Fire Tower
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Fire Tower

RRP: £37.99
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RRP £37.99
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While manning your fire tower you notice smoke in the distance and pull out your radio to report a blaze growing somewhere in the forest. You must protect your tower with all the resources at your disposal: dispatch fire engines to combat the blaze, order air drops of water, and plan the building of firebreaks. Competing fire departments will complicate your work, using the unrelent…
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Category Tags , , , , SKU ZTQ-927437.003 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Very inclusive game – keeps players who have been eliminated involved!
  • Great theming throughout
  • Simple rules make the game easy to learn
  • Great game for people new to board games

Might Not Like

  • Rulebook is densely worded – not as easy to find a rule clarification quickly
  • Event Cards can change the length of the game
  • Shadow of The Wood Card is not a fixed rule in the game
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Description

While manning your fire tower you notice smoke in the distance and pull out your radio to report a blaze growing somewhere in the forest. You must protect your tower with all the resources at your disposal: dispatch fire engines to combat the blaze, order air drops of water, and plan the building of firebreaks. Competing fire departments will complicate your work, using the unrelenting winds to their advantage in an attempt to safeguard their own towers and threaten yours. The chaotic Firestorm also stalks the deck and will dramatically swell the flames each time it is drawn. Will you effectively use your forces to outwit your opponents and survive the inferno? Can you be the last tower standing?

Fire Tower is a competitive game where players must fight fire with fire. Most fire fighting games have a cooperative aspect with players working together to beat back the flames, but in Fire Tower your only objectives are to protect your own tower and spread the blaze towards your opponents. The game plays 2-4 players, ages 12+, and takes 15+ minutes. Action cards allow players to alter the direction of the wind, and add varying patterns of fire, water, and defensive barriers to the board. The skill comes in effectively directing the resources in your hand and using sound spatial planning to deploy them.

The game incorporates an intuitive play structure that takes minutes to learn and requires negligible set-up. Each card includes a grid that visually explains the ways it can be used, saving new players from having to constantly refer to the rulebook. Although the core mechanics are easy to grasp, an ever shifting environment forces players to switch up their tactics and experiment with varied strategies, making Fire Tower a difficult game to master and each play through a fresh experience.

When it comes to the UK Games Expo, it’s quite easy for hidden gems to get lost in a sea of choice as you peruse the halls. To stand out, you must deliver something unique and memorable. This year I stumbled across such a gem in Runaway Parade Games headliner: Fire Tower.

So, I have a burning question for you, are you ready to go out in a blaze of glory?

Fire Tower invites 2-4 players to take on the roles of fire lookouts overseeing the forest from their watchtowers in this classically competitive game. As a fire breaks out in the centre of the forest, players will manipulate both wind direction and therefore the fire itself to defend their watchtowers and force the inferno towards their opponents.

Gameplay

The initial setup is wonderfully simple, players choose one of the towers in the four corners of the board and are given a hand of five cards as well as the Bucket card which will allow you to dowse a certain amount of fire that may have breached your stronghold as a one-off freebie.

Other cards that may be given to players or drawn whilst playing include Wind Cards which allow for a change in wind direction. Water Cards that provide help in clearing some of the flames that are daring to get a little too close for comfort. Fire Cards that let gamers spread the fire towards their opponents, and finally there are Firebreak Cards. These are used to build defences around your quadrant and ease some of the pressure if you are feeling the heat.

You will also find Event Cards in the deck. These cards add something a little bit extra to the game to throw some curve balls at the players and when drawn must be played immediately regardless of whose turn it may be. Event Cards include Firestorm, Shadow of the Wood and Mutual Aid.  The exact workings of each of these cards are detailed in the instructions and some are optional for the game however each one, when drawn, have unique effects.

Firestorm, as the name implies, sets off a chain reaction to spread the fire on your board even further. The Wind Dice is rolled and each empty space orthogonally adjacent to an existing fire gem in the new wind direction is then filled with another gem. You can see how a fire can quickly get out of hand when this card is drawn! When I played my most recent game, this card knocked out two players in one turn!

Mutual Aid allows the player who drew the card to choose one of three options listed. These include placing a fire gem, placing a Firebreak token, or discarding exactly three cards from your hand and drawing back up to the limit. The twist here is that when that player chooses an option, every other player must also take that action in turn order.

Finally, Shadow of the Wood adds my favourite element of this game. When drawn from the deck it allows any eliminated players to come back into the game and choose an option listed on the card to take their revenge on their adversaries.

Once your board and players are set up, the first player will roll the wind direction dice and set the included weathervane to whichever direction was rolled. This is the direction that the fire will initially travel in. During a turn, players will simply perform two actions in the following order: spread the fire and play a card.

Starting from the blaze in the centre of the board, simply place a fire gem orthogonally adjacent (a frequent term you will see in this game that is wonderfully defined in the instructions!) in the current direction of the wind. You may then play a single card from your hand, resolve the card as necessary and draw back up to the hand limit before play proceeds to the next person. It’s as simple as that!

Use your cards as valuable resources to force the fire towards your opponent’s towers, it won’t be long until your board is consumed by a blazing inferno! The last tower standing is the winner!

Components

Let’s start with the artwork as I will say it’s very striking and will be hard to miss. Kevin Ruelle has made it almost impossible to simply walk past this game as the watercolour design makes the box stand out amongst a crowd and will be sure to pique the interest of all gamers. Inside the box itself you will find a fabulously coloured forest board, 52 Action and Event Cards, a wind dice, various wooden tokens for Firebreaks and Wind Markers, but most stunningly of all, 135 Fire Gems. All these pieces have been lovingly made to a high quality, with the theme of the game carrying right through to each of the components and there are plenty of Fire Gem tokens to last the whole game.

Expansions?

Fire Tower does currently have one expansion for the base game: Fire Tower: Rising Flames. This multi-layered expansion adds a whole host of new additions including Fire Hawks, Seasonal Cards and a 3D Fire Centrepiece for the board. As well as this, there are extra components to take on variations of the base game such as adding a fifth player and a solo mode. It is certainly jam packed with extras that will definitely add to your play time so it’s important to factor that in when playing with the expansion.

Final Thoughts

What I particularly liked about this game was the inclusivity of it. For me, the true highlight of the game was The Shadow of The Forest Card. Allowing a player who has been eliminated from the game to join back into the chaos was a lovely twist and such a simple way to keep everyone at the table invested and involved. My only gripe with this is that it is not a permanent feature in the base game and only comes into play when the card is drawn from the deck. If you buy the expansion, however, it becomes a permanent addition with added extras but of course you can always house rule it if you just have the base game.

Another great feature is that a lot of the Action Cards visually demonstrate how they work on the board with great illustrations. This is very helpful as the rulebook itself is mostly just block text and is densely worded so having these visual aids can make the cards more accessible for players.

Ultimately, this game reminds me so much of other simple yet enjoyable player versus player games such as Survive! Escape From Atlantis. The goal is to beat the other players, it’s that simple.

For myself, the best games are the ones that I think I could introduce to my circle of friends who are new to the world of tabletop gaming. Fire Tower is one of those games. Simplicity is the name of the game here and whilst there is certainly a level of strategy and forward thinking that will still entertain those gamers with more experience, it’s by no means to a scale that would intimidate newer players. It is quick to learn and with a suggested play time of 15-30 minutes it’s a game that would fit nicely into your weekly game night and undoubtedly will be one that you come back to again and again. The base game is reasonably priced and certainly does not feel like it is lacking when played without the available expansion.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your fellow lookouts and get that water bucket ready. Trust me, you’re going to need it!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Very inclusive game keeps players who have been eliminated involved!
  • Great theming throughout
  • Simple rules make the game easy to learn
  • Great game for people new to board games

Might not like

  • Rulebook is densely worded not as easy to find a rule clarification quickly
  • Event Cards can change the length of the game
  • Shadow of The Wood Card is not a fixed rule in the game