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Subject: Play time…something seems wrong rss

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J. Mowery
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Ok…what did we do wrong?!?

Three of us played our first game of Thunder Alley last night (5 cars each). I found the gameplay to be quite fun, but our game lasted 4 HOURS!!! The box says this game plays in 60-90min, and in every review I've seen about this game, they've basically all been extremely positive and nobody has ever even mentioned play time as being long.

We played the Pullinger's Pyramid track (3 laps). We had occasional pauses for rules-digging and a handful of discussions about movement specifics. I would say our turn lengths were moderate. We weren't just slapping cards down without thinking, but I don't feel like we were getting super AP about things either.

So, why the heck did this game go 4 hours? Do all of the tracks have roughly the same play time? I noticed that some tracks have 2 laps listed on the Lap Track, others 3 or 4.

I want to like this game, but if it really is a 3-4 hour experience each time, I'm afraid I'll have to trade it.

Hopefully, someone can find something that we were doing wrong.


Cheers.
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Chase Williams
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'Arctica' Gary
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You can always reduce play time by doing less laps.
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Team Ski
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Never had a game that slow and we averaged 4-5 players. AP?

-Ski
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Stephen Dearn
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We play this game a lot and with 5 players most tracks average 2 hours max. Less if it rains
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Mike Malley
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bowie47 wrote:
We play this game a lot and with 5 players most tracks average 2 hours max. Less if it rains

What do the other tracks average?
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4 hours? Bloody hell! wow

We usually get two complete games in during an evening session, and have never had a game go more than 2 hours.

I can't advise you as to what you're doing to make it so long.
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Chris
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Thunder alley is about working the pack. Taking everyone forword but yourself more so. I bet you kept fragmenting the groups and doing lots of solo movement for little net benefit.
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
Thunder alley is about working the pack. Taking everyone forword but yourself more so. I bet you kept fragmenting the groups and doing lots of solo movement for little net benefit.


I bet Chris is right. I've played a lot of TA and have never even hit TWO hours let alone four...
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Sean Tompkins
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I think the pyramid is the slowest (timeplay wise) of the tracks - i think it's recommended as the beginner track, but I usually start with one of the others for new players. My first game or two were pretty slow (not four hours, but long enough that I felt like it was too long), but as people get experience with what the cards do, how to move cars, etc each turn interval has gotten much shorter.

The one other thing that can really add to length is breaking up the draft line - if everyone has to pull their cars around themselves, the game will go several turns longer than if people are lining up in a long line and everyone pushing everyone around the track.

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Sean Tompkins
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
Thunder alley is about working the pack. Taking everyone forword but yourself more so. I bet you kept fragmenting the groups and doing lots of solo movement for little net benefit.


Yeah, I second this - a combined "learning the rules" and an extra minute or two per turn, combined with this fragmenting would explain a lot of the extra time you faced.
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Four hours is an EXTREME amount of time. If players are taking too long each turn, maybe try a time limit with a sand timer.

I've soloed a six team race in under two hours.
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Greg
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I usually play with 7 players and it only goes a couple hours.
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Stig Morten
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
Thunder alley is about working the pack. Taking everyone forword but yourself more so. I bet you kept fragmenting the groups and doing lots of solo movement for little net benefit.


Four hours seem to be way too long, I haven't had races go longer than 2 hours. Not sure how you achieved that, but fragmenting couls really be the answer. I have seen a few of the new players I have played with go away on their own. Not usually a problem as the experienced players usually laps them if they go alone. If you had very little restarts a fragmented field should take a long time to get to the finishline.

Two more questions to see how the race played out.

How many turns di the game last? (How many event cards did you draw?)
Did you see any restarts? How many?

These two questions can tell us if the race took an unusual amount of laps to finish. If you fragmented the field without any restarts it might take longer because of, as Chris said, little movement happens to each car per turn.

I hope you get the playtime down to what you find acceptable on your next play.
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René Christensen
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jmmowery wrote:
Ok…what did we do wrong?!?

Three of us played our first game of Thunder Alley last night (5 cars each). I found the gameplay to be quite fun, but our game lasted 4 HOURS!!! The box says this game plays in 60-90min, and in every review I've seen about this game, they've basically all been extremely positive and nobody has ever even mentioned play time as being long.

We played the Pullinger's Pyramid track (3 laps). We had occasional pauses for rules-digging and a handful of discussions about movement specifics. I would say our turn lengths were moderate. We weren't just slapping cards down without thinking, but I don't feel like we were getting super AP about things either.

So, why the heck did this game go 4 hours? Do all of the tracks have roughly the same play time? I noticed that some tracks have 2 laps listed on the Lap Track, others 3 or 4.

I want to like this game, but if it really is a 3-4 hour experience each time, I'm afraid I'll have to trade it.

Hopefully, someone can find something that we were doing wrong.


Cheers.

Perhaps you are overthinking your moves!
This is suppose to be fun and quick game.
Use a timer for your moves - 30secs at the top!
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Charles Sherrange
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Four hours?

How long did it take you guys to decide which card for which car? Played yesterday and got done in less than an hour, two huge draft lines really helped that.
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Jeff Horger
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My guess is that Stig has the heart of the problem.

Almost all of our games go about 90 minutes at most. But the major things that can slow a game is:

1) Lack of yellow cards. As the field gets spread out and there is fewer opportunities to move multiple cars, the game can slow some. That can happen in any race and will usually see about 7 or so event cards drawn.

2) Failure to move multiple cars at once. As Stig mentioned I have seen numerous first-time players fail to move a line with multiple cars even if theirs in the line since they would move another player's cars as well. I was party to a demo game at Gencon where no one would move any line that included even one player's car in it. If that is the way they want to race, it will slow the game down (we saw 16 turns in that race).

Personally, I race until the last half of a lap to keep my car is good shape. I only try to break away from the opposition and "play dirty" on the last lap of the game. If the game drags, cars can get excessive wear and it becomes unpredictable.
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J. Mowery
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ad79 wrote:
How many turns di the game last? (How many event cards did you draw?)
Did you see any restarts? How many?


We played a 3 lap race and had 6 events: Green, green, green, yellow, green and yellow.
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Jeff Horger
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jmmowery wrote:
ad79 wrote:
How many turns di the game last? (How many event cards did you draw?)
Did you see any restarts? How many?


We played a 3 lap race and had 6 events: Green, green, green, yellow, green and yellow.


Hmmm, that sounds like a 90 minute game to me. Almost perfect. A few turns of racing. A yellow to bunch everyone up. Another turn of racing and a shootout to the finish.
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Chad Schrieber
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Jeff Horger wrote:
jmmowery wrote:
ad79 wrote:
How many turns di the game last? (How many event cards did you draw?)
Did you see any restarts? How many?


We played a 3 lap race and had 6 events: Green, green, green, yellow, green and yellow.


Hmmm, that sounds like a 90 minute game to me. Almost perfect. A few turns of racing. A yellow to bunch everyone up. Another turn of racing and a shootout to the finish.


I have to agree with Jeff, here. Sounds like it should have been a pretty normal experience, with 6 turns on that track.

Jeff's playtesting groups were always faster than mine, but we never crossed the 2.5 hour mark, even with 4 new players in a 6-player race.

My early thoughts in reading through this thread was perhaps mechanically, you're doing something wrong. But, I think most of these were covered, and sounds like you're not doing any of these. A couple of those thoughts, though, were these:

-Maybe they're moving all of their cars with each card?
-Maybe they're only moving a single car, regardless of the card type?
-Maybe they're spending time trying to figure out who goes next? (Game goes "around the table," not in car order on the track. This could be a huge time-sink if you're thinking it's in track running order.)

I did have one play-test group that thought on Yellow Flags, you'd go around to the start/finish line, and not count the lap (thus, "replay" a particular lap). They knew something was wrong, but didn't know what.

Did anything feel like it wasn't working the right way?
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J. Mowery
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No, we didn't make any of the mistakes that you listed. Weird, huh?
 
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Dante Alligiero
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6 game turn seems correct, so the problem was not about the cars and draft line, but in time keep by each players to choose their race card.

Think: 6 turns x approx 20 cars = 120 race sequences.
If players take 30 seconds to play a card, the game will last one hour or a little more.
If they take 1 minute, it will double the game time to 2 hours.
If only one player take 2 minutes or more for each card, he will increase the duration of the game of 30 minutes, and so on.

I had this problem last sunday, because 2 players on 6 take too much time for each card, as if their lives depends of, it was booooooring, and the game last over 3 hours!

It seem important to notice this sentence from the rules book:
"It is quite possible to AGONIZE over each decision, but much of the game is out of your control [...]"
And read this aloud when players take too much time.
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Toni Camo
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Unluckily this is a game (that I LOVE, it's my favourite game on races) that has proved to become a hell when it is played with the "wrong" people (AP worshippers).

My first game was for 6 players. Some of them had issues with English (despite the cards are quite descriptive), so when they had race cards including extra text in their hand they did not know what to do and asked about that text constantly. The understanding of the four basic moves (specially the differences on the first move of a car in its turn, as a car may start a solo move to get linked lately) was also a bit confusing for some of them. Well, all these delays are normal even for a game in your own language in your first session.

However, if you add that to the players who tried to calculate every single possibility on their turn... it turned a game that tries to emulate a fast-speed activity into chess. Some players got really impatient, the race was finished after the second lap (of 3) and the game became "banned" in that playing group.

Fortunately I got to meet just a few gaming pals who enjoy Thunder Alley as much as me and who approach the game the same way. We play races for 4-5 players and we keep two simple rules on timing:

- we have one minute to check the cards in your hand at the beginning of a round
- every player has 20 seconds at most to decide what card to play in a single turn

That way we get to finish a whole race for four players (yesterday a 3-lap race) in around 120-150 minutes.
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