Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.
Librarians are often woefully underappreciated in our society. They are purveyors of information and help those in need of it access it. Their service is invaluable to those they provide it to. Today, however, they are focused on the preservation of knowledge, as a fire has broken out and the librarians are scrambling to save all of the books they can!
Fire in the Library is a press your luck game for 1-6 players. It plays in about 30 minutes and is live on Kickstarter now.
Fire in the Library is played over a number of rounds where players will draw cubes from a bag, attempting to save as many books are possible. There are four different types of books, represented by yellow, white, black, and purple cubes. The bag also contains red cubes, the number of which increases over time, representing the fire.
Players will start the round by drafting turn order cards. Each turn order card has five spaces to place books, but cards earlier in turn order have more risky spaces, which makes it more likely your books will burn. You can continue drawing up to five cubes, but if you ever pull out 2 fire cubes—or a single fire cube on a risky space—the fire consumes those books and you don’t earn any points.
As the books burn, it also causes more damage to the library. The four book types each have a section of the library which designates how many points that type of book is worth. However, if your books burn, a card from that section of the library will be discarded for each cube of that color. This increases the value of that type of book and additional fire cubes are added to the bag as the library becomes increasingly engulfed in flames, making it more difficult to save books.
If you successfully draw five cubes without burning or choose to stop prior to burning, you score points for the books you save. If you didn’t reach any of the risky spaces on your turn order card, you also gain a tool from the tool market. Risk-seeking librarians, however, won’t earn a tool but will be rewarded with additional bravery points for successfully rescuing all of those books.
Each librarian begins the game with two tools. These tools give you special, one-time use abilities. The bucket, for instance, allows you to set aside a fire cube that you’ve drawn from the bag. Some tools can modify how you score books or how turn order is determined and can have a dramatic effect on how the game plays out.
After all players have completed their turn, a card from one section of the library is discarded as the fire grows. Once any single section of the library is completely destroyed, the game ends immediately. The librarian with the most points wins.
Fire in the Library is a quick playing, press your luck game with an interesting theme. It delivers the exact moments you want from a press your luck game—everyone sitting around the table, anxious to see if another fire cube is about to come out. And either celebrating their own success or ridiculing those who just couldn’t stop when they should have.
The tool cards add some neat abilities, but more importantly, make the decision on when to stop even more interesting. If there is a tool in the market that you are hoping to take, you may stop earlier. Once you reach the risky spaces on your turn order card you won’t earn a tool at the end of the round. You will, however, score additional bravery points. I often found the decision between taking a tool and attempting to increase your points was hardly an easy decision.
The game accommodates 2-6 players and plays well at all player counts. I was skeptical of the two-player option, but you use an additional player turn order card and still have many of the same decisions to make. The turn order draft at the higher player counts is arguably one of the most interesting parts of the game.
If you go late in the turn order you are less likely to have your books burn, but you also won’t be able to score many bravery points. In addition, it’s possible there are more fire cubes in the bag when your turn comes up if other players let their books burn. Of course, those books will be worth more on your turn then, as the value goes up as the library becomes increasingly damaged.
Sometimes press your luck games tend to have a big turn or two from someone who goes all-out and that single turn determines the winner. Fire in the Library combats that with the tool deck, as players who take a “slow-but-steady” approach are rewarded with extra powers that can give them an advantage later. This balance really sets Fire in the Library apart from other press your luck options out there.
Fire in the Library is live on Kickstarter now and it is worth checking out. Press your luck games are all about creating tension around the gaming table, and it certainly delivers. Fire in the Library maintains a filler game length of under 30 minutes, but gives you plenty to think about each and every round.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review. This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.