Gameday First Play – Thunder Alley
“If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
~ Ricky Bobby
Thunder Alley is a stock car racing game with the feel and flexibility of a card-driven simulation. Drafting, teamwork, accidents, yellow flags, pit strategy, working to lead laps, and sprints to the finish are all included and bring the feel of racing to the game.
Fairly straight forward racing game really with highly tactical play. Each car scores a number of points depending on where they finish and it’s your team score that will count at the end of the game.
You have a team of cars, the more players in the game the fewer cars each player has but in our 4 player game we had 4 cars each and they are placed on the starting grid in a semi-random yet very fair manner.
You have a hand of 5 cards on on your turn you play a card and activate one of your cars, any of them.
The cards have different abilities but most importantly they are 1 of the 4 types of movement.
Pursuit, Draft, Solo and Lead.
Pursuit moves the car forward and pushes everything in the same lane as you forward with it. Draft does that too, but it also pulls along everything behind you.
Lead is the opposite of pursuit, you pull everything in your lane behind you along for the ride.
Then Solo moves you off on your own, make a break for it!
A card, depending on what it does, will have a different movement value and each move forward you pay 1 point. You can switch lanes, push cars etc in front of you for different amounts of movement points depending on the type of movement used.
The card may also give you damage…
You add the relevant damage token to the activated car… Once they get 3 or more tokens they start to slow down, 6 and they’re retired!
To prevent this, each round you have the option to ‘Pit’ by pulling into the side of the track, moving back 5 spaces and removing all of the temporary damage tokens on your car.
There are also Events that occur each round that will effect the race…
Yellow flags can cause a restart which means all cars group back up. This has REALLY helped some cars who have dropped away from the pack.
Also Rain cards cause a Red Flag and can cause an early finish of the race.
When a car crosses the finish line on the final lap, that will be the last round. Any car that crossed the line gets the points token for their position then every other car on the track will score for their relative position.
Most team points wins.
A very good simulation of a racing game. The drafting is great and you have to balance car damage vs pushing your car vs pitting. Events are quite realistic as a cars tyre WILL blow out randomly, but at least the game makes sure the car with the most tyre damage on it is the one that gets the penalty.
It’s very tactical. I already mentioned pitting and damage but car positioning is key. You can break away and go alone, but you’re probably better off in the pack so your cars move on other players turns… The order you activate your cars is important too as it means making a choice between moving the one from the middle of the pack to the front, or trying to help the one at the back catch up.
When you activate a car you flip it over. The little car counters have a Dark and a Light side and it’s a bit fiddly. You’re supposed to play Dark one round, Light the next but people would probably forget so we kept flipping them back at the end of each round.
A very good simulation of a race game with thematic elements and tactical yet simple game play.