There’s a fire in the library! It’s up to a few brave individuals to run into the burning building and save as many books as possible before it’s too late. Grab whatever tools you can, summon up your courage, and help preserve as much knowledge as possible in Weird Giraffe Games’ push-your-luck game, Fire in the Library, currently wrapping up its last days on Kickstarter.
Shortly after talking with Carla from Weird Giraffe on Engage! I was able to secure a prototype of Fire in the Library to burn through before the Kickstarter ended. I have to admit I am surprised how light the game actually is. My entire first play, from reading the rulebook to putting the game back in the box, only took around 30 minutes and my 8-year-old was able to enjoy the game with me with absolutely no trouble at all.
Fire in the Library is all about pushing your luck and doing your best to both mitigate your luck and reduce your opponents’ chances of success. Each turn you’ll be drawing colored cubes from a bag that represent books from 4 different sections of the library, as well as an ever-increasing pool of fire tokens. The library itself is made up of 4 different stacks of cards, each representing a different section of the library and its various states of conflagration.
Each turn player order will change based on who has the most points. Turn order determines how many “safe” and “risky” spaces a player has to work with while trying to rescue books. Players will draw tokens from the bag during their turn and place them on their Player Card. Purple, white, black, and yellow cubes represent books from each of the 4 sections of the library while red cubes represent fire. Cubes are placed in spaces on the Player Card in the order they’re drawn. If a Fire Token is placed on a “safe” space the player can keep drawing tokens unless a 2nd Fire Token is drawn, burning a section of the library. If a Fire Token is placed on a “risky” space that automatically triggers a burn event. Players can draw up to as many spaces are available on their card unless they trigger a burn. They can also stop at any time.
f a player triggers a burn they lose everything they’ve collected on their current turn and a section of the library burns, removing a card from that section’s stack. Sometimes this may even cause more Fire Tokens to be placed in the bag. It should be noted that the game ends when 1 section of the library completely burns down.
Scores are calculated by comparing the color cubes collected on a turn to the current Library Section Cards. Each cube scores the points its corresponding Section Card lists. As each section burns down books of that color are worth more and more. If players pushed their luck into “risky” spaces on their card they also earn bonus Bravery points listed on the last space they placed a cube. Tools are earned if the last space placed had a Tool Icon instead of bonus points.
Tools are essential in Fire in the Library as they allow players to manipulate the game in ways that either increases their chance of success or decrease other players’ chances of success. Each player starts with 2 Tools and can earn more by either trigger Burns or by playing it safe while rescuing books. Tools can have effects like protection players against Fire Tokens, stealing books from other players, and changing all the spaces on a player’s current Player Card to “safe” spaces.
The last thing to note about Fire in the Library is the game’s built-in timer. At the end of each round, after, each player has taken a turn, a section of the library burns further. As stated before, if one section completely burns out the game ends.
I’ve had a ton of fun with Fire in the Library so far, and I look forward to getting a final copy of the game with all the stretch goals unlocked. It’s easy-to-learn, light, quick, and full of tension. While there is certainly a luck element involved, the game doesn’t get dragged down by it thanks to Tools and the choices available to players on their turn. At only $19 on Kickstarter, where the project has already funded and started unlocking stretch goals, Fire in the Library is a no-brainer. There’s no reason this game shouldn’t be in your collection.
A prototype of Fire in the Library was provided free for preview by Weird Giraffe Games