Fort: A Sound Structure

  • Designer: Grant Rodiek
  • Artist: Kyle Ferrin
  • Publisher: Leder Games
  • Release Date: August 2020 (Pre-Order Here)

Disclaimer: This game was provided to us for review by Leder Games.

Luke: Leder Games is one of my favorite companies in the industry. Not only are they helmed by some of the kindest individuals in board gaming, but they make some pretty phenomenal experiences. We haven’t spoken about the Vast series or Root here because those games work best at bigger player groups, but rest assured they are experiences that ought to be tried at least once.

Phil: So when Fort was announced, we both knew this would be a title we needed to cover. Not only is this a step away from the asymmetrical 2-hour ventures Leder Games is known for, its also a game that sings particularly well at a table of 2.

Luke: Based on SPQF, a game by the same designer released in 2018, Fort tasks players with gathering the neighborhood kids in your backyard and proving that you know how to have the best time on the block.

Phil: Something that stands out from the get-go is that players are always adding cards to their deck, widening their options, but are also giving others the opportunity to sneak cards out of your deck.

Each turn, you’ll play 1 card for its effects, potentially modifying it with the suits of other cards in your hand. All unused cards are sent to your yard, leaving them up for grabs until the start of your next turn.

Luke: Players can also spend cards to follow the actions of their opponents, meaning you’re encouraged to consider how to use each card. You may even find yourself allowing some of your friends to wander into the yard so they’re snatched up by someone else. Sure, your opponent may get a useful resource, but Dot was just weighing down your otherwise svelt engine.

Phil: And the unique way deck-building is handled is inspired. No longer do you worry if you can afford this card or that, only if it helps your engine. You’ll always have to add something, so it might as well be something good.

Luke: Cards will do a variety of things, allowing you to gather pizza and toys (the primary resources of the game), gathering extra cards, removing cards from the game, or even upgrade your fort.

As your fort grows over the game, you’ll get bumps of victory points while also giving you some notable tools. The first, a Made-Up Rule, will give you a secret goal card that you’ll be able to build towards. And the second, a Perk, will give you a special power to compliment your playstyle.

Phil: And there are plenty of playstyles to be found here. You can aggressively build your fort in an effort to end the game, move cards to your Lookout so you get discounts on many of your effects, or just get a ton of points by hoarding pizza in your Backpack. There are a genuinely surprising number of ways that you can approach the game.

Luke: Every game starts with either a blind draw or, once you’re more familiar, a draft, allowing you to get a feel for how you’ll tackle the puzzle of Fort each time you attempt it. And all of this can clock in at around 45 minutes, probably less once you become more familiar with it.

Phil: To be frank, I haven’t been so impressed by a deck-builder since Xenon Profiteer. This game is clever, simple, and involved, making your decisions matter without feeling punishing.

Luke: If we were to site a “complaint” or “issue” we might have, it would be that the iconography can be overwhelming at times, even with a reference sheet. But this feels like a minuscule nit-pick in the grand scheme of things. I firmly believe that this game will have something for every type of deck-builder out there.

Verdict: Fort is charming with a beautiful art style and adorable theme, and the gameplay is smart yet easy to pick up. There are always tough decisions to be made, and there are various diverse methods to strive for victory. Leder Games has once again blown us away with another impressive title.

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