When it comes to board game immersion, the vast majority of themes out there are done with the express intent of transporting players to that environment – to live out the experience the game is trying to convey. Sometimes this is done to foster empathy and understanding about a topic or to illustrate a specific point. Most of the time, though, a game’s premise is there to provide mere window dressing to the series of decisions and mechanisms the game is having you play out, or it’s attempting to tell a story. This storytelling element, while immaterial to some, is paramount to the enjoyment of a game in others. To the latter, a theme isn’t just basic context for the game but a conduit into another world, another time, another place. Any game with a decently enacted theme can, in effect, become an excellent choice of escapism, on par with any book or movie.
Given that mindset, it should come as no surprise that the majority of the time, games that aim to immerse you in their setting generally put a positive spin on you as a player-character. Whether it’s a cooperative game about defending the town from monsters or a competitive game about exploring and colonizing space, part of a thematic game’s desire is to place you in a position where you or your character in the position where they feel they are the protagonist in the situation. When constructing skyscrapers or battling on the front lines, people generally like it when they feel that their actions are for a purpose, be it to get rich, get famous, or overcome the challenges before you. Even in games where someone portrays a villain, it’s usually done in such a way where they too have their own ambitions – they just may be in opposition to the rest of the people at the table.
Yes, when it comes to most games carrying an abundance of theme and flavor, its default purpose is to work towards something, to work for something.
On the other hand, there are those other occasions where a game decides to indulge its audience by going the complete opposite direction. Like with Fire Tower.
Unlike most other games based around out-of-control fires, with Fire Tower, the inaugural title by Runaway Parade Games, doesn’t ask you to valiantly put out raging wildfires or is forcing you to escape to safety. No, in this short and brutal exercise, your goal is to do the exact opposite.
Sometimes people want to watch the world burn, and in this game, that idea is pretty literal.
In this game of scorched earth and dire conditions, each player is manning a fire tower out in the wilderness when a massive forest fire has sprung up. Your objective is to protect your tower grounds at all costs, as evacuation is a last resort. The intent is to be the last fire tower standing, ostensibly to demonstrate you had the fortitude to outlast the other players attempting to do the same…but lording over the smoldering ashes of another player’s base is probably mixed in with those ambitions a little too.
Over a series of turns, players play cards that will dictate the fate of the shifting winds which spread fire tokens all around the board. Each card depicts the direction, frequency, and amount of fire that moves. As eliminating the fire entirely is all but impossible, your goal is to do whatever it takes to keep the ever-growing flames as far away from your territory as possible. In Fire Tower what starts off as a series of isolated embers quickly becomes a raging inferno, and it’ll take a mix of tactical maneuvering, careful card timing, and a bit of hot luck to be the last group standing.
Fire Tower inverts the normal behaviors of fire fighting games, and through that, takes players to a word where escapism serves a double meaning. Here you are avoiding both the established norms of similar themes and the very real problems of a presently-unstoppable firestorm coming straight at you. It’s quick, concise, and sometimes unpredictable, but in this game, survival of your tower is your one and only purpose. And hey, if you make it out unscathed, you can help the others rebuild later on.
Time is short so grab your shovel and water bucket! Things are about to heat up in a hurry.
From now until March 10th, you can check the contest by entering below. Just follow the entry form and proceed with the contest. The more you do, even if just one, you still have a better chance than not entering at all. Of course you’re welcome to do that too. But your odds of winning drop to zero. No pressure or anything.
The Fine Print: The Cardboard Republic, in conjunction with Runaway Parade Games is giving this game away strictly for entertainment purposes. This act is not a paid endorsement by Runaway Parade Games or any other entity. This contest is open to individuals only. Staff members of The Cardboard Republic and Runaway Parade Games are not eligible to participate. For winners outside of the Continental US, the publisher reserves the right to request they cover part or all of the shipping costs.