Nascar is a hot property based on the thousands of fans in the world. It’s fast, exciting, fun to watch and involves high speeds and plenty of gasoline. Designing a board game that captures the feeling of stock car racing is what GMT games attempted to do with the game Thunder Alley for 2–7 players. It doesn’t carry the official Nascar name, but the question is if it delivers on the racing experience? Read on road warriors.
GMT is a quality board game publisher, and the components of its games are sturdy and printed with top-notch materials. Thunder Alley is no different. It has four different heavy-duty boards that depict various race tracks. Players select one and place it on the table.
Next, players choose one of seven teams to represent in the races. All of the teams are the same except for their car color and design, but what makes the teams differ is how they utilize the cards that really bring out the feel of racing. Depending on the number of players, each team will race three to six cars, and points are earned for each car’s placement at the finish line. Even if a player takes first place, another player may have a better team score and win.
All of the elements of racing are present in this game, such as managing pit stops, teamwork, different colored flags, drafting, weather, accidents, breaking away from the pack and photo finishes. The strategy of the game resides in how the game cards are played because there is always the possibility that playing a card will not only help a player but also his or her opponent.
Each round a player will get a hand of cards with movement options. Playing a card typically has a negative effect such as wear and tear on tires, engine or car components as well as a movement option with a number of spaces on the board that a car may travel. Cards must be played at the right time in the right situation, and cars must be positioned to take advantage of movement on other players’ turns.
The game also has a “push your luck” element as players must decide when to take their cars into the pit stop for repairs. Some wear and car damage can’t be repaired, so a player must decide how long to travel without stopping and also decide what cards to play on what turns to allow for maximum benefits.
And of course there are event cards at the end of every round that can affect the game. There may be a stalled car on the track, an accident, rain or additional damage given out to certain cars. Rules are included for short two- or three-lap races or epic tournaments between multiple players.
If stock racing is a passion, then Thunder Alley is in the winner’s circle. It does an excellent job of simulating stock car racing. To players it will feel like managing a racing team and making the split-second decisions on the racing track that mean victory or defeat. It's an excellent offering from GMT. Find out more at www.gmtgames.com.