Gridlock Guy: Local commuter humorizes Atlanta traffic in new card game

Atlanta traffic can drive people mad - crazy or angry. But the ridiculousness and gridlock on our metro area’s streets offer time for reflection and creativity, if one allows.

This is just what videographer Evan Simmons experienced and now the Georgia native is trying to launch “Atlanta Traffic: The Card Game.”

“There was a period several years ago where it felt like there were just so many completely absurd things happening to cause the traffic,” Simmons told the AJC and 95.5 WSB. The tipping point for Simmons’ creation came when his friend told him that the I-85 bridge south of GA-400 burned down in March of 2017. “I was like, ‘What are you talking - how does - the interstate burn down, right?’”

Simmons is an avid board and card game player, so the calamity on I-85 set his gears spinning. Naturally, he really arrived at his game’s framework while stuck in another I-85 traffic jam. He later started designing rough versions of the cards while waiting in jury duty.

Ideas sprout during the mundane.

“The goal of it is to finish your commute, so you’re trying to actually achieve miles,” Simmons explained. “You have a cost of minutes that you basically pay in order to get those miles and that those minutes are constantly shifting.” But similar to games like Monopoly, both the card deck and other players can slow that progress. “But as traffic events happen to you, that time goes up and up and up. So you’re constantly battling the amount of time left on your route.”

Each player has a goal of traveling at least 40 miles and has to blindly choose route cards that correlate minutes driven to miles gained. One would not be surprised to learn that the “Spaghetti Junction” card goes only five miles in 30 minutes.

Then on each turn a player has to draw enough cards to have five in their hand. There are four card-types: “Minutes” - help a player decrease route time, “Delays” - played by someone to slow down someone else, “Advantages” - automatically benefit one’s own route more dramatically, and “Disasters” - played immediately to the detriment of everyone.

Some of these red “Disasters” cards are hilarious and hit home a little too well. The subscripts are especially funny.

These universal pain plays include “Hurricane Evacuation - who invited Florida?”, “Power Outage - apparently, airports need power”, “Championship Game - 16th time is a charm, right?”, “Spring Break - everyone’s heading the Florida, yay”, “Snow - forecast says ½”, better buy bread!”, “Global Pandemic - but hey, no traffic”, and, of course, “Bridge Fire - who knew interstates were flammable?”.

Players can travel faster with “Super Speeder” and “Speeder” cards and opposing players can slow them down with “State Patrol” plays. Various players can pile “Pileup” cards on one player to doom their commute. And someone can throw down a “H.E.R.O.” card to clear up a “Fender Bender” or “Breakdown” card played against them.

Some of the “Delays” cards include various loose exotic animals, events and school zones, and even a plane landing on a freeway. I-985′s ears just buzzed.

The “Advantages” cards are also humorous, some of which reward bad behavior, honor good behavior, and take digs at both MARTA and the Atlanta Streetcar.

Simmons crafted one green “Advantages” card just for our visit: “Skycopter Card.” It allows a player to avoid any one delay. The comical subscript perfectly encapsulates why the WSB Traffic Team and I still dig so hard to cover the roads: “Radio isn’t dead!”

Once a player completes a route, they get minutes of credit for it. The first player to travel 40 minutes wins.

“Ideas keep coming to me as I’m hearing actual traffic stories,” Simmons said. This means “Atlanta Traffic” is still a card game in development, open for the addition of events and rules tweaks. And 10 copies only exist. But Simmons has bigger plans. He wants to get this game in local stores.

Simmons has created a Kickstarter campaign for this game, where people can pledge funds in exchange for advance copies of the game. The game sells for $18 or four for $64 on the crowdfunding site.

If Simmons meets his capital goal by the end of May, then he plans to ramp up production and get the decks into select stores and online in November. Certain production and distribution companies specialize in games like his and Simmons has those plans and printing quotes in hand if they hit their $8,000 goal. If the campaign misses the mark, then the Kickstarter pre-sale donors get their money refunded.

As for Simmons’ ultimate goal: “I would love to see it in the gift shop at the Atlanta Airport - at Hartsfield-Jackson.” Welcome to Atlanta. “[Bad traffic is] sadly maybe the most well known thing about Atlanta and it really is unifying. It’s something we all encounter.”

To learn more about this game, go to ATLtraffic.com. The Kickstarter campaign’s subheader succinctly sets the tone: “An original, unfriendly game for 3-8 players, based on the daily perils of commuting in Atlanta, Georgia.” As the game’s subtitle reads, “Inspired By True Events.” Indeed.

Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. Download the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App to hear reports from the WSB Traffic Team automatically when you drive near trouble spots. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.

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