Play like a kid again.
Fort is a rehash of the mildly successful 2018 KickStarted game ‘SPQF’ that suffered from being a good game that looked butt-ugly and unwieldy, the reverse of typical crowd-funded fare. Leder Games have re-themed this to the delightful setting of kids larking about in the yard with their friends. No longer are you collecting anonymous resource cubes, you are grabbing slices of pizza and toys. No longer are cards suited to dry and tired concepts of soldiers and quarrymen, they are the far more fearsome squirtguns and gluesticks. The development process has also streamlined some of the jagged edges of the design which has simplified the process and flow of play; this is a very quick and easy game to pick up and play, and sensibly backloads complexity into interactions and decisions rather than the up front structure of the piece.
There is one particular thing in this design that was new to me and which I find fascinating and that is the concept of delayed discards. Every turn you will gather together a gang of friends to play with from your cards in hand, except there will always be someone on the periphery who is left out of the fun. Friends who don’t get to join in end up hanging around in your yard and they might end up enticed away to another player’s gang where they feel more wanted. This creates some really interesting challenges as you have to make sometimes tough decisions about what to do and who to include if you don’t want to risk losing a friend who you very much want to play with on a later turn.
There is also a ‘follow the leader’ mechanism where the activity that each player chooses to play can be copied by everyone else at the table. Mechanically you are discarding a card to do this which can also help with ensuring you keep kids occupied and not feeling left out in your yard. Interlocking pieces come together to create a depth of play and interaction that goes far beyond the joyful welcoming presentation, and this is before you even begin to build your titular fort or crew your treehouse lookout, let alone chase down the illustrious Macaroni sculpture of your dreams. The antagonistic side is quite mild, occasionally you will annoy someone by enticing away one of their friends and messing with their longer-term goals or by copying something clever they’ve just done for your own benefit, which creates a pleasant level of interaction without devolving into truly mean levels of treachery.
It’s all quite fun to play. You might even say that it is like being a kid again.