I had lots of notes, drafts discarded during the work on Stronghold, because they were too complicated, because they would mess things up, because something had to go – the game was difficult enough already. When I was asked in Essen whether I had ideas for an add-on, I calmly answered yes, a whole lot of ideas.
I had a whole deck of cards introducing events. I did write about them in one of the articles on Stronghold. Tens of cards with events like a downpour, a support of eastern troops, a riot in the camp. I had an add-on to make, so they needed another look to see what the problem was and whether it could be solved. These events would bring new excitement to the game.
I had ideas for new heroes, who could replace the veterans – Boromir and Aragorn. There are ten major states in the universe of Monastyr. One hero from Agaria, and one from Ragada made their appearance in Stronghold. Now that an add-on was in the workings, I had a chance to introduce another eight heroes, coming from the remaining nations of Monastyr.
Rules of hunger were in their infancy – they were something Salou would try talking me into during the tens of test matches. Eventually I decided against it, I thought it would complicate the game too much. And since the add-on would be purchased by players who already knew the main game, I felt I could allow myself to introduce more complicated rules now. So I took out the hunger rules from the archives.
At a relatively late point of the creation process the commanders of the Invader’s army were also kicked out of the main Stronghold game. In the game you know, phase six is Dispatch. In the version of the game which I tested for a few weeks, the phase six card was similar to the phase 2-4 cards – it had various actions, depending on the commander drawn at the beginning of the game. There were six different commanders, and the player would draw two, and eventually pick one of the two before the game. There were aggressive commanders (granting bigger dispatches), defensive commanders (smaller dispatches, better protection from archers’ fire), commanders with a stratagem, commanders with high camp discipline, and others.
A similar case was the issue of Resources - the first of the phase cards. At some point there were various cards saying where the action takes place. There was a lakeside area, where the player, in addition to wood, received fish (related to the hunger rules). There were dense forests (giving more wood), and quarries (giving stone for improved catapult fire)…
I removed all of it when we saw that Stronghold is hellishly complicated already and needs simplifying, because it started resembling a simulation that the testers couldn’t grasp.
I was about to make an add-on, and so a chance appeared to give all those discarded ideas a second look and pick the useful ones.
I also had a few new ideas which came into existence after the work on Stronghold had been finished. I wanted to add orc heroes, Aragorn and Boromir’s counterparts on the Invader’s side. Placed on ramparts they would influence combat on adjacent wall sections.
There’s a big box full of notes regarding Stronghold. As big as the Stronghold box itself, with piles of paper written in small print, and tens of different ideas and versions. When I sat down to make the add-on I took it all out and started sifting through it in search for the best concepts.
Today, after months of work on the Stronghold add-on, I have bad news for you. If you liked any of the above mentioned ideas or found them interesting, then unfortunately you won’t find them in the add-on. I have binned everything I wrote about here. Again.
I can’t believe it myself.