Frondeurs et Frondeuses is a political game about the events that took place in France between 1648 and 1652 AD, collectively known as the FRONDE. Essentially it was a ‘time of troubles’, everything from pay strikes by judges to armed rebellion. Paris, the administrative center and largest community in the realm, was the natural venue, but smaller ‘frondes’ took place elsewhere, notably in Bordeaux. What linked events both geographically and in time were the chief actors in the drama, some of whom played multiple roles. In the Fronde of the Parlement, for example, the Great Condé repressed the Parisians on behalf of the Crown, but in the subsequent Fronde of the Princes he became the face of the rebellion, and in the Spanish Fronde he fought against France on behalf of Spain.
The Fronde gives enough scope for game designers to deal with it in a variety of ways, but this game will focus on high politics and intrigue. Four Factions are involved: the Mazarinists, aiming to preserve the status quo; the Cabalists (les Cabale des Importantes), a group of high aristocrats who want Mazarin gone and their own power augmented; the Retzists (pronounced ‘reyists’) under Coadjutor Retz, who also want Mazarin gone so that Retz can take his job; the Condéeans, following the Great Condé, who aims to turn himself into a new ‘Mayor of the Palace’. But, apart from these selfish aims, each side sees itself as defenders of the King, the young Louis XIV. There is no thought of supplanting him, but all want to be in the most advantageous position when he reaches his majority. Meanwhile, the lower classes groan under high taxation and shortages. They demand an end to the ceaseless war with Spain. Or else.
You will play one of the four factions, seeking both political and military influence among your peers. Will you champion the cause of the common folk (whether honestly or cynically) to exert leverage on the Crown, form networks among the noble houses to oppose the will of your rivals, or rely on the Army to crush all opposition?
Number of Players: 2-4
The game is easiest to manage with four players. All Factions are used at every player count, so in a two-player game each player handles two sides, swapping one of their factions with their opponent mid way through the game. In a three-player game the fourth side is run as a dummy by each player in turn and the third player swaps his faction for the dummy mid way through the game.
The game uses the same mechanics as RSG’s popular . Action cards allow you to place and remove cubes of your colour from a board representing the connections between those people, places, and institutions who were relevant to the Fronde. Having Influence (your cubes) in a location allows you to score it; locations score for both their political and military value. Special Season cards advance the turn marker and trigger various events. Rules unique to this game include the arrest of certain individuals, military campaigns on the frontiers, the ability to make a Royal Progress, Spanish Gold, Mazarin‘s cunning use of voluntary exile to confuse his opponents, and the presence of the resourceful d’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers!
1 game board
1 deck of 90 Action cards, 1 deck of 21 Season cards, 1 deck of 10 Aide Mémoire cards
4 sets of 100 Cubes, each of a different colour
80 round tokens
Player aids including 4 Player Aid sheets, a score track, a token holding sheet, and a set of 6 mini maps
1 Historical Commentary
Print & Play Requirements
If you buy the Print & Play version there are two extra hoops you have to jump through. You will need the deck of cards. The PDF is provided in the kit, but physical copies are available at DriveThru Cards™. You have the option of ordering a physical deck from them at a cost of $20.00 USD plus shipping.
Go to and search for Red Sash Games or Frondeurs et Frondeuses.
The other thing you will need are the CUBES. You will need 4 different colours and 100 of each colour. 100-piece bags in a variety of colours can be found at a number of online game supply stores. Average North American price appears to be $8.00 per bag.