Leder Games is a small American publisher whose artwork has a strong recognition value. The games are now available in German at Spielworxx. To round off the publisher's presentation of Spielworxx, we tested the deck-building game Fort. In the following, we show how this performs in the test.

Leder Games is best known for games with asymmetrical player skills. These include about Root or vast Im considered here strong all players are the same. More specifically, all are kids who want to expand their circle of friends, collect pizza and toys, and build the best fort. More about Spielworxx, the German localization partner of Leder Games, can be found in our Publisher presentation.

Pizza, toys, friends

These three elements are central in the game and you don't have to look at much more to get an overview of the entire game material. The "Friends" are cards that offer both public and personal actions. Pizza and toys are the two resources. The resource markers are made of wood. Each person has a player mat in their own color plus two best friends, a fort token, a point token, and a reference card. In addition, there is a point tableau and two small decks of cards with invented rules and advantages. 

The construction is done quickly. The score board is placed with the score markers in the middle. Underneath, three children (cards) come into the park from the parking deck. The invented rules (number of people+1) are also placed face down next to the point tableau. The advantages are laid out in the same number but openly. 

The central play area with the park, the advantages and the invented rules. Image: Jonas Dahmen

Everyone chooses a color and gets their best friends. These cannot be lost in the course of the game due to the actions of other players and they all have the same actions. In addition, there are eight more cards from the parking deck that are shuffled with your best friends. Alternatively, these eight cards can also be drafted. Five cards form the starting hand. 

Play with your friends, otherwise they will go somewhere else

The game progresses in turns until one of the three end conditions is triggered. In your own turn, you always go through the same five phases. First, all children who are still in the garden are placed on the discard pile.

The main phase of your turn is playing a card. Any hand card can be played here and one or both of the available actions can be used. For some actions, additional cards with the required symbol or a coin that acts as a joker can be played to reinforce these actions. The actions allow you to get resources or move them to the backpack, destroy cards, add cards to the tree house (these symbols also count when strengthening), recruit cards, expand your own fort or receive victory points. 

Once the active person has performed their actions, everyone else may copy the card's public action by playing a card that has the same symbol as the card played. 

After that, the person whose turn it is recruits a new card. This can either be taken from the park or the garden of another player. The new card is placed on your personal discard pile along with the cards played this round and any best friends still in hand. All other cards that are still in hand are placed in the garden above your own tableau. Now only five cards are drawn from your own deck and it is the next person's turn. 

The friends you don't play with can be recruited from other players' maps. Image: Jonas Dahmen

When the fort level reaches level one, you get a made-up rule. This gives additional victory points at the end. When you reach the second level of the Fort, there is one of the obvious benefits. Reaching level five gives you the macaroni sculpture and triggers the end of the game at the same time.

As described above, one of the ways to trigger the end of the game is to reach the fifth level of the fort. The game also ends when one person reaches 25 points or the parking deck is empty. 

Now only the victory points are added up. The points for the achieved fort level are added to the points collected during the game. If you have the macaroni sculpture, you get four more victory points. Finally, everyone gets points for their invented rules. The person with the most points wins.

Infobox

Number of players: 2-4 people 
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 20-40 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: medium
Genre: Kennerspiel
Core Mechanics: Deck Building

Author: Grant Rodiek
Illustrations: Kyle Ferrin
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2020
Language: German
Cost: 25 Euro

Summary

The theme in Fort is definitely special. Unfortunately, this topic hardly comes across during the game. Still, the game's cute artwork is one of its biggest selling points. The rules are well written, although at some points they make the game seem harder than it actually is. On a positive note, the rules attempt in some places to make the topic more present. However, this only seems really successful or relevant in terms of game mechanics for phase four (the throwing into the garden).

The game material is particularly positive to emphasize. The double layered player mats are very nice and the wood resources are also of good quality. Unfortunately, the cards had a very unpleasant odor when unpacked, which only went away after a few days. However, the quality and durability of the cards is excellent.
Opinions will certainly differ when it comes to the artwork, but this is also very well done and tries to bring the topic to life.

The gameplay works very well. Due to the possibility of copying actions, the perceived downtime is kept very low. Taking advantage of this opportunity is also very important to keep game time in moderation. It is the game mechanics most exciting part. At the same time, it allows you to progress faster and helps prevent many valuable cards from ending up in your garden at the end of your turn. 
The deck building is nice, but you never feel like you're making much progress there. On the one hand, you can go through the deck very quickly and if you have several "good" cards in your hand and cannot reinforce actions, the rest go into the garden. This leads to decisions that never feel "important". The fluctuation, depending on the combination in which you draw your card, is simply potentially too high for that. 

The game feels much better with three or four people than with two. The more frequent copying allows you to simply do more in your own moves. If you can't do this between your own moves, it feels more sluggish. But the game still drags on noticeably regardless of the number of people and the specified 20-40 minutes are used at least to the upper end. In the end, not much more happens than collecting and exchanging resources in the next fort level or building a scoring engine with which you can generate victory points for cards or resources.

The points that can be achieved with the different strategies are well balanced. You can secure victory both via the fort levels and with a focus on victory points via card effects. Overall, Fort is a nice deck-builder that's a tad too long to just play occasionally. The game offers a bit too little content and variation for the required playing time. The elements are connected playfully and there are no corners that "jerk". Unfortunately, the game doesn't manage to fully transfer the potential that lies in the topic to the table.

Last updated on 7.12.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API