It is the near future, and with the unveiling of a new U.S. anti-missile system, global politics have changed forever. Fearing that this defensive network might be used to launch an attack, the world’s governments united to demand its destruction. Now, with diplomacy at a stalemate and the planet at a crossroads, coalitions of nations have been formed unlike any that have ever existed before. Their bold plan involves attacking the U.S. from three directions at once. The United States will stand or fall in the coming weeks, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Can Fortress America survive?

In December, Fantasy Flight Games announced the upcoming release of Fortress America , a board game of strategy and survival for two to four players. This updated version of Michael Gray's 1986 classic pits one player, in control of the beleaguered American forces, against up to three others, who team up to assault the U.S. on three fronts. Featuring beautifully crafted components (including over 300 detailed plastic figures), Fortress America thrusts players into a frightening geopolitical scenario in which diplomacy has failed, and World War III has begun.

With the battle approaching, we’re pleased to present a preview of Fortress America . First, for those unfamiliar with this beloved classic, we’ll look at some of its most interesting mechanics. Then, we’ll move on to a look at one of its new optional variants: invader cards.

On American Soil

In Fortress America , two to four players vie for control of strategically important American cities on a map of the United States. One player, in control of U.S. forces, must successfully repel the attacks of the opposing team (the “Invaders”), which consists of three coalitions: the Asian People’s Republic, the Central American Federation, and the Euro-Socialist Pact.

As you can see from the above image of the game board, each Invader attacks from a different direction, resulting in a unique game experience depending on which role you play. Despite their geographical separation, however, the Invaders must work together to claim any 18 cities... and quickly. While the U.S. Player can win by eradicating his opposition, he can also simply build his defenses and outlast the assault for ten turns. Whatever the players’ chosen paths to victory, however, a heated series of dice-based battles (using convenient custom dice) will decide the fate of the world.

Aside from its engaging one-versus-many dynamic, a few key mechanical factors set Fortress America apart from other area control wargames. First, it’s worth mentioning that the Invaders’ armies aren’t inexhaustible; while the U.S. Player could conceivably field new troops indefinitely, the Invaders have a finite number of units with which to conquer America. Twenty of each Invader’s units begin the game near America’s borders, ready to begin the assault, and the remaining 40 wait in the reserves to be brought in later... but once these 60 units are gone, they’re gone for good. The Invaders must therefore remain aggressive, yet calculating.

Next, Fortress America ’s compelling asymmetrical game experience means that both sides of the conflict must manage entirely different strategic considerations. The U.S. Player, for example, has massively powerful lasers at his disposal, and he must protect them from assault as he decides where to direct them on each turn. Meanwhile, the Invaders are an unwelcome force in a hostile land, and to survive, each invading unit must be able to trace an unbroken line of friendly forces back to its original invasion zone. If the U.S. Player ever manages to cut this “supply line,” all cut off invading units are destroyed!

Vary your tactics

Fans of the original Fortress America may be wondering what changes can be expected in FFG’s upcoming version, and such players will find the game’s core experience essentially unaltered. Kevin Wilson, a dedicated fan of the classic version, consulted original designer Michael Gray during development; together they sought to alter it as little as possible.

In addition to custom dice that remove the need to consult charts and a convenient “Captured City” track that displays the progress of the game, FFG’s version offers an entirely optional set of new rules known as the Invader Card Variant. This variant adds a small deck of cards for each Invader player, and the special abilities on these cards increase variety while further differentiating each players’ experiences.

To begin, each Invader takes his coalition's deck of invader cards, shuffles it, and places it near him during setup. On each of the Invader’s Reinforcement Actions, when he would normally bring eight new units from his reserves and into the fray, he may instead collect five new units and one invasion card.

Invasion cards can be played at various points throughout the game, depending on their individual instructions, and they convey a number of beneficial effects to the Invader using them. “Do Svidaniya, Atlanta” converts the people of Atlanta to the Invaders’ cause, turning the city into a new invasion zone through which Euro-Socialist units can be funneled. Meanwhile, the Central American Federation’s “Withering Fire” doubles the offensive power of its units in a single battle, and the Asian People’s Republic’s “Will to Conquer” gives its dying units one last chance for revenge!

By introducing exciting new options while preserving the spirit of the original, FFG’s new edition of Fortress America is sure to appeal to long-time fans and newcomers alike. Keep checking back for more, and look for Fortress America to invade store shelves soon.

Fortress America is a board game of strategy and survival for two to four players. This updated version of the 1986 classic pits the United States against three invading coalitions in a desperate siege. Featuring beautifully crafted components, Fortress America thrusts players into a frightening geopolitical scenario in which diplomacy has failed and another World War has started.

FORTRESS AMERICA is a trademark of HASBRO, Inc. in the U.S.A. and other countries. Game images © 2012 HASBRO.

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