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filip santens
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Review Flamme Rouge




I’m fond of cycling and playing boardgames. So if I can combine both, I’m a happy man. One of the best cycling games ever is Um Reifenbreite (Demarrage) with the adjusted Pro-Tour Rules of Ruben In ’t Groen which you can find on boardgamegeek. We play it a lot and therefore Asger asked me to test his game Flamme Rouge.

Flamme Rouge is announced by the designer as a fast-paced, tactical bicycle racing game. And I can confirm that every word in that sentence is true.

The graphics of the box are nice and the setting in the thirties of the past century is great.

As a player you manage two cyclists, a rouleur (black rider sitting down on his bike) and a sprinter (red and blue riders both putting pressure on their pedals to launch the sprint).



Every player gets a player board in his colour and two sets of cards, one for the sprinter and one for the rouleur. The biggest value on the cards for the sprinter is a nine and the smallest a two. The maximum speed for a rouleur is a seven, but his lowest card is a three.



As in real life, if you want to win the game with your rouleur, don’t go to the finish with a sprinter, unless the sprinter is exhausted.

The exhaustion cards are the main factor in the game. Each time you’re leading the group or you lose contact with the group and you’re leading the pursuit, you will get an exhaustion card. Each exhaustion card has a value of two. If you have too many of them in your deck, it will be very difficult to win the sprint at the end.

The rules are quite simple. Each round has three phases. In phase one you choose one of your two riders and you draw four cards from your deck. You look at the four cards, choose one and recycle three. Recyling means that you place the cards face up at the bottom of the deck. When you draw four new cards and you see a face up card you reshuffle the deck.

After you have done this for the one rider, you repeat this action for the second rider. At the end of this phase you have chosen two cards, one for each rider. All players do this simultaneously. The number on the card is the rider’s movement value in phase two.

Phase two is the movement phase. The leader of the pack plays his card first, followed by the second-in-lead, and so on. Each square on the track has two lanes. So two riders can stand next to another. The frontmost of the two is the one on right. Riders can move through each other but they can’t end their movement on them. So if you’re back in the peleton you will need a high card to overhaul everyone, otherwise you’ll lose some movementsteps and that can be lethal at the end.

In phase three each player removes the played card, so you can use every card only once in the game. After that, you apply for slipstreaming. Starting with the backmost pack of riders (a pack consists of one or more riders that have no empty squares between them) the players check if there is exactly one empty square between two packs. The rear pack moves one square forward so that the two packs merge. You check this for every pack. This means that one of the back riders can gain one or more squares. Players should use this wisely.

The last thing you do in phase three is assigning exhaustion cards. Each rider with an empty square in front of him (the leaders of the pack or the ones who are left behind) get an exhaustion card. The players who get the cards recycle them in their deck. Leading in group once in a while is not a bad thing, but don’t exaggerate.

You’ll repeat this three phases until a rider crosses the finish line. This doesn’t necessarily mean that that rider wins the race, riders from behind him can pass him behind the finish line, because each rider moves his chosen card. The rider who crosses the finish line the frontmost wins. Ties aren’t possible. The rider in the right lane always leads, remember.

There are 21 track tiles (straight, soft and sharp turns) in the box which you can build every track you wish with. To help you, there are 6 stage cards included, which slightly show similarities with some of the great classical races (Tour of Flanders, Milan-San Remo, …).


Each tile is double sided (one side for flat stages, one side with mountains). If you want to play Flamme Rouge with enough tactical decisions you must play it with mountains included. The mountain tiles introduce two new road types: Ascents and Descents.



No slipstreaming on ascents and you can’t move faster than 5 squares. On descents you can’t move slower than 5 squares. This means if you play a 9 card on an Ascent you’ll lose 4 squares. If you play a 2 on a descent you gain 3 squares. That is what we need to make Flamme Rouge a tactical racing game.

My opinion:

Flamme rouge is fun. All the players who played the game with me, liked it. The rules are simple, you explain the game in five minutes, you play it in 45 minutes. There’s no down time and when you finish the game, you want to play another stage immediately.

Although there’s some luck involved in drawing the right card at the right time, your luck doesn’t depend on the rolling of dice because there are no dice in the game. So if you want to win, you must make the right tactical choice at the right moment. You must read the race as a good sportsdirector in a real cyclingrace must do. Don’t attack too early, but also don’t wait too long. Watch what your opponents do and react if necessary.

Flamme Rouge is a real cycling game. Is it the best cycling game I’ve ever played? No, for real cycling freaks, as me, the Pro Tour Rules of Demarrage are the real thing, with a big canvas board, hand painted cyclists and special cards adjusted to the existing peleton (Sagan, Van Avermaet, Froome, …),. But most gamers won’t play that way because of too many rules and no cycling knowledge. And that is the strength of Flamme Rouge. You don’t need to be a cyclist to love the game. It’s a great racing game: Young and old, experienced gamers or beginners, everyone can play it and I’m convinced they will like it.

So Asger, you gave me a good cycling game, which I will play a lot. And with me many others.

Filip Santens
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Derek Long
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Thanks for a great review. Interesting that you find Demarrage the best base to build on - I have found Leader of the North with the peloton rules to be a very strong candidate, but long and gruelling (much like the real thing, I guess). Have you tried that?
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steven smolders
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I don't like them on the road.. so i don't want them in my boardgame collection

Other then that good write up
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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It's car drivers I loathe. I'm unaware of a single car driver killed or seriously injured by a cyclist on the UK roads last year, but many hundreds of cyclists were killed or seriously injured by car drivers. Often because the car driver was in a bit of a rush.

Prompted by that picture of the stage card, which races/events are the inspiration for the stages in FR? I'm seeing a bit of Milan - San Remo, and a generic mountain-top finish (Ventoux? Les Deux Alpes?). Oh, and a sprint stage on any given day of week one of the Tour (they all look the same).
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Jean-Michel lafouge
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So if you don't like "them", what are you looking for in this forum,Steven?
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steven smolders
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Philocross wrote:
So if you don't like "them", what are you looking for in this forum,Steven?

Because i wanted to read the review
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Martin Swift
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You're missing a good game
 
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Doug Adams
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Nice review - I am very much looking forwards to my copy.

RDewsbery wrote:
It's car drivers I loathe. I'm unaware of a single car driver killed or seriously injured by a cyclist on the UK roads last year, but many hundreds of cyclists were killed or seriously injured by car drivers. Often because the car driver was in a bit of a rush.


The main reason I very, very rarely ride on a road any more. Way too many weaving cars, with drivers appearing to be staring at something in their laps. I lost my nerve. Smart phones.... shake
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RDewsbery wrote:
It's car drivers I loathe. I'm unaware of a single car driver killed or seriously injured by a cyclist on the UK roads last year, but many hundreds of cyclists were killed or seriously injured by car drivers. Often because the car driver was in a bit of a rush.

Prompted by that picture of the stage card, which races/events are the inspiration for the stages in FR? I'm seeing a bit of Milan - San Remo, and a generic mountain-top finish (Ventoux? Les Deux Alpes?). Oh, and a sprint stage on any given day of week one of the Tour (they all look the same).


And often because cyclists have a tendency to disobey the law and run stop signs and red lights. They really love to try to zoom past a car as he's turning right!

OT: Does anyone own this and Formula D? I have that game and a couple other racing games, is it really worth it to own another one?
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Troels Panduro
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broken clock wrote:
RDewsbery wrote:
It's car drivers I loathe. I'm unaware of a single car driver killed or seriously injured by a cyclist on the UK roads last year, but many hundreds of cyclists were killed or seriously injured by car drivers. Often because the car driver was in a bit of a rush.

Prompted by that picture of the stage card, which races/events are the inspiration for the stages in FR? I'm seeing a bit of Milan - San Remo, and a generic mountain-top finish (Ventoux? Les Deux Alpes?). Oh, and a sprint stage on any given day of week one of the Tour (they all look the same).


And often because cyclists have a tendency to disobey the law and run stop signs and red lights. They really love to try to zoom past a car as he's turning right!

OT: Does anyone own this and Formula D? I have that game and a couple other racing games, is it really worth it to own another one?


This is a better gateway game
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