Stronghold Games to publish "504" by Friedman Friese

Stronghold Games to publish "504" by Friedman Friese Hot

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stormseeker75stormseeker75   June 25, 2015  
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Publisher Information

Stronghold Games is set to publish Friedman Friese's "504", a game system offering a staggering 504 games in one box.  The game's release is scheduled for November 2015 with it's debut taking place at Essen Spiel in Germany.


Stronghold Games is proud to announce the publication of “504”, a game designed by the renowned game designer Friedemann Friese, co-published with 2F-Spiele.

504 is a revolutionary concept in game design. 504 offers the game enthusiast 504 different games in a single box, achieving this via the use of nine game modules, which can be merged together to form 504 unique play experiences. The nine modules are Pick-up & Deliver, Race, Privileges, Military, Exploring, Roads, Majorities, Production, and Shares.

In 504, players use the spiral bound “Book of 504 Worlds”, selecting three different modules in any order from the nine available, and thereby creating a unique “World”. For example, the selection of three modules for a World may create a game that is:

  • A racing game that expands through exploration with technology improving the racing or exploration (World “253”).
  • An 18XX-style stock game with network building for income and production sites to provide workers for the road building (World “968”).
  • A wargame with a pick-up and deliver economy and bonus scoring from majorities (“World 417”).


Thematically in 504, scientists in the future are able to build small alternate Earths. Exactly 504 such Earths have thus far been built. The scientists have programmed each of these Worlds with an individual set of laws and rules, which the inhabitants strictly follow and consider most important for their lives. These may be exploration, consumption, economics, military, etc., and each is unique. You can visit all of these 504 alternate Earths to experience how the people are living, and decide which of these worlds harbours the best civilization. On which World do you want to live? Explore them all and decide!

Stronghold Games will release 504 as the second game in its new “The Great Designer Series”, which will highlight games from the best game designers in the world. 504 is designed by the renowned game designer Friedemann Friese, whose previous works include the acclaimed games Power Grid plus its many expansions, Friday, Fauna, Fearsome Floors, and many others.

The release of 504 continues the commitment of Stronghold Games to partner with publishers globally, bringing their great games to North America and the rest of the world, as well as to continue to publish great euro-game designs. 504 follows the success of two smash-hit 2014 euro-games from Stronghold Games, Panamax and Kanban: Automotive Revolution. Stronghold Games recently announced Porta Nigra, by renowned game design team Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Kiesling, as the first game in its new “The Great Designer Series”, scheduled to be released later this year.

Stronghold Games will print 504 at Ludofact Germany, the leading printer of hobby games in the world. 504has a tentative release date of November 2015. The MSRP for this game has not been set at this time.Stronghold Games will debut its English edition of 504 in October 2015 at the Essen Spiel in Germany. Co-publishing partners for other language editions of 504 will be announced imminently by 2F-Spiele.

“This is a revolutionary game design for the hobby game industry,“ said Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games. “It is an honor to be working with Friedemann Friese and his great company, 2F-Spiele, on such an ambitious and game-changing project.”

Posted: 25 Jun 2015 15:16 by ubarose #204936
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Interesting, although I've never seen any multiple games in one box games turn out to be particularly good.
Posted: 25 Jun 2015 15:27 by Mad Dog #204937
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I just can't get excited about a game based on its mechanics or a mechanics based game.
Posted: 25 Jun 2015 15:49 by craniac #204939
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I know that most the games will be mediocre but can't help myself from kidding this.
Posted: 25 Jun 2015 15:50 by Kailes #204940
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Yeah, it's likely going to be pretty bland. However, it's interesting whether he can actually pull of the random combination of unrelated mechanics. Though from the description it seems like each mechanic generates victory points and probably some resource that can be used to fuel actions for all mechanics. If that is the case, it is kinda like Dominion, in that the setup primarily changes the value of certain actions, which is boring to me.
Posted: 25 Jun 2015 15:54 by stormseeker75 #204941
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I'm very interested in this as a concept. I'm curious more as a work of art then expecting one of these games to be awesome.
Posted: 25 Jun 2015 17:54 by Erik Twice #204949
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I have to admit that I'm not interested in concept, but in good games. I'm not hopeful. any of the games included on the box would be good enough to justify going through those who aren't.

So yeah, I appreciate this exists but..eh.
Posted: 25 Jun 2015 22:41 by JonJacob #204954
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This game is tailor made to piss off this site. In any case I am very intrigued by this concept, I've been following this game for months now, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy this as soon as it's available. I kind of like Euro's but I see them as abstract strategy games more than story games and as such this idea is pretty brilliant. A part of me is seeing this as a kind of designers tools box where some of the idea's I'm having might get a kick in the rear by playing through a few of these games in here. Everything I've read about the individual games has been really positive.

I like the idea that I could have the ultimate new game at home and any time I get that urge to play something new or just learn a new system there's a box tailor made to create that experience hundreds of times.

This is what the BGG game should have been. An ultimate cult of the new title. A game about games, about designing games even. A game about learning new games and choosing a game to play. There's a lot going on just in the concept alone and it's certainly something I've never seen before. I've played games that tried a couple of different things here and there but nothing even close to this ambitious. I've had a good time with most of FF's previous games, or at least good enough that I trust he could do something really fascinating here.
Posted: 25 Jun 2015 23:49 by Michael Barnes #204961
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This is such an audacious concept...far more compelling to me than the Legacy thing. The idea of entire modular, interchangeable rule sets based on core mechanics is brilliant out of the box.

The problem is that most people won't come into this appreciative of the experimental nature of it. They won't regard it as successful unless a percentage of the games are as fun or as well designed as purpose-built games with fixed mechanics. People will try to figure out what the "good" games are instead of participating in the experiment as intended.

Very excited about it...I'll have to bug Buonocore for a copy.
Posted: 25 Jun 2015 23:55 by SuperflyTNT #204963
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Mad Dog wrote:
I just can't get excited about a game based on its mechanics or a mechanics based game.

Theme matters. This is completely devoid of theme, by design, and it's kind of ridiculous. This is the single most retarded money-grab in all of gaming. This is the Power Grid guy fucking up.
Posted: 26 Jun 2015 00:06 by SuperflyTNT #204964
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Michael Barnes wrote:
This is such an audacious concept...far more compelling to me than the Legacy thing. The idea of entire modular, interchangeable rule sets based on core mechanics is brilliant out of the box.

The problem is that most people won't come into this appreciative of the experimental nature of it. They won't regard it as successful unless a percentage of the games are as fun or as well designed as purpose-built games with fixed mechanics. People will try to figure out what the "good" games are instead of participating in the experiment as intended.

Very excited about it...I'll have to bug Buonocore for a copy.

With all due respect, and you know I respect you, this sounds so hypocritical. This is Emperor's New Clothes V2.0, in my estimation. It's experimental, yes, but when a guy takes a shitload of unrelated mechanics, no theme, stuffs it in a box, calls it a game, and sells it on Kickstarter, you don't call him experimental and audacious, you call him a cunt, more or less. This guy does it, and he's bold.

What the fuck, Jack?

This is bollocks. It's like taking pieces from 10 games, making rules that only apply to certain pieces, and saying, "When you use these pieces, these rules apply". No theme. No setting. Just random shit in a box with rules for each piece. This might as well be that fucking Cones of Dunshire, WITHOUT A THEME.

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

This is that scene in Ghostbusters. "Cats and dogs...."

Hope he makes a mint, so that we can all look back and laugh about how far the hobby has fallen from the days of Broadsides and Boarding Parties, and Thunder Road. You know, when AWESOME used to mean something.
Posted: 26 Jun 2015 00:18 by craniac #204967
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What was that other game kit that came out a few years ago?
Posted: 26 Jun 2015 00:31 by JonJacob #204968
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Ha, this game is practically F:AT troll food.

Even though I'm going into this as a fan of abstract gaming I do fully expect to see some theme under neath all of this. I don't think theme is that difficult to get across actually, especially today and being able to stand on the shoulders of our game design ancestors. You can chrome the fuck out of it but honestly the smallest little mechanics can quite often evoke plenty of theme for me without anything bolted on there to force feed it to me.

Looking over the modules included in this there are some very interesting options and I can see, just by piecing together games in my head based on his module selection, how you could find theme in there. Whats kind of interesting to me about this is that it may very well show that theme is much easier to apply to a game than we generally think. A lot of things get over designed and with a very minimal set you can quite often get a lot accomplished if you are smart about how you choose things. Economical designs can be every bit as thematic as games with piles of chrome and complicated rule sets... but they do usually require more work from the player and sometimes it's just a little more effort than most gamers want to put into it.

I'm actually excited at the concept of being able to play a game and then debate with buddies what the fuck it was about afterwards. I'd like to play a game that is ... I don't know, Economic, racing with touches of development (the tech tree module) and then figure out what might be happening. It's entirely possible for people to be playing a game and have each player think of it in an entirely different way, in an entirely different setting... I don't think I've done that before.

Even though I openly call this abstract I want to make it clear that I fully expect to be looking for interesting thematic touches in this game... and finding them as well. But I also recognize that several people around here will simply be not interested in looking for them and may see them as too obfuscated to be worthwhile.
Posted: 26 Jun 2015 00:35 by VonTush #204969
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I'm interested to see what type of lifecycle this game has. Will it be short because it is more curiosity about the novelty of the game? Will it last longer because of the variety within the box? I wonder if conversation about the game, a bit component to prolonging and lengthening a lifecycle, will even be possible considering it'll be tough to talk about seeing as you're likely not playing the same iteration as someone else.

I'm interested in following the game but to be honest I have very little interest in playing. I already game up at a shop so it's a constant battle to get something to the table more than it takes to count on one hand, so a game which is going to be like a new game every time doesn't appeal to me. I could walk out into the shop and pick from the hundreds of games on the shelf and come back with something more concise and unified.
Posted: 26 Jun 2015 02:55 by Death and Taxis #204976
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Very curious. It's easy to be skeptical. If FF manages to pull off something even halfway decent, I'll be impressed. This game is going to generate a lot of noise for a while - quite a coup for Stronghold.
Posted: 26 Jun 2015 12:12 by craniac #205000
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It might be fun to use the kit to create a game, then theme it up. Are there any AT themes left at this point that haven't been kickstartered to oblivion.
Posted: 26 Jun 2015 12:25 by Almalik #205001
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Interesting, although I've never seen any multiple games in one box games turn out to be particularly good.

*Ahem* Best of Dragon Magazine Games?

Okay fine, it drops off pretty quickly after Emperor's treasure :)
Posted: 26 Jun 2015 13:13 by Shellhead #205003
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JonJacob wrote:
This game is tailor made to piss off this site. In any case I am very intrigued by this concept, I've been following this game for months now, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy this as soon as it's available. I kind of like Euro's but I see them as abstract strategy games more than story games and as such this idea is pretty brilliant. A part of me is seeing this as a kind of designers tools box where some of the idea's I'm having might get a kick in the rear by playing through a few of these games in here. Everything I've read about the individual games has been really positive.

I like the idea that I could have the ultimate new game at home and any time I get that urge to play something new or just learn a new system there's a box tailor made to create that experience hundreds of times.

This is what the BGG game should have been. An ultimate cult of the new title. A game about games, about designing games even. A game about learning new games and choosing a game to play. There's a lot going on just in the concept alone and it's certainly something I've never seen before. I've played games that tried a couple of different things here and there but nothing even close to this ambitious. I've had a good time with most of FF's previous games, or at least good enough that I trust he could do something really fascinating here.

Generally speaking, game designs that start with mechanics instead of themes end up with pasted-on themes that easily peel off. When a designer starts with a theme (or setting, whatever you want to call it), he will tend to think about how to express that theme, which can often lead to very thematic expressions of that theme. But even a generic euro can at least give the appearance of theme with artwork. This 504 is unlikely to deliver in theme, because the whole concept is extremely focused on mechanics instead of theme, and the components will need to be very generic to support so many different games.

That said, I might pick up a copy at some point if the price is right, because this game could be a nice toolbox for designing other games.
Posted: 26 Jun 2015 13:22 by Michael Barnes #205004
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SuperflyTNT wrote:

With all due respect, and you know I respect you, this sounds so hypocritical. This is Emperor's New Clothes V2.0, in my estimation. It's experimental, yes, but when a guy takes a shitload of unrelated mechanics, no theme, stuffs it in a box, calls it a game, and sells it on Kickstarter, you don't call him experimental and audacious, you call him a cunt, more or less. This guy does it, and he's bold.

What the fuck, Jack?

You aren't looking at it correctly. There is definitely theme. There is not a setting. The theme is interoperable, interchangeable components creating unique worlds with different worlds, it is the "multiverse" concept. The game is about executing this concept, not about creating a cohesive, innovative game. If you look at the list of "worlds", they all correspond to modern mechanics that other games use interchangeably all the time. He's just putting it in bold face.
Posted: 26 Jun 2015 15:50 by iguanaDitty #205012
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Friese was tinkering with this same concept when he designed Stich-Meister, a trick-taking game where the players determine the rules before each round. It was a neat idea but ultimately not real memorable for our group:

1) Each player would select a rule and then all would simultaneously reveal. It was easy for rules to overrwrite each other which led to disappointment.
2) It lacked any particular set of drama...from round to round your hand would either completely suck or be awesome depending on the rules that got put out. The chaos was neat for awhile but we found ourselves wanting more coherency.
3) Of the rules that were available only a few were particularly interesting or innovative. In fairness we've played a lot of trick-taking games but I'd hoped for more cleverness here. You'd think the interactions would lead to interesting rounds, and that happened once or twice, but more often it was just meh. It's possible a more interesting set of base rules would solve this, but we weren't up to designing them. I think this is the point that I would be most concerned about for 504.
Posted: 28 Jun 2015 13:04 by SuperflyTNT #205068
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Michael Barnes wrote:
You aren't looking at it correctly. There is definitely theme. There is not a setting. The theme is interoperable, interchangeable components creating unique worlds with different worlds, it is the "multiverse" concept. The game is about executing this concept, not about creating a cohesive, innovative game. If you look at the list of "worlds", they all correspond to modern mechanics that other games use interchangeably all the time. He's just putting it in bold face.

That's such a stretch that you may actually qualify to replace Reed Richards. There are micro-themes, and that's even dubious. Putting 3 modules together to create a racing game with area control and stock purchasing is not a theme. It's a series of mechanics stitched together. It's a purely mechanical game system, which is fine, but it is wholly without setting, narrative, and, I'd argue (and am) any coherent theme. Each module has a theme, but it's so abstract that it can't be said to contain much theme with a straight face.

I'm OK with people wanting it and buying it. Whatever floats your boat. All I'm saying is that this is a series of microgames that fit together to create configurable metagames, none of them with any narrative or theme. It's highly experimental in a visceral way, and my initial point is that I find it interesting that if a game like this was made by some unknown schlep and Kickstarted, you would be first in line to leaving a steaming pool of 7-Layer Burrito diarrhea all over it.

<EDIT>
The funny thing is that this is not really that novel, although on its face it is. FLUXX is essentially a game that does much of what this does, but in a different way. Instead of changing on the fly like Fluxx, each game you play is different, from the get-go, based on the modules you choose. I don't see this as that different from the 10,000 foot level.

I wish it, and him, the best, but I just can't see this being more than the one-size-fits-all microgame that has increasingly been the bane of the hobby game industry for the last 2-3 years. It's as if variety and short game time are the new goal rather than deep, interesting, fulfilling game play. It's really kind of sad that it's gotten to the point that the hobby is in a race to the bottom.

I can't wait to hear that the classic card game, "War", is making a comeback, complete with Warhammer 40K art and a tacked on story about how the Emperor of Mankind and Warmaster Horus were at a bar, deciding the fate of the universe, which ended up setting of the Heresy.
Posted: 28 Jun 2015 21:11 by Sevej #205074
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I don't see why 504 can't create narrative. Mechanics and game dynamics can create narrative.
Posted: 28 Jun 2015 22:35 by engelstein #205078
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I am skeptical on this project, but several people that I really respect (not Stronghold-related) have played several of the combinations and have said that shockingly it does seem to work.

If it really works I think it will be an impressive achievement.
Posted: 28 Jun 2015 22:42 by Motorik #205079
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I'm extremely interested in 504 just for the nutty audacity of it. The vast, vast, VAST majority of the "hot new shit" hobby games I play are so unoriginal, so conservative, so terrified of taking chances that they make video games look like a wellspring of invention (this is absolutely true in the case of PC games, where there is an overwhelming amount of innovation taking place). 504 is a neat, left-field idea, and we could use a few more left-field ideas in an increasingly homogenized post-hybridization era.

JonJacob wrote:
A part of me is seeing this as a kind of designers tools box where some of the idea's I'm having might get a kick in the rear by playing through a few of these games in here.

This is an excellent point. For designers, 504 could also be viewed as a nifty experiment in lateral thinking. I mean, let's not fucking kid ourselves: I play a LOT of new games, and 99% of them are just re-calibrations of existing mechanics, usually with some dippy generic theme slapped on. 504 could lead designers to, you know, come up with weirder combinations of tried-and-true mechanics. Then if those designers really feel compelled to whip up some super-derivative fantasy or sci-fi setting or paste on a zombie theme onto their bizarre new racing/area control/auction wargame, then more power to them. I'll be more interested in entertaining some schlubby wannabe designer's sad attempt at hackneyed world-building if--at least--the subcutaneous combination of mechanics powering the gameplay is, like, interesting, man.

Or, fuck, failing all of that, just view 504 as a kind of subtly artful commentary on how a LOT of board games are grab-bags of existing ideas. I don't know. Whatever. This shit is cool, though.
Posted: 29 Jun 2015 09:34 by Shellhead #205089
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I just don't see how this game can rise beyond random combinations of game mechanics and victory conditions. If there is going to be some actual theme/setting for each game, how will it be expressed? A paragraph of flavor text? That would be 504 paragraphs in the rule book. And I doubt that the components are going to deliver any flavor, since they need to remain flexible enough to address 504 games. More likely that players will need to imagine the context for a given game on their own. Maybe some players will like that, and many won't care. But I usually don't enjoy games unless there is some kind of context for the gameplay. I want my actions in the game to have some meaning, ideally creating at least the appearance of a story.
Posted: 29 Jun 2015 10:06 by Sevej #205092
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Shellhead wrote:
I just don't see how this game can rise beyond random combinations of game mechanics and victory conditions. If there is going to be some actual theme/setting for each game, how will it be expressed? A paragraph of flavor text? That would be 504 paragraphs in the rule book. And I doubt that the components are going to deliver any flavor, since they need to remain flexible enough to address 504 games. More likely that players will need to imagine the context for a given game on their own. Maybe some players will like that, and many won't care. But I usually don't enjoy games unless there is some kind of context for the gameplay. I want my actions in the game to have some meaning, ideally creating at least the appearance of a story.

Easy, you come up with one. Since when do we *have to* be feed narrative/story/setting by designers? Individual components and mechanism may not convey theme/setting, but I believe when worked right, combinations of those would.
Posted: 29 Jun 2015 11:25 by charlest #205104
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I don't think it's about *have to* but more about preference.

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