Review: Bonfire

In Bonfire voer je opdrachten uit om de hoeders van het licht ervan te overtuigen om de vreugdevuren opnieuw aan te steken.


Pegasus Spiele

70 – 100



Game explanation

This game by Stefan Feld, Bonfire, is set in a fantasy world. bonfires are sources of light, warmth and energy, created by the guardians of light. These bonfires were a bright spot on the dark planet. 'Were', indeed, for the guardians of the light made the bonfires extinguish. The inhabitants of the cities took the bonfires for granted. The guardians of light were disappointed by this and decided to extinguish the bonfires. The inhabitants had to leave the cities because of this. But the gnomes also need the light and warmth of the bonfires! They will have to convince the guardians of light to light the bonfires again. For this they will have to carry out tasks in order to regain the trust of the guardians.

In Bonfire, you play as one of the gnomes who has come to the city to convince the guardians of the light to light the bonfires again. The player who best manages to gain the trust of the guardians and relight the most bonfires wins the game!

Bonfire takes place in several rounds. Players can take turns performing different actions. The number of rounds is not the same in every game. The game continues until a certain number of novices have reached the high council. In a two-player game, this is 7 novices. 


When it is your turn you can perform 3 different actions. We explain the actions below.

1. Placing a fate tile and taking action tokens

You start the game with 5 action token. If you have only one action token in your supply, you may place a fate tile from your own tile supply. This should always be the top or bottom tile. You place the tile on your player board, adjacent to another fate tile. This can be done either horizontally or vertically. As soon as you place a fate tile, you receive the action tokens shown on it. Do you place a blue tile adjacent to another blue tile? Then you get 2 blue action tokens. In addition, you can get the bonuses shown on your player board by placing a fate tile over it. There are 7 different types of action tokens.

2. Executing an action by paying an action token 

If you have action tokens in your possession, you can play them to perform different actions:

Building a road for the guardians of light
When playing one or more green tokens, you may build a maximum of one road. You need these roads so that the guardians of the light can walk on them towards your bonfire. Whenever a guardian walks on these roads, you receive goods. There are also several ways to score points for the roads. 

Sail your ship towards an island
By playing a blue token you may travel along 1, 2 or an unlimited number of routes with your ship. You can take your ship to two different types of island. An island where you can receive a task or an island where you can collect extra guardians. If you are on an island, you may immediately receive a taskby playing the red token.

Offer 2 goods and receive an task from the island
When you are on an island with your ship, you can immediately receive a task. You hand in a red token to do this. In addition, you must make 2 offerings to the island. You pay 2 goods: the item depicted on the island and one of the sacrificial offerings from your action supply. After making your offering, you may place it on an empty bonfire space on your game board. You can also collect a guardian from various islands. To do this, you must turn in a grey token. 

Pick up a guardian from an island or let a guardian walk through your city
The grey token can be used to pick up a guardian from the island. You can also use the grey token to move one or more guardians through your city. In this way you can collect goods, as we described earlier. Have you already completed a task? Then you already have a bonfire in your city(more on this later). You can send a guardian there. At the end of the game you will receive extra points for bonfires with a guardian next to them. 

Visit the great bonfire and receive action tokens, goods or portals
By turning in a purple action token, you can visit the big bonfire. By turning in 1, 2 or more token, you may turn the bonfire a number of times (clockwise). Then you may choose 2 rewards from the location where the bonfire points to. These can be action tokens, goods or portals. The portals are needed to connect your roads to the bonfires. Without a portal, the guardians cannot cross over to your bonfire. The action tokens and goods can be used as described above during your next turns. 

Recruit a gnome 
The brown token allows you to recruit a gnome. There are two types of gnomes: specialists and elders. Specialists give you advantages during the game, such as sailing an extra route with your ship. Elders give you extra points during the game, for example, you can get points for the number of fate tiles on your player board. The gnome card shows the costs. If you hand in 1 brown token, you must pay the resource depicted on the gnome twice, if you hand in 2 tokens, you only have to pay this resource once. 

3. Complete a task and light the bonfire

As described earlier, you can get taskson the islands. You have tasks in the colours yellow, blue and red. The colour indicates the degree of difficulty. The tasks score a different number of points, which can be 2 to 8 points. To complete a task, you must fulfil a certain condition. For example, you may be required to have a blue guardian, to have 4 gold in your supply or to have made 3 sacrifices. Do you fulfil the condition of a task? Then you can complete that task. When you have completed a task, you may light a bonfire. You do this by turning over the task tile. After completing a task, you can send the novice next to the bonfire to the high council. You may place this novice on one of the 8 locations. Each location gives you a certain bonus, for example collecting an extra guardian or sailing to a location of your choice. 

In addition to these three actions, you have one bonus action: the placement of a neutral novice. On the game board there are 5 neutral novices with different tasks. As soon as you complete one of these tasks, for example having 7 roads or portals, you may deploy that neutral novice. The novice is placed on one of the eight locations near the high council. The novice also gives you the bonus for your chosen location.

The game continues until a certain number of novices have reached the high council. In a two-player game, this number is 7, in a three-player game 10 and in a four-player game 13. When this happens, immediately count off 5 turns with the countdown tokens. Do you decide to stop the game before the 5th turn? Then you receive the number of points equal to the number of turns you had left. After these 5 turns, the game is over and it is time to count the points. The player with the most points, wins the game! At the end of the game, you receive points for the tasks you have completed and for portals, guardians and roads. 

Our thoughts

Bonfire is a game that initially caught our attention because the game looked so beautiful on the table. The artwork really appealed to us from the pictures we saw. We hesitated for a long time about the game because we heard from many people that the rules were complicated. In addition, many reviews said that the theme was scary. Now we have played the game many times and can form our own opinion about Bonfire. We absolutely love it! We found it easy to get a hang of the rules. But maybe it was not so bad because we were prepared for the worst.

As far as the theme is concerned, we understand what many people are saying. It is a bit of a strange theme that is certainly not logical in all areas. The theme does not connect logically to the gameplay. Still, the theme does not put us off. We think the game looks nice and even though the theme doesn't appeal to us directly, we think Bonfire is very well constructed. You really have to get into the game. Some of the actions don't make a logical connection to the story. But once you've played Bonfire more often, you'll understand how the gameplay works. There are many different game mechanics in Bonfire. These different game mechanics are well tuned and together make for a very challenging game! In addition to its many game mechanics, Bonfire is also very replayable. The combination of, for example, different tasks and gnome cards ensures that every game is different. This means a lot of fun for a longer period of time. 

Bonfire is one of our heavier games. Yet we find Bonfire very accessible and the game is played often. An average game of Bonfire takes at least an hour. Therefore, we might expect that you don't always want to play it. We also normally like to play more different types of games in a row. However, we now regularly choose to play a long game of Bonfire. We really noticed that time flies while playing. You really don't realise that you have been playing the same game for an hour. This is probably due to the strong combination of the different types of game mechanics. In general, you don't have to wait very long for your turn. This is always nice, but especially in a game that lasts 70 to 100 minutes. 

The only thing we sometimes miss in Bonfire is player interaction. The only interaction you actually have in the game is annoying each other. You probably don't even do this consciously. It's just that it happens quite often that you snatch a task or resource from the nose of your opponent. We ourselves always find it less fun to interfere with each other during games. In our opinion, the game would have been even stronger if a nice interaction between the players had been added. Nevertheless, we still think Bonfire is a very nice game. 

If you are looking for a challenging (heavier) game, then Bonfire is definitely the one for you. Bonfire is the perfect game to get acquainted with some of the heavier euro games. Keep in mind that this game doesn't have the same theme as Everdell. Can you see through this? Then Bonfire is bound to become one of your favourite games. At least, it is for us! 

Playing with 2 players

You can play Bonfire with 1 to 4 players. We like Bonfire with 2 players. Some games don't quite work out with 2 players. This certainly isn't the case with Bonfire! You can keep an eye on the actions of your opponent and anticipate them. In addition, you don't have to wait too long for your turn. We always like this. In our opinion, Bonfire is a very nice game for 2 players.

 Pros and cons

+ Combination of different game mechanics
+ Tactical game with little luck
+ Very high replayability

– Weak theme
– Little interaction between players
- lot of work to set up

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This game has been kindly gifted to us for review purposes by Pegasus Spiele.