Fire Tower is a area control and hand management fire fighting board game that is currently live on Kickstarter. It was designed and is being published by Runaway Parade Games. They took the time to answer some questions for us about their campaign. Take a look below and check out the campaign! It is currently funded and a copy of the game is only $39 with free shipping in the United States.
Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc.
Fire Tower is for 2-4 players, ages 13+ (although this is only because of certification, since 7-year-olds have enjoyed this game). The game takes 15 – 30 minutes, and is a competitive forest fire fighting game.
What is the elevator pitch?
Prepare for a unique experience, a relentless battle for survival packed with shocking reversals and exhilarating victories. Fire Tower is a competitive fire fighting game for 2-4 players where each player mans a fire tower in the forest. Most games about firefighting have some cooperative aspect, with players working together to beat back the flames and stem the chaos. In Fire Tower your objectives are to protect your own tower and spread the flames towards your opponents. Can you be the last tower standing?
One of the main mechanics in the game is the wind, an unrelenting natural force that can be diverted but never stopped. At the start of each turn you must expand the fire in the direction of the current wind. If you find the flames encroaching on your tower, you’ll want to look to your action cards. In your five card hand you’ll find wind cards that allow you to harness the destructive force of the gale. Fire cards add a varying of patterns of fire to the board. Water cards beat back the flames. Firebreak cards that let you remove combustible vegetation to create barriers that slow the blaze.
Your opponents will come after you with explosions, burning snags, and flare ups, but you can fight back by calling in airdrops of water, deploying fire engines and smoke jumpers, or constructing fire breaks. Undermine your opponent’s defenses by replanting trees they’ve removed, or douse flames on your tower with your trusty bucket. The choices are numerous; it’s up you to make the right one.
Fire Tower is easy to learn, has minimal set-up time, and is intuitive to play, so that the action begins within minutes of opening the box. That said, this is not a simple game to master: multiple variables allow for a wide range of strategies, and no two games look alike. Fire Tower features a vibrant watercolor design by celebrated artist Kevin Ruelle. You can see Kevin’s fine art by visiting his website, ruellefineart.com.
When is your Kickstarter going live
The Kickstarter launched April 24, 2018, and funded in 2 hours.
Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete?
The game is finished, has been heavily play-tested, the artwork is complete, and the manufacturer is chosen. We have spent the past 3 years working on the game, tweaking it, paying close attention to every detail. Of course, we are open to new ideas, and we always welcome feedback from the game community, which has been incredibly warm and welcoming to us throughout this entire process.
Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game?
One of our favorite things about Fire Tower is that people who play our game can never think of another game that is quite like it. There are other games about fire fighting, but all the ones we know are cooperative games. There are other games that use patterns and spatial planning to strategize, but most of them are abstract games that don’t also include the more secretive elements that come with having a hand of action cards. What we love about Fire Tower is it has a retro look and feel, but the mechanics themselves are very unique.
You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?
This is the first game that we have taken this far into the production process, so it is definitely our baby! The two of us have always loved board games and board game design, and our conversations often start with, “What if you made a game about…” and go on for hours and hours.
One day we were going for a walk in the woods and we were talking about how coop games are fun because you are playing against the game, and competitive games are fun because you are playing against each other. What about a game where you are playing against both? We wanted to create an experience that ramps up over time, one where it becomes increasingly difficult to resist the building momentum of the game. A forest fire really stuck out to us as an exciting theme with a natural progression that would be both formidable and exhilarating.
What was your design process like?
You can always tell when one of us is really excited about a game, because they start building a prototype right away. After we went for that walk, we couldn’t stop talking about Fire Tower, and it was only a matter of days before we had a prototype built and were playtesting it. Of course, the game was very different from what it is now. The mechanics were different, the cards were different, and we were playing on this huge piece of white board that took up half our dining room. But the basic idea was the same, and after we played the game once, we couldn’t wait to play again. That’s how we knew we were onto something.
We’ve been lucky to have an amazing community of gamers and designers around us as we’ve gone through this process. We can’t thank them enough for all the insights they’ve offered. The two of us kept meticulous notes on all suggestions received, and have developed a framework to apply this information. We really tried to distill player’s impressions of the game into positive change, and learned the importance of finding common ground in what at first seems like contradicting feedback. Parsing out the trends in our data led to important developments that have been essential to Fire Tower.
What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?
This game takes about five minutes to learn and gets everyone laughing almost instantly. It is competitive, but at the same time lighthearted. One of our favorite parts about demoing Fire Tower at conventions has been watching the interactions between families as they battle for control of the forest. We love showing this game to kids and their parents, because it’s fun to listen to their hilarious banter as they go after each other. The game also works well for families because it presents core gameplay that young gamers can easily grasp, while at the same time offering unique mechanics and strategies that appeal to more seasoned gamers. This keeps every age bracket invested in the action, and also leaves room for kids to develop more nuanced strategies over time.
We wanted to create a game that was accessible to different types of learners, and tried to make it as intuitive as possible. We included cards that have both text and visual-based instructions, with a grid on each card that shows how it can be used. At one convention we met a father whose son had a hard time understanding text-based instructions and was pleasantly surprised that he found the visual directions of Fire Tower easy to digest. We’re overjoyed that Fire Tower is an inclusive experience that spans age and learning style. The social interactions the game encourages also compliment family gaming. Temporary alliances form and break as the wind changes, with players working together to send the fire away from themselves (and towards the other opponents).
Fire Tower forces players to try to predict how others will react to a varying range of situations, which leads to a lot of interesting interplay between personalities. The game is fiercely competitive, but at 15-30 minutes a game, it’s hard to be too sore of a loser (especially when you can just play again). In the meantime, kids are learning wildfire fighting terms and enhancing their spatial planning skills.
How long has this game been in development?
Just about three years. We are excited to finally get the game into the hands of gamers!
What obstacles did you encounter making this game?
Because Fire Tower is the first game we’ve taken to the edge of production, and our first KS project, we have had to educate ourselves on every aspect that goes into making a game. Ranging from the first design concept to the final product on your shelf. It’s hard to imagine the entire process while drawing your first prototype on a piece of poster board! We want to make sure that we manufacture a high quality product that is affordable for gamers. This means spending countless hours finding the perfect component. This included waking up in the middle of the night and weighing options of card size or the shade of our fire gems. We needed to consider sizing the game box to fit efficiently on pallets, and so much more. Overcoming these obstacles has helped us create a better product.
As co-designers it is hard to give up on some of your own ideas, even if you know they aren’t right. Both of us have had to learn to step back and ask, “Am I defending this idea because it truly enhances the game, or because I came up with it?”. Some of the hardest choices in the design process have been deciding when something has run its course and letting it go. Although some of these missteps end up fueling the next breakthrough! Creating Fire Tower has been one of the most challenging and rewarding logic puzzles we have ever encountered.
Designing a game brings out that same feeling of exhilaration you receive when planning out a complicated move for your next turn at game night. Designing Fire Tower has turned out to be one of the most addictive games we have ever played. Where all the limitations imposed on gameplay are up to your own discretion, and the possibilities for adjustments are endless.
What did your first prototype look like?
Our first prototype was this monolithic piece of poster board that had five or six versions of the game board. We used a lot of different things to represent the fire gems at first: plastic golden coins with a skull and crossbone printed on one side, pennies, torn pieces of paper, and sugar packets when we were in a bind once. Our first playtesters got to pick from a pile of plastic animals to represent their towers on the board. People often argued about who got to play as the jellyfish.
The first version of the firebreak tokens were ceramic tiles we found at a craft store. We had various friends with artistic skills who helped us draw the initial art on the cards. The deck was always changing! We used this setup until we’d locked down the core mechanics of the game. It was very exciting when we finally had some real artwork and were able to print a prototype through The Game Crafter. Still, sometimes we miss our giant poster board game.
Why did you get into making games?
Both of us have played around with game designing our whole lives. As kids we developed games that we played with our parents and close friends. At a certain point we were bouncing around so many ideas that we just had to see one all the way through. Designing a game was also an excuse to embed gaming even more into our lives. Meeting designers and playing their games has been one of our favorite parts of this whole process. Once we have Fire Tower produced and delivered we’re excited to turn our attention to other designs we’ve been working on!
What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?
Runaway Parade Games has a core mission to bring enjoyment to gamers through unique tabletop experiences. We’ve really enjoyed the process of showing Fire Tower to people at a range of extraordinary conventions including The Connecticut Festival of Indie Games, SnowCon, Pax Unplugged, Total Con, The Boston Festival of Indie Games, RetroWorld Expo, Too Many Games, Metatopia, and more. Games have been a lifelong passion for us. We’re excited to bring a new edition to a world that has brought us an extraordinary amount of joy. We’ve received a warm welcome from the tabletop world as a whole. Going forward we want to give back to the community, and share everything we’ve learned with people who are now embarking on the same journey we started three years ago.