The story so far
Let us continue from last week.
Justin, Alex, Ethan, Eric, Drew and I had failed in our first attempt to save people from a burning building. We had failed so quickly, in fact, that we had time for a second game. Would the fire spread as quickly? Would we keep blaming Eric? Would I ever take off that silly plastic fire hat?1
But first: more beer.
Dan: Steam (Anchor)
We had chosen the theme of brave beers. When Fritz Maytag bought the Anchor brewery in 1965 no one knew about craft beer (Maytag included), and no one cared. He acted very bravely to take this small, strange brewery in San Francisco and sell its beer to a population that had no initial desire to drink it.
Before drinking it, Ethan forlornly declared “It’s always old.”
I took a sip. It had a strange spiciness to the flavor. I liked it: it tasted a little strange, and might not fall under objective standards of “good”, but I enjoyed it.
Ethan then took a sip. “This is what this beer always tastes like,” he said, “and it shouldn’t.” Eric had made a clone of Anchor Steam before, with Tyler Smerlick and Scott Kroon as part of the “random trios” event the Niagara Association of Homebrewers puts on annually, which Ethan liked much better. The malts took on a characteristic of papery oxidation very quickly. He concluded:
As usual, I find it disappointing.
Drew (1): Antigoon (The Musketeers)
Drew chose this beer because he considered both Musketeers and standing up to goons brave.
“Damn, Special B!” Ethan said, referencing a malt. Alex countered, saying that he thought the flavors came from yeast, as Special B would darken the beer more.
In my notes for the night I wrote “super super good.” Very Belgian-y, to the point where I called it a quintessential example of what I think of with Belgian beers.
Alex realized it tasted like a tripel, but with less alcohol. I looked at the bottle: 6.8%! Antigoon: the anti-Box of *. Ethan thought the beer had too much hop characteristic for a tripel, but added that he tasted lots of Belgian must.
Justin (1): Bitter American (21st American)
Justin chose this as a brave beer because he wanted a session beer from before the craze. He remembered considering Bitter American a quality product and wanted to see if it stood up.
“You’re right,” Ethan said as he took a sip. This fit the bill of “session IPA” before anyone called it that. I thought it tasted mildly hoppy in a very endearing way. I liked it: maybe it didn’t have as much malt as the Farmer’s Tan, but it had drinkability in spades.
And Justin: had it lived up to his memories? Yes. He said it had what he wanted from a beer, declaring it “very potable.”
Justin (2): Ovila (Sierra Nevada)
If you know anything about Justin you likely know that he considers Belgian dubbels his jam. He bought Ovila because he thought Sierra Nevada brave for attempting a monastery style.
Inspired by Eric, I wrote “Take me down to peppercorn city!” Ethan took a sniff and said he didn’t think the yeast played a huge role in the beer. Alex agreed, saying it seemed like an American yeast style.
And yet, it seemed spicy to me. Alex said that, depending on the season, he might consider the Ovila a spiced winter ale. Justin agreed, saying that it definitely had a booziness to it.
Drew 2: Curmudgeon (Founders)
We drank this beer after the game had ended. Justin had actually already left when Drew pulled it out. Why was this brave? Its 9.8% abv, Drew replied!
My first sip exploded with sugar, both caramelized and brown. Ethan said it was a nice finisher, and we all agreed. We sat and talked, enjoying a good end to a good night.
But I get ahead of myself. We still had a game to play.
Unlike our first game, this time we shuffled the role cards and handed them out randomly.
- Dan: Generalist. Alex had said he didn’t feel as though the extra AP really let him do much in our first game, but I didn’t mind the role. We had been too overwhelmed by dice rolls to really explore its abilities.
- Justin: Hazmat Technician. Time would tell if our plan of “remove hazmats, switch roles” would work this game.
- Alex: Driver/Operator. We hadn’t played with this role last game. Alex could drive the truck around the house, spraying water into one of the quadrants of the house as long as it had no firefighters in it.
- Ethan: Paramedic. In charge of healing victims to make them easier to rescue.
- Eric: Imaging Technician. He would examine the victim tokens to ensure their validity.
- Drew: CAFS. The double barreled powerhouse of the group.
By now we had begun abbreviating “roll for fire” as “rollferfire”, which sounded kind of like “Rutherford.” Roll for fire, rollferfire, rofuhfir, Rutherford.
Alex jumped to action, aiming the fire engine’s deck gun inside the house and dousing three squares of fire. I didn’t hear it, but apparently Justin made a Major League 2 reference that Eric quite enjoyed. We had the fire under control. Things looked promising.
Then Eric rolled.
A terrible sense of trepidation
Nothing happened! Had the curse lifted?
Drew stepped in and CAFS’d the everloving crap out of the fire. I do so love that role: you can use the extra 3 extinguish AP to get some serious work done on your turn. Unfortunately, as we rolled for fire smoke spread to his square, later turning to fire. He died, respawning in the ambulance.
Man, this is so much better already.
Eric, why did you say that? Why?
He jinxed it.
On his turn he rolled fire onto a hazmat. It exploded, killing Justin and triggering an explosion that spread to a second hazmat.
As he later remarked, Eric had shown he has no future as a firefighter but, should he want it, could become a fairly promising arsonist.
By this point everyone understood the game and so we worked very well together. Everyone suggested tactics, making it a perfect co-op experience. I had worried about being an “alpha player”, telling everyone what to do instead of letting them play, and while that happened a bit at the start it fell — I hope! — under the category of teaching the game. More than once I would suggest something only to have another person show me a better way, which I loved.
The team comes together
Ethan healed a victim and escorted them to safety. Drew continued to Drew it up, putting out fires left and right. Alex used the fire truck to great effect: in the past I’ve used the deck gun for a turn or two and then changed roles, but he drove around the house ensuring we contained the fire.
Since all the hazmats had — ahem — exploded Justin changed roles, becoming the Fire Captain: he had two “command” AP each turn to move other players. He used them to get Eric out of the building, rescuing someone in the process.
The fire once again spread to Drew, but he had saved a lot of his AP and charged back in on his next turn. Alex, ever the hero, extinguished four squares in a single shot. Justin rescued two animals, which count the same as people for victory purposes.
Man, we’re not hitting any hotspots, it’s great.
Why would you say that, Eric?
Don’t worry, nothing happened
Justin had quickly adjusted to his new role: he moved Ethan, put out some fire and then moved the ambulance — which any player can radio for 2 AP — to set up the other players for easier rescues.
Smoke had appeared under me since my last turn, made more worrisome because I had a victim with me. It turned to fire, killing us both, but that was a temporary setback: on my turn I rescued another person. Ethan then rescued a sixth and moved the ambulance. One more rescue and we would win. On Eric’s turn he moved the victim out. All that we needed was for Drew to move the ambulance on his turn. Would Eric’s roll cement his hamartia?
No fire! Drew moved the ambulance, rescuing our final person. He used the rest of his AP to put out fire because hey, go to hell, fire.
Ethan said that he felt satisfied by the shared victory, but remained a little unfulfilled because he couldn’t talk trash to anyone. Having learned the great art of stealing peoples’ cities and farms in Carcassonne from him2 I understood, but my bleeding heart enjoys a little snuggle party now and then.
If — when! — we do this again we’ll most likely play something cutthroat. For now, however, let us revel in our shared victory, sharing beer and good memories.
Diplomacy comes later.