With beautiful artwork of Beth Soble and theme of the Alexandria Library, Fire in the Library is all about being the most successful librarian saving the books and the knowledge they contain. Fire in the Library is a push your luck game for one to six players it plays in 15 to 30 minutes and his rated for ages 8 and up.
- 26 library cards
- 39 tool cards
- 6 turn on or cards
- 8 reference cards
- 22 book tokens
- 4 purple
- 6 yellow
- 5 black and
- 7 white
- 17 fire tokens read one library bag 1 scoring track 6 librarian figures
To set up again you take out the four quadrants of the library representing the different sections. The cards stack into piles with the most damage on the bottom. That places the highest value card on the bottom and lowest volume on top.
Players add 22 book tokens and 7 of the fire tokens to the library bag. The remaining 10 fire tokens are added as sections of the library burn or books are burned. To set up the tool cards players reveal a field of three cards. There is a quick setup guide on the back of the rule book to streamline game setup, which we found very helpful.
Each round consists of 3 steps. The first step is selecting turn order. The beginning round of the game, the turn order cards are randomly passed out. In future rounds, the player with the lowest score has the first choice of turn order. From there turn order selection follows based on score, lowest to highest. Turn order cards each have different number of safe spaces, bravery points, and risky spots.
Step two of the round has players saving books. The first portion of this step they draw tokens from the bag. The player draws one token at a time and places it on their turn order card. If the token is a book they may continue saving books. However, if they draw a fire token and placed on a risky spot on the turn order card or it is the second fire token drawn by that player the books they save burn. At the end of their turn one of two things happens. The players scores based on knowledge saved, or the fire spreads depending on the tokens they draw.
At step 3 the round ends. At this point, one section of the library burns. Players discard the card with the lowest burn index. The turn order cards are collected, and play begins at the top of the round again.
On their turn if a player pulls too many fire tokens or puts one on a risky spot it triggers fire spreading. This utilizes an interesting mechanic in the game to represent the library burning. The books they have collected “burn”, which means the player must remove the top card from each section of the library that matches the book’s color. Each quadrant of the library has a different color book on it representing the section of the library. A fire token is also added to the library bag for every card with a fire icon.
Ending the Game
The game ends immediately if a section of the library reveals a value of 10. This represents the section of the library collapsing. The player with the highest score wins.
Beyond the base rules for the game there are six variants that players can enjoy. There is iconography on the cards that comes into play with the robot variants.
- Solo Variants: Solo Robot Variant and Lone Librarian Variant
- Multiplayer with Robot Variant: This is usable with less than six players
- No Tool Variant: Tool cards are eliminated and is perfect for younger players.
- Wild Fire Variant: This variant speed up the game with two sections of the library burning each round.
- Inferno Variant: The Wild Fire Variant plus turn order cards dealt randomly.
Family Game Assessment
Fire in the library has an engaging theme for those that are bookish. While the theme might not be for everyone the push your luck element holds the attention of all players. The anticipation builds to see how each librarian does saving the books and if they catch too many embers. There are multiple choices for players to make each round and the tension escalates as more sections of the library burn at each round. The game also accelerates as the ratio of fire tokens increases in the draw bag. There are many nuances to the game, and the rules took us a few turns to fully grasp. Despite that, once the rules are understood, Fire in the Library is relatively streamline.
While recommended for age eight and up, with the level of complexity in the game it does not readily age down well. The No Tool Variant is an option for players on the younger side or less experienced players. As a push your luck game the rules are simple enough that it would be a good introduction for all ages within the suggested age range to that gaming mechanic.
When I first saw the Kickstarter of Fire In The Library, I was intrigued. The theme, art, and gameplay resonated with me before I even sat down with a physical copy. I felt compelled to back this game and am thrilled it is in my collection. For someone who loves books and libraries it strikes a unique cord.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!
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