Review – Fire in the Library

Fire in the Library

Your eyes burn, and your lungs scream for air as you rush through the burning stacks searching for any books that have thus far escaped the crimson flames. In your burned and blistered hands, you carry two such volumes that you hope to save from the inferno raging around you. The heat is almost indescribable as your search takes you further into this section of the library. Moments later you catch a glimpse of an unburned volume. Without a second thought, you rush forward intent on saving whatever tome this might be.

Without warning a flaming beam from the ceiling above crashes into stacks, crushing your chances of saving another rare tome. From above you hear the creaking and groaning of other beams as the flames ravage and consume. It takes just a brief second for you to decide to get out of the flames before the two books you already have are engulfed in flames as well.

Overview

In Fire in the Library, you play a flame beset librarian on a mission: keep as many books from burning as you can. This is a press your luck style game with a variable turn order that pits you against not just the fire but also other librarians, or an A.I. if you are playing solo. The player who saves the most books before the library burns down is the winner.

PLEASE NOTE: I have only played the solo version of Fire in the Library on TableTop Simulator at the time of this post.

Positives

  • The game is simple and straightforward once you understand how the game and A.I. work.
  • The game is quick. About 20 minutes on average.
  • There is a good amount of rising tension.
  • In the solo variant, there is no downtime.
  • Up to six people can play, making it a very good candidate for a family game night, or a quick starter game for your gaming group.

Negatives

  • A solo player reference card would be helpful.
  • It might be more helpful if the complete rules for the solo variant of the game were in the solo variant section of the rulebook.

My Analysis

Fire in the Libary uses the push your luck mechanic quite well. As players draw tokens from the Library Bag the chances of drawing a Fire Token increases. Additionally, each token drawn takes the player closer to the risky spaces of the turn cards, where you only need to draw one fire token to cause the flames to spread. Add in the fact that every time a section of the library burns there is the potential for more fire tokens being added to the bag and you have the board game equivalent of an out of control fire that is getting more dangerous every turn.

Gameplay

Special Note: This review pertains to the solo version of the game only.

When playing Fire in the Library’s solo variant, you alternate between taking your turn and resolving the solo A.I.’s turn.  During your turn, you select which of the remaining turn order card you will use, then draw tokens from the Library bag. Providing you don’t cause the fire to spread you match the Book Tokens you have saved with the corresponding Library Card. You score points equal to the value of each book saved. If, however, you cause the fire to spread, the A.I. scores points for the highest value book you have collected this turn. If there are no Turn Order Cards left the round ends, you draw a Tool Card and the next round begins.

After you have completed your turn, without causing the fire to spread, the A.I. take its turn. This is done by drawing the top card of the tool deck and burning the sections of the library that match the banners on the card. The A.I. scores points by matching the symbols on the tool card with the values of the matching Library Cards.

This cycle repeats until the last card in a section of the library is discarded.

Turn Order Cards: 

At the beginning of each of your turns, you select one of the remaining Turn Order Cards to play. Each card has its own difficulty, represented by the number of safe and risky spaces it contains. The more risk there is on a card, the greater the bravery points you can get for drawing more tokens. Provided you don’t get burned.

Library Cards: 

These cards represent the four wings of the library. During the game, these cards are discarded when the fire spreads. Discarding a card from a section of the library increases the value of the books from that section. However, it also has the potential to add more fire tokens to the bag.

Tool Cards: 

Tool Cards are used to give you an edge, raise your score, prevent the fire from spreading, and a few add a slight “take that” element to the game. These cards can literally mean the difference between scoring points and watching the library burn to the ground. You gain tools by not taking risks or by causing the fire to spread. You also get one tool at the end of each round by discarding one of your tools and drawing the tool on the top of the Tool Deck.

My verdict

Fire in the Library is a fun time killer that I can’t wait to pick up. The turns are short and engaging, and the A.I. is simple once you get the hang of it. If you are looking for a great solo gaming experience, with short play time, simple rules, at a very reasonable price, and a large amount of fun I don’t think you can go wrong with Fire in the Library.

 

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