The Wisdom of the Crew Chief

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Early last Fall, Thunder Alley designer Jeff Horger contacted me and indicated that there was a third-party-designed expansion set for Thunder Alley that he and Carla would like to publish through their new game company. Tony and I considered that for a bit, decided that a) we like Jeff and Carla a lot and would like to support them in their new venture, and b) having them print the expansion through their company would probably get the expansion to players sooner than if we did it ourselves, based on the size and quality of games that would be ahead of it in our P500 print queue. So, lest anyone wonder why we’re not printing this expansion ourselves, that’s basically the story – they asked, and we said “no problem.” For those of you who want more options in your Thunder Alley experience, I encourage you to support Jeff, Carla, and Nothing Now Games in their Kickstarter project. We have plenty more details below, in this article from Jeff. Enjoy! – Gene

When a game like Thunder Alley gets made, it invariably has endured numerous edits, revisions and cuts all of which hopefully create a much stronger game. A topic that is at once rich and layered like stock car racing provides voluminous background work and history from which to build. In addition everyone has their own insight, preferences, prejudices, and ideas on the topic. After all it’s not like an historic battle or 18th century politics where only a few have any real knowledge or interest in the topic. Anyone can turn on their television on most Sundays and find the good ole boys going at it. Some love it with a rabid fervor; others hate it with equal passion, and most run the range from mildly interested to totally ambivalent. Personally, I fall into place below obsessive fan but more interested in it than a casual observer. I have watched racing since the 70’s and a love of cars is the one interest I shared with my late father, Verghn Horger. But that love was not just stock cars, it encompassed Formula 1, Indy Cars back when the sport mattered, drag racing and most of all, hot rods & show cars. Dad loved car shows and classic cars and so do I. So while I don’t bleed for a particular driver or put stock car racing on a pedestal, I do respect and understand the sport and see more than “cars turning left” followed by a crash.

Closed Circuit: Thunder Alley, Grand Prix, and New Tracks

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Well, I am a dyed-in-the-wool wargamer, but I have to admit, with Thunder Alley, Jeff and Carla have hooked me (and my whole family!). I’ve now played a dozen or so games, with a mix of wargamers and eurogamers and never-before gamers, and all of them have been really fun. We have a group of twenty-somethings at our church now who aren’t big gamers but who ask us almost every time we see them “When can we come over again to play Thunder Alley?” So that’s been really cool, to have a game with GMT on the box that we can teach our non-gamer friends and have a great time with a group of 4-7. 

This is Jeff’s first article for InsideGMT, although many of you are familiar with him as the designer of Manoeuvre and as a very active online poster and promoter of games. If you’d like to hear more from Jeff, please check out his online presence, in the following venues:

Thunder Alley Facebook Page

Grand Prix Facebook Page

Jeff’s Twitter Feed

Enjoy the article! – Gene


thunder-alley-2-640x349Auto racing and GMT (known as a wargame company) are somewhat strange bedfellows, although to be fair sometimes the carnage invoked by a race can look pretty devastating. Races are also made up of hundreds of fights for position over the course of four or five hundred miles by numerous cars. They are quick and vicious skirmishes where a winner and a loser are clearly defined.

The design of Thunder Alley started many years ago and looked very different than it does today, except in one regard, the tracks. From the very beginning we selected four representative tracks that players could use to simulate a season of racing if they desired. There was the super speedway, the short track, the triangle track and a road course. All of these were modeled on existing known commodities that people were familiar with. We also assumed that the knowledge went further than the hardcore fan. There were shapes left out but we were pretty comfortable with our four tracks being all anyone would need.

We were wrong.

THUNDER ALLEY Gets a Great Review from No High Scores

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About a month ago, we released a new Euro-type racing game, THUNDER ALLEY, designed by Jeff and Carla Horger. We’ve been thrilled to see how many players and game groups are LOVING this game, one that I really believe will be recognized, over time, as one of the best games in the GMT line.  So it’s really cool now to see that the Review sites are starting to get their hands on THUNDER ALLEY, and from what we’re seeing so far, they really like it. I like this part of the No High Scores review:

…  in the blink of an eye this 250 MPH masterpiece has become one of the best racing games that I’ve ever played. It’s a brilliant piece of design that nails down the most important elements drivers at Talledega or Daytona experience while also creating compelling spaces for tactical movement decisions and coordinated, team-focused gameplay.”

Congratulations to Jeff and Carla on their terrific design! I’m clearly a bit biased, but I believe they deserve every bit of the praise they are afforded in this review. Great job!

Here’s a link to the full review on the No High Scores site:  No High Scores Thunder Alley review