Two of my great loves in life are books and board games. Unfortunately for my wife, both of these take up a considerable amount of shelf space and would be kindling if we ever had a fire in our house. Recently, I was approached to review a game called Fire in the Library by Weird Giraffe Games. I don’t normally take unsolicited requests, but I thought this would be a fun way to confront my fear … plus their mascot (the weird giraffe) is an okapi, one of my son’s favorite animals! Seemed like a match made in heaven!
Fire in the Library is a game for 1 to 6 librarians (or bibliophiles or just players), ages 8+. It takes approximately 15-30 minutes to play and can be yours for a pledge on Kickstarter of $19 (plus shipping).
Setup and Game Play
Separate the Library Cards into four sequential stacks based on the color of their book icon on the card. (Note: Each of these stacks form a Section of the Library.) Then, arrange the four Sections orthogonal to each other to form a beautiful picture of the Library. Give each player a Librarian Figure (meeple) and a reference card matching the color of their figure. Place all the Book Tokens (white, yellow, black and purple cubes) and seven of the Fire Tokens (red cubes) into the Library Bag. This will leave you ten Fire Tokens to set aside. If playing with fewer than three, remove the Library Cart from the deck of Tools cards. Then, shuffle this deck and deal each player two cards. Form a deck with the remaining cards and flip three face-up to form the Tool Market. Lastly, take the Turn Order deck and only keep the cards corresponding to the number of players, except in a two-player game where you will keep cards 1, 2, and 3. Shuffle these cards and deal them randomly to each player. You’re now ready to play!
The game will take place over a series of rounds, until one Section of the Library has been completely burnt. At the beginning of a round (except the first), going in reverse score order, players will select the turn order card they want to play this round. Then, going in newly established turn order, one at a time, a player will reach into the Library Bag and pull cubes one at a time, placing them on their Turn Order card. The goal is to save as many high valued books as possible, but a player may optionally choose to stop drawing cubes at any time. A player will be forced to stop if he draws two Fire Tokens or one Fire Token on a risky space. Depending on the stage he stops at (Scoring Knowledge or Spreading Fire), will determine what Tool cards he can play. Once each player has taken a turn, you must burn a Section of the Library that has lowest Burn Index Number. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Fire in the Library is a great little game of push-your-luck with a theme that I love! Now don’t get me wrong, the premise of the game is actually one of my greatest fears, but playing this game was a good way to confront my nightmare!
The first thing I liked about this game was the artwork. I really loved the way that the four library stacks joined together to form a serene and peaceful picture. It definitely looked like a library I would want to visit.
The second thing I liked was the action of drawing cubes from a bag. Similar to Clank, the bag can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s a very nerve-wracking feeling (in a good way) of deciding whether to reach back into the bag one more time to try and score more points or playing it safe and scoring what you have.
The best part of this game, though, is the Tool cards. The cards vary in both when they can be played and what powers they provide. For example, you could play an Amulet that lets you place a cube on every Turn Order card before people choose them (baiting people into taking a riskier card) or you could play a Lockbox and save a cube until the end of the game for double scoring (and also changing the proportion of cubes in the bag).
I’m normally not a fan of push-your-luck games, because I’m a “play it safe” kind of guy. However, Fire in the Library has just the right blend of theme, luck mitigation, and tension in it to make me reconsider this type of game. With the ability to play up to six players and the short length it takes to play, this is a fun little gem that I have played with several different groups of people, and they have all asked to immediately play it again. It even has a solo mode, which I am going to have to test out, because I can’t always convince my wife to play a game with me! I definitely recommend you back this game and see just how many books you can save before we have another Library of Alexandria on our hands.
A preview copy was provided to me by Weird Giraffe Games.
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Copyright 2018 Stuart Dunn