If you haven’t heard of this game, then definitely worth checking out – this is one I am spending time adding to the review collection because I believe it is under-rated. Also, here are some different strategies to try for those who think they have it sussed…..
Burn your own; No, don’t do this in the base game. If you are playing the variant where no-one knows every players colours then it can be an interesting way to handle it – burn your own buildings at first and throw people off the scent. It might make all the difference in that late game last turn by another player!
Fire Fighters Protect; They don’t just put out the fire but they actively put off the fire. If the fire has to choose between a location without a fire fighter and one with, it will pick without. This is a good way to save key territories, block other players or just stop a fire getting further towards a part of the map where you have a lot of houses. Use them carefully though, because if your opponent throws them on a fire, you might have to go put it out!
Fake Protect; You protect the Royal Exchange because you care about the Temple. More double bluffing but these are the kind of moves that can through your opponents. I spent a large part of a game making it obvious what I was defending – but imagine if all that was just to waste my opponents efforts…. dastardly
West/North; These are the dominant cards in the wind deck, so be sure to use the other cards sparingly and when they can be helpful. All players can almost always send it these ways, but it’s the versatility of doubling back or hitting key sites that will make the different to the points at the end.
4/6; The 2 point sites are hard to reach, but in a normal game you can burn through all the 4 and 6 point locations. Go for them from the start. If your’s survives it will be a big point swing, but make sure no-one else has theirs. You also have the best chance to make the difference with a 2 point card if the fire is really blazing.
Hero; Putting out the most fires makes you the hero of London. Like the longest road in Catan it is significantly easier to win with this than without it. Not impossible, but probably only in a game where the fire is severely contained by the players or the distribution of houses left is poorly managed by others.
Follow the fighters; Simply put without these you can’t score points for putting out the fires. So it’s no good leaving your meeple and moving a fire fighter four spaces. Meet them in the middle and head to areas with a couple of fighters. One fighter alone can be easily tied up.
Impossible Fires; Speaking of tied up fire fighters, this can be an essential blocking strategy. When a large area goes up in flames, moving the fire fighters in will take a player a long time to unwind, especially if the other fighters are far away or similarly tied up!
Daisy Chains; The fire flows from pudding lane but it quickly becomes thin and fragile. Cutting the daisy chain is a far better way to stop the fire than simply attacking the head. It doesn’t stop the fire starting up with “intensify” cards but it significantly reduces the risks faced. Similarly though, this is why you intensify into the areas that have been made vulnerable or already broken away from the main fire.
Double Move; The fire can be moved twice if you have the relevant token – this can be a quick means to hit a 4 or 6 building. Get these early and save them for big end game surprises!
Double Back; If you kept those east/south cards, then the time to use them is right at the end or just when the connection to pudding lane got broken. Doubling back to re-establish the link, or to go back after a blocked site is far more effective than early game uses to draw the fire a new direction.
Run Away; A crazy strategy that I saw played against me. Some people are happy to watch the world burn and they just run your firefighters away to leave you with no way to control the blaze or protect your sites. Most of London will burn, but their corner somehow sneaks through….
I know nothing; The manuel strategy from Fawlty Towers, don’t look at your colour card and just keep the game equal. That is until the final round when you look for the marginal impact. No-one can target you if even you can’t!