Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Designed by Tony Miller and John Prather, and published by Weird Giraffe Games, Fire in the Library is an easy to play push-your-luck game. It has just funded successfully on Kickstarter and is scheduled for delivery in January 2019. The game shown here is the prototype.
The premise is quite literally what it says on the box: there’s a fire in a library and players are brave librarians trying to save books from burning and so earn themselves victory points.
The core mechanic involves drawing cubes from a 'fiery' library bag. Most of the cubes you draw represent books that will earn you points but red cubes represent fire... On a player’s turn they must draw at least one cube from the bag. They score for book cubes they draw and they can continue to draw up to the maximum number of books they can carry. They may be pushing their luck, however, as fire cubes drawn can cause the books they’ve potentially saved to catch fire. That can mean a zero score that turn for the player and will likely also result in the fire ‘spreading’ (adding more fire cubes into the bag and so increasing the odds of fire cubes being drawn).
The library itself is represented by four stacks of cards, corresponding to the four colours of book cubes. The top card of each stack shows how many points a book of that colour is worth. When every player has taken their turn, the lowest value card is removed from the library stacks and a new round begins. As sections of the library burn down (cards are removed), the books of that colour increase in value but the game ends immediately any one section of the library burns down completely.
There is a little more to this game than just blindly pushing your luck. Turn order cards involve a balance of risk and reward, so that the player who has the last turn has fewer high risk spots to compensate them for the likelihood that the bag will have a higher proportion of red cubes in it by the time their turn comes along. Players can also make use of tool cards which each have a special effect. These vary from cards that boost scoring to those that offer some limited protection against fire but their skilful manipulation can quite literally be a game changer.
All in all, Fire in the Library is a light and enjoyable filler for 1–6 players that should take no more than 20–30 minutes to play. Though the Kickstarter has ended, if you check out the Kickstarter page you may still be able to add a late pledge.