lowest Burn Index number). Rounds continue until one section of the library burns up completely, and the game stops immediately. Most points = winner.
The Part about whether I like the game or not:
I’m gonna tell you right now, I love this game. I first played it 2 years ago at GenCon. This was before Tools, and I think before Bravery points. It was a pretty good concept and I was intrigued. I played it again at GenCon this past year, and I was pretty much sold. Granted there was no artwork, but it was pretty much a complete game. But now, it is polished. Weird Giraffe Games has worked with the designers and taken it to another level. Any rough edges that were still there are now gone. And by adding Beth Sobel’s artwork, they have turned a great game into a gorgeous game as well.
The gameplay itself has a certain simplicity to it. After all you are really just drawing cubes from a Bag over and over again. But you really do become involved in the game and the theme. You really feel the tension building as the library continues to burn more and more. And when you pull that 7 point book out of the fire and into safety, you feel like you have accomplished something.
The game has a great deal of luck involved, and even more so the further along you are in the game. Because of this, Tools are very important if you want to save any books at all. In fact, we played a 2 player game without them and the final score was only 23 to 8 (I only scored 8 points – Burned almost every turn). Tools are also what keep the game from feeling like it’s completely about luck. They bring a balance to the game that it really needed. Without the tools I fell behind early and kept pushing too far and burning every turn, thus scoring nothing.
One of the best things about the game is the Bravery points. All Press Your Luck games live on the edge of Success/Failure, providing you with either a sense of Joy or Disappointment. Fire in the Library takes it one step further. The gameplay is designed to have these exact moments. There will be times when you just know someone is Pressing their Luck too far…and then…they succeed. Everyone cheers or groans. Just like all Press Your Luck games, but this one actually rewards you for these moments. You receive Joy and Bravery Points, which makes you want to keep going again and again. Fire in the Library rewards you for taking chances. And the closer you are to the end of the game, the bigger the reward. I love this.
This is a great game, designed by great people and published by a great company. The artwork is fantastic, which really completes the feel of the game and engrosses you in the theme. The gameplay is simple but intense and doesn’t overstay its welcome, even at 6 players. Most games we have played take about 20-30 minutes, but depending on table talk could last a little longer. The age range says 8+, but I have played it with a 5 year old who got the concept, just not the Tools aspect. But she keeps asking to play again, so I’m sure we will get there.
I am so happy to see this game come to life and will be the first backer on launch day. What else would you expect from a librarian.
Fire in the Library launches March 19 on Kickstarter.
Fire in the Library was sent to us by Weird Giraffe Games in exchange for an honest review, which is exactly what we provided. Since this was a prototype, some of the components may and probably will be different in the final version, but they are fine just like they are.