Should you buy Fuse?

Imagine this.

You’re on a holiday. A cruise. You won it in a raffle. A man walks up to you, he’s panicked.

Do you know how to disarm a bomb? His voice high pitched.

Of course, I studied bomb defusal at Harvard Yale. Your reply.

Great! There’s 25 of them on the ship.

Fuse box art shows a man looking at a time bomb, while people in the background rush to help.

Name: Fuse

Players: 1-5

Publishers: Renegade Game Studios

Year Published: 2015

Designer: Kane Klenko

Artists: Luis Francisco, Marc Mejia, Chris Ostrowski

Fuse is a real time cooperative game, you team up with Madonna and Timberlake and have just 10 minutes to save the world. Disarming as many bombs as possible – hopefully all of them.

Easy right?

Well, kind of? It is easy to defuse one bomb – but 25, or 28? That’s the challenge.

Bombs in this game are represented by cards, and each has a different method of defusal. However, it’s always some arrangement of dice. Some, for example, require you to have die all of the same number, or of the same colour.

Example of Fuse being set up, demonstrating a lot of the icons on the cards.
Icons… Icons Everywhere!

While I can’t imagine many bombs being disarmed this way in real life. It’s this simple mechanic that underpins the game, and it subscribes to my theory of real-time games needing to be stupidly simple. It’s bad enough teaching your friends to play a new game, but once you add that timer, any interruptions for rulings breaks the flow of the game providing a sub par experience.

However, that’s not to say the entire game has to be simple. You need to be able to build upon this mechanic. And Fuse takes this literally, by introducing advanced bombs requiring you to build pyramids and columns.

I really enjoy how Fuse, despite putting you under immense pressure, reminds you to have fun by adding this simple dexterity element. Even better is that it’s not the only one. To get dice, you need to reach into the velvety bag of bomby goodness. Drawing out die by feel alone, and being punished for drawing the incorrect amount.

In isolation that doesn’t sound like a novel or interesting mechanic, but remember you’re under pressure. You’ll find that you’ll win or lose based on your dice drawing efficiency. Which again sounds stupid, but is a surprisingly fun touch.

A black, blue, and white Fuse cards.
Dreadful fuse cards. Draw one and discard a dice!

After the die are rolled, you must pick one up and add it to the bomb cards in front of you. For each die left on the table everyone gets punished.

What I like about this is how it forces your group to have a conversation; who needs what, and which bomb gets priority. The answer isn’t always obvious, but the time limit forces a decision to be made.

For me this was something special, cooperative games without a real-time element generally allow you to think before you contribute. While real-time games generally allow you to contribute without thinking.

Fuse splits the difference and forces you to think and make tough decisions together.

After 10 minutes you either discard all the bombs, or you blow up.

A simple game, but it is hard!

An example of a bomb card in Fuse. A pyramid of dice matching the card.
Watch out Egypt. I’ve got die.

Our group DESTROYED 5-Minute Dungeon, but had a really tough time beating the easiest difficulty level here. This brings with it the same psychology as Dark Souls. Because it’s so tough, it makes winning all the more sweeter.

The other benefit of this difficulty is learning that there’s no time to waste. Fuse requires you to hit the ground sprinting and not letting up for the full duration. It brings with it all the intensity and pressure of the last 10 minutes of an important exam. Which is what I want from my real-time games.

Fuse works best in repeated plays. It’s like performing a time trial in Mario Kart, the excitement comes from both the game, and you seeing your time get better and better.

Unfortunately, this also makes the game feel samey after a few plays. As the puzzle never changes dramatically, and there aren’t big moments differentiating one play of the game from the next. After a night of Fuse you’ll remember you played five rounds, but never remember what was different about each of them.

Overall, I think Fuse is a great game with fantastic design, and it’s fun! However, it’s these last points of samey-ness, and lack of memorable moments that drags the game down from it’s pedestal. Even still, it’s got me excited about Kane Klenko as a designer, and I’ll be looking forward to trying out the rest of his catalogue.

Handsome Corgi stands next to the Fuse box.
He’s awake! And very serious about Fuse.

Hey Cultists,

If you’re wondering what is my go to real-time cooperative board game at the moment. It is 5-Minute Dungeon – BUT it needs to be paired with the expansion. Otherwise, I think the game falls in the same way that Fuse does. However, I don’t think the expansion is sold any more.

The next real-time game on my list though is Kane Klenko’s Pandemic: Rapid Response. I’ve heard mixed things, but from reading the rules it seems to solve my issues with Fuse.

In other news, one of my friends is getting married tomorrow. Happy wedding day Ash and Tanee!


P.s. Creaming Soda Pepsi sucks.

David Norris

Lover of dogs, books, comics, movies, anime, television, video games and most importantly board games. My site is all about the latter, and my journey through the glorious hobby.

6 thoughts on “Should you buy Fuse?

      1. Hmmm…It’s been a year or two since I’ve played it, but I think it’s interesting mix of mechanics, especially the dice placement. When you’re placing dice on an action, you’re limited slightly by what’s been placed on that action already. And then you’re moving your agents all over Europe, leaving “evidence” behind that your opponents can pick up and use for other things.

        You’re collecting stuff to try and complete missions that you’ve drawn from the deck before other players can complete theirs.

        It’s quite neat.


  1. I hadn’t given this game much thought before.
    Now it’s on my Christmas list!
    Thank you for a very good review of this game. I’m always looking for quick games, both cooperative and competitive, for the Board Game Night I run at my library. This would go over very well there.


    1. No problems. I think it would be perfect for a board game gathering, and probably best at the start to get your juices pumping.

      As an aside, I think it’s awesome that you run a Board Game Night, I’m way too introverted to try something like that. Haha.

      Liked by 1 person

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