The City of London is burning and it’s up to the players to try and save as many buildings as possible! Each of your houses that are destroyed loses you victory points, however the more fire you put out gains you victory points, that is the Great Fire of London 1666.
Set Up & Play
The set up is time consuming- counting out, mixing up and distributing all of the houses across the map of the London districts takes a while. Once it’s done though game play is easy and done at a good pace and takes between an hour or two depending on player count.
On your turn you expand the fire by playing a fire movement card from your hand which will determine which direction it can move in. This is where you can really think about strategy. Do you try and burn as many of your rival’s houses down to lose them victory points but that could bring the fire dangerously close to one of the districts you need to save (you are given three district objective cards at the start of the game, if the districts survive you get extra victory points). Should you let one of your houses burn to save some of your other ones instead? There’s lots to think about and a lot can change. I would plan to take out my partner’s houses only to find out that the path of fire had been broken so that’s no longer an option. That’s even more the case with a larger player count, the board changes completely by the time it comes back to you so those that are guilty of analysis paralysis may take a while on their turn. My partner also went rogue in the last game, knowing that he couldn’t win because his district objectives had already burnt down, so he went on a mission to destroy as many rival houses as he could which caused the other players to fire fight for their lives!
You’re also limited to what direction cards you have in your hand. At one point I had 1 West card and 4 South cards and there wasn’t any south movements I could do so I was forced to go West so some people may not like that lack of control over what you can play. However we found it fun how the game can twist and turn and gives you plenty of strategies to go for.
Once the fire has spread the player gets to perform up to 4 actions- they can move their pawn, move a trained band cone (to contain the fires) or if they can get the pawn and the trained band cone in the same district they can put out the fire. Again there’s good strategy involved in deciding which fires to put out and we found we ended up doing some collaborative working. Putting out a fire could end up saving a rival’s house but could slow down the fire from getting two of yours. We really liked that we could be competitive but co-operative at the same time.
The last part of the turn is to draw a fire card into your hand which at various times would reveal a fire stack card which intensifies the fire.
We really liked the scoring element of this game- we’ve rarely played a game where you start with points and gradually lose them throughout. For every house that burns down you lose two points but you can win some back in various ways:
- +1 victory point for every fire you’ve extinguished
- Victory points for the hidden objective card districts that survived
- +1 victory point for every victory point token claimed
- +2 victory points for holding the Hero of London card (think Longest road in Catan)
We really liked playing the Great Fire of London 1666. The board is changing constantly so it keeps you on your toes and doesn’t allow you to switch off because even if you plan your turn ahead, the board has changed so much by the time it comes back round to you that you have to rethink it a number of times. The fire is so powerful it’s very much a game of survival and being the one to lose the least amount of points and we loved the intensity. We’ve played as a three player and a six player and we found it worked really well for both.
One of our only niggles is the component quality. The fire is represented as red cones which isn’t very thematic. It would have been more exciting if it had been like Flashpoint’s fire tokens which have flames on them and the trained band cone could have set on top of them. However we really liked the board and how the burnt down houses are used to show your scores declining.
The Great Fire of London 1666 is a game that we really can’t wait to play again.