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Hot Take on Fort

M Updated September 11, 2020
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
1452 0
Fort Board Game

Game Information

Game Name
Publisher
Designer
Players
2 - 4
There Will Be Games

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.

Fort Board Game

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.

 


Editor reviews

1 reviews

Rating 
 
3.5
Fort

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Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #313993 11 Sep 2020 10:17
Finally some front page content out of your awesome what have you been playing posts!

Pure deck builders are a tough sell for me. It's interesting to see them coming back around after the post race for the galaxy glut.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #313994 11 Sep 2020 10:44
The name of this game really threw me off. I appreciate having someone here describe and review it. I think this would be a big hit with my current gaming group, specifically my daughter and her friend who have discovered deck-builders. Plus, it is very reasonably priced. I may need to put this on the holiday gift list.
mezike's Avatar
mezike replied the topic: #313995 11 Sep 2020 10:59
Thank you for the kind words.

I would say that describing Fort as a deckbuilder is a bit of a stretch. Sure, the ingredients are there but it doesn't feel that way when you play. Your deck is pretty small and generally stays that way, some cards will go away during the course of events or be lodged in your treehouse as lookouts, and you only ever play one card on your turn with the others either adding 'resource' support (friends joining in on the game you have decided to play) or being used out of turn to follow the leader. Most of the time you are trying to find ways to ditch cards out of your hand so that they don't end up in your yard, or to get them out of circulation. There are tight limits on how much you can do with your one card play and so the combos that you can make across individual cards ends up being more important than doubling down on 'strategic purchases.' The kids you choose to invite over to play has its own particular thought process that isn't quite the same as choosing which stack of cards to mine. It's actually so divergent to the usual fare that it didn't even occur to me to think of it as deck-building.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #313998 11 Sep 2020 11:39
@mezike

Thank you. That sounds even more interesting.
mc's Avatar
mc replied the topic: #314006 11 Sep 2020 17:51
I can't help but keep thinking of Glory to Rome when I hear about this one - I guess that "follow with cards from your hand" action - are their other Chudyk likenesses? How wacky can those combos get?
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #314016 11 Sep 2020 23:28
@mc
I was thinking the same thing.
mezike's Avatar
mezike replied the topic: #314021 12 Sep 2020 03:25
On the Chudyk scale it rates about 0.2 Carls. There is some potential to make big plays that will make everyone ooh and ahh but you won’t see the explosive game-breaking actions that Carl’s games are known for. ‘Synergies’ between cards may have been a better turn of phrase than ‘combos’
Jexik's Avatar
Jexik replied the topic: #315603 27 Oct 2020 12:20
I've got about 10 (2-player) games in now and I'd say a 3.5 or so matches my feelings as well.

The big difference here compared to most other deckbuilders is the single-mindedness of building the titular fort, and the fact that your pizza and toys stick around between turns to build said fort. A typical score is in the mid-30s, and up to 27 of that can come from building your fort to level 5 and being the first to do so. Much of the game is about gaining resources and building the fort; there is not as much focus on improving the cards in your deck to buy bigger and better cards to... well you get the idea.

In fact, all cards you can add to your deck have the same price- free. After you perform your action for the turn (and anyone follows who wants to), you recruit someone from someone else's unused pile, or from the central pool that refreshes every time one is taken. Starting decks are formed by 8 totally random cards and two "best friends" which can't be taken away. The best friend actions are simultaneously core and relatively strong, but the fort building in particular can be copied.

Much of the strategy and tactical decision making comes from the fact that there are two spaces for actions on each card- the public action (which can be copied, but sometimes in a less effective way like in RftG or Puerto Rico), and the personal action which only the active player can use. Finding cards that can build the fort up on that secondary action slot can help you get ahead. In general, scoring options are on the personal action, usually related to how many resources are in your pack (an additional storage slot) or how many Lookouts (cards slotted in to boost actions much like the Patron action in Glory to Rome) you have. One important thing to note is that your Lookouts can't copy- you can just discard one card from your hand to do so.

Another neat thing is that your strategy naturally focuses itself a little as you build your first and second level of your Fort. The first level gets you a "Made-up rule" (secret victory conditions generally worth 4-8 additional VP), with the second getting you a "perk" which is an additional power-up related to the various mechanics; in some cases they're one-time use.

Between trashing cards, lookouts, the delayed discard mentioned by Mezike, and other people stealing your friends, your deck can get pretty thin and focused; how focused it is at the start is determined by luck of the draw- compared to Dominion or Ascension, starting with 8 random cards gives this more of an 'in media res' kind of feel, which is part of why the game ends up being shorter. I'm a little interested to try this with 3 or 4 to see if it changes the dynamics of how many people follow actions and having additional options when it's time to recruit.