20m - 40m
2 - 4 Players
Hand management games are games with cards in them that reward players for playing the cards in certain sequences or groups. The optimal sequence/grouping may vary, depending on board position, cards held and cards played by opponents. Managing your hand means gaining the most value out of available cards under given circumstances. Cards often have multiple uses in the game, further obfuscating an "optimal" sequence.
After 8 plays, I'm still unsure how much I like this game. There is an appealing flow to the card play. The twist on deck-building does place this game apart from the glut of deck-builders in existence. The deck-building feel changes at different player counts, as well. At two players, leaning on combos can find consistent rewards. At four players, staying ahead of the game's tempo so you can always follow seems a strong approach. The game's conceit of neighborhood play among children is well realized. But, after every play, I can't shake the notion that most in-game decisions do not really matter. It feels like there are one or two truly consequential decisions in a session, and you can only identify them in hindsight. Staying ahead of tempo and being able to follow feels a bit arbitrary. I've yet to feel like a session of Fort was especially satisfying. There is room for the title as a sort of semi-inconsequential 20+ minute game, largely due to the strength in how its setting is expressed and the quality of the card flow. But even that strength in setting can be viewed as being on wobbly footing if looked at from certain angles. For example, my wife noted, without knowing the game's history, that the mechanisms felt central and that the setting was a layer clearly applied later. In this way, she found the neighborhood setting contrived and distracting. I can't say she's incorrect, especially given Fort's status as a fully redeveloped reskin. I will note how different this complaint is to mine; her complaint is more about Fort's setting being a distraction from pure mechanisms, while my complaint is largely about an inability to find consistent mechanical satisfaction with Fort.
Great for exactly what it is. A lot is going on in this little box. Tight engine builder with some mean aspects and clever tricks. Taking from someones deck is so novel and cool. Feels good
Had a bit of a rocky first play and I’m not sure why. Maybe the iconography while clear is also unique enough when playing faster to make mistakes. The x (per) icon being on some cards and not all tripped us up. We kept wanting to pay cards to take ones that were single actions. We also kept swapping putting items into your backpack vs taking from the supply. There’s some ambiguities in the rules around whether you can take a half action then a full one or full one has to be first. The errata and FAQ is quite large for a small game. The game itself was fun. Little bit of engine building. I normally don’t like take that but it fits well here and can be critical part of the strategy. I wish there was a way to clear to park in 2 players when duplicates come out. There’s some luck when good cards come out at the end do your turn that benefit your opponent. It’s fast playing that I think most of these issues go away. I think second and later plays we’ll be more in tune with the iconography to not make mistakes. Not sure why it had to be iconography anyway since you could easily add text unless it’s for international versions. The component quality and small package is excellent. The artwork is great and theme is different which makes it stand out. The gameplay itself is light but only feels more complex because the iconography and interactions of the cards that leaves you in the FAQ.