Fortress America, a board game of strategy and survival for two to four players, imagines a gripping, not-too-distant future in which the ugly specter of war has once again encircled the globe. 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.
A World at War
In the 21st century, the United States unveiled a military defense system that completely changed global politics. Through a series of satellites and powerful lasers, the U.S. gained a flawless defense against intercontinental missile attacks. Misinterpreting the purpose of this defensive network and fearing that it might be used to launch an attack, the world united to demand that the U.S. dismantle it. The United Nations moved to impose punitive economic sanctions against the U.S., but America’s leaders were unwilling to let other countries dictate U.S. military policy. A lengthy diplomatic stalemate gripped the globe.
With the world at a crossroads, coalitions of nations were formed unlike any that had ever existed before. A plan was devised to destroy this perceived technological threat through military action. If the invading armies could move fast enough, they could destroy the American defense before suffering too many losses. The plan involved attacking from three directions at once, for the nations of the world knew that every army dreads fighting a war on two fronts… and America was about to face three.
An Invasion on Three Fronts
In Fortress America, the United States must defend itself from three deadly invading armies: the Asian People’s Alliance from the west, the Central American Federation from the south, and the Euro-Socialist Pact from the east. Players take on either the role of the United States, struggling to protect itself from foreign threat, or the role of one or more of the invading armies, fighting battle after battle to acquire important territories.
If the invading forces claim enough U.S. cities, America’s defense is broken and the nation falls. But if the United States can protect its cities for long enough, the invading forces fail to uproot America and their incursion is ended.
Fortress America is played over several rounds in which each player musters his forces, moves into enemy-controlled territories, and engages in fierce firefights. But depending on whether you’re the U.S. player or one of the Invaders, your play experience and general strategy will be entirely different. The U.S. must efficiently wield its colossal lasers in its own defense. What’s more, as U.S. hovertanks, helicopters, bombers, and infantry are destroyed and removed from the map, a steady supply of American guerilla fighters spring up to defend their homeland. The U.S. player is surrounded and alone, and must do his best to fend off advances on three fronts in a series of tense battles.
The Invaders, on the other hand, must remain constantly aggressive. Their objective is to collectively capture eighteen of thirty major U.S. cities, and to do so, they must apply early pressure before the U.S. has a chance to react, and keep the pressure constant. To complicate the Invaders’ mission, their armies do not receive additional reinforcements, so they must make optimal use of the forces at their disposal. Through a series of nail-biting battles that use a unique dice-based combat system, each player will maneuver his dwindling armies to secure his objective.
Reflections of Wars Long Past
Fans of the 1986 Milton Bradley release will find the game’s core experience essentially unchanged. Kevin Wilson, a dedicated fan of the classic version, consulted original designer Michael Gray during development; together they sought to alter the game as little as possible. So in addition to its noteworthy aesthetic and thematic updates, what mechanical changes are introduced by the FFG version?
- Convenient custom dice obviate the need to consult charts during combat.
- A ten-turn timer gives the U.S. player an additional path to victory: outlasting the invasion.
- A “Captured City” track lets all players see, at a quick glance, how close they are to victory or defeat.
- A small number of cities have been removed from the map, and others added, to create a more strategically satisfying experience.
- An entirely optional set of rules, the Invader Card Variant, adds a small deck of cards from which each Invader player can draw. These special abilities increase variety and replayability, and further differentiates the play experiences of the three Invaders.
Whether you’re a fan of the original or a newcomer to the game, Fortress America offers a fast-paced and desperate struggle for supremacy. The diplomatic options have been exhausted, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. The United States will stand or fall in the coming weeks. Can Fortress America survive?
1 – 2 hours
2 – 4 players
The copyrightable portions of Fortress America are © 2012 Hasbro. Fortress America is licensed by Wizards of the Coast LLC. Avalon Hill and its logos are trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. and Wizard of the Coast and its logos are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. Used with permission. Fantasy Flight Supply is a trademark of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved to their respective owners.