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Subject: How does it feel to play Stronghold? rss

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Andrius is Lietuvos
Lithuania
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Last played: Steam: Great Britain, Eurorails, Kingdom Builder:Nomads
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As there are some good reviews about Stronghold already, I would like to share my experience with the game. Especially, the way it feels like.

I was waiting for this game quite a long time. But I was unsure about the direct confrontation, because my usual gaming group is my wife, family and friends, and the toplist is Agricola, Caylus, Puerto Rico, Power Grid, etc. So, I was a bit afraid of saying: "hey guys, how about some war, siege towers and deadly ballistas???". Big surprise - I've got this game for Christmas from my wife, and we tried several games of 2 player and 4 player and guess what - everybody loved it!

THEME and FEELS LIKE
This is actually one of the friendliest games we ever played. Don't be surprised. I think the thing is that in Stronghold, if you are an attacker, you have no other option but to attack. And defender has to defend himself. There's no way to be good or bad in this game. You are what you are and how can somebody hate you for that? My wife hates to play Carcassonne with me when I block and hurt her plans. And that's because I have other options but choose to be bad. She feels perfectly fine about playing Stronghold with me! meeple
Moreover, the game really feels like you are there. Remember Helms Deep or Minas Tirith. You are there.
First time we played with our friends (couple against couple), we managed to invade in 5th turn. But the game went from total despair in first 3 turns, and then, hope returned for us. Our friends felt quite opposite. And they were silent for some time after the game ended. I can say for sure: this game IS emotional And it's good.
So, my evaluation for the game in the "feels like" area is

The last 'halfstar" is because sometimes you may get a feeling that something is a bit unfair, e.g. putting Siege tower directly in front of your wall (no movement). But it's usually a minor thing.

COMPONENTS
I think components are good. I think wooden wall component should be the same shape as stone wood component, but it's also not a major flaw. It works this way as well.


REPLAYABILITY
As the invader gets to use different equipment and rituals from game to game, I think the game has a good replay value. We played several games, and yet, it feels like the game has a lot more choices and opportunities. Put one goblin on the wall, so the marksmen will not shoot (they are involved in the melee), etc. I think it's replayable, but anyway, it would be nice to see an expansion in future (more siege and defence equipment, rituals, different heroes maybe). For now, I give it


RULEBOOK
It's not an easy game. And writing a rulebook is a challenge I suppose. But it's not good yet (especially the dispatch example).
I had a lot of questions after reading the rulebook and playing first games of Brass and Caylus. Yet, it's the games that I really loved afterwards. I think it will be the same with Stronghold. The more demanding it seems in the beginning, the more rewarding it actually is.


FUN
I think its worth to put it as a small separate chapter.
Stronghold is really fun! I feel like 'let's play one more' even after a 2.5 hour of play.


OVERALL
It's a really good game in my opinion. If you love meaty games, you should give it a try. Be ready to read rules twice before your first play. Get yourself a game-explainer if you can or check out a video review. Be patient first time ninja. you will get a reward later.
I hope, there will be a new rules and FAQ post soon on BGG. And hopefully, we'll get an expansion some day. And yes, there's a good chance that you can play it with your wife and non-war-gamer friends.
Despite the rules, my final evaluation is
(9 out of 10).
Good job

sauronsaurongoosauronsauron
O - O - O - O - O
meeplemeeplemeeplemeeplemeeple

P.S. English is not my mother-tongue. Sorry, if there's mistakes in my text.

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Carlos O.
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This review of yours is fairly accurate reflecting my feelings. My only objection concerns the manual, which, in the English section, at least, needs a complete re-working. English is not my mother language either, but many of the omissions in the rulebook are not translation errors or typos. Luckyly, the FAQ and the comments by the author help a lot and the future release of the corrected version will solve any problem.

It's a pity, because the game is a blast and many people with limited English may not give it the chances it deserves just because of that.
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David Short
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AndriusLT wrote:
THEME and FEELS LIKE
This is actually one of the friendliest games we ever played. Don't be surprised. I think the thing is that in Stronghold, if you are an attacker, you have no other option but to attack. And defender has to defend himself. There's no way to be good or bad in this game. You are what you are and how can somebody hate you for that? My wife hates to play Carcassonne with me when I block and hurt her plans. And that's because I have other options but choose to be bad. She feels perfectly fine about playing Stronghold with me!


This is an excellent point and I thank you for bringing it to light. I look forward to playing this someday and introducing it to my family and friends.

Have you played it with just two players? Does it differ greatly when compared to 4 players?

p.s. Your English was great. Well done.
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Andrew C
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Great review because it offers a new perspective - not how the game plays but rather the feelings it evokes.

Nice job. thumbsup
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Colin S
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Nice review. While I'm interested in the mechanics and gameplay, ultimately this is the sort of information I'm after before I buy something. Will my friends find it entertaining and want to keep playing? In this case, they probably would. Thanks for the review!
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Andrius is Lietuvos
Lithuania
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Last played: Steam: Great Britain, Eurorails, Kingdom Builder:Nomads
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Thinking over my next move :)
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dshortdesign wrote:
AndriusLT wrote:
THEME and FEELS LIKE
This is actually one of the friendliest games we ever played. Don't be surprised. I think the thing is that in Stronghold, if you are an attacker, you have no other option but to attack. And defender has to defend himself. There's no way to be good or bad in this game. You are what you are and how can somebody hate you for that? My wife hates to play Carcassonne with me when I block and hurt her plans. And that's because I have other options but choose to be bad. She feels perfectly fine about playing Stronghold with me!


This is an excellent point and I thank you for bringing it to light. I look forward to playing this someday and introducing it to my family and friends.

Have you played it with just two players? Does it differ greatly when compared to 4 players?


Yes we did play 2-er, 3-er (2 attackers and one defender), and 4 player games. The experience of the game doesn't change much. All the good points remain. I liked especially 2 and 4 player games. In 2 player game you have a kind of "control everything" feeling. You can make an attack on one side of the stronghold and then switch more to another.
And we didn't feel angry on one another. It's just the army you are dealing with
And the fun of 4 player game is that the debates and whispers starts between attackers and defenders coordinating the actions (how many units can you send to the Battering Ram? what orders do you need?). And the nice point is that although you always see what your ally is doing, but as you are concentrating on your own side of the board you are not able to calculate all the possibilities for her/him. So your ally can surprise you in a nice way
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Patrick Stephens
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I agree, I enjoyed the review a lot. I have been wondering if I was going to buy. I really like the premise of the game and wanted to try it but it is kind of expensive. Thanks again.
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navajas
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Quote:
My wife hates to play Carcassonne with me when I block and hurt her plans. And that's because I have other options but choose to be bad.


My God. Genius. I can't believe I've never been able to articulate this concept before. This is it! See, my wife and I often get grumpy in games. And our nerd herd gets grumpy sometimes during games as well. It's not conflict or competition that does it. We play Scrabble, and it's friendly. Caesar and Cleopatra, etc... Win or lose. Competitive or stomp. Why?

Its the more complex games, the ones that have mechanics that allow me to see that I'm behind, that I have only a few options left to me that may pull out a win, and that most of those options involve interfering with my opponent, who is often my wife. That's when games like Catan, Hunters and Gatherers get sticky. "Sorry honey, that prairie and its attendant 6 deers, is now mine." The communal solitaire tribe building game suddenly becomes antagonistic. We could play nice all the way through and watch our tribes grow, OR, I could go for the win and succeed by screwing you over.

The above happens in most Euro sort of building games. You CAN just play nice and watch everything happen, mulitplayer solitaire, OR, you can try to win, which invariably means denying resources to your opponent. They kind of force you into a passive aggressive cycle of f'ing each other in petty little acts of denial.

"No, we're not going to kill you, just starve your children to death next season. Aren't we the sophisticated intellectual elite?"

Because of that I've been searching for coop games we can play. But, this review. What a great insight! You're attacking my castle for Christ's sake. What am I supposed to do? Let you in? It's direct competition, like Boggle (during which she has no qualms slaughtering me wholesale 100 times in a row).

But with a better theme.
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Lloyd
United Kingdom
Camden
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This game is bullshit.
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Roderic, sounds like Space Alert might be more your thing. Fully co-op, but completely mental.
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navajas
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More like YOU'RE completely mental!
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Andy Andersen
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Excellent review.
 
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