Playing with Fire review — Are you willing to risk it all to win?

Playing with Fire is a fast-paced and simple dice and card game that centers around a fun risk/reward system, ensuring that the boldest players will win while those afraid to risk it all will quickly fall by the wayside.

The small box contains only a deck of 52 cards, six dice, and a confusing instruction manual. I had to actually look online to determine what a “blaze” was, as it was referred to multiple times in the manual but never explained. To my frustration, I found that the website also had the exact same instruction manual online, complete with no explanation of the term “blaze.” Thankfully, the FAQ page eventually explained what a blaze is – which means scoring on all six dice during a turn – which is fantastic as the entire game focuses on players attempting to get a blaze, and I could not begin play otherwise.

After figuring out what achieving a blaze meant, I was ready to roll, literally. Gameplay is simple; on each turn you flip over a card from the deck, revealing instructions for that turn. Cards often list bonuses if you are able to complete a blaze during your turn, but you lose the bonus if at any point you do not land a scoring roll before reaching blaze status. Other cards switch up the game in various ways, such as the second degree burn card, which forces players to score two blazes in a row; the jack squat card, which automatically ends your turn; the take three card, which allows the player to roll all dice three times and combine the points scored on each roll; the fireproof card, which allows you to continue rolling as long as you score – and ultimately can break the game if you end up on a scoring streak; and the go-to blazes card, which forces you to score a blaze and does not allow you the option to stop before doing so.

How play works is for each roll, you must score on at least one dice, or you gain no points for that turn. The instruction manual lists a variety of ways you can score, but you can just as easily roll nothing of consequence. For example, one dice landing on either 5 or 1 is worth points, but if that dice lands on 2, 3, 4, or 6, then it scores nothing. Landing three dice of the same value, such as three twos, is worth points as well, along with landing multiple dice in numerical order. Below you can check out the full range of scoring options.

This is where the risk/reward system comes in. Say you flipped over your card, and it offers 750 points if you score a blaze. On your first roll of all six dice, three of your dice land on 5, earning you 500 points. You set those dice aside and now have a choice to make. Do you roll the remaining three dice again to obtain more points but risk losing the 500 already accumulated, or do you play it safe and end your turn to keep the points already earned? This continues until you either roll with no dice earning any points, you stop and keep the points already earned, or reach a blaze and obtain the bonus along with any points earned while attempting to reach the blaze.

Play continues with each player flipping over a card and rolling the dice until one player reaches 10,000 points, or whatever point cap the players agree upon. The game is relatively fun to play, with matches only lasting 10 to 15 minutes, but I found that the special cards add little to the proceedings, with the fireproof card actively sucking the fun from the game. The fireproof card allows the player to roll the six dice until they no longer score any points. Both times this card was found the player who obtained it rolled nonstop for five minutes, scoring each round, and ultimately ending the game. I’m sure there are a few players who will have bad luck and roll no-pointers, but that wasn’t the case during any of my playthroughs.

Despite my gripes with the special cards, I thoroughly enjoyed the base game and gave in to the risk/reward strategy element. True to its name, Playing With Fire is a constant battle between players, with players becoming bolder as the stakes rise and the scores inch closer to a win.

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Richard Allen is a freelance writer and contributing editor for various publications. While he enjoys modern gaming, he is a retro gamer at heart, having been raised on a steady diet of Contra, Mario, and Dragon's Lair.  Chat with him via @thricetheartist on Twitter.



Playing With Fire

Review Guidelines

Playing With Fire is a fast-paced card and dice game featuring a fun risk-reward system that makes for a great party game. Easy to transport, easy to learn, and quick to play, Playing With Fire, despite a few issues with its special cards, is still well worth picking up and launching a competition against your friends and family to see who is the boldest.

Richard Allen

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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