Fort: Returning to the Days of Pizza, Toys, and Friends
Claim the top spot among the neighborhood kids by making friends, collecting pizza and toys, and building with Fort.
The concept of Fort immediately brought me back to my childhood. Those were the days of having the coolest toys to play with and being able to eat pizza all the time without any effect! With such charming artwork, the only thing that dismayed me was the 2-4 player count. Yet as so happens, I heard of an unofficial solo variant and was ready to play!
Tons of different sorts of friends offer special effects across various suits. As abstract as that may sound, the goal of building the largest fort through simple resource collection makes for a challenge. And with a changing cast of friends, there’s always someone new to welcome!
July 3, 2022
July 4, 2022
26" x 20"
Playing with the Glue
Generally speaking, the starting characters correspond with the main card suits. I couldn’t resist the tinkerers and crafters with the glue suit. Totally ready for anything!
This is a deceptively in-depth game, by the way. It’s still not overly complex, yet there are lots of considerations when building a deck. In other words, friends matter!
But the goal of upgrading a fort with pizza and toys is still pretty straightforward, and it all exists quite thematically.
I was impressed with the quality of the double-layered boards, and even more excited to play solo.
What really made the game shine for me were the kids. A pair of best friends always start off with each character, and Bitsy was just perfectly silly. Dino-dolls!
Names aren’t typical, either, but more like nicknames so that everyone feels like a character in the neighborhood.
In other words, it was hard not to think up a personality for most of the kids! Even combining their actions helped bring them to life in various ways.
Bitsy clearly deconstructed and reconstructed things. Her fort upgrades were probably just like her toys!
Best Friend Details
If the artwork wasn’t evocative enough, the starting best friends all had short biographies on the back of the character boards. So cute and fun to read through!
Part of me wished for a little appendix with details about every kid, but I actually liked this partial approach. I got to come up with silly stories about all the rest!
Although this pair formed the core group, random cards helped create a very unique set of possible actions.
Suits played a major role, yet the solo opponent was also quite tricky to plot against as they recruited more kids!
Gameplay? What about gameplay? I completely lost it when Giggles came into play. Perfect nickname, perfect artwork, and probably the kid that was most like me!
That was the best craft I ever saw. The macaroni with the leaking glue made a statement, but it was the word in the middle of the paper that made it a masterpiece.
Most of the kids had similar things going on that made them endearing and funny. Definitely nailed the theme!
After I was done giggling over Giggles, I found that there was an excellent challenge going back and forth.
Getting a Board Game’s Feeling Just Right
Theme is one thing, but there is definitely a feeling that certain games deliver on. For example, Thurn and Taxis is my cozy game. It’s not something I can clearly explain, yet it’s there for me. Herbaceous provides a sense of calm and relaxation. Whereas a theme is something clear and an element most can agree on, a board game’s feeling is subjective.
Take my examples above. I doubt there are more than a handful of people who get the same feelings from playing those. I associate games with certain feelings based on gameplay, artwork, and (most importantly) what the game means to me. This is likely where we come up with the hard-to-explain reasons why we’ll never part with some games.
I can look at my game shelf, or a pile of games, and immediately associate something with a game. Luckily, most of those feelings are positive or silly! Yet it goes the other way: Games that are hard to master can produce a different kind of feeling that isn’t necessarily bad. It’s the association that’s important, and something I’m starting to look at.
Deciding how fun a game is comes down to a subjective opinion, yet this overall feeling plays a big role. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is that the feeling I get from a board game isn’t necessarily tied into how great it is.
In other words, designers and developers aren’t behind this nebulous definition. I think it’s similar to how I have certain reactions to movies, video games, books, and the like. It’s all very personal. In the case of this game, it started with the art for Bitsy and was cemented with Giggles. Just a funny, adorable atmosphere with lots of laughs!
Looking at this, I can appreciate how everyone’s tastes in games differ. You might love a game I don’t for a variety of reasons, but if it evokes a positive feeling or memory, who am I to question it? Have fun, and enjoy the games you love! I might just secretly award them a piece of paper with macaroni and the word “BUTT” because Giggles is amazing. Ha!
Hanging Out Together
I cycled through lots and lots of kids, always crying out when the solo opponent managed to steal someone away!
Those in the lookout were very useful, adding icons to a lot of actions. It was a lot trickier than I thought, though.
Kids who didn’t contribute went into the yard, making them available to the solo opponent. Apparently my fort just wasn’t interesting enough at times!
The best moments were when I recruited some lost friends back. I believe even Giggles hung out next door, much to my dismay, before I lured them back with macaroni!
Toys, Toys, and Toys!
I really enjoyed the simple resource management. It was all about pizza and toys: Nothing more, and nothing less, just as it should be in childhood! Such simple fun.
These were mainly used to upgrade my fort as I raced against the solo opponent. At one point, I picked up a special scoring condition to earn more for the extra toys.
It was all so charming, and time flew by! I probably didn’t even fully grasp the best strategies for the cards.
Despite an early loss as I fumbled around, likely covered in too much glue, things quickly turned around.
Play Number: 1 and 2
Solo Mode: Unofficial Solo Variant
Play Details: Rusty Difficulty Level
Outcome: 25-31 and 42-24 (1 Win and 1 Loss)
The glue friends prevailed the second time around! I even found some clever strategies to try to slow down the solo opponent. Recruiting the best kids took more thought, yet there were rarely bad options. It was fun to find the various combinations, and that was only at the easiest difficulty level! This was a wonderful mix of nostalgia, silliness, and enjoyable gameplay. Definitely a win for me!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- This theme is fun and entertaining with lots of reminders of the simple fun of childhood and old memories.
- Many different kids provide unique abilities and actions, and feature charming artwork that creates personalities.
- New kids constantly change a deck, but the chance of losing anyone left in the yard adds a layer of tension.
- Double-layered boards provide the perfect place to keep all of the resources organized with plenty of reminders.
- Pizza and toys are needed to advance, yet this simple resource system keeps things from getting complicated.
- There is more to the deck management system than it might seem with unique synergies and stacked suits.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Some of the cards are duplicated, which feels like a lost opportunity to feature more variety and other kids.
- The general progression forward is the same across all plays, leading to some repetitiveness over time.
- An excellent reference sheet is necessary since the icons aren’t always intuitive, even after several plays.
- Nearly everything fits into a compact insert, but the small card well is just a little too small to fit them all.
Score the Most Points
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
Score at least 40 points.
Win at least 1 game at the rusty difficulty level.
Continue the Conversation
What do you think of Fort? Its unique theme is still very non-confrontational, while adding in a challenge and some nostalgia. Are there any other games that bring back fond memories? This was a wonderful unofficial solo variant to come across, and I’m so glad this game now has more of a future with me! I just have to always recruit Giggles to win!