Back in 2018, designer Grant Rodiek Kickstarted and delivered SPQF, a deck building game about building a civilization based on the ancient Romans but starring forest creatures. It was published through his independent company, Hyperbole Games. Now it is being published by Leder Games, and has been rethemed as
Fort is a game for 2-4 players where you are a kid trying to build the best fort. Leder Games is best known for publishing games like Vast and Root, so this continues the tradition of publishing games with four-letter titles that also end with the letter T. On a more serious note, they also tend to focus on games with asymmetric properties, and we’ll see a little of that in this one as well.
When playing, you will have a player board and two Best Friend cards that are listed on the board. You will also be dealt eight more Kid cards that are shuffled with the Best Friends to create a 10-card deck. From this deck, you will draw a starting hand of five cards. There are also Made-Up Rule cards and Perk cards that are dealt out (one more than the number of players for each), and three more Kid cards that are dealt face up below the victory track. Start player is determined randomly.
On your turn, you are considered to be the Leader. There are five phases to a turn – cleanup, play, recruit, discard, and draw.
CLEANUP: If you have any cards in your Yard (the area above your player board), discard them at this point. Obviously, you won’t have any to start the game.
PLAY: Choose one card from your hand and play it. It’s possible there won’t be a card you can play, or you may choose not to, in which case you just move on to the next phase. If you do play, you can use one or both of the actions on the card. Cards have a public action (which can be followed by other players if they discard a card of the same suit) or a private action (which cannot be followed). Some actions can be buffed if you play more cards of the same suit. You must do one action fully if you play a card. In other words, if you cannot completely fulfill an action, you cannot do it.
Possible actions include collecting resources (pizza and toys), put resources in your Pack, add a card to your Lookout, trash a card, recruit an extra card, advance your Fort, score points, spend resources, trash rival cards, copy the resources in your (or a rival’s) Pack, or convert a resource into the other.
RECRUIT: You always must take a new card in this phase. This can be taken from the three available below the victory track (aka The Park), OR from any player’s Yard, OR from the top of the Park deck.
DISCARD: Take all of the cards you played this turn, including cards added to boost your action, and any Best Friends in your hand, and discard them. If you have any remaining cards in your hand, they go into your Yard, where they are available to be recruited by another player.
DRAW: Draw five cards from your deck, reshuffling your discards if you need to.
As you play, you’ll be building up your Fort with the Advance Fort action. You start at level 0, only able to keep one card in your Lookout and one in your Pack. Cards in your Lookout count for scoring, and cards in your Pack help with scoring some Made-Up Rules. Each level you gain allows you to keep more, but also gets you other things. Level 1 allows you to choose a Made-Up Rule for scoring at the end of the game. Level 2 gives you a Perk. Level 5 is a trigger for the end of the game, and gets you the Macaroni Sculpture.
Speaking of the end of the game, you can also end it by scoring 25 points or more on the Victory Track, or if the Park deck is out of cards. After everyone has had the same number of turns, there’s a final scoring, and the high score wins, with the highest Fort level breaking ties.
My first introduction to the designs of Grant Rodiek was at Gen Con 2012 when my wife and I learned and fell in love with Farmageddon. Since then, I’ve been following his career, and he’s got some pretty cool games to his credit. I was watching SPQF when it came out, and it looked interesting then, but I think Leder has taken it to the next level. They put a lot of work into retheming this one, especially when it would have been so easy just to plop it down in the Root universe. But instead, they came up with a very unique theme, and it looks great. I like the idea of possibly recruiting other player’s unplayed cards, I like the art, and I like how it seems to have a set of simple rules with a lot of hidden complexity in the choices. Now that it’s getting more of a mass release, I do look forward to trying it out.
That’s it for today. Stay safe out there, and thanks for reading!