Saturday, December 5, 2009

Board Game of Intense Epic Goodness - Stronghold

I have had a chance to play this game twice now, one in a two-player game and the second in a four-player game. I am happy (and surprised) to say that it plays well in both modes.

For those who are not familiar with the game, it is a game that is not so much the simulation of a siege but the story of a siege in a fantasy realm. The players are playing not to prevent or complete the siege so much as they are to make a good story of it. Victory points shift from Attacker to Defender as the game plays on and each side has the option for additional victory points for completing certain key events in the tale such as breaking down two wall sections, sacrificing so many goblins, or for keeping the standard flying over the keep.

One thing I really love about this game is the main dynamic with it's very Newtonian concept that every action the Attacker takes results in time for the Defender to use toward actions. There are some interesting balancing elements to all of this letting the Attacker budget time by allocating his better troops to accomplishing tasks in less time and thus granting less time for the Defender to act. Also, while the Attacker's actions tend to take effect immediately, the Defender has to work up to results in various "workshops". Everything in this game comes down to time and timing.

Ultimately the winner of this game is not determined by whether the attacker is able to take the castle or not but by which side fought the better fight of it. Time is against the Attacker, but he does not want to rush in and crush the walls and miss out on making his story better. The Defender really scores his points by holding the Attacker off and ultimately wins by keeping the Attacker at bay long enough that really the gap in points cannot be closed by the final bonus points scored when the Attacker makes his way through the wall and into the interior of the castle.

I really love this game. In fact it was two weeks between my first and second game and I was very much feeling anxious to try it out again.

Replay on this game is huge as the Attacker get different siege assets available to him every time based on the draw of cards. This then changes the strategies of the game. Even more, this game plays just as well two player as it does with 3+. Even the side of the board you control as the Attacker or Defender in a four player game will change the way the game plays for you. Once again, replay is big on this game.

My only caution with this game is it is not quick. This game will make you think, plot, plan and strategize and you had best be prepared to invest several hours to it. Our first four player game, with all players having played the game before ran for about 4 hours. There were breaks in there for restroom and chat, but it made for a good epic game. Another thing to be careful of is that this game has a set turn limit but is often decided well before that limit is reached. Not a game to play with people who are afraid to concede.

Anyhow, give it a play and enjoy!


[For more information, reviews, and images of games boards, games in play, and game components check out the listing at Board Game Geek here -]


  1. Thanks for the writeup, I'm really intrigued now that I've heard more about it. Looks like a lot of components included and plays on a mid-to-high level. Overall sounds fun!

  2. There are a lot of components, but for the most part it's a lot of component placement. Many of the defender's pieces are stationary - walls and wall reinforcements.

    What movement of the components there is is pretty limited to shifting troops from point A to B but the way that the system works you are never going to be shifting around every piece on the board.

    I never get the feeling that there is too much going on across the board.

  3. Thanks for the review. I almost picked this up the other day, and now I will.

  4. Glad to have been of assistance. It really isa fun game IMHO.



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