The news broke this Wednesday that three industry veterans have started up a new design studio out of Worthington, Ohio – Laboratory H. They are Jeff and Carla Horger, designers of games such as Thunder Alley, Grand Prix, and Orient Express, along with Jonathan Anglin, graphic designer and art director. Previously the three came together to venture into publishing as Nothing Now Games, but have now switched gears to focus on design and development and leaving the printing, shipping, and fulfillment to their new partnership with Mr. B Games. As stated in their press release:
“Laboratory H, LLC announces its first steps in the board gaming industry. This trio of industry veterans has assembled to create a creative lab dedicated to producing unique, challenging and fun games. In addition to announcing its founding, Laboratory H would also like to thank Mr. B Games for bringing our company into the fold as an affiliate studio of the established senior company.”
There’s a lot of history here that has culminated to this point of origin for Laboratory H, but it’s good to see this is the end result. This is a positive restructuring of skills and abilities to bring about new games and new opportunities. They appear to have one tentative title coming to Kickstarter this fall, Dark Domains, so we will need to keep our eyes peeled on that and what else the future may hold. If you are interested in learning more about Laboratory H and new games in the pipeline from them, I suggest taking a look at their website for more news and announcements.
Rio Grande Games is releasing Orient Express by Jeff and Carla Horger, the sequel to the popular 2015 train game 20th Century Limited. In Orient Express, 2-5 players grow and develop train lines, connecting cities during the European railroad boom. The problem is that as you cover more ground, governments will notice your rail lines, and at a certain point will purchase and nationalize them. You will be rewarded, but you will need to start over from scratch. Victory comes to those that can best balance private and public demands.
Orient Express is expected to release in April 2017.
GMT Games announced that Joel Toppen will be demoing their upcoming Thunder Alley this coming Saturday, June 21 at 8:30 pm Eastern Time.
Thunder Alley is a stock car racing game for 2-7 players with the feel and flexibility of a card-driven simulation. Designed by Jeff and Carla Horger, this game features drafting, teamwork, accidents, yellow flags, pit strategy, working to lead laps, and sprints to the finish are all included and bring the feel of racing to the game. Players control not one car, but a team of 3-6 cars. Thus, each race is not only a run for the checkered flag but an effort to maximize the score for every car on your team. Winning is important, but if only one car crosses the finish line, your team might end up outside the winner’s circle looking in.
The game includes four different types of movement, often with many cars moving with the play of a single card, and each type has its place and time:
- Solo movement allows you to break away from the pack.
- Draft and pursuit movement are best used for keeping your team of cars together.
- Lead movement can create a pack of cars that moves toward the front.
Turns are fast, each play is important, and the track situation is fluid. The wrong movement in the wrong situation can be disastrous, with you possibly being left out of the draft and all alone. Experienced players will be able to identify the best type of movement for the current situation.
Cars suffer wear over the course of a race and need to take pit stops. Tire wear, suspension difficulties, fuel issues, and major engine and transmission problems are all modeled in the game. If you feel lucky, you might try to hold it together just a little bit longer in hopes that a yellow flag will come out and cause a mass rush into the pits. Waiting on a yellow that never comes can be maddening as the rest of the pack moves by your worn-out car. What’s more, an events deck can make your strategy pay off or punish you for your failure to take precautions. Accidents, yellow flags, worsening track situations, and deteriorating cars are all part of the game. Could all of your perfect strategy be derailed by those incoming rain clouds?