Designer: Joshua Buergel
Publisher:
Foxtrot/Renegade
Number of Players: 2
Play time: 30mins
Age Guide: 10+
Type: Competitive
Mechanisms: Trick Taking

The Fox In The Forest. Not in fact a tale about a dodgy middle-aged man prowling woodland. It’s actually a card game.

A couple of staples as I grew up were Whist and Trumps: your standard trick-taking card games. So when a trick-taking game comes along, dealing 13 cards to each player like Whist, but two player only and with eighteen out of the thirty-five cards beautifully illustrated picture cards… it piques my interest.

The Fox In The Forest - Picture Cards

They haven’t skimped on the artwork — each suit has unique imagery.

So I bought The Fox In The Forest pretty much solely on that basis, and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that it changes up the trick-taking mechanic in a way I’ve not encountered before*.

*I stress (before the neckbeards weigh in): I’m certainly not qualified to comment on whether the mechanic has in fact been used numerous times before. I just haven’t seen it myself… in all my many years of playing mostly Whist or Trumps.

The Losing Mechanic

Usually in trick-taking you’re looking to win as many tricks as possible. Full stop. There’s no other strategy apart from utilising whatever tactics possible to garner as big a clutch as possible each round.

The Fox In The Forest - Hand

Things start fairly normally for a trick-taking game… but then change up progressively from then on.

The Fox In The Forest is significantly different in that tricks that you’ve won score you points, but not in a linear fashion. It breaks down like this:

Of the 13 winnable tricks each round, ideally you either want to win between 7 and 9 (Victorious) tricks, or else between 0 and 3 (Humble), both of which will net you 6 points. Get more than 9 tricks (Greedy) and you’ll score nothing at all. But get only 4 to 6 (Defeated) and you’ll only get 1 to 3 points respectively.

The Fox In The Forest - Tricks and Point Tokens

It’s as much about pinching points as taking tricks.

This simple mechanic creates incredibly tactical play, which is further deepened by there being only three suits of 11 cards each, and the use of special powers for every odd numbered value.

The Fox In The Forest - Three Suits

Only three suits. It’s all you need.

If you’re thinking this would all be a nightmare to remember during play, the game comes with a couple of double-sided, card-sized player aids. In truth though, you remember most of it after pretty much the first round.

The Fox In The Forest - Player Aids

The two sides of each player aid.

Play continues until one player reaches 21 points, although the game suggests 16 and 35 points for shorter and longer games respectively.

Difficulty

You can teach the game to even a young kid in about 30 seconds, although they’d possibly enjoy a ‘normal’ trick-taker more: learning to fail gracefully but with long-term strategic cunning is perhaps something more familiar and inevitable as we get older.

In other words, old age and treachery trump youth and excuberance every time.

The Fox In The Forest - The Witch

Beware the witches…

That said, it’s a hoot playing against 5 year olds, who are so random that you don’t know what the hell they’re doing most of the time, with enough trumps and wild cards in the deck to keep it even more hectic.

Yes, I did just essentially refer to my child as Artificial Intelligence.

The Low-down

This game has become a two-player favourite of mine alongside Onitama, Jaipur, Hive Pocket and Mr Jack Pocket for taking down the pub or the cafe when enjoying a pint or a fry-up with a mate.

The Fox In The Forest - Box Contents

Compact dimensions.

The game is cheap for the average tabletop game, but slightly expensive for its 35 cards and 17 cardboard tokens: in the US you can pick it up for around $15, with it costing you around £11.50 in the UK, so fairly comporable prices on both side of the pond.

The Fox In The Forest - The Woodcutter

Although I’m a big fan of the artwork, I’m still not sure this isn’t a very butch Bearded Lady…

However, considering the eighteen pieces of unique and original artwork on the cards, along with the sheer amount of tactical trick-taking this provides compared to the norm, I’d say it’s worth it every penny/cent.

I have no problem recommending you take a trip to see The Fox In The Forest at your earliest availability.

Pros:

  • Simple to learn.
  • Excellent artwork.
  • Novel tactical take on trick-taking.
  • Quick play time.
  • Compact and easy to transport.

Cons:

  • While easy to teach youngsters, they may struggle with the concept of trying to lose.
  • Moderately expensive for what it is, but worth it!
  • Not a game for Charlie Sheen or his emulators.

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