Publisher Views of 2020: An Interview with Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games

A Note from The Opinionated Gamers: In lieu of our normal convention coverage, we’re doing publisher interviews about upcoming releases, asking their thoughts on the events of 2020 and other topics. Our first interviewee is Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games. Stephen is an absolute legend in the hobby: not only is he the founder and president of Stronghold, but he has been an influential voice for some time now, regularly appearing in a variety of gaming media. He is a host of Board Game Insider, a popular podcast. He announced last week that he is retiring from gaming. That’s a big loss to our hobby and industry, but we know we’ll still hear from him, and we wish him the absolutely best!

First, I have to ask about Terraforming Mars! The Big Box recently funded with more than $2.7 million raised. With more than 27,000 backers, it has to be one of the most talked-about products of the summer  What’s next for the Terraforming Mars line?

I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you… :)

I really cannot comment on any unannounced products.  What I can say is what I have been public about already for Terraforming Mars:

– there will be no more expansions that add new mechanics

– there could be smaller expansions that add more cards and such.  None are in the works right now (and we do plan out 1+ year in advance).

– there will be more products in the Terraforming Mars line.  

That last statement is the most significant.  Feel free to read between the lines, but I won’t comment more on exactly what it means.  :)

It is sad that we won’t get to meet at Gen Con or Essen this year, which is normally how I notice upcoming product lines.  What games does Stronghold have coming out this year?  What are the release timelines?

I will miss your smiling face too!  I really will.  I miss the conventions, and all of my convention family… :(

We have already announced Ripple Rush, our 7th Roll-and-Write (for Flip-and-Write to be exact).  I’m excited for this 10-15 minute game!  Played it a lot at Dice Tower West before everything shut down.  It was supposed to be an April release, but with Distro such down at that time (and FLGS’s), we decided to postpone it until September 9.

We just released the second expansion to The Pursuit of Happiness.  It is “The Pursuit of Happiness: Communities”.  If you are unaware, TPoH is a highly thematic Euro, where you “Live the life you always dreamed of!”.  Some have said it is “The Game of Life – DONE RIGHT!”, and though it shares ZERO mechanics with that game from our childhood, it is about your life, the schooling you took (if any), jobs you had, the relationships you were in, the hobbies you have, etc.  Just a great light/mid-weight Euro that really pops on the table.

Of course, we just ran the Kickstarter for TRIBUNE & EXPANSION in association with Spielworxx, one of our German Strategic Partners.  This mid/heavy Euro is a classic, originally released by FFG in 2007/2008.  Yes, a EURO by FFG!  It was their first (and maybe their last) Euro game that they ever did, as this is just not their jam, of course.  We reimagined it, cleaned up some things, integrated the expansion directly into the base game, and did so all with the original designer, Karl-Heinz Schmiel (also of DIE MACHER) involved.  This was on KS and it was a LIMITED EDITION.  You can still go there and go to the LATE PLEDGE LINK to get a copy.  This will likely NOT go to Retail, so the only way to guarantee a copy is to get it now.

As we have not announced any other games officially, I cannot comment on any others.  You can assume of course that we’ll have 2-F Spiele games in the fall, as we always do.

Without the opportunity to connect at conventions, how are you reaching out to gamers over the next few months?  What is the best way for them to keep up with the new games coming out?  

Our newsletter is a good start.  You can sign up at

You can listen to my podcast, Board Games Insider, which I host with Ignacy of Portal Games.

You can follow us on Twitter and IG:  @StrongholdGamesOn


For the aspiring game designers, are you still accepting submissions, and how can they get in touch?

We do!  Games submissions can be done via emailing:

The designer should send:

– Sell Sheet

– Rules book

– Game Play video (if they have one – this is optional, but very advised and helpful to us)

Do you think things will mostly return to normal in 2021 (or whenever the dust settles), or do you see any big changes to how we play and buy games?  

I am an optimist.  Forever an optimist.  But I have been wrong all along this path with COVID-19, I should also say. :(

However, I will optimistically say that we will have a “mostly normal” 2021 convention seasons.  All of the major cons will run. Am I correct in this optimistic assessment?  Stay tuned……..

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1 Response to Publisher Views of 2020: An Interview with Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games

  1. I am one of those folks who love The Pursuit of Happiness… and said so RIGHT HERE on the OG.

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