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Subject: Thunder Alley - Give a brother a little push! - quick review rss

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Tiago Perretto
Brazil
Curitiba
Parana
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Designer: Jeff Horger, Carla Horger
Playing time: 90 Min
Weight: 2.38 / 5
Publisher: GMT Games

LOW HIGH
COMPLEXITY 1 2 * 4 5
COMPONENTS 1 * 3 4 5
DOWNTIME 1 2 * * 5
FUN 1 2 3 * 5
INTERACTION 1 2 3 * 5
PLAYING TIME 1 2 * 4 5
LUCK 1 2 * 4 5
REPLAY VALUE 1 2 3 * 5
SOLITAIRE * 2 3 4 5
THEMATIC 1 2 3 * 5


Comments: Thunder Alley is a racing game with hand management. It is based in the stock cars racing, and uses the way cars form packs in order to use the vacuum of the cars to get higher speeds and save fuel.

The mechanics represent this effect quite well, using four types of movement cards: draft, that move cars in front and behind the one activated; leader, that moves the cars behind it; pursuit, that move all cars in front of it; and solo, that only moves the one activated. There are other details around movement, such as leaving and entering in routes, moving outward or inward, pushing cars with the movement value; furthermore, there are events, damage, pit stops, etc. Yet, the basic is: each person controls a team of a number of vehicles, and activates one por turn, using one of the cars in hand.

Everyone wants to keep their cars positioned in the best way possible in order to get constant use of sinergies among the cards - not only yours, but also from the other players, as this is the main key to stay ahead. This is likely the biggest unique element of Thunder Alley: in spite of being competitive, there is a huge amount of cooperation between teams, sometimes to catch up, to pull ahead, or whatever.

The winner isn't necessarily the one that cross in 1st place - it is the team that score the most points, considering all the cars, which makes the whole situation less binary and much more interesting, as all cars are vital resources and is necessary to put them in the best place possible.

Thunder Alley is mainly tatical in nature - the tendency is to plan around the cards received at the start of the rounds, and to react to the actions of others and the current state of the race. The strategy is mostly limited to the present round, pondering what to do - and in which order, with which cars - with the cards. Luck is indeed a considerable element in the game.

Downtime increases the more people are playing, and the sweet spot seems to be 4, but we enjoyed with 3 as well.

In the end, Thunder Alley is a remarkable game due to its thematic flavor, even when considering the rough edges that come due to that. However, there is plenty of room to clever plays and smart positioning. As usual, Thunder Alley isn't a game that will please everyone, but for those that enjoy racing games that tries to simulate much of the experience of a stock cad race, Thunder Alley goes well recommended.

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Image credit: Jeff Horger
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Chris Drake
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Great review. I don't watch racing and could pretty much care less about it but I love racing games and this is my favorite. This game fired most others for me including Speed Circuit and Formula De. We even did a league a couple of years ago based on points and had a blast.
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Jeff Horger
United States
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Thanks for taking the time and effort to review the game. Carla & I appreciate it.
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