Flamme Rouge
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Flamme Rouge

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Flamme Rouge is a tense race to the finish set in the early 20th century world of bicycle racing. Commanding a team of two racers, players launch themselves around tight custom tracks, jostling for position and riding the slipstream of others to propel themselves to glory or crushing defeat. Aesthetically the game is very thematic with painted artwork that is evocative of the period…
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  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Quick Set up and easy to teach.
  • The theme is not detrimental to enjoyment of the game.
  • Added depth makes the game great for players of all abilities.

Might Not Like

  • Cards look similar so sorting decks can be fiddly.
  • Rubbish box insert.
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Flamme Rouge is a tense race to the finish set in the early 20th century world of bicycle racing. Commanding a team of two racers, players launch themselves around tight custom tracks, jostling for position and riding the slipstream of others to propel themselves to glory or crushing defeat.

Aesthetically the game is very thematic with painted artwork that is evocative of the period. The board is made up of modular sections, building many possible variations. The rulebook has a selection for different game lengths and due to its nature it allows players to design their own. The tracks are predominantly two squares wide, which bunch the bicycles close together.

A large part of Flamme Rouge is based around the notion of slip streaming, tucking in behind other racers and the benefit this brings. If you are leading the pack or not close enough to be slip-streaming, each turn that player receives a fatigue card to that team member. Hills also feature leading to a change in tactics at different parts of the race.

Each team comes with two plastic miniatures in one of four different colours. The racers are split into a Rouler and a Sprinteur. Each comes with its own deck of custom numbered cards. These dictate how far the racer can move on its turn. The Rouler is overall slower than the Sprinteur who excels with a couple of high numbered cards for pushing away from the competition. The fatigue cards clog
up the deck and have lower move numbers than the regular cards. The tense interplay of working out when to play your higher cards and break away from the pack to command a lead, or catapulting your Sprinteur out from behind another rider to cross the line at the last minute brings real excitement to the game.

As a more strategic alternative to a roll and move game, Flamme Rouge is all about pacing your team and knowing when to gamble on a big card play.

An expansion is available, Flamme Rouge: Peloton, that increases the player count to six teams as well as new track sections.

Player Count: 2-4
Time: 30-45 Minutes
Age: 8+


Within my game group we have had some great times with board games based on racing. GMT’s Thunder Alley and Grand Prix being at the more complex end of the scale, with Snow Tails and Formula D being at the more accessible end. Due to this I tracked down the recent reprint of Flamme Rouge, a game based on bike racing, being totally different from any other games we own I wanted to see if it could hold its own against games we love.

Flamme Rouge – The Game

I am by no means at all interested in bike racing (I can’t even ride a bike!) but as a fan of board games I felt like the theme could be put to the side and I could just enjoy the mechanics of Flamme Rouge.

The box art is very nice and upon opening it I was surprised and the quality of the track pieces. The track is like a jigsaw and there are numerous ways to put them together, which gives added replay-ability. Each team of racers (two riders per team) have a deck of cards for each rider and these determine how far you will move each turn.

Each rider has a term (Rouleur and Sprinter) but I quickly adopted ‘sitting down’ and ‘standing up’ as the terms meant nothing to me.

In Flamme Rouge the idea is for each team to play cards from your rider’s decks and race along the track to become the first to cross the finish line. When cards are used they are out the game for good so tactical use of higher number cards is essential.

If your rider finishes on the track and there is a gap between them and the rider in front then you will draw an exhaustion card. This card will be placed into your deck and with its low movement value will limit your movement later in the game.

Set-up & Turn Order

Set up in Flamme Rouge is simple. The box contains simple to follow track cards that are all lettered, as are the tracks. Follow these and your track will be ready in a matter of minutes. You then deal out the cards for each team and place them on the appropriate place on each player board.

Each player then paces his riders behind the start line and once done you are ready to go.

The turn order is also simple and contains only three phases:

  1. Energy Phase – Here everyone draws four cards and chooses one to use. You do this for each rider and everyone does this action simultaneously. The cards not selected are placed face up at the bottom of the corresponding deck and when reached these are shuffled and form a new deck.
  2. Movement Phase – In this phase the person who is first (if tied the person on the right lane gets the advantage) shows the card that has been selected and moves the rider that number of places. This is then continued from the front to the back of the riders.
  3. End Phase – This is where played cards are removed from the game. If your rider only has one space in between it and the rider in front then slipstream is applied and you move forward to catch them up. Also any rider that has space in front of them at the end of this phase you draw an exhaustion card and place it in that riders deck.

That’s it, a quick set up and easy to follow rules makes this game easy to learn and it’s one that I enjoyed playing.

Final Thoughts On Flamme Rouge

As I said above I have no knowledge or interest in bike racing and I was a little worried that the theme would come across bland to me, I was mistaken. The quick setup and easy to follow rules make you understand the theme and how the riders need to work together as a team. Using high cards on one rider and a low card on another leaves a gap, making slipstream impossible and you soon fall behind, so hand management is necessary to succeed in this game.

The playtime is quick enough to keep you interested and even though the player interaction is minimal the slipstream mechanic does add some to the game. Watching where the other riders are and what cards they have used is a great way to plan your next moves.

Flamme Rouge is very easy to learn and I played it with my daughter who struggles with rules and she nearly beat me. However the track pieces are double sided and the inclusion of hills restrict your movement on particular sections adding an extra layer of tactical card play to the game. One thing I did struggle with was that all the cards are very difficult to differentiate as they all look so similar. The box could do with a decent insert too as the one it has, cardboard, is very poor.

In the end everyone who has played this game has enjoyed it. Flamme Rouge is a game I hope to get to the table often as its very fun and easy to teach with added depth that can be included if needed. I would say this sits in between the games I mentioned above and has a place in my collection.

I have been told there is an expansion coming out soon and I would very much like to see what that adds to an already great game.

This blog was originally published on July 3rd, 2017. Updated on May 11th, 2022 to improve the information available.

Flamme Rouge is a hand management, racing game designed by Asger Harding Granerud and publish by Lautapelit.fi.

In Flamme Rouge, 2-4 players control a team of bicycle racers competing to be the first rider across the line as they wind through the streets and country roads of France.

Players draft, select and simultaneously play cards depicting a distance the riders will travel each turn. Hand management and deduction are key to this game as each card can only be played once. Spending too long out in the lead or being left behind will tire your rider out, so selecting when to play each card is vital to a successful race. Tuck your rider into the Peloton and time the breakaway for the finish line. Get it wrong and get left in the dust.

Preparing for the Big Race.

Before you can slip on that Lycra and hit the road, Flamme Rouge needs a bit of set-up time. I always get the other players involved in this bit to save time. Luckily teaching the game is very quick to I can forgive the time to set it all up.

1. Each player chooses a colour and takes a pair of bike and rider miniatures, the player board, and the set of energy cards in that colour.
2. Separate your Sprinter “S” and Rouleur “R” energy cards, shuffle, and place them face down on the spaces on your player board.
3. Collectively choose a track card and build the track shown. Remember each piece is double-sided and is marked with either an upper case or lower case letter on each side.
4. Place all the Sprinter and Rouleur “exhaustion” cards in their two separate piles in the middle of the table.
5. The person who most recently rode a bike goes first. Starting with the first player, everyone takes it in turns to put their riders on the squares behind the starting line. As yet, I’ve not known a first player to choose to start at the back, but hey, the option is there!

And They’re Off

The Flamme Rouge gameplay is split into three phases. There is the energy phase, the movement phase and the inventively named “end phase”. Once you get rolling (pun not intended) you will start to pick up speed (okay, that one was intended). After this, the game pace can really crank up a gear (sorry, I’ll stop, I promise).

Energy Phase

Simultaneously, players choose a rider from their team and draw four cards from the corresponding energy deck. Select one of the cards and place it face-down next to the energy deck. The number on the card indicated how many spaces the rider will attempt to move. Place the remaining three cards face up under the energy deck. Repeat this process with the second rider in your team.

NOTE: It is important to place your used cards face-up, not face down, at the bottom of your deck. This is to hide the card you have still to use form your opponents. It is a little unintuitive at first. It’s worth reminding each other until you get into the habit. When you reach your face-up cards, flip them over, shuffle them and continue to draw the cards you need.

Movement Phase

All played energy cards are turned face-up. Riders take their turn in place order. So, the rider in the lead goes first and the rider at the back goes last.

Riders can jump over other riders and also change lanes. Where possible, your rider should finish their turn in the right-hand lane, marked by a double white line. For the purpose of movement and winning, the right-hand lane is deemed to be in the lead.

If all lanes are full you must end your turn in the last available position.

TOP TIP: You will notice that the two riders in your team have different movement cards. The sprinter has lots of long and short distance cards, the rouleur as lots of medium distance cards. Use this to your advantage when you can.

There are some sections where different rules apply to movement.

Mountain Ascents – If you start on, enter, or move through and ascent square (marked in red) movement is capped at five.

Mountain Descents – If you start on a descent square (marked in blue) then the rider will move a minimum of five, even if you play a lower number.

End Phase

All played cards are permanently discarded. Next, it’s time to apply slip-streaming.

Starting with the backmost pack of riders, check to see if there is a one square gap between that pack and the rider(s) ahead. A square is considered empty when there are no riders in any of its constituent lanes. If there is an empty square, slide all the riders forwards one square. Repeat this with all groups of riders as appropriate. This means a rider may slipstream multiple times during this phase.

NOTE: A rider on an ascent can never give nor receive slip-streaming.

Finally, it’s time to assign exhaustion cards. A rider is exhausted if (after slip-streaming) there is one or more empty square in front of them. This means that the rider(s) on the front row of the lead pack, or any following pack that was too far behind to slipstream will receive an exhaustion card.

Take an exhaustion card matching the rider (sprinter or rouleur) and place it face up at the bottom of your deck. TIP: Over time your deck will fill up with these cards that only give two movement, try to avoid getting them. When you do get them, spend them on downhill sections where they will count as five movement anyway.

Flamme Rouge Game End

The game ends at the end of the round where at least one rider had crossed the finish line. The owner of the rider that is farthest over the line is the winner.

Enjoy playing Flamme Rouge, it’s a great choice for casual gamers. I strongly recommend checking out the Peloton Expansion which adds cobblestones, one-lane and three-lane sections. It also adds a load of new courses. Also, pick up the digital companion app which allows you to create and record your own tracks. It also adds a campaign mode allowing players to compete in the Tour de France and carry their lead into the next race.

Flamme Rouge is a cycling game for 2-4 players, and is not to be confused with Flan Rogue, a game where an egg and cheese-filled pastry crawls through a dungeon fighting other evil pastries such as croissants, Gregg’s sausage rolls, and the 70s favourite hors d’ouvre, vol-au-vents.

Flamme Rouge was released in 2016, so it is a slightly older game. The question now is how well does it hold up to the designer’s most recent racing game, Heat: Pedal to the Metal. So in this review, I’ll tell you what I think of Flamme Rouge in its own right, and also, compare it to Heat.

How To Play

It’s a lovely surprise to see such a short rulebook. There really aren’t that many rules in the game, and only one that’s a little bit tricky to get your head around, the rule for ascending hills.

You have two cyclists, your rouleur and your sprinteur, and you’re trying to get one of them over the finishing line before your opponents. On your turn, you choose either of your cyclists and take 4 cards from their draw pile. These cards are numbered and correspond to how many spaces you move along the track. You choose one card and play it face down, the other 3 cards go face up on the bottom of the deck. Then you repeat this process with your other cyclist.

Once everyone has chosen their two cards, they are revealed and the player leading the race goes first, moving their cyclist the number of spaces their card shows. After everyone has done this, the riders are split into packs and, starting from the back, each pack is looked at to see whether it can slipstream. If a pack has exactly one empty square in front of it, the whole pack moves forward one space, creating a new pack. If this pack also has one empty space, then it will also move one space. Therefore, one of your riders may get to move a couple of extra places from slipstreaming.

Finally, any rider who has an empty square in front of them gets a bit tired and takes an exhaustion card, essentially a card with a value of 2. The only other rules are for climbing hills which limit your speed to 5, and descending hills where the card you play will at least be worth 5. This a good way to get rid of exhaustion cards: play one as you go down a hill, and the 2 is automatically turned into a 5.

Is It Any Good

Flamme Rouge is a game all about timing, working out what your opponents are going to do, and dealing with a large dose of luck. Getting yourself into the right position before a hill is paramount. You want to spend as little time on an incline as possible, and you have to think a couple of turns before to try to hit it perfectly.  You also want to get as many free moves from slipstreaming as possible. All of this means that, on your turn, you’ll be considering what your opponents are going to do and then choosing a card to help you either get in position for the hill or allow you to slipstream. The problem is that opponents might not get the cards they need to make the best move and your plan falls apart. The other problem is that you may not get the cards you need and again, your plan falls apart.

Adding to this is the fact that you want your sprinteur to at least get some slipstreaming action from your rouleur so generally you want your sprinteur to have a value one less than your rouleur. But yet again, you may not get the cards you need.

This luck isn’t too bad in a 4 player game as there are lots of opportunities for slipstreaming. But in a 2 player game, it can be crippling. Let’s say you play a 6 for your rouleur. You know you’ve still got three 5s in your sprinteur’s deck so you’ve got a good chance of getting one. But no, you get two 2s and two 3s. So now your sprinteur is hanging out at the back with no chance to slipstream and they get the double whammy of taking an exhaustion card. If you don’t get the right cards to get back into the pack quickly, you keep taking exhaustion cards, effectively finishing your game. The Pelaton expansion adds AI-controlled cyclists to make the 2-player experience better, but should you really have to pay for an expansion when the base game tells you it can be played at 2 players. It’s not terrible at 2 or 3 but it’s not great either, so go into this thinking it’s a 4-player game to get the best out of it.

Flamme Rouge is very thematic and definitely feels like a race. You want your rouleur to be out in front of your sprinteur to let them benefit from slipstreaming. Then you have to time your final sprint to crush your opponents.

How Does It Compare To Heat

I think Flamme Rouge and Heat both have a place in someone’s collection. Heat is a masterpiece. It plays well at all player counts and has a tonne of replayability. But it isn’t the simplest of games. It’s not that heavy, but I know which of these games I would teach to smaller children or to my in-laws. Flamme Rouge is a much simpler game and if you play without hills, it’s pretty much appropriate for anyone. Even with the addition of the hills, it’s not that complicated.

Flamme Rouge is a great family game. The small rule set and the amount of luck make it fun for families, but as I said earlier, make sure you have 4 players for the best experience. Heat, meanwhile, is more of a gamers’ game. It is a logical step up from Flamme Rouge. The corners in Heat are similar to the hills in Flamme Rouge, and it also has rules for slipstreaming. But the addition of the cards you draft, weather and road conditions, plus the ability to play in a championship, mean that Heat has a fair few more rules to get your head around than Flamme Rouge. I’ve got both games in my collection and play them with different groups. In that way, I’ve got the best of both worlds.


Flamme Rouge has got nice components, the track pieces are a lovely thick cardboard, and the plastic cyclists are a welcome inclusion. The dashboards you have to keep your cards organised has some cracking art on it but it also has a downside. The place where you put your cards matches the cover art for the back of the cards exactly. So when I came to pick up my cards to shuffle them, I would invariably try to pick up the ‘extra’ card too. It would have been nice if the art had been different in some way to the cards to make it more obvious. But all-in-all, the components are good.


If you primarily play at 4 players, and you’re looking for a light racing game that’s easy to learn but still has some good tactics and strategy, then Flamme Rouge is a game to consider. If you mainly play at 2 then be prepared to buy the Pelaton expansion to make the game sing. So squeeze into your lycra shorts, strap on your helmet, and prepare to sprint to victory.

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Quick Set up and easy to teach.
  • The theme is not detrimental to enjoyment of the game.
  • Added depth makes the game great for players of all abilities.

Might not like

  • Cards look similar so sorting decks can be fiddly.
  • Rubbish box insert.