Some games require a great deal of time to plan out strategies and perfectly execute tactics. Some games have a bunch of frontloaded rules, economies, currencies, areas to control, etc. And then there are games like Thunder Road that ask the all-important question: I wonder what would happen if I just ran my car into that other car? 

Thunder Road is a game for two to four players where you’re in command of a small squad of vehicles in a Mad Max-style race. Whoever makes it to the end (or survives the longest) wins. 

Start by laying out two road boards: the Parking Lot and one other random board. Place hazard tiles on the road segments with a red triangle. Give each player a set of three cars, four dice, a helicopter, and a few player boards for keeping track of what dice have been assigned to what car. Have each player roll all of their dice, and whoever has the lowest total rolls the road die and goes first. Place all cars near the edge Parking Lot tile and get going. 

Players all roll their pool of dice and the lowest total is the starting player. On a player’s turn, they’ll assign one of their dice to one of their three cars (small, medium, and large). This will denote how far along the road that car will move. Optionally, once per round, they can assign a die to one of the four actions on their command board. If a die is placed on the command board, this action is carried out before the player’s car moves. The actions are Airstrike, which allows a player to place their helicopter anywhere on the board; Nitro, which adds additional movement spaces to the active car; Drift, which allows the moving car to ignore the first car it runs into; and Repair, which repairs a point of damage. After the command board die is resolved, the active car is moved along the track. If it runs into another car, that’s where the fun starts. 

When a collision happens (called out in the rules as a ‘slam’), the active car is placed on top of the car it crashed into, and the active player rolls a direction die and a slam die. The slam die determines which car will be affected by the slam (top or bottom), and the direction die denotes which direction the affected car will travel. After the dice are rolled, whoever has the larger car is allowed to reroll once. If the result of the slam moves either car into an obstacle, that car explodes and is permanently removed from the game. If it’s knocked off the board, it explodes. If it’s knocked under a helicopter (any player’s helicopter — you’re hostile to yourself), it explodes. If it runs into another car, repeat the slam process. It’s extremely common to toss a car into a pile of other cars and create complete bedlam.

In addition to obstacles and other cars, hazard tiles on the board can be tripped by any car passing over them. These can range from a simple road segment, to burnt-out car husks, to land mines. 

After moving, the active car (or helicopter, if an Airstrike action was implemented) can shoot a car in front of them by rolling the shooting die and seeing if the result hits the size of the car that was targeted. Bigger cars are easier to hit than smaller cars. If the shot hits, the car gets a damage tile from the stack and resolves its effects, which could end up destroying or disabling the car.

Play then moves to the left and the mayhem continues. Once all players have spent their dice, the round is over. Dice are all rerolled and the lowest pool total becomes the new starting player.

If at any time, a player’s car crosses over the farthest edge of the road, a new road board is added to continue the length of the track. The road board furthest away from the newly placed tile is removed, and any cars still on it are — you guessed it — destroyed. If at any point a player is eliminated, the finish line tile is added to the end of the last road board. If a player crosses this line, they win instantly. If any player is the last player with mobile cars, that’s also a way to win.

Component-wise, Thunder Road is fantastic. All of the boards are sturdy chipboard, beautifully illustrated in ‘70s road warrior chic. The cars are fantastically crappy plastic vehicles painted in exactly the right way. Think high-end family classic quality (and I mean that in the best way). 

Thunder Road is pure chaos. I really loved playing this game, and can’t wait till some expansions arrive. It’s knocked every other silly dice chucker out of my standard bag and has been a hit with pretty much everyone I’ve introduced it to. Come to a TAG night, give this a play, and grab it for your family and friends if you like it. 

Designed by: Restoration Games

Player Count: 2–4

Playtime: 45–60

Time to Learn: 5 minutes

Complexity: 1.5

Replayability: 5/5

MSRP: $60

Written by Brendan Quinn, President of Tri-City Area Gaming. We’re out in the world again! Come play games with us at any of our regular monthly events.

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