Q&A – Stephen Buonocore (President of Stronghold Games)

(Edit: And it’s live! Let me know what you think now that it’s up and running in the comments. I also did a post about it.)

(Edit: Apparently this has now been pushed back to June 16)

You may have heard something last week, though most likely it slipped under your radar.

I know it did mine.

Did you know that there is a Terraforming Mars Big Box coming to Kickstarter on June 9?

That’s, like, next week!

I know! I was shocked too. And seemingly many of you were too judging by all the visitors I had for the first few days afterward.

I reached out to Stronghold Games President Stephen Buonocore to see if he’d be willing to answer some questions about the upcoming Kickstarter campaign, and he graciously agreed.

Stephen Buonocore
Stephen said he prefers selfies to people taking posed pictures. And I suck at selfies. Sorry, Stephen!

Because that’s just the kind of guy he is.

In the Q&A, you’ll get some juicy tidbits about the Big Box as well as some caginess about the future (which is totally understandable).

Check them out below, and thanks to Stephen for being such a great sport and giving such comprehensive answers.

Here’s the pre-launch page.

Speaking of juicy, check this one out.


1) It was a pleasure to meet you and get a selfie with you at Dice Tower West. What’s your favourite part about going to conventions and what’s your least favourite part?

That’s easy!  Favorite part is taking pictures with friends and fans like YOU!  Seriously, and in general, just hanging out with everyone, playing a game, enjoying a drink. Definitely my favorite part.  I really miss doing that for this convention season.  DT West was my last convention in 2020 for now due to coronavirus.  😦

Least favorite is the TRAVEL itself.  I do a lot of travel on planes, and it’s grueling getting to and from the cities I go.  It is not exciting any more and I do not feel like “Yay! I’m going to the airport!”.  Now it is like “Oh, crap… gotta pack, did I miss something, must get to the airport, gotta get on the plane… hours and hours… “

2) Why a Big Box for Terraforming Mars now? What made this the right time to put it out?

The single most asked for product is a “Terraforming Mars BIG BOX”.  I am on record as saying that I will not release a box of air.  Retailers will hate me.  Gamers will hate me – even though they asked for it – as how much can you charge for a box of air?

So, instead of a box of air, we decide to make this a huge project with the best accessories for Terraforming Mars on the market. Period.

TM - City 2

3) What will the this Kickstarter have in it?

  • Components

    • 24 City tiles (4 each of 6 designs)

    • 40 Forest tiles (8 each of 5 designs)

    • 9 Ocean Tiles

    • 14 Special Tiles

      • Capital City

      • Commercial District

      • Industrial Center

      • Restricted Area

      • Natural Preserve

      • Mining Rights

      • Nuclear Zone

      • Lava Flows

      • Manhole Area

      • Ecological Zone

    • 5 Game Markers

    • Card dividers

    • 3 Cards

AND, to be very clear, the above are COMPONENTS.
All of this will be placed into custom, multi-layer, vacuform trays.
And these trays will be customized to also hold ALL EXISTING content from Terraforming Mars and all 5 expansions.

4) Are there going to be any promo cards or corporations? Can you describe some of them?

The campaign will be run similarly to the TURMOIL campaign with a daily MILESTONE reveal.  The reveals will contain some PROMO CARDS.  I cannot tell you more about the Promo Cards or any other of the reveals, or… well, they won’t be reveals. 🙂

TM - City

5) What do you say to those Terraforming Mars fans who have already blinged out their game? What is in the Big Box Kickstarter that would appeal to them?

I am happy that they are enjoying their blinged out games.  It is great to have such hardcore fans that wanted to do this somewhat early or earlier in the life of the game.

Of course, I believe that our “bling” is the best bling on the market by far, not to mention the most cost-effective.  The price of the KS “Big Box” will be $99 US (plus shipping, and tax as applicable). When you compare that price to what any other solution for Storage, 3D Tiles, Custom Global Parameter markers, AND…

You will be getting unreleased material.  You’ll notice above that there are 14 Special Tiles, not the 11 Special Tiles that come in the game.  So, 3 Special Tiles are brand new, never released.  The 3 cards will drive the usage of the 3 Special Tiles.  THIS is the killer part of the Kickstarter!

And when you see all of these tiles, you’ll be drooling. 🙂

TM - Greenery 2

6) Will there be an option for people who don’t need all of the bling like the 3-D tiles but still want things like the promo cards and maybe the big box?

Unfortunately, no.

7) Will there be additional add-ons that will let people who haven’t bought the game yet get in on the ground floor with maybe some (or all) of the expansions?

There will be definitely pledge levels where you can buy into the full set of the base game and some/all of the expansions, just like we did with TURMOIL.

There will be other, never before released ADD ONS as well.  I cannot discuss those at this time.



8) There are three new tiles in the game in addition to those that are already there. Are they tied to some of the cards that are also coming with the Big Box?

As above, the 3 new tiles are keyed to the 3 new cards.

9) Does the Big Box mean that there will not be any more expansions? Or is there room for potential expansions in it?

I have previously stated that there are no more expansions for Terraforming Mars that will add “new mechanics”.  This does not preclude the potential for expansions that add new content.  I won’t comment further on this.

TM - Wildlife Preserve

10) Many people were hoping for a legacy game when there was a rumour of a new Kickstarter. What are your thoughts on a possible future legacy option for Terraforming Mars?

I got in a lot of trouble the first time that I mentioned a Terraforming Mars: Legacy. Therefore, I will say only this:  No Comment.  🙂

11) I didn’t get a chance to ask you this when Terraforming Mars: Turmoil came out. Stronghold Games didn’t used to do Kickstarters. Why the change? What do you see as the benefit to using Kickstarter? What makes you decide whether or not a game will come out as a Kickstarter game, since you do also put out a lot of games that don’t use the platform?

I cover this and the changes to the hobby board game industry deeply in my podcast, Board Games Insider, now approaching 150 episodes.  I do this weekly with Ignacy of Portal Games.

In brief, regardless of what Kickstarter was originally designed for, doing a Kickstarter now is a *Marketing* event.  We do not need the funds to produce games.  What we and many companies need and want is the MARKETING that is given to you via Kickstarter.  Many gamers have a sole focus on Kickstarter: “What is the latest and greatest on Kickstarter?”, and they know nothing of what is happening when games are released via the standard method of Distribution.  So, via Kickstarter, we get many many eyes trained on us, and we can gauge demand fully, producing the correct number of units for the backers PLUS what we need to go in Distribution.

12) Multiple threads about the upcoming Big Box on Boardgame Geek have been derailed due to some people wanting a “Deluxe Edition” with updated card artwork because they don’t like the art in the game. This seems to be an ongoing debate. Do you have a response to those types of criticisms?

Fryx Games controls the graphic design and artwork for the game.  Fryx has no plans to make changes to the art at this time.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Thank you for asking me, Dave!

13 Comments on “Q&A – Stephen Buonocore (President of Stronghold Games)

  1. Really interested to see these pledge tier options. As someone who purchased base game and all expansions individually before Turmoil, backed Turmoil, and already have blinged out multiple parts of the game including solving the box problem, I will be really disappointed if the three special tiles are a significant expense given what I have already spent. Don’t really want/need 3-d tiles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have no confirmation from Stephen (I know everything that’s in this post but literally nothing else), I wouldn’t be surprised if they get offered at a later date, maybe through the BGG store or something like that.

      But I don’t know, and even if that happens, I have no idea how long after the Kickstarter fulfillment that would be.

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. bummed there is no non-3D tile option, and that they arent addressing the terrible quality of the metallic cubes with this release. ill check out the kickstarter, but sounds liek this isnt what i was hoping a deluxe edition would be at all :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • This isn’t a deluxe edition, though I know a lot of people were hoping for that.

      It’s a big box, with a bunch of stuff in it to justify charging for it, so as not to be a “box full of air”.


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