Thunder Alley

A behind the scenes look at a new take on racing. Follow the progress of this brand new game right here.

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Chasing the Race

Jeff Horger
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Today's look at the Racing deck for Thunder Alley focuses on the "Chasing the Race" cards. This is a good look at one of the limiting cards and one that has a very interesting place in the game. Basically the card inflicts one minor wear token on the active car. while providing 5 Movement Points. However the car using the card may not change lanes at all during its movement. Because the card utilizes draft movement, it simply picks up all cars in the way and propels them down the track.

For me, this card is one of the calling cards of the game. Moving an entire line of cars, hopefully setting something nice up for later. The wear token is removable and minor. All in all it is a beautiful example of what the game is about in five short moves.

Why is this card even in the deck if it is so limiting? The simplest reason is that it so closely ties into the feel of a mid-race scenario. Keep moving, stay in a pack, bide your time. Playing it may allow you to keep a better card for later and may also prevent you from putting some severe damage on a car too early. Late in the race I might expect this to be the one card you didn't use as you push and dart your way to the checkered flag. But maybe you can use it to have one of your rear cars push a better positioned car forward.

The card seems a bit like a dud by the description, but you should begin to appreciate how it and cards like it keep the race moving and everyone in a tight bunch. Without cards like this, the feel of the game would be so much lessened.

Thunder Alley is available for pre-order at:
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-359-thunder-alley.aspx

Thunder Alley also has a Facebook Page at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thunder-Alley/128422033924619

As sample art for the game is finished I will try to show some of it there, so stop in and "like" it.
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Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:41 pm
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Working the Pack

Jeff Horger
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Somewhere early on in the final design process Carla & I looked for some card ideas that would be completely against the grain of the design. It was hard to find a lot of them and it was even harder to find ones that worked. Maybe the most successful of the "out-of-the-box" cards is Working the Pack. The movement used for this card is unique for the game. Essentially it is a card that allows a player whose cars are locked into a tight space to squeeze forward inside the bunch of cars.

Each movement point awarded allows you to move forward but if the space directly in front of you is occupied you simply swap places with the car ahead of you. You can do this multiple times on the turn, thus you work your way forward through the pack instead of going around it or bringing it with you.

Generally I will try to hold onto this card for the end of a turn or maybe for even a few turns until the time is right. It is never a card I would discard. You only get 4 movement but you get no wear from the card and it is so easy to make an unexpected move with it.



This game is still available for preorder at:
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-359-thunder-alley.aspx
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Thu May 23, 2013 6:19 pm
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Clean Air

Jeff Horger
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Today's card in the ongoing description of the Race Cards for Thunder Alley is "Clean Air". This card is without a doubt the catch-up card of Thunder Alley.

The basics. The card is white so the car being activated with it receives no wear marker after movement. It is a 4-speed solo movement card, thus allowing you freedom to move as you see fit. The biggest benefit of the card is that if a car ends movement in a sector by itself and is not currently the leader of the race, it may move forward any number of sectors until it is in a sector behind another car. This could be 1 sector or 20 sectors depending on the spread of the other cars.

It was clearly designed to allow you to have opportunities to bring a car that got left behind back into play. I will almost always place this car directly behind another car in the hopes that it will or must bring me along in a draft of lead activation later.

This card also has a huge variation depending on the track being used. Clean air on the Super Speedway can result in a great number of spaces being covered. On the Short Track fewer spaces will be covered due to the size and congestion of cars.

Occasionally this card is difficult to play, especially if none of your cars have fallen off the pace. Personally, if I don't use it the turn it is drawn, I usually discard it at the end of that turn to try and get better cards. On the short track that is a guarantee.


This game is still currently available on the P500 at the pre-order price. We are aiming for a fall release.
http://www.gmtgames.com/p-359-thunder-alley.aspx
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Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:58 pm
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Riding the Draft

Jeff Horger
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Continuing with the cards from Thunder Alley, today I will address one of the simplest cards in the game, Riding the Draft.

This card allows simply for moving a car ahead and not making challenges or lane changes. The card calls for no wear to the activated car. It utilizes Draft Movement. In fact it is very restrictive in its movement, no lane changes are allowed by the active car at all.

This Card was created to allow a player to keep a car in motion and on the track without adding more wear to it. We look at it as conserving a car for later in the race. Maybe you are trying to stay on the track for one more turn looking for a yellow flag or even the checkered flag.

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Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:16 pm
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The Teamwork Card

Jeff Horger
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The Teamwork card is another one of those cards that just felt like it had a place in the game as soon as we added it. The cards are very dynamic as they are, but one thing that is lacking is the "combo" ability where players get the possibility combining two cards to create some result that is bigger than either one alone. If used effectively the Teamwork card can serve as a combo card by itself and allow you to do some tricks that are not possible with the other cards.

One of the best tricks is moving one of your cars into a space in front of a teammate (hopefully displacing an opponent's car) and then using that teammate's three spaces to push the already moved car further down the track. You can also use it to move a line ahead a little bit as you look for the sweet spot to come to you and then slip another car right into the spot you want. I have seen people push two opponents out of line in one turn from two different angles. So many opportunities arise from a game card like this.

When you get the card, try to be aggressive with it and take full use of the opportunities. It is the only card that allows you to move more than one of your cars in the same turn.

The card is a draft card so at the very least you should be able to move two of your cars up to seven spaces if nothing else presents itself. The car also give no wear to either of the activated cars.
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Mon Mar 4, 2013 4:58 pm
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Rubbin' is indeed Racin'

Jeff Horger
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So this week finds me in a bit of a lull regarding Thunder Alley. I have sent my files away to have them looked at for art and I am awaiting the developer's pass at the rules. I have decided to discontinue the replay I was doing. Right now I am in the calm before the storm. So I figured I might take advantage of this situation to discuss some on how different racing cards came about, why they were needed and what we hoped to bring to the game with them.

Today we will look at the "Rubbin' is Racin'" card. Of course it was inspired by Days of Thunder and it was one of the earliest focal points of the game. Whenever we wanted to stay true to the heart of the game we would ask if a concept fit with Rubbin' is Racin' and if it did it could stay and if it didn't it better be very important or else it would have to go.

The card is intended to allow for faster lane changes and to encourage bumping cars out of line with a lateral push. In the beginning we didn't feel people were going to that trick enough so we took the spirit of the phrase and made a card explicitly encouraging people to use their own cars to force other player's cars out of line and out of the draft.

It works by allowing a player to move laterally for free for an entire turn. You will only be moving four spaces forward but you have unlimited lateral movement. You can use this to set yourself up and at the same time pushing rival cars out of line and out of the draft. I don't envision the card as always being a fender-to-fender contact but an aggressive driver squeezing in and squeezing out another car.

The card is probably best utilized early in the race and very late in the race, though it is useful at all times. Early on it is a white card, causing no wear to your car while forcing your opponents to fight to get back into line, remember to only push out cars that have moved or else they will simply drive up and push you right back out of the draft on their turn. At the end of the race, you can either remove an opponent from a line of cars that is nearing the finish line or use the free lateral movement to pop out, gain some ground and pop back in.

The card is also a draft card and we did that on purpose to reward players for aggressive moves and still let them move the line forward via drafting once their lateral movement is completed.
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Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:52 pm
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Start Your Engines

Jeff Horger
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Today I get to blog about very happy news. Thunder Alley will be printed by the 3rd Quarter in 2013. that makes me very happy and Carla quite ecstatic. We have been sure about the news ourselves for a couple of weeks but had to keep it to ourselves so the guys at GMT could break the news when they were ready. No problem. Carla and I have known that there would be a 2013 printing since the Kickstarter when various entities offered to print the game outside of GMT. I had no desire to leave GMT for this project but it gave us a lot of confidence that it would happen sooner rather than later.

So in the near future I expect to begin working on the art with an actual artist and maybe getting some upgraded prototypes. Carla & I will be at Origins and the Buckeye Game Fest as always. We will also be at The Dice Tower Con in July. We have hopes, if not firm plans to attend WBC and GenCon as well. We would guarantee it, but unfortunately Carla's work schedule will be in flux all year as her company is converting to a new computer system. But we will try to be out and about, showing the game as much as possible.

We are in the final rewrite of the rules and hope to have them done soon.

Finally, we are trying to work out our own sponsorship system where people that pledged to back at a sponsorship level in the Kickstarter can keep those sponsors in the game by paying that extra money directly to GMT. Look for more on that soon.

It is both very busy and very exciting right now around here and I am looking forward to having Thunder Alley in a box right beside Manoeuvre on my shelf by the end of the year.

Thank you all for your support, advice and encouragement. You have no idea what it means to Carla & myself.
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Wed Feb 6, 2013 6:41 pm
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We Came, We Saw, We'll Try Again

Jeff Horger
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So Thunder Alley came to Kickstarter and failed to reach the specified goal. I'm sure you all are aware of this. Many lessons were learned and many mistakes were made that resulted in those lessons. The truth is, I was excited for the Kickstarter launch because I felt we had a good plan and because I believed in the product so much. Unfortunately I found it very hard to convey my passion for the game into the project. The game has been four years in development and has become so tight/inclusive that we were very hard-pressed to find add-on's other than tracks and names to add into the game. I had no intention of tossing in extra untested bits into the game. I am a terrible artist and I had yet to be paired with a real artist for the final version. I assumed everyone would recognize that but the art became a mantra for those wanting to make it an issue. No one even asked me what I envisioned the art to be and I didn't make it clear. So we failed at that, no worries. The game is still the same and is still in development. It WILL be published at some point.

Part II: I believe that it also needs to be stressed that personally I came down with two simultaneous serious medical illnesses almost coinciding exactly with the start of the project. As the Kickstarter Campaign progressed I got worse and worse and anyone that followed the campaign might recall that I essentially disappeared from it. I made no updates and almost no comments. It was really all I could do to keep up with the backers who paid for naming rights. As of today both issues are under control but I didn't recover until the middle of January.

Would I do it different next time? Of course. I learned a lot about the way campaigns should be run and believe that if I am involved in another Kickstarter i will be much better prepared. I also learned that Kickstarter, with all it's stretch goals and backer levels may not be the best way to go for all games. Thunder Alley had a low amount of stretch-goal possibilities and even less capacity for added bling. The game already includes everything it needs and has little room for extras.

Thanks to all of you that supported the campaign. Thanks to all of you that voiced your thoughts on why it wouldn't work.
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Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:08 pm
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Thunder Alley Comes to Kickstarter

Jeff Horger
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As of this morning Thunder Alley has gone live on Kickstarter. My first debt of gratitude has to go to the original 298 backers of Thunder Alley that pre-ordered before the Kickstarter launched, their core support has led me to believe in the game and that it can be successful. I would also like to thank Gene, Tony and the honchos at GMT for believing in Thunder Alley enough to allow me to take a shot in this “other” crowd-funding system. I won’t speak for the company but it is my hope that this effort can be a win-win for GMT. Using Kickstarter opens up a new way to reach a broader market and some percentage of that broader market might take a second look at GMT’s core offerings. You should understand by now that Carla & I are outliers in the GMT stable of designers. We don’t do straight wargames but we do believe in the games we do produce. Thankfully GMT does as well. That puts us in a unique position where core demographic at GMT may overlook some of our games due to the theme. But we are very loyal to the brand. They gave me my first break and as long as they back our games we want work with them.

Working through Kickstarter was not in the cards from the beginning. But earlier this fall, when it became apparent to all of us involved that Thunder Alley was moving too slowly toward the cut in the P500 and that something needed to be done. The fact that we settled on Kickstarter is actually still quite surprising to me. In the end Carla & I completely believe in the game. Thunder Alley is unique in many facets and in our opinion is a very fun game. It deserves to be produced and Kickstarter is the best chance for it to see the light of day before the end of the decade. We mean no disrespect to the great GMT P500 supporters, in fact I am one myself. But we truly hope that all of you understand that we have no desire to hurt the P500, it is just that in this specific instance for this particular game, a different model was called for and thus we take the plunge.

If you look at the Kickstarter page you can see a number of backer levels. The first one is expansion tracks. Right now these are only available through the Kickstarter campaign and it is a way to allow people that have already made the P500 commitment to support the Kickstarter. I assume (so take that for what it’s worth) that if the Kickstarter is successful, the tracks may find their way to the P500 so I don’t want to claim that they are exclusive. It is both our goal and GMT’s goal to have everything available for all buyers. Note also that none of the backer levels do anything to change the game, they are all vanity rewards that allow you to be a part of the game without changing any of the aspects of play. We have also decided to be conservative on our stretch goals. The game is very tight as is and there is very little that we can add to the game without altering the play of the game. If we are very successful we will revisit this aspect but as of now we believe in the game and feel that a collection of frills are unnecessary. We also don’t want to add anything that would cause any delays in completing the game. After all, the main objective of this campaign is simply to get the game produced.

The project can be found at:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/252813679/thunder-alley

Thank you for your support,
Jeff & Carla Horger
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Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:28 am
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Something New

Jeff Horger
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I am very excited about the next steps that will be taken by Thunder Alley in the next couple of weeks. The game is about to go somewhere that a GMT game has never gone before... Kickstarter. Look for more information soon as details become available.
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Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:06 pm
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