Flamme Rouge Review
Originally written for The Geeks Vs Games. Check us out http://www.thegeeksvsgames.com/
Thank you to Lautapelit for a review copy of this game.
Flamme Rouge brings players head to head in an exciting bicycle race. Each player controls two different racers: a Sprinteur and a Rolleur. Each racer has a different deck of movement cards based upon which type they are. Put simply, each Sprinteur and Rolleur start with a deck of the exact same cards.
The map is built according to one of several set-up cards. Some of these set-ups include more advanced "mountains."
When examining the board, it is important to know that there are spaces and lanes. Each space (box on the board) is made up of two lanes: one left and one right. Each lane may only hold a single racer, while a space has room for two in each lane.
While each player controls two different racers, only one of these racers needs to cross the finish line to win. First player (or furthest player) to cross the finish line wins.
Game Structure Overview:
After the map is built, gameplay is simple and fluid. The game takes place over three rounds of play, repeated over and over until a player crosses the finish line.
In the first phase, the Energy Phase, players choose to draw four cards from the deck of one of their racers. After examining these cards each player plays one face down. Players then draw four cards from the other racer's deck and repeat this process.
These cards are everything and influence the rest of the game. Each card has a number of movement points on it. The Sprinteur has higher numbered movement cards combined with some low cards, middle movement isn't their strength. The Rolleur has a more even curve of numbered cards, but does not have any of the highest valued cards. Thus, the Rolleur can be more consistent, but the Sprinteur can go faster in bursts.
After the Energy Phase, the racers all move in the Movement Phase. Starting with the lead player (in a tie the player on the right-hand side is considered leading) will move a number of spaces equal to the value on their played card. This card is then removed from the game. Each racer in turn moves in this way. Racers can move through other races but cannot end on them (and must move back if that is where they would end). Racers can occupy either lane of a space as they move, but must end in the right hand lane, if possible. After each racer has moved, the next phase begins.
In the End Phase, Slipstreaming applies and Exhaustion happens. This process is very neat! Starting at the back of the map, you examine each pack (group that has no spaces between them) of racers. If a pack is separated by a single empty space from the group in front of them, the entire pack moves up to join the pack in front of them. Then continue moving up the map. This means that if there were three racers on the race track each separated by a single space, the furthest back racer would move up to join the middle racer (forming a pack) and then the pack would move forward to join the lead racer.
After this, if any racer has a completely empty space in front of him, that racer gains an exhaustion card. These are movement cards that will join part of your deck, but only allow a movement of two. At this point, play restarts with the Energy Phase.
Flamme Rouge is a very interesting game. It has a very unique and cool theme. I admittedly know nothing about the actual sport of bike racing. I had never before heard the term Sprinteur and Rolleur (and I'm unlikely to do a video review purely out of my embarrassment and not knowing how to pronounce those words).
There are a few big racing games that I have played, Formula D (De), Automobiles, and the like. Flamme Rouge is easily a contender for the best race game that I have ever played.
One of the coolest aspects of Flamme Rouge is the simplicity in the system. I can explain this game to a group of new players and have them up and running within 5 minutes.
Within that simple system, though, is a very solid core. The game has many opportunities for interesting decisions. In some ways, the game feels like a deck-builder, but it's really not. While you do add Exhaustion cards, those are the only cards that can be added over the course of the game. However the game does "feel" like a deck-building games in some ways because you are carefully watching which cards you have removed and which you still have available. This card management aspect is very interesting.
And the card management directly plays into the other interesting part of the game, the pack movement of the racers. The "slipstreaming" and "exhaustion" effects of this game mean that you ideally want to be behind the leader until the very end. You want to be able to gain free movement from slipstreaming because that allows you to get bonus movement off of lower-valued movement cards.
Additionally, avoiding taking the Exhaustion cards can become very important. I have seen several games where the leader's deck of cards becomes far too clogged with these Exhaustion cards to finish the race strong.
This keeps the game much more interesting than other racing games that I have played. Guessing where other players will end really matters. Losing a few movement points off of a card because you have underestimated where other players will end really matters as well.
In conclusion, Flamme Rouge is an excellent light racing game with a very interesting decision space in a light ruleset.
Great review, one little nitpick, you mention rounds then they become phases, I reread it and understood it straight away tho'. But seriously, great review.
Sprinteur and Rolleur (and I'm unlikely to do a video review purely out of my embarrassment and not knowing how to pronounce those words).
Just use Bruce Campbell as the authority on ze French accent and you will be A-Okay.