Flamme Rouge – A Cycling Board Game
Let me start by saying I didn’t expect to love this game. I hardly ride bikes and I don’t know anything about competitive cycling, but I gave it a chance. The original game is designed for 2 to 4 players and we played with four. Our group was a mix of first-time gamers and seasoned Con-goers. The game was simple to pick up and quick paced. Each player starts with two bikers: a Rouleur and a Sprinteur, two decks of cards and a reference card. Through playing the game I learned that Rouleurs were typically the bike in front, with the Sprinteur waiting until the last second to speed past everyone into the finish line. The decks for each bike showed similar movement numbers to the cyclist’s expertise. The Rouleur deck held cards with mid-range number values like 4, 5 and 6. While the Sprinteur deck held smaller numbers except for the three 9 value cards meant to help at the end of the game if that’s your strategy.
During the game each person gets two decks, one for each bike. You decide one deck at a time how many places your bike will move by drawing cards. From each deck you will draw three cards and choose one to place face down to move your biker. Then, place the remaining cards face up under your draw deck. That way you’ll know when it’s time to shuffle later. Once everyone has chosen a card for both their Rouleur and a Sprinteur flip the cards over with the other players.
Now it’s time to move! Starting with the bike in front on the inside of the track move all the player’s bikes. If both spaces are filled in a lane you will have to put your piece behind them. If both spaces on the road are available place your bike on the inside of the road. That means it’s closer to first place. The inside of the track changes mid game. You can pass a space with two bikes in it, you just can’t stop there.
Once everyone has moved their bikers the slipstreams take effect starting from the last biker up. Think of this like Mario Kart. When you ride the tail of a biker their speed pulls you with them, so you don’t exhaust energy. This is the key to winning the game. If there is a single gap between two bikes or bike group, the last bike moves up one to join the group. If you are two or more spaces apart you are now a pack leader of your group and get dealt an exhaustion card which will go into your draw deck. If you get too many of these, you will have low movement cards making it hard to win the game. After everyone has moved or been given exhaustion cards rinse and repeat these steps.
Winning the game means you’ve crossed the farthest past the finish line. Once a single bike passes in a round that becomes the last round. Multiple bikers can pass the finish line at the same time but only one will win. If you get both your bikes to finish you will win even if you didn’t go the farthest. Otherwise whatever Rouleur and a Sprinteur gets the farthest wins!
Like I mentioned Flamme Rouge is not a game I would have initially been into buying but now that I’ve played it I’m all in! The set up takes a bit since you’re building a race track but that’s okay. The rules are simple and easy to explain. I played with ages ranging from 25 to 85 and everyone picked it up quickly. I’m not a big fan of the illustrations but the pieces were all designed well and with expansions in mind. Different tracks can be used to make the game more difficult by adding hills, lane closures, accidents and more. The variability is perfect for someone wanting a different experience each time they play. It’s hard to swallow the price of a $50+ dollar game that plays the same every time. Thankfully this game is worth the price. Overall, I highly recommend this fast paced, tactical racing game for anyone looking to add something new to their game collection.