Tag Archives: Flamme Rouge

12th July 2022

Blue, Pink, Orange, Lemon and Plum all started with food, and Pink’s was accompanied with cocktails (again).  There was a lot of chatter about playing something, but when Pine arrived, that ruled out …aber bitte mit Sahne (which we played last time).  While the discussion about what to play and how to split the group was on-going Purple and Black arrived, so the discussion moved on to who would play what and who else was expected.  In the end, Pink and Plum took themselves off to the other side of the pub to start setting up Altiplano while everyone else admired the 1980s box for the “Feature Game“, the bike racing game, 6-Tage Rennen (aka 6 Day Race).

6-Tage Rennen
– Image by boardGOATS

When Lime, Ivory and then Teal rolled up a few minutes later, Ivory joined the Altiplano game, but Teal, after a tough day, eschewed its complexity and decided to go for a gentle cycle ride with the other group instead.  In contrast to Flamme Rouge which we all played last time and emulates road racing, 6-Tage Rennen is set in a velodrome and mimics a six day race meeting.  It is quite simple, much simpler than Flamme Rouge actually, but in spite of this the group still managed a “rules malfunction”.  Similar to Flamme Rouge, the game is card driven, but rather than choosing simultaneously and then playing in race order, in 6-Tage Rennen players choose their card and play in turn order.

6-Tage Rennen
– Image by boardGOATS

There are a couple of other key differences.  Firstly, slip-streaming works differently:  if a player lands on an occupied space, they move again. If that space is occupied by two riders, the active rider moves twice more and if it is occupied by three or more riders, then they can really make a killing.  Also, 6-Tage Rennen is a points race, which means it is the player with the most points at the end who wins, not necessarily the first player to cross the line.  Points are available for the first riders to finish with ten points for first place, but also at the intermediate sprints of which there are two, earning five points for the first riders to cross each line and in both cases there are points for the minor placings.

6-Tage Rennen
– Image by boardGOATS

Teal went first and moved a single space, followed by Blue who used Teal to bounce on an extra space.  Pine, Purple, Black and Orange, further demonstrated how to use the slip-stream mechanism, but it was Lemon, who like last time in Flamme Rouge, took an early lead, though this time without the penalty of Exhaustion cards.  Not only did Lemon take an early lead, but she held it to the first sprint line taking the maximum five points, leaving Teal, Blue and Pine to take the three, two and one respectively.  It was then that the rules malfunction really took effect.

6-Tage Rennen
– Image by boardGOATS

The game is over thirty-five years old and imported from Germany, so the rules were originally in German, but this copy had two English translations. Unfortunately, these were both a bit unclear and, as a result, both Blue and Pine misunderstood how many green cards players started with.  This meant everyone ran out of cards very quickly and Blue, on the fly decided players would refresh their hand from the grey cards.  As Pine pointed out, this was likely to leave a shortage, so the number of cards was reduced slightly.  This meant some players ran out more than once and replaced their cards several times as a result which changed the game massively.

6-Tage Rennen
– Image by boardGOATS

Still, as everyone was playing with the same rules and nobody wanted to just start again, the group played on.  Lemon led the pack over the second sprint line too, and then over the finish line to a landslide victory with the maximum twenty points, twice her nearest rival, Teal.  The game hadn’t taken very long, and Black had long said he thought 6-Tage Rennen was better than Flamme Rouge and he along with some others were keen to play again with correct rules.  So, Pine dealt out the correct number of green cards and Lemon, as the winner of the first race went first in the second.

6-Tage Rennen
– Image by boardGOATS

The first thing noticed was the lack of a six in the starting hand.  As Black pointed out, this was key to the strategy of the game—staying six spaces ahead of other riders helps stop players from “getting a bounce” and moving ahead, and that’s where the grey cards come in.  Half-way round the track, there is a “special space” and players who land on this space discard their cards and replace them with grey ones.  The starting green hand has a seven, two fives, several fours along with some lower value cards and should just last the duration of the race.  Landing on the special space gives cards taken from two piles drawn at random—six slow cards (value one to three) and four fast cards (value four to six).

6-Tage Rennen
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, Orange started fast taking the first sprint and continuing on to the special space where he traded in his cards for new grey ones.  Lemon wasn’t far behind though, followed by Lime and Teal.  Purple demonstrated how to play the game by getting a “double bounce” on her seven, moving twenty-one spaces from the back to near the front on a single turn.  That left Blue and Pine who, reminiscent of last time, were “gapped” and struggled to keep up with the pack.  Before long, Pine was dropped and resignedly, rolled slowly round the track; he would have stopped at the pub if he hadn’t been in a velodrome!

6-Tage Rennen
– Image by boardGOATS

As the game unfolded, Teal commented on how clever it was and added, “It’s almost like it’s been play-tested…”  Meanwhile, Black joined Blue and they worked together briefly until their teamwork broke down just before they were able to catch up with the lead riders.  Lemon stalled on the “miss a turn” special space, allowing Teal to sneak past and pip her to the line.  As everyone else made their final lunge for the finish tape, Lime and Purple positioned themselves for the minor places before Lemon accelerated past and crossed the line to take second.  It being a points race, it was the total, not the finishing positions that count.  It was much closer this time than in the first race, but the placings were still the same with Lemon just beating Teal, and Lime taking the bronze medal.

6-Tage Rennen
– Image by boardGOATS

All this time, on the other side of the room, Pink, Plum and Ivory were playing Altiplano (with the Sunny Days mini-expansion).  Altiplano is a worker-placement bag building game that is a re-implementation of the bag-building mechanic used in Orléans.  The idea is that players draw resources out of their bag and place them on their personal action boards.  Then, players take it in turns to move their “worker” round the rondel to different locations where they can carry out corresponding actions assuming they have the right resources in the right place.  In essence, the game can be boiled down to one of resource improvement, for example, players can use an Alpaca to get Wool which they can later turn into Cloth.

Altiplano
– Image by boardGOATS

Points are scored for the resources at the end of the game, with more valuable resources worth more points.  Picking up Hut cards also increases the value of resources.  When a player no-longer needs a resource, they can move it into their warehouse with completed “shelf-fulls” scoring points at the end of the game.  Players have to be careful with this however, as once a resource is in the warehouse it cannot be used anymore.  Additionally, players can also score points by completing contracts.  It is the player that best interweaves these different aspects of the game that wins.

Altiplano
– Image by boardGOATS

All three players felt they were making a poor fist of things and agreed they were “playing sub-optimally”.  Ivory concentrated on collecting and completing contracts.  In contrast, Pink completely eschewed contracts and instead focused on getting Glass tokens—the most valuable of the resources.  To do this, he had to get cocoa first, which he did by taking the Cocoa Canoe and with it one Cocoa resource.  He then increased the value of his Glass by taking the matching Hut.

Altiplano
– Image by boardGOATS

As a bit of a chocoholic, Plum also wanted Cocoa but as Pink had nabbed the Cocoa Canoe, the only way she could get it was to buy an Extension board.  Unfortunately, the first one was too early for her and she couldn’t afford it.  The next Extension had the “Navigation” anchor icon on it associating it with the Harbour Location, but players are only allowed one Extension board at each Location and, as Plum started with the Fisherman, she was not able to get that one either.  The next Cocoa opportunity didn’t come up until much later in the game, by which time it was too late really.  She did take an Extension eventually, one for the Mountains, which enabled her to exchange Food to give Ore which she was then able to convert into Silver.

Altiplano
– Image by boardGOATS

Last time the group played Altiplano, we discovered a “rules malfunction” associated with the purchase and use of carts.  Unfortunately, although many other aspects of the rules were checked, this was overlooked, so instead of always being able to move one space for one food token, or more with a cart, the group played that they could only move if they owned a cart and then only move one space.  That meant movement was much more difficult and made life more challenging.  Once again, everyone was playing by the same rules, so it wasn’t hugely important though it may have shifted the balance of the game a little.

Altiplano
– Image by boardGOATS

There was a nice atmosphere during the game though.  In a Star Wars reference, Pink advised Plum, “Not to go trading with The Huts” and politely waited until the ladies were no-longer present before indulging in comments about his Woodcutter “getting some wood”.  When he started getting wood, however, he couldn’t stop and finished with a particularly large pile.  Ivory started with the Farmer and used his Alpaca to produce wool and wove that into some very high quality scarves.  There was something remarkably “Fishy” about Plum’s strategy but especially when she carefully stashed too many of her fish in her warehouse and then ran out of resources.  She had far more money than anyone else, but ultimately though, there was nothing anyone could do about Pink, who’s Glass factory gave him clear victory.

Altiplano
– Image by boardGOATS

The cycle race finished long before the activities on the high plain.  Lime decided to head off to make sure he got home before the infamous Oxfordshire road closures cut him off, and Teal having enjoyed his evening on the bike also took an early night.  After some more chatter, the remaining six began “a quick game” of Bohnanza.  This is one of our all-time favourite games, and it was time to introduce it to Orange and Lemon.  Although it is not difficult, it is very different to the games we’ve played in the last few weeks, and is considerably more challenging if English is not your first language.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

Bean farming might not seem an exciting theme, but the game is great fun and relies on the simple premise that players must not change the order of the cards in their hand.  On their turn, the active player must plant the first card, the card at the front of their hand, and may plant the second card if they choose.  Players have just two Bean Fields to work with, and each one can only hold one type of bean at any one time.  Once the active player has planted their bean or beans from their hand, they turn over the top two cards in the central deck—these must also be planted before the game can progress, though the active player can trade them with another player or even give them away.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

Once the two cards on the table have been planted, the active player may trade cards from their hand before drawing replacement cards.  At any point a player may harvest beans, but the more cards they harvest, the more they are worth.  However, if a player has a field with only one bean in it, they must harvest their larger field first.  At the end of the game, the player with the most coins is the winner.  Normally, the game ends after the third turn through the deck, but this time, because time was running short, the group finished after the first pass.  This meant the group missed out on way the balance of the deck changes and the rare cards get rarer and the deck gets progressively shorter.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

Purple started, and talked through her turn, followed by Blue.  Pine knew what he was going to do and got on with it as did Black, before it was Orange and then Lemon’s turn.  Purple started collecting Green and Soy Beans, with Pine planting Wax and Black-Eyed Beans.  Orange competed with Blue for Red and Coffee Beans and with Black for Chili Beans.  Lemon started with Blue Beans and later moved onto Green Beans.  There were lots of “generous trades” and gifts too—the group generally play together nicely, but tonight, the heat and the tiredness all round, meant everyone was especially kind to each other.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

With time marching on, the group agreed to call a halt when the deck ran out the first time, even though that meant Pine missed out on two turns that he had set up beautifully.  It was a really close game, but it was Blue who just won the chocolates that Pink offered up for first prize.  As she was only one point clear, she shared her winnings with Lemon who generously passed her’s on to Purple.  It was hot and late, and as everyone left, the pub locked up behind them.

Chocolate Prizes
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Games usually play better with the rules as written.

28th June 2022

When Blue, Pink, Orange and Lemon rolled in (late thanks to the delights of the Oxford traffic and garden watering), Plum was already there.  A gamer with Gweeples in Didcot, Plum was a friend of Burgundy’s that members of the group first met at his funeral about six months ago.  While she finished her tagliatelle, Blue and Pink waited for their supper to arrive, and everyone admired Pink’s Pornstar Martini, the group revisited Tsuro, which Orange and Lemon had enjoyed so much on their first visit, last time.

Tsuro
– Image by boardGOATS

While setting up, Pine arrived and needed a quick reminder of the rules, but that only took a moment:  players have a hand of three tiles and, on their turn place one of them in front of their stone and extend it’s path, moving their stone (and any others) to the end of its path.  Players are eliminated when their stone goes off the board or collides with another stone—the last player on the board is the winner.  First blood went to Blue, who took out Lemon and Pine, but that was collateral damage as she had no choice and went off the board herself at the same time.

Tsuro
– Image by boardGOATS

Pink was next, being trapped and left with no option, and then just Plum and Orange remained to duel it out.  There was very little space left on the board and the writing was already on the wall when Plum went off.  That left Orange a worthy winner, especially as he had a tile to spare too.  Teal arrived and while Blue and Pink fed, he led everyone else in a game of No Thanks!.  This is a game we’ve played a lot in the group and is a very clever design but like all the cleverest games, has very simple rules.  Played with a numbered deck of thirty-two cards, the idea is that on their turn, the active player can take the card in the middle or pay a chip to pass the problem on to the next person.

No Thanks!
– Image by boardGOATS

The next person has the same decision:  they can take the card and the chip, or pay a chip, and so on.  At the end of the game, a player’s total score is the sum of the face value of the cards they took and the player with the lowest number wins.  There are two key points that make the game, however.  Firstly, if a player has consecutively numbered cards, only the lowest card in the run contributes to their total, which means cards have different values to different players.  Secondly, nine cards are removed from the deck, which adds jeopardy on top.  The game can play out in several different ways.

No Thanks!
– Image by boardGOATS

The player or players with the most chips are always in control, until one player is left with so few chips or runs out completely, that they are forced to take cards even when they don’t want them.  This can prevent players, even those with lots of chips, from getting the cards they need to close runs causing the strategy to back-fire, and leaving those with the most chips with the most points as well.  This time, Orange and Teal amassed a huge pile of chips each, but both managed to avoid ending up with multiple high scoring runs.  Then someone dropped a chip on the floor giving Pine the opportunity to recount the tale of how he dropped a chip between the floor boards and how it is still there despite everyone’s best efforts.

No Thanks!
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, the dropped chip was recovered successfully and the game ended without further mishap.  Orange and Teal took first and second respectively, giving Orange two in two games to match Lemon’s achievement at the start of last time.  By this time, the feeders had finished feeding and everyone else had arrived, so it was time for the “Feature Game“.  To mark the start of the Tour de France later in the week, this was to be the Peloton expansion for the cycling game, Flamme Rouge.  Flamme Rouge is a fast-paced, tactical bike-racing game where each player controls a team of two riders: a Rouleur and a Sprinteur.  The aim is to manage the first rider to cross the finish line.

Flamme Rouge
– Image by boardGOATS

Each rider has a deck of cards, and Players move their riders one at a time, by drawing four cards from the rider’s deck, choosing one to play, and recycling the rest.  Once every player has picked cards for both their riders, players simultaneously reveal their cards and, starting with the cyclist at the front, each rider is moved in turn.  After all the riders have moved, slip-streaming takes effect, with groups that have exactly one space between them and the group in front moving forward to remove the gap.  Finally, every rider that still has an empty space in front of them is deemed to be riding into the wind and takes an exhaustion card which goes into their deck—these are bad because they are slow cards and block up plays’ hands.

Flamme Rouge
– Image by boardGOATS

At the start of the race, everyone’s Rouleurs have the same cards, and everyone’s Sprinteurs have the same cards.  The Rouleurs have lots of cards with a similar face value, where the Sprinteurs have some cards that are faster and have a higher value, which are offset by others that are slower and have a lower value.  Players have to balance how they manage their riders and make the most of the slip-streaming opportunities.  The game is modular with the option to add hills to the base game.  The Peloton expansion adds extra riders (so that the game plays up to six players), cobbled sections (aka “Pavé”), Feed Zones, and rules to set up a break-away.

Flamme Rouge
– Image by boardGOATS

Unusually with so many people, rather than splitting in to three groups playing three different games, we split into just two with both playing the same game.  Since the Grand Départ was due to take place in the essentially flat Denmark this year, both groups largely played without hills, but included cobbled sections (à la Stage 5, from Lille to Arenberg, a week later).  Cobbled sections change width frequently and are generally narrower than normal road, but perhaps more importantly, riders can no-longer benefit from slipstreaming but still get exhaustion cards.  The slightly larger group, led by Ivory and Teal also decided to start with a break-away.

Flamme Rouge
– Image by boardGOATS

Their chosen route was Stage 11 of the stage race and took in three sections of Pavé.  The first of these was shortly after the start, the second after the first hairpin and a short slight up-hill ramp, and the third was after a second hairpin and a little chicane.  Teal and Lime made it into the breakaway and they stayed away for most of the game.  Being at the front “pushing air out of the way” all the time is tiring though, and inevitably, they picked up a lot of exhaustion cards.  That meant that as the Peloton was bearing down on them, just as the finish line was in sight, they didn’t have the energy fend them off.

Flamme Rouge
– Image by boardGOATS

As a result, Black and Pink, who had been sheltering in the middle of the group slid across the line just ahead of the gallant breakaway, who were definitely candidates for the day’s combativity award.  Black took first place, having spent most of the race doing as little as possible and saving it all for the final sprint.  While saving energy is a good tactic, Purple took it to a different level picking up no exhaustion cards at all, though she wasn’t able to turn on the burners in time to take advantage of it.

Flamme Rouge
– Image by boardGOATS

The smaller group, led by Blue and Plum rode a simpler route based on the Avenue Corso Paseo ride, with a cobbled section in the middle between the two hairpin bends.  With most people in this group new to the game, they decided to keep things simple and eschewed the complexities of hills completely, sticking to a pan-flat course, and kept to the standard roll-out used in the base game.  First Orange and then Lemon rode off the front while Pine and especially Blue were repeatedly under threat of being spat out of the back of the peloton.  Most rounds seemed to end with Blue breathing a sigh of relief as she managed to hang on and Lemon laughing as she picked up yet another exhaustion card.

Flamme Rouge
– Image by boardGOATS

Once the riders had passed the Pavé the speed picked up and Blue and Pine started to try to move forward in the field.  Lemon who had led most of the way “bonked” and “hit the wall”, and as a result, was unceremoniously dropped.  It was tight, but Pine’s Rouleur was first over the line just holding off Plum’s first rider who took second followed by Pine’s Sprinteur who took third.  It had been a close and quite attritional race, but despite the fact there were fewer riders with a shorter parkour, the race finished at much the same time as the other one.  So races were compared and there was a bit of chatter about other options as people packed away.

Flamme Rouge
– Image by boardGOATS

Ivory took himself off for an early night, as did Teal, but those that were left were keen to play on, albeit not for long in some cases.  Inevitably there was a lot of discussion about what to play, but when Ticket to Ride got a mention, Pine and Lime were keen to give the London version a run out, and were quickly joined by Pink and Purple.  Ticket to Ride is one of our favourite games and we play a lot of different versions, short and long.  They all have the same basic structure, but different layouts on different maps, and often with a little rules change.  In summary, in the original game, players are connecting cities across the USA.

Ticket to Ride (USA)
– Image by boardGOATS

They do this by collecting coloured cards and then spending those cards to place trains.  Players score points for placing trains and also for completing “Tickets” by connecting two cities together by any chosen route—the further apart the cities, the more points they are worth.  The game end is triggered when one player has only two train pieces left and at the end of the game, the player with the most points is the winner.  The original game takes around an hour to play with the full compliment, but more recently, there have been a number of smaller, lighter versions available.  They have the same rules, but players have fewer pieces and the maps are more congested, based on cities like New York, Amsterdam and later this year, San Francisco.

Ticket to Ride: London
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, however, the version chosen was London.  In this edition, players are placing buses to mark routes, and in addition to scoring points for claiming routes and Tickets, players also score points for connecting all the places in the same district. Pine won the “name the people on the front of the box” competition and went first.  Lime crossed the city travelling from Baker Street to The Tower of London while both Purple and Pink did the same but from Buckingham Palace to Brick Lane, and via different routes. Pine had a northern route and a south route that looked like they would join up in the middle, but didn’t quite make it.  He did manage to claim a district though, the only player to do so for a district of any significant size.

Ticket to Ride: London
– Image by boardGOATS

It was very close between first and second, though there was a bit more distance to Pink in third.  In the end, Lime just pipped Pine to victory by two points.  Meanwhile, there had been some debate between the other five as to what they would play.  Blue suggested introducing Orange and Lemon to one of our old stalwarts, 6 Nimmt!, but it wasn’t one of Plum’s favourite games.  So instead, Blue and Black introduced everyone else to …Aber Bitte mit Sahne, a clever but simple little “I divide, you choose” game.  The idea is that one player is The Baker who divides the cake into pieces and then everyone else takes it in turns to take a one of them.

…Aber Bitte Mit Sahne
– Image by boardGOATS

Each slice of cake has a type, a number on it and a some cream.  When a player takes cake, they can choose to eat it or store it.  For all eaten cake, players a point for each blob of cream.  For stored cake, however, the player with the most of each type will score the number of points associated with that type.  The clever part is that the number of points is equivalent to the number of slices of that type in the game, so the more common types which are harder to get a majority in are worth more, but they also have the most cream, tempting players to eat them straight away.

…Aber Bitte Mit Sahne
– Image by boardGOATS

It is always difficult for the first couple of players to take the role of Baker, but this is exacerbated with five players.  Blue went first, then Black.  It was only a couple of rounds in, that the twinkle appeared in Plum’s eye as she realised how clever the game was and expressed her approval.  It was quite tight in the early stages with players staking their claims to different sorts of cake.  There was competition for kiwi and redcurrent, but others went largely un-stored (and therefore eaten).  After everyone had been the Baker it was time to see who had the most of each and add up the scores.  Black got lucky with the chocolate as everyone else was greedy and ate theirs.

…Aber Bitte Mit Sahne
– Image by boardGOATS

Unfortunately, there was a rules misunderstanding and Orange thought he would get points for every slice he kept if he had the most of that type, so we’ll have to play it again soon so he can try again.  This time though, Black who had been very abstemious and eaten none of his cake, ran out the clear winner with thirty-five points to Blue’s twenty-nine and Plum’s twenty-seven for second and third place respectively.  Ticket to Ride: London was still underway on the next table, so as Orange and Lemon had not played it before, Blue got out Dobble.  We’ve not played this in the group for years, but it is a fantastic little Snap-based filler.

Dobble
– Image by boardGOATS

The idea is that every card has several pictures and each card shares exactly one match with every other card in the deck and using this principle, there are five possible Snap-based games.  Black decided discretion was the better part of valor and opted to spectate while Plum had a significant drive so headed off, leaving just Blue, Orange and Lemon.  They started with a pile of cards each and the winner the first to shed their pile onto the central one.  The game was all very well, but there was a vocabulary check as, although Blue said they could play in Ukrainian, Orange and Lemon were game to give English a go.  Once the items had been identified, the mania started.

Dobble
– Image by boardGOATS

As it was a trial game, the piles weren’t carefully measured, but Orange quickly got the hang of it and in spite of the language differences, managed to shed his pile first for yet another victory.  From there, the group did the reverse and started with one card and grabbed progressively matching cards from the middle.  This can be quite savage, which is why Blue opted for the gentler game first.  Still, everyone was well-behaved and nobody got scratched.  The tension and concentration was palpable though and Ticket to Ride finished and Lime and Pine left with only a a cursory grunt from those playing Dobble, before Blue just edged it to win the final game of the night.

Dobble
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Tour de France coverage is available on ITV4.

14th November 2017

While Blue and Burgundy finished their supper, everyone else played a quick game of The Game, played with cards from The Game: Extreme.  The game is a very simple cooperative game: played with a deck of ninety-eight cards the group have to play all of them to win.  Each player starts with a hand of cards and must play at least two of their cards on one of the four piles. The first rule is that cards added to two of the piles must be higher face value than those previously played, while cards on the other two must be lower.  The second rule is “the backwards rule”, which says that if the interval is exactly ten the first rule is reversed.  The third and final rule is that players  can say anything they like so long as they don’t share specific number information about the contents of their hand.  The Extreme version has blue cards instead of red ones, but also has additional symbols on the cards which add further restrictions and make playing cards more difficult.

– Image by boardgoats

By ignoring the extra symbols the original version of The Game can be played with cards from The Extreme version.  As is often the case, the game started badly with almost everyone starting with cards between thirty and seventy.  There are two problems with this, firstly it forces players to progress the decks faster then they wanted.  Secondly, the very high and very low cards are still waiting to be revealed which causes the same problem a second time later in the game.  And this is exactly what happened.  Pine for example started with nothing below forty and only one card above sixty, and ended the game with a lots of cards in the nineties.  With such an awful hand before everyone else was ready, he ended up just playing everything and was the first to check-out.  By this time Burgundy and Blue were finished with pizza and had discovered that watching the others struggle was strangely compelling.  It wasn’t long before Purple was unable to play though, which brought the game to a close with a combined to total of seven cards unplayed.

The Game: Extreme
– Image by boardGOATS

With food finished and The Game over, the group split into two with the first group playing the “Feature Game”, Flamme Rouge.  This is a bicycle game that Blue and Pink played at Essen in 2016, but actually picked up at the fair this year.  The game is quite simple, bit even then we managed to get it slightly wrong.  The idea is that each player has two riders, a Sprinteur and a Rouleur, each of which has a deck of cards. Simultaneously, players draw four cards from one of their the rider’s deck and choosing one to play, before doing the same for their second rider.  Once everyone has chosen two cards, the riders move, starting with the rider at the front of the pack, discarding the used cards.  Once all the riders have moved, then the effect of slip-streaming and exhaustion are applied.  Exhaustion is simple enough – players simply add an exhaustion card to the deck for any rider without cyclists in the square in front of them at the end of the round.  The slip-streaming is slightly more complex, but the idea is that every pack of cyclists that has exactly one space between them and the pack in front, benefits from slip-streaming and is able to catch up that one space.

Flamme Rouge
– Image by BGG contributor mattridding

Slip-steaming is applied from the back, which means riders may be able to benefit multiple times.  The problem was, Blue had played incorrectly at Essen: they had played that a pack had to comprise at least two riders and would move forward regardless of how many spaces there were in front of them.  Ironically, the person to suffer most from this rules mishap was Blue as her Sprinteur was dropped from the pack early in the race and, although he got on to the back of the pack again, the exhaustion caused by all the early effort meant he struggled for the rest of the race and was soon dropped completely.  All the other riders managed to stay in the Peloton and, as the race drew to a close, there was some jockeying for position.  Black’s Sprinteur made a dash for the line, but got his timing very slightly wrong and didn’t quite make it.  Pine’s Sprinter on the other hand, timed his dash to perfection and pipped Black to first place.  In fact, Pine rode such a canny race, his Rouleur came in third.

Flamme Rouge
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor zombiegod

Meanwhile, on the next table, Burgundy, Purple and Green were giving Azul a go.  This is a brand new release that Pink and Blue picked up at Essen this year and played back at their hotel while they were in Germany.  It has such nice pieces and is such a clever, yet simple game, that Blue tipped it for the Spiel des Jahres award next year (or at least a nomination if something even better comes out).  The idea of the game is that players are tile laying artists decorating a wall in the Palace of Evora with “azulejos”.  On their turn, the active player can either take all the tiles of one colour from one of the factory display (putting the rest in the central market) or take all the tiles of one colour from the market in the centre of the table.  They then place the tiles in one of the five rows on their player board.

Azul
– Image by BGG contributor JackyTheRipper

Each row can only contain one colour, but players may have more than one row with any given colour.  The catch is that each player only has five rows, each with a set number of spaces, one to five.  Players can add tiles to a row later in the round, but once a row is full, any left-overs go into the negative scoring row.  Once all the tiles have been picked up, players evaluate their board, and, starting with the shortest row, one of the tiles from each full row is added to the player’s mosaic and scored. Players score one point for a tile that is not placed adjacent to any other tile, whereas tiles added to rows or columns score the same number of points as there are tiles in the completed row (or column).  The game continues with players choosing tiles from the factory displays and then adding them to rows, the catch is that as the mosaic fills up, it is harder to fill the rows as each row can only take each colour once.

Azul
– Image by BGG contributor JackyTheRipper

The game is much more complex to explain than to actually play, and as such is just the sort of game we really appreciate.  There are also end game bonuses which keep everyone guessing right up to the end.  So, although fairly simple to play, it is very clever and gives players a lot to think about.  Blue had played it with Burgundy, Black and Purple at the Didcot Games Club and everyone had enjoyed it, so Burgundy and Purple were keen to share it with Green.  The previous game had been very tight between first and second, with a tie for third, but this time, the game seemed quite tight throughout the game.  In the end, Burgundy finished the clear winner with seventy-eight points.  It remained tight for second place though, but Purple’s extra experience showed and she pipped Green by four points.  Both games finished at about the same time, so with Black, Ivory and Green keen to play 7 Wonders, and Purple and Blue not so keen, it was musical chairs while everyone else decided which group to join.

Azul
– Image used with permission of boardgamephotos

7 Wonders is a card drafting game similar to games like Sushi Go! or Between Two Cities.  Each player starts with a hand of cards and, simultaneously, each player chooses a card to play, a card to keep and then a passes the rest to the next player. The cards are played with various different aims:  players might try to build up their city and erect an architectural wonder, or attempt to have a superior military presence to neighbouring players. The game consists of three rounds, the first and third passing cards to the left, with the middle round passing cards to the right.  Black and Green went down the military route taking points from both Ivory and Burgundy and picked up additional victory points from blue cards.  Ivory and Burgundy, on the other hand, went for science points, but Ivory managed to take the most squeezing out both Burgundy and Black.  It was a close game with just five points between first place and third place, but it was Green who just finished in front.

7 Wonders
– Image by BGG contributor damnpixel

On the next table, Blue, Purple and Pine played a game of another Essen acquisition, Animals on Board.  This actually belonged to Pink, but Blue still had it in the bag from Didcot Games Club a few days before.  It is a very simple game of set collecting, with elements from Coloretto and 3 Sind Eine Zu Viel!.  Totally over produced, the game comes with fantastic cardboard arcs and thick card animal tiles.  There are five of each animal, and each set includes animals numbered from one to five and a selection are drawn at random and placed face up in the centre of the table.  On their turn the active player either divides one of the groups into two parts (and takes a box of fruit for their pains) or takes the animals from one of the groups, paying for them with boxes of fruit at a rate of one per animal.  At the end of the game (triggered when one player picks up their tenth animal) Noah claims any pairs of animals.  The remaining animals either score their face value if they are singletons, or score five if there are three or more.

Animals on Board
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor chriswray84

Blue began collecting pandas and zebras, while Purple and Pine fought over the tigers, foxes and crocodiles.  It was Blue who triggered the end of the game and everyone counted up their totals in whst turned out to be a very close game.  Everyone had at least one set of three and Purple had managed to take four foxes.  Blue had managed to pick up a total of eleven animals and that extra critter made the difference giving, her the win.  Since it had been so close and 7 Wonders was still going, they decided there was just enough time to play something else and see if revenge could be had.  Since NMBR 9, another game that came back from Essen, needs no setting up, they decided to give it a go.

NMBR 9
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

NMBR 9 is a Bingo-type game like Take it Easy! or Karuba, where  one player calls a number and everyone plays their tile that corresponds to that number.  NMBR 9 takes the number theme one step further, since all the tiles are roughly number-shaped.  The idea is that players will play a total of twenty tiles, numbered zero to nine, with each one appearing twice.  One player turns over a card and calls the number and players each take one tile of that number and add it to their tableau.  Tiles must be placed such that at least one edge touches a previous tile.  Tiles can be placed on top of other tiles as long as there are no overhanging parts, and the tile sits squarely on more than one other tile.  At the end of the game the number tiles are multiplied by the level they sit on minus one.  So, a five on the third level scores ten points (5 x (3-1)).

NMBR 9
– Image used with permission of boardgamephotos

Blue started off well, which was unsurprising as she had played it before with Pink.  She quickly got herself into a bit of a tangle though, with the plaintive cry, “I’ve got a hole in the wrong place!”  Pine was steadily making up ground, but concurred, muttering, “There are too many sticky out bits on a four…”  With 7 Wonders finally coming to an end, Black and Burgundy found their curiosity piqued by the strange shaped tiles and tried to work out what was going on.  It wasn’t long before the last cards were turned over though and everyone had to take their shoes and socks off to work out the scores.  Pine’s smart second level placement had yielded success and he finished with score of sixty-one, a comfortable lead of five over blue in second place.

NMBR 9
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

Learning Outcome:  Some games, make surprisingly good spectator sports.