Friday, July 22, 2016

An interview with Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games

Today on the blog Stephen Buonocore owner of Stronghold Games was kind enough to give us a few minutes to talk about his love of gaming, podcasting and Orphan Black.

According to the bio on the website you have been into various forms of gaming for a very long time. What made you decide to start your own publishing company in 2009?

In the early/mid-2000s, I found that board gaming was the single style of gaming that I loved the most. The social aspects of being together around a table was exactly what I loved to do. I was studying the hobby market at that time, seeing what publishers were doing the most exciting things, what types of games were doing the best. I believed that I could bring my business background into the hobby, and create a company from my knowledge of business and gaming, combining that with my incredible passion for the hobby. And Stronghold Games was then born...

Stronghold has published 504 in the US. How difficult us the process of getting the license to print games from other countries?

If you show passion to others, and you show a pattern of success, and you are a reasonable, honest business person, companies from overseas want to work with you. I established a reputation as I established relationships with various publishers. As Stronghold grew, all of these things grew as well. So, I know have strategic partnerships with Eggertspiele, Artipia Games, Spielworxx, and 2-F Spiele. We want to bring great games to gamers, and by working with the best, we can do that.

Is there a game coming out later in the year from Stronghold you are especially excited about?

 Even though I do a lot of Eurogames, I really love American-style games the most, which are games of conflict, interaction, randomness, and games that create an experience around the table. So, I am most excited about The Dragon & Flagon, designed by Brian, Sydney, and Geoff Englestein. A game of medieval tavern brawling is so very much up my alley for my personal taste in gaming experiences. This game offers all of what I love in a game, and it does so in a 3-D tavern environment, which looks just amazing on the table. The great illustrations and diverse group of fantasy characters really completes the package in a perfect way! Street Date is August 31.

You have a podcast with Ignacy Trzewiczek called Board Game Insiders, the perspective of which makes it unlike any other gaming podcast. Was podcasting something you wanted to do, or did it just happen?

If you don't know, I'm known as "The Podfather", for my many many appearances on all of the other gaming podcasts out there. I have appeared on basically all major and many small podcasts, and numerous times. This is not only part of my grassroots marketing strategy, but it is who I am: I am a gamer first and foremost, and want to be with the gamers in their environment -- and the way to do this is via reaching out on podcasts. Starting my own podcast was actually Ignacy's idea. He saw my passion and the fact that I liked and was good on podcasts, so he asked me at BGG.CON 2014, when by the way we also signed the deal to do "Stronghold -2nd Edition", and it was a perfect marriage. Two publishers with very different backgrounds and perspectives, but providing industry inside knowledge to gamers.

Me and my wife are currently binge-watching the last season of Orphan Black,  and I see the stronghold logo on the wall in the comic book/game store. did they approach you or is this coincidence?

The production company of Orphan Black contacted me about 2 years ago to provide them with "set dressing", first for the "Scott's apartment" set, where Rogue Agent was seen, and then for this current season in "The Rabbit Hole". They said "We are dressing a game store, so send as much as you can", and... Well, I sent a lot of games. If you look close (and I go through those sequences frame by frame almost, you can see dozen of Stronghold Games titles and banners and posters on the walls! I love seeing that! I'm such a geek!! =)

Finally, what is a game that you love that we may have not heard of?

Well, you have likely heard of War of the Ring, which is my single favorite game, and I've mentioned that a lot on podcasts. A game that I love is Martin Wallace Struggle of Empires, which is many the best multi-player conflict game (3-7 players). I'm a huge fan of party games, so I love the mass market game Catch Phrase, which you can play from 4 to almost any number of players. Oh, and then there is Pow Wow, which is a great great fun silly game of bluffing, luck, and outwitting, as you wear a "feather" in a headband on your head. Currently, I am playing a lot of my own game, Bear Valley by Carl Chudyk. I am loving this game, since you get to push your luck just enough, and laugh at the misfortunes of your opponents. Loving it!

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