Cars, kills and chrome!
Since Games Workshop’s Battlecars (1983), Steve Jacksons’s Car Wars (1980), and of course the early Mad Max movies, I’ve loved car battlers as a game theme. In fact I own not one, but two copies of Thunder Road – the English and American versions! First released in 1986, it was a simple car combat game with one ingenious innovation – a scrolling road surface made up of several sections, and when the last tile was pulled away, all the cars on it were destroyed!
Restoration Games tackled the job of bringing this old classic to our tables again; but really the company should be called ‘Improvement Games’, because they don’t just restore these gems from our childhoods, they actually make them as good as we imagined them to be with benefit of bad memories and the glow of nostalgia erasing all the simplistic rules, dodgy gameplay and cheap components. Thunder Road: Vendetta is exactly how the game looked in our kiddy imaginations before we actually got it for Xmas, played it a few times, then moved onto the next thing.
If you’re not playing the game in that spirit, you’ll be frustrated by the fact that a bad tile draw can wipe out one of your cars in one go, or you can be slammed into an obstacle and destroyed. If so, back to historical simulations with you, because all that stuff is what this one is all about! Crazy cinematic car-smashing and chopper-firing madness! Hitting a ramp at high speed, flying over a field of fire, landing in an oil slick and slamming an opponent’s car into a rocky outcrop and watching it explode! It’s all here, and a heap of expansions add to the fun in all kinds of ways – throw them all in and let the car carnage begin!
I was lucky enough to do a bit of work on this game – some early dashboard designs, icons for some of the cards, that kind of thing – and I can tell you Restoration Games brings an astonishing level of attention to everything they do. Everything they release is a treat, and this one is no exception, with gorgeous production and art throughout (and some incredible inserts). If there’s still any of the child in you – and of course there is, you play boardgames – grab it and rev up your engines!