Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Review of The Little Firefighters by Advance Games / FoxMind

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Review of The Little Firefighters by Advance Games / FoxMind
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Title: The Little Firefighters
Designed by: Inon Kohn
Publisher: Advance Games / FoxMind
Year Published: 2013
MSRP: $20
1-6p | 15 min | 4+

It's been a while since I played games that were geared toward very little kids, but now that my youngest is a bit over 2.5 years old he's starting to get interested in games.  He watches me play games with his older brothers and my game group occasionally (he even had his own pieces out on the board for Scythe and helped out in a game of Zombiecide by rolling dice and moving his character, Clovis, around the board).  So now he's asking to play his own games.  He really loves the silly action of games like Hungry, Hungry Hippos and Kerplunk, but doesn't quite get the idea of trying to win yet.  So that's where cooperative games come in.  He has a few Haba games, like Hanna Honeybee and First Orchard, but when The Little Firefighters came from Advance Games he was really excited to try the game because of the theme alone.

The Little Firefighters is a cooperative game where each turn someone draws a tile randomly.  The tiles have either 1, 2, or 3 items related to firefighting on them, or between 1 and 5 fire icons.  Depending on the icons on the tile, either firefighter 1, 2, or 3, or the fire will advance along a track toward a house.  As firefighters reach the house they'll drive back the fire when their number comes up.  If the firefighters push the fire all the way back to its starting space before the fire reaches the house, you win!  If the fire reaches the house, you lose. 

Blooms are the game's highlights and features.  Elements that are exceptional.
  • Adorable theme that young kids love.
  • Great, clunky components perfect for little hands.
  • Bright and colorful.
  • Super simple rules that even the youngest players can understand.
Buds are interesting parts of the game I would like to explore more. 
  • There seems to be a pretty good balance between winning and losing.
  • He keeps wanting to play again and again!
  • Supports solo play, so he can play on his own when he's a bit older.
Thorns are a game's shortcomings and any issues I feel are noteworthy.
  • There are no choices to be made, so it's not very engaging for parents or older kids.
Final Thoughts:
This game reminds me a lot of Peaceable Kingdom's Race for the Treasure, where you also simply draw a tile and do what it tells you to each turn, but The Little Firefighters is even simpler.  There really aren't any choices at all in The Little Firefighters, just move the piece the tile tells you to.  In Race for the Treasure at least you have to decide on the orientation of some of the path tiles.  But that's ok for the most part.  The Little Firefighters is really geared toward the youngest players and it teaches taking turns, incremental movement, and counting up to 5.  That's enough to keep my 2.5 year old engaged for the 10-15 minutes a game takes.

That said, I wish there was a way to play with a slightly more advanced variant that did introduce some choice.  The game is so simple that I'm not sure how to add any meaningful choices in the game, but as it is, the game will likely only keep his interest for a couple of years.  Maybe that's enough, but I feel like it won't be long before he outgrows the game.  It's simple enough that he should be able to play on his own in a year or two though, so maybe it'll keep him occupied when I have bigger games out.

Overall though, I like the game for its simplicity and my son loves the firefighting theme.  It's a game that he pulls out on his own asking me, "you play my game?"  He even gets it all set up on his own.  We are missing one of the firefighters already though, since he sometimes plays with the pieces on their own (I'm sure it's under the couch or buried in his blocks).  In the meantime we've been using a stormtrooper as a stand-in.  Maybe that's why we've lost the last couple of games...

For $20 this is well worth it as a gift for a young gamer.  The quality of the components is great, the theme and artwork are attractive, and it's fun for little ones.  It's not a game for everyone, but it knows its audience and does a great job for them.  I'd rank it right up there with the high quality games for youngsters from Haba or Peaceable Kingdom, though many of those games also cover the same or similar mechanics and concepts for teaching kids gaming basics.  If your kid will like the firefighter theme, get this game.  If a Haba or Peaceable Kingdom game has a more attractive theme for your kiddo, get one of those.  They're all excellent and will be cherished by a budding gamer.

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Rating:
Bud!  This game definitely has some
great moments.  It's good for several plays
and should appeal to most gamers, especially
if you enjoy other games like this.


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GJJ Games Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some were provided by a publisher or designer for my honest feedback and evaluation.  I make every attempt to be both honest and constructively critical in my reviews, and they are all my opinions.  There are four types of reviews on GJJ Games: Full Reviews feature critical reviews based on a rubric and games receive a rating from 0 to 100.  Quick Reviews and Kickstarter Previews are either shorter reviews of published games or detailed preview reviews of crowdfunding games that will receive a rating from 0 to 10 based on my impressions of the game.  Buds, Blooms,and Thorns reviews are shorter reviews of either published or upcoming games that highlight three aspects of a game: Buds are parts of a game I look forward to exploring more, Blooms are outstanding features of a game, and Thorns are shortcomings of a game.  Each BBT review game will receive an overall rating of Thorn, Bud, or Bloom.

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