From the publishers of the mega-hit Root comes a much more accessible strategy game. Fort is a light deck-builder with clever mechanics and cool interactions. Instead of Root’s intense, crunchy strategy, Fort is much easier to play. Fort is a great card game for anyone looking for an easy gateway game!
One look at Fort’s cover tells you a lot of what the game is about. Fort is a game about the highest stakes, about the noblest of leadership, about the outsized influence over the lives and futures of other people. Fort tells a grand story of the ruthless politicking and the building of monuments to greatness. To wit, Fort is about children and their friends building forts together.
Like most games, players in Fort want Victory Points. Players earn Victory Points primarily by building up their fort, hopefully up to level 5. Players also earn Victory Points for collecting Toys and Pizza in their Stuff. Truly, the stuff of legends.
In order to get pizza, toys, and build up their fort, players need friends. Friends come in the form of cards. Each turn, players play cards to inspire their friends to help them in their Ozymandian vision. Or, if cards go unplayed, they’re left out in the Yard - and available for opponents to scoop up. Friends you play with frequently will stick around and be available next turn, but turn a cold shoulder to your friends and they’ll find new players to play with.
It's a Lot Easier to Let Someone Else Be Caesar
One of most satisfying mechanics in Fort is the idea of Leading and Following. Every card has two different abilities, a Public and a Private action. The player who plays a card gets to use both powers. However, opponents have the opportunity to Follow and use the card’s Public action as well. It’s an interesting twist on the concept of tempo. Players always come out ahead when they play a card, but clever opponents will try to capitalize on as many public abilities as they can.
These are game mechanics that keep decision trees small, but new decisions appear constantly. Players get to plan ahead as far as they want, as new opportunities are pretty variant. All this adds up to a game that rewards strategic thought, but is still really chill. Fort is great for players who want a casual, easy strategy game. Fort is even a great card game for smart kids who are comfortable with reading, and whose parents are looking for something more complex than traditional board games.
On the Origin of Pizzas
Fort is the latest evolution in a long line of games called deck-builders. The name can be a little confusing; when some people hear the term, they think of collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh!. Instead, deck-builders instead refer to card games where players build their decks as the game goes on. Deck-builders have a draft or market mechanic that gives players options of what cards to add to their deck during play.
The first pure deck-building game was Dominion back in 2008. Dominion is still a great game, too, it still has expansions being published and organized play tournaments. And, like a true classic, Dominion inspired a Cambrian Explosion of deck-builders that iterated and innovated on the original theme.
Thunderstone and Core Worlds were early followers. Quarriors used dice instead of cards to make a bag-builder, and spun off their collectible, customizable game Dicemasters. Puzzle Strike, designed by the inimitable David Sirlin, used chips instead of cards combined with his refined rock-paper-scissors strategy. Upper Deck published a co-operative deck-builder with Marvel: Legendary, and that itself spun off many licensed variants like Buffy: Legendary and James Bond: Legendary. Star Realms and Hero Realms are fantastic deck-builders that are favorites at Level One Game Shop.
So Fort is one of the most recent evolutions within this genre. The twists that Fort adds to the deck-builder formula are very intriguing, too. The leader/follower mechanic seems to be imported from the classic board game Puerto Rico, where a player chooses to “lead” with an action of their choice, and other players get to “follow” with similar but less powerful actions. This made Puerto Rico a very strategically interesting game, that had little downtime as other players took their turns. Fort’s implementation is arguably an improvement, taking a lot of cognitive burden off of players while still being interesting.
A Great Card Game for Smart Kids, Or Anyone Else
So with a long, iterative pedigree and a clever design, Fort turns out to be a great card game that adults and older children will love. And don’t let the art fool you - Fort is also really fun for adults. Hobby fans used to heavy games will appreciate the light but clever design, and players new to the hobby will have a lot of fun with this lightweight thinker. Check out the fan community for Fort on BoardGameGeek!