A group of seven cats have been training very hard to master their profession – shooting the best fireworks in the world. Although rookies, they hope to one day become as expert as their master. After so many years, the day is coming...
Every turn, players use the Fireworks Barrel to launch the Fireworks Die into the Starry Sky Box. If the knocked Fireworks Tiles land face up, the player takes a number of them according to the die, placing them on their Player Board to score points. Whoever scores the most points wins.
Designer: Aza Chen
Artist: Aza Chen
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
Category: Dexterity, Tile-Laying
Price: $25.00 Amazon.com
Fireworks is the latest game from designer Aza Chen. With an amazing visual appeal and a clever use of dexterity, this is a great game for kids and adults alike.
I always appreciate when a game manages to marry a theme to a mechanism. It is tricky to do this—especially with dexterity games—but Fireworks from Renegade Game Studios pulls it off exceptionally well. In a perfect abstraction of launching an actual firework, players hurl a chunky wooden die into a bed of face-down tiles, hoping to flip some over from the impact. It’s cool enough that it requires an action shot:
The goal of Fireworks is to get the most points. This is done through skillfully flipping tiles as described above, and then claiming and arranging them on individual player boards. Participants try to create the most beautiful light show by completing different patterns and formations with their tiles.
To begin, all the fireworks tiles are placed face-down in the box. The game’s insert is concave, so the tiles should tend to group toward the middle. The graphic design is such that the tile backs and insert create an attractive “starry sky” look, as shown below.
On a player’s turn, she will “launch” the die into the box using the included cardboard tube, hopefully revealing a number of tiles. The die will usually show a result of one, two, or three, and the current player may then take that many face-up tiles. If she revealed more tiles than the die allows her to take, any remaining, revealed tiles will be left face-up until someone claims them on a later turn. If a player rolls the fireworks symbol, she may immediately take one available tile and go again.
To use my GIF above as an example, the die landed showing two pips. Thus, from the five tiles that were turned face-up, the current player may select two to take and add to her board. The others will remain face-up, so someone can claim them on a future turn.
If a player’s launch does not reveal any tiles…
she gets to try a second time. However, before she does, she must draw a card. Cards instruct players on how their second launch must be performed, and it may involve one or more other players. The illustrations show some physical dexterity challenge, which the current player (and perhaps others) must perform for the second launch. The graphics are well-rendered and clear, so there shouldn’t be any questions about what they mean. Here is a sampling of a few challenge cards:
If multiple players are involved in a successful launch, they each get to take tiles, in turn order. Thus, there is no reason to “sabotage” someone’s second launch, as everyone involved stands to benefit from it. (On the whole, Fireworks is a very friendly game.)
While most of the tiles show fireworks, a number of them instead show special action icons. These result in one of the following:
- All players remove a tile from their display
- All players pass a tile to their neighbor
- The current player takes an extra turn
Additionally, there are special fireworks tiles that score based on set collection; the more of these tiles a player has, the more points she scores.
As players accumulate tiles, they can arrange and rearrange them to form a dazzling display. Different formations score different amounts of points, so the game also includes a bit of an optimization puzzle: what is the best way to position one’s tiles to maximize points?
The endgame triggers when someone fills the entire board. The current round is completed, such that all players get an equal number of turns, and then scores are calculated. The player with the most points is the winner.
I need to discuss the visuals in this game. In short, they are amazing. It is entirely satisfying to slam the die into the pitch-black box, revealing a sudden explosion of color. I really can’t overstate how thematic this feels. Moreover, by the end of the game, each player’s board will provide a dynamic visual. It’s the kind of game where, whether players win or lose, they will be content simply admiring what they’ve created.
The game itself is very fun, and its clever use of dexterity makes it stand out among other games in the genre. I think Fireworks will go over well with both kids and adults, and I highly recommend trying it out.
A review copy was provided by Renegade Game Studios.
+ Amazing thematic integration
+ Very fun game-action
+ Beautiful visuals
+ Great for game groups with mixed age/experience
+ Functional, attractive production quality
- It can be difficult to distinguish between the Kaleidoscope and Saturn tile patterns