The GREAT FIRE of LONDON 1666
is a boardgame from author and UKGamesExpo promoter Richard Denning.
The players are rich landowners and landlords with their own colour ID houses which are scattered around London’s regions and districts, each divided by roads.
Richard has done well not to copy the lava movement of Waddington’s Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs so that when the Fire starts in Pudding Lane it is represented by Red Cones but spreads via the playing of cards in the direction shown by arrows on the roads (also colour coded). Its flow is controlled by the players, which of course is the crux of the game - set fire onto others before they can set fire to you.
The game is a strategy race with players deciding which buildings to sacrifice in order to save others. It has a similar feel to Drünter und Drüber but it is more intense though equally frustrating.
Naturally the idea is to divert the fire away from your houses, but you also have a secondary objective as each player is also trying to preserve the region shown on their secret card.
The game is more family oriented than aimed at core board games players but it does have strategies and tactics that such players will enjoy exploring. The rules are more complex to understand than the regular Parker Bros rules sheets but once you do understand them the game moves along just fine.
Where families may find it different from Waddington’s type games is that instead of rolling a die and moving round the board players each have 4 Action Points per turn which they can spend doing various things, such as moving their own Landowner, moving the neutral Fire-Fighters or possibly putting out the fire in a region. With the right Token a player may even blow things up (always good for a laugh) by using a demolition charge (or multiple charges) to put out fires - and destroy buildings.
A small number of the games we have played have gone on a little longer than felt comfortable but that’s about the only criticism I can level at this game.
Richard has done a fine job of bringing King Charles II’s 17th Century London to the table and there is apprehension and fun as the fire spreads and the players get more and more frustrated at the number of things they need to do and the lack of Actions available to them.