Tag Archives: Stronghold Games

Space Cadets: Away Missions – A Written Review



Space Cadets: Away Missions is the third release in Stronghold’s Space Cadet line and it’s absolutely nothing like the frantic real-time Engelstein games of past. This Dan Raspler and Al Rose light dungeon crawler bears the Space Cadets setting in theme only, hitting us hard with an approachable yet sophisticated game of ‘50s golden era sci-fi blasters and Martians.  The humor in Stronghold’s first board game Kickstarter release featuring a title with the acronym SCAM belies the strength and vitality of this spectacular game.571224cb-f6bb-48ca-826c-f77c2f28d798

While Stronghold Games has always featured great production values and attractive components, Stephen Buonocore has outdone himself here. Away Missions brandishes over 100 solid miniatures, mounds of attractive tiles, large player mats, and two huge booklets.  It feels lavish and special, fitting the attractive feel of gameplay.  How can you not fall in love with a release that boasts little plastic brains-in-a-jar and space leeches?  You immediately want to crack some skulls and pew-pew.

This game sits in a comfortable realm just above the Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System in terms of depth and complexity. It’s light yet packs a bit of oomph that helps it stand out and grasp your interest for the long term.  Like its peers, you embark on different missions hurdling large packs of enemies, finding interesting loot, and exploring defiled ground.

One of the shining elements of this cooperative design are the scenarios. Mounds and mounds of scenarios.  20 of the suckers form a loose narrative of linked story that explores the alien invasion and always keeps you on your toes.  Many games in this genre offer quite repetitive goals that feed a growing sense of similarity which can deflate extended play.  Away Missions throws this notion out the window by offering you constantly evolving tactical situations with really divergent narratives.  You will break out of fish-head prisons, free human Thralls, snatch up blueprints for alien technology, and seek revenge on the malevolent foreigners.

Moving on from a difficult scenario and flipping those huge pages to see your new opportunity for carnage is truly a treat. I was shocked how the feel could be drastically shifted by re-arranging a collection of random tiles in interesting formations and by throwing in a couple of new specific rule changes.  One of the early scenarios allows you to place your deployment hex adjacent to any outside tile as your team of cadets is boarding the enemy craft.  These clever little elements are packed into each corner of the design and constantly have you nodding in appreciation.

This strong variety does come at a cost though as setup can be somewhat labored. You have alien tokens, discovery (item) tokens, and tile tokens to mark possible objectives.  These pools of chits may have specific mixes required by the scenario so you’ll be removing or adding a defined amount and it can get somewhat fiddly.  Thankfully the effort pays off and the game delivers with beauty so this is just the cost of doing business.



Suck it alien scum.


The lush presentation will draw you in but the heart of the design, the Overkill mechanic, will make you stay. It’s such a simple little mechanism but therein lies its genius.  Attack rolls are made with pools of 10-siders, requiring a three or below to score a hit.  Your first success inflicts a single point of damage (good enough to kill most alien types) but your subsequent hits are dubbed Overkills and may be spent as action currency to trigger special effects.

Many thematic designs feature special powers and abilities scattered across characters and items, but the process in which they’re tied to the action and turn structure is usually pretty stale and predictable. By linking this smattering of special powers to successful combat resolution rolls you fuse one of the most interesting elements of Ameritrash with the most dramatic portion of the game.  This results in high tension rolls that produce tremendous opportunity for combos and creative play as you cut down an alien, move into an adjacent space, and command a teammate to give him extra actions.  It feels outright empowering because your cast of fate determines the downstream narrative shenanigans.  It’s delicious and full of tension while maintaining a solid degree of tactical choice.

This tremendous Overkill mechanism is backed up by an action point system that allows for maximum player control in the face of stalwart danger. The enemies come in thick waves as you reveal more each turn in great numbers.  The AI controlling them is relatively simple as they tend to march straight towards you and throw lasers in the direction of human flesh.  Yet the enemies manage to feel drastically different due to various types of attacks and the included Overkill effects they can generate against you.  Additionally, it’s extraordinarily fun to light up a Saucerman Leader and trigger his Overkill ability that allows you to stun another foe.  A sense of personality develops amongst the enemies and there’s a strong mix of variety that allows you to constantly be on your toes and dreading the appearance of a brain-in-a-jar or a ferocious Sentinel.



It’s all about personality. Blood sucking space worm personality.


I alluded to the clever touches abounding the design when discussing the scenarios earlier, but if you take a micro view you will begin to notice all kinds of positive little quirks. For instance some of the alien equipment you discover is actually blueprints as opposed to finished gear.  This results in a gentle crafting system where you need to steal alien blood or precious mysterium (no, not the Polish variety) to construct awe-inspiring gifts of forbidden fruit.  You’ll also need to take out human Thralls with a non-combat IQ check to remove the implanted brain wire in their skulls.  No, not to free the poor muggles but to hoard the wire for your mini death star that’s still under construction.  You’re being pulled by all of these disparate elements of awesomeness as you try to clear your head while the air fills with the scent of ozone and burnt green flesh.

Space Cadets: Away Missions carves itself out a niche in the dungeon crawl design space the size of a monstrous saucer. This feels fresh and alive, like a new take on an old favorite.  It delivers action and thoughtful presence in a way you wouldn’t expect.  This is not only a fantastic design, it’s quite possibly the strongest release Stronghold Games has ever been a part of.

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SURVIVE: SPACE ATTACK! Preorders opening this Saturday, August 22 Limited to *500* preorders!

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PREORDERS for these new titles open Saturday, Aug. 22, Noon ET:
  Get 30% off MSRP and shipping to you before anyone else!
NOTE: only 500 total preorders per game will be accepted!
And preorders continue for:
AND… don’t forget the popular:
…or read more about these great games below!
Survive: Space Attack!
The classic game of Survive!, reimagined by Brian, Sydney, and Geoff Engelstein, with new exciting mechanics and game play!

Can you SURVIVE the alien attack!


NOTE: only 500 Preorders total per game will be accepted!  Preorder early to avoid disappointment!

Welcome to the height of technology and comfort, the Space Station Atlantis! All the comfort of a five star hotel, mixed with the adventure of space travel. The station is filled with staff, entertainers and guests trying to enjoy their out-of-this-world vacation. But all of a sudden, the Atlantis comes under attack by aliens!
After getting the guests to safety, the crew rushes to escape. Some will find space on the limited escape pods, others will board fighters and attempt to destroy the aliens. The unlucky ones will have to trust in their space suits and float for it. But with the alien Warriors, Spawns, and Queens patrolling the space around the station, it will not be an easy trip! 
Who will be able to jump to safety?
Survive: Space Attack! utilizes similar base mechanics to the best-selling game Survive: Escape From Atlantis! designed by Julian Courtland-Smith.
However, Survive: Space Attack! has been reimagined and redesigned by Brian, Sydney, and Geoff Englestein, the designers of Space Cadets and Space Cadets: Dice Duel and the expansions for these games.
The additional features of the new Survive: Space Attack! include:
  • Double-sided Game Board: enables a variety of starting setups each with its own challenges.
  • New Fighter Ships: gives players the ability to capture and redeploy alien creatures.
  • Laser Turrets: a new weapon system to defend the space station against the aliens.
  • New Tile Abilities: new powers that are combinable, plus four different tile thicknesses for a 3-D look.
  • New Alien Creature Powers: alien creatures may evolve to become even more powerful.
Well, they will be helpful, we can assure you of that!
This is a mini-expansion for Survive: Space Attack!, which introduces the “heroic” crew members of the besieged space station Atlantis!

We’re not sure if the crew is truly “heroic”, but each one has their own special ability. Each player of Survive: Space Attack! will have some members of the crew aboard to help them in their escape of the space station Atlantis!
Survive: Space Attack! The Crew Strikes Back! mini-expansion contains 20 crew cards and instructions for playing with them in a variety of new and exciting ways!

This is a mini-expansion for Survive: Space Attack!, which enables up to 6 players to attempt escape as aliens attack the space station Atlantis!

In Survive: Space Attack!, you don’t want to leave any of your Spacemen behind.  Now with Survive: Space Attack! 5-6 Player mini-expansion, you don’t have to leave your friends and family behind either! 
Play Survive: Space Attack! with up to 6 people for a bigger, crazier and even more fun experience!
Survive: Space Attack! 5-6 Player mini-expansion contains 20 Spaceman (10 in orange and 10 in white).
Among The Stars: Revival
A standalone expansion for Among The Stars! Features new rules for 2-players! Modules can be integrated seamlessly into the base game!
Among The Stars: Revival features new mechanics that can be used in the base game with more than just 2 players as well!

A new era has begun. The Alliance’s attempt to revive the worlds that were destroyed during the Purge was met with great success and the future looks bright for the first time. Those sectors that were abandoned before, have now become very active and are blooming with life.

Due to the increased traffic, the construction of new Stations in the area was deemed necessary. Once again, the alien races rush to build the best Space Station, in order to take advantage of the new opportunities that arise. To that end, Advisors are being sent by the Alliance to assist in the construction. 


Among the Stars: Revival is a new expansion for Among the Stars, which can also be played as a standalone game for two players!


Among the Stars: Revival introduces brand new strategic two-player rules and exciting new mechanisms that add more interaction in the game and more things to consider when drafting a card. And best of all: These new mechanisms, rules, and components can be integrated into the base game of Among The Stars too!


Among the Stars: Revival includes exciting new features such as:

  • 30 Brand new Locations – 15 Basic and 15 Special (90 Location cards in total).
  • New 2-player rules – more strategic and skill-testing especially for 2 players! These rules can also be used for Among the Stars base game.
  • Spaceships – a new highly-interactive mechanic used by many of the new cards. It allows the players to put Spaceship tokens on the Stations, preventing anyone from building on those spaces.
  • Advisors – a new module that can be optionally added in a base game of Among the Stars. It increases competition among the players in order to control Advisor cards that grant them special abilities as well as additional victory points.
Among the Stars: Revival can also be enhanced by using the miniatures from the

Among The Stars: Miniatures Pack (available now separately – see below!).

Among The Stars: Miniatures Pack
A set of 8 gorgeous miniatures for use with Among The Stars: Revival as well as more upcoming Among The Stars games, like New Dawn!

companion product and component upgrade for games in the Among The Stars universe.

Among The Stars: Miniatures Pack is playable currently with Among the Stars: Revival and the upcoming New Dawn. It will also be playable with future games in the Among The Stars universe.

Among The Stars: Miniatures Pack contains 8 plastic Miniatures, each 2 inches tall. The miniatures are bust sculptures of each of the 8 primary Races in the Among The Stars universe:

  • Debos
  • Minireen
  • Humareen
  • Qualeen
  • Nyxtos
  • Garn’Athak’Nok
  • Hythian
  • Feronsy
Among The Stars: Miniatures Pack
Playable with Among the Stars: Revival and with the upcoming New Dawn. It will also be playable with future games in the Among The Stars Universe.

La Granja – Promo Pack
A set of 6 new cards for use in the hit new game, “La Granja”

La Granja is our hit new euro-game.  First introduced by European publisher Spielworxx at Essen 2014, our latest 2nd Edition co-publication is almost sold out in under one month from being in print!


Now, in cooperation with the game’s designers, plus Spielworxx and our other European partners, we created a set of extra La Granja cards:  La Granja – Promo Pack.


These cards can be mixed directly into the La Granja game deck, giving more possibilities for game play!


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Dark Moon – A Written Review



Dark Moon brazenly displays its heritage on the front of its box noting its origin as Battlestar Galactica Express. Designs rooted exclusively in another, nipped and tucked like a California debutante, are the most explicit form of hit and miss. Many are a mess as they haplessly nick the gentle tissue of the soul while trying to extricate the bile, leaving the resulting product to bleed out on the gurney. It takes a careful measured approach and a hand as steady as Billy Costigan’s.

Evan Derrick hooked up with Stephen Buonocore and figments of brilliance were carefully fed through Stronghold’s developer, Paul Incao, until the resulting output was a forceful experience with an identity that it completely owns. The remnants of ancestry certainly abound as the game consists of a familiar hidden traitor setup with the group trying to keep their base together over the course of the game. Tasks (Crises) arise where traitors will spike the results and attempt to cover their tomfoolery through clenched teeth and puffed cheeks. (Executive) Orders will be given as trust is extended with a sweaty palm and soft handshake. Accusations are thrown around like rice post-nuptials. It’s all very familiar and yet somehow alien.

The first huge divergence from its progenitor is the gritty new theme of dread and malevolence on a quiet moon. Think John Carpenter’s classic “The Thing” and you’re spot on as this is the definitive game bearing that mood and inspiration. This atmosphere works fantastically as the graphic design and artwork are woven throughout, including the stunning cover and absolutely magnificent board.



Dark Moon boasts one of the most engrossing and atmospheric boards I’ve ever seen.


You can tell a great deal of precision and care was taken as spaces and boundaries on the table are delineated in rich theme and stoic ambience. When tasks and events are placed on the board they even look like sheets of paper being spewed out by a geriatric printer. The whole thing screams that archaic and clunky yet ultra-cool view of the future made famous by minds like Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick.

The core economy at the center of the game is an equally severe diversion from its peer while still maintaining a similar feel that kind of eats away at the corner of your mind. In Dark Moon you are managing a pool of dice that simply hate you and never wanted you to exist. They contain mostly negative numbers with a few scattered positives. When players partake in a Task they either choose to stay in and contribute, or opt out and recharge their pool with an eye towards the future.

During a task players in order will take turns rolling and submitting dice. All rolls are behind your screen and you will have to just take my word when I put forth a -2 with an obvious wince. Am I hiding a huge +4 behind my blind? Well there’s a reason my group calls me Petyr Baelish as they’re 100% convinced I came out of the womb jabbering deceit.




This flipping of the situation from secretly contributing pain to outright forced confrontation is magnificent and a huge change in the feel of the game. In the same vein as Coup or Sheriff of Nottingham, you’re butting heads immediately and justifying ugly outcomes. Hiding in a corner is not possible as conflict and discussion hit the table at a full sprint. It’s one of the best aspects of this evolution and it brings the magnificence of social maneuvering to the front burner.

The dice economy itself has interesting subtle applications due to the fact dice exist in two types. Red dice are weaker, featuring lower net positives while black are stronger and include the mighty +4. The odds of rolling a negative are still the same, but the swingy nature of the positives make black more desirable for a clean player. When you submit dice to accomplishing a task they will be gone from your pool, leaving the efficiency management up to the player. Opting out of future checks as well as recharging on your turn are the only ways to refuel the machine and you’ll need to often.

A huge wrinkle occurs in that votes to Quarantine players, the equivalent of the Brig in Battlestar Galactica, require players to submit red dice in a public vote. This simple facet kicks the small decision points into a higher gear as you seek balance so that you can adequately respond to either push or defend on a quarantine vote and coming to the table ill prepared can be devastating.




The final quality of awesome in the trifecta of prominent changes is the massive gutting of playtime. Dark Moon consistently clocks in at 60ish minutes, requiring little convincing to get to the table. It delivers a hearty home cooked meal in microwave time while retaining a degree of flair and panache. The ability to produce such a satisfying experience in such little time is a monumental achievement that needs to be lauded. Full of skepticism and doubt, I was happy to have my expectations kicked in the ribs and jabbed in the eye.

The theme, while not nearly as strong as Battlestar Galactica, is still present and just enough to keep me interested. Without all of the board movement as seen in its forefather, one would question whether this could retain the mood and feel yet it does so by a hair. I won’t argue for a second that Battlestar Galactica is not the more thematic experience, but you’ll die on a hill before you convince me it’s a better game. Like Gale Force Nine’s Homeland, Dark Moon hits the theme by evocative actions and mental states as you engage with mechanics that provide a specific curtailed experience.
It’s not about flavor text and setting, as much as anguish and paranoia amidst a group of hounds. I’ll take the pack of vicious hunters over the waddling elephant without batting an eye. Don’t check my trash if your heart can’t stand seeing a battered toaster sitting atop a banana peel and a Costco-sized container of potato salad.

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Stronghold Games Announces the Publication of “504” Designed by Friedemann Friese

504 Cover

Stronghold Games is proud to announce the publication of “504”, a game designed by the renowned game designer Friedemann Friese, co-published with 2F-Spiele.  504 is a revolutionary concept in game design.  504 offers the game enthusiast 504 different games in a single box, achieving this via the use of nine game modules, which can be merged together to form 504 unique play experiences. The nine modules are Pick-up & Deliver, Race, Privileges, Military, Exploring, Roads, Majorities, Production, and Shares.   In 504, players use the spiral bound “Book of 504 Worlds”, selecting three different modules in any order from the nine available, and thereby creating a unique “World”. For example, the selection of three modules for a World may create a game that is:

 A racing game that expands through exploration with technology improving the racing or exploration (World “253”).

 An 18XX-style stock game with network building for income and production sites to provide workers for the road building (World “968”).

 A wargame with a pick-up and deliver economy and bonus scoring from majorities (“World 417”).

Thematically in 504, scientists in the future are able to build small alternate Earths. Exactly 504 such Earths have thus far been built. The scientists have programmed each of these Worlds with an individual set of laws and rules, which the inhabitants strictly follow and consider most important for their lives. These may be exploration, consumption, economics, military, etc., and each is unique. You can visit all of these 504 alternate Earths to experience how the people are living, and decide which of these worlds harbors the best civilization. On which World do you want to live?  Explore them all and decide!

Stronghold Games will release 504 as the second game in its new “The Great Designer Series”, which will highlight games from the best game designers in the world. 504 is designed by the renowned game designer Friedemann Friese, whose previous works include the acclaimed games Power Grid plus its many expansions, Friday, Fauna, Fearsome Floors, and many others.

The release of 504 continues the commitment of Stronghold Games to partner with publishers globally, bringing their great games to North America and the rest of the world, as well as to continue to publish great euro-game designs.  504 follows the success of two smash-hit 2014 euro-games from Stronghold Games, Panamax and Kanban: Automotive Revolution.  Stronghold Games recently announced Porta Nigra, by renowned game design team Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Kiesling, as the first game in its new “The Great Designer Series”, scheduled to be released later this year.

504 components

Stronghold Games will print 504 at Ludofact Germany, the leading printer of hobby games in the world. 504 has a tentative release date of November 2015. The MSRP for this game has not been set at this time. Stronghold Games will debut its English edition of 504 in October 2015 at the Essen Spiel in Germany.  Co-publishing partners for other language editions of 504 will be announced imminently by 2F-Spiele.

“This is a revolutionary game design for the hobby game industry,“ said Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games. “It is an honor to be working with Friedemann Friese and his great company, 2F-Spiele, on such an ambitious and game-changing project.”

“My project 504 was not only hard work for 3.5 years, but it has been a dream of mine since I started to analyze game mechanics in the mid-90s”, said Friedemann Friese. “I’m happy to see my game at Stronghold Games next to a game that influenced my work a lot, Outpost. Stephen loved 504 from the first moment I showed it to him, so I believe my game is in good hands.”

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Stronghold Games Announces “The Golden Ages”, a Euro-style Civ Building Game

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Stronghold Games is proud to announce the release of The Golden Ages, the highly-acclaimed game originally published by Ergo Ludo Editions for Essen Spiel 2014.
The Golden Ages is a euro-style civilization building game, where players lead their civilizations through 4 eras of history. During each era, the civilizations develop technologies, create fine arts, erect buildings, and build wonders. They send explorers to discover the continents, establish cities in distant lands, and send soldiers into battles.
The Golden Ages offers players varied paths to victory. Civilizations may achieve greatness via the arts, history, wonders, technologies, military, income, secret future technologies, and more. The player who most successfully evolves their civilization through history, overwhelming their opponents on the way to glory, will score the most victory points and be declared the greatest civilization of all.

the golden ages board

The Golden Ages is designed by Luigi Ferrini, and it features the fascinating artwork of Alexandre Roche, who previously illustrated such highly rated games as Troyes, Jaipur, Bruxelles 1893, Carson City, Rattus, Tournay, and many others.
Stronghold Games has licensed The Golden Ages from Italian publisher Ergo Ludo Editions, founded by Alessandro Lanzuisi. This is the first game from Ergo Ludo Editions, and it has garnered many accolades in the board gaming community. The Golden Ages is nominated for the Dutch Game of the Year.

the golden ages

Stronghold Games has worldwide English rights for The Golden Ages.  The Stronghold Games edition has a tentative worldwide release date of October 2015. The MSRP for this game is $59.95.
“The release of The Golden Ages underscores one of the core philosophies at Stronghold Games”, said Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games. “We continue to publish great games from Europe, as well as support our existing internal game lines.  We are excited to be working on this project with the fine company, Ergo Ludo Editions.”

the golden ages cards

the golden ages cards 2

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