There I was last night, just innocently browsing Boardgame Geek for forum posts about my favourite games.
Then I saw the momentous news: Stephen Buonocore is retiring as President of Stronghold Games as of August 1, 2020. (the full press release is at the BGG link)
This one hit me over the head and knocked me for a loop.
Stephen has been such a huge presence in the boardgaming world, his personality filling up space in that world enough for ten people (at least).
He’s always been such a vivacious, outgoing and fun-loving presence wherever he goes. He’s livened up some Dice Tower convention live-shows, his energy bursting through the speakers on my iPhone. He’s always fun on social media and the pictures of him with fans are legendary.
This almost sounds like a eulogy, which couldn’t be any further from the truth since he’s still going to be gracing us with his presence all over the place. It just won’t be as an “official” presence anywhere.
Instead, he’ll get to just socialize and enjoy all the games without having to do the work! (Though why do I think he’ll end up doing something board-game related anyway? Just a hunch).
I finally got to meet him at Dice Tower West this year, and even though it was very short, it was still great just chatting with him and getting a photo (I know I’ve used this twice before now, but it’s so fitting).
But two other takeaways that just show great he is that I want to share.
First, when the news first broke of the Terraforming Mars big box and I did a quick post about it, my blog traffic exploded. Wanting to keep that going and also excited about the Big Box opportunity, I asked Stephen if he’d do a Q&A about it that could post around (or even before) the Kickstarter launch.
He very quickly agreed to do it and answered my tons of questions in a couple of days. He even let me post it a few days (turned out to be a couple of weeks due to the launch delay) before it was ready to go.
That really meant a lot to me.
I’m just a small-time blogger so he could have easily dismissed the whole thing, as I’m sure he was quite busy.
But he didn’t.
Secondly, and even a bit more meaningful to me, was after the first (ultimately aborted) Aftershock Kickstarter launch, with the controversy about the name being the same as another smaller game.
I was sharply critical of the way Stronghold Games (and ultimately, of course, Stephen, since he runs the Twitter account) was handling the social media aspect of it.
When it was ultimately resolved in a way that appeared satisfactory to everybody, I reached out to Stephen about the Twitter blockage (blocking accounts that were critical of the way that Stronghold Games had handled things) and he was very gracious about the whole thing. We had a nice conversation and I said I hoped that I would finally get to meet him at a convention and that it would be an honour to do so.
He replied that it would be an honour to meet me.
That finally happened at Dice Tower West and it truly was an honour.
And he did a good job of making me believe that he was also honoured to meet me. Given how he is with everybody, I have no doubt he was sincere about that.
Stephen, I wish you the best in retirement (even though I do think you will dabble, and you have already confirmed that you will still be doing the Boardgame Insider podcast and additional game media outlets), and I hope when this whole virus situation is over we can meet again at a convention and actually get a game in since you won’t be working anymore.
I would be truly honoured to do that.
And thank you for making Stronghold Games what it is today. I do believe that you leave it in good hands, though you will be greatly missed.