GTM #239 - Fox in the Forest Duet
by Renegade Game Studios

The Fox In The Forest Duet: The Evolved Cooperative Sequel to Bestselling The Fox In The Forest

The Fox In The Forest is a much-beloved trick-taking game: climbing to the top of BoardGameGeek’s ranks for the trick-taking genre, and becoming a classic hobby game in its own right. It’s the perfect game to play when introducing classic gamers familiar with trick-taking games like Euchre, Hearts, and Bridge to modern hobby games that integrate theme, original art and mechanical twists to games. The Fox In The Forest brings a number of these twists to the table, the most notable being that this is a game designed solely for 2 players, distinguishing it in the trick-taking genre.

In The Fox In the Forest, two players face off trying to win tricks against each other over multiple rounds. Players score points during the round by winning tricks containing specific cards and at the end of the round based on the number of tricks they’ve won. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

When you combine that 2-player twist with it’s beautiful fairytale-inspired art, card effects that manipulate traditional trick-taking gameplay, and a scoring system that rewards players who are able to win and lose tricks for optimal scoring, it builds on the pillars of familiar mechanics to stand on its own as a unique game that lends itself as a modern hobby classic.

Building on those unique gaming twists is The Fox In The Forest Duet:  another small-box game that twists the trick-taking genre with one more distinguishing design element - cooperative play.

Gameplay consists of rounds, with each round comprising a series of eleven turns – the tricks. During each trick, one player will lead, and the other will follow. Based on the suits and ranks of the two played cards, one player will win the trick. The game has a small board that tracks the team's position on the forest path. After the trick has been played, the team tracker will move along the forest path (represented as a token on the game board) based on the combined movement values of the two played cards. If you can collect all of the gems, you have a guaranteed win, but if you get to the end of the third round, or the team marker reaches the end of the track too many times, you are now adrift in the forest and have lost the game. This gameplay creates a push-pull element to the trick-taking series, where you and your partner must hypothesize the others’ hand of cards and anticipate their intended play, while being blind to the cards they hold.

The premise is beautiful: the two players proverbially dance together in the forest while collecting gems along a forest path. They must work together to collect all the gems without running out of time, or getting lost in the forest. The player who wins the trick leads this little dance, and as such the token journeys along the path towards that player on the game board. The cards also feature fox paw prints, which indicate how far along the path the pair journeys. In union, the pair must journey back and forth along the path and collect the gems they seek.

On their journey along the forest path they may find the aid of a musician who may change the direction of their journey, use the mischievous’ fox ability to change the decree card, stumble up on a gazelle who may hinder some or all of their movement, exchange gifts with their partner (in the form of a card) and even come across a royal heir, whose assent empowers your teammate to play cards out of suit of the lead card.

Much like the original Fox In the Forest’s cards, these abilities are powerful tools that empower players to navigate along the forest path and collect the gems they seek. Foxtrot Games’ development team designed a system that not only feels as immersive and familiar to fans of the original The Fox In the Forest, but also is accessible to any gamer familiar with trick-taking games. While simple to learn, this is a game that is immensely re-playable: anticipating your partner’s hand, figuring out how to best balance the movement on the cards, and the best time to play cards abilities while working towards the same goal is both rewarding and challenging.

The tension of the game is derived from whether or not you and your partner are in sync, and that your partner actually has the card you think (or perhaps, hope) they do. Playing with a new partner or playing with a higher difficulty level (there are 3 in the rulebook available as partners grow more masterful in the game) keeps the game feeling fresh, tense, and compelling. Furthermore, because victory in the game is a shared experience, it’s a rewarding one as well. Even if you don’t ultimately succeed, the quick setup and gameplay makes it easy enough to reset and try again, as The Fox in the Forest Duet play time is 30 minutes, like its predecessor.

Layered upon this incredible design is stunning art. Artist Roanna Peroz’s encapsulates the whimsy and beauty of the fairytale forest. With this art, it’s easy to imagine yourself being enraptured by the beautiful lullaby of the musicians playing for the forest trees, mountain cliffs, and climbing flowers or perhaps stumbling upon the heir to the throne escaping the burdens of their position with a stroll through the forest. There’s a beautiful story in every piece of art in this game, and it might be as easy to get lost in them as it is to lose yourself in the forest beyond the path.
Speaking of story, a fairytale-themed game wouldn’t be complete without its own fairytale story. Both The Fox In The Forest and The Fox in the Forest Duet have beautiful fairytales to tell at bedtime for younger gamers (both games are aged for gamers 10+, but the stories can be shared for those of all ages.) You can read the stories by visiting Foxtrot Games’ website online.

All told, The Fox In the Forest Duet has all the hallmarks of being another classic modern hobby game: accessible as a gateway game, portable and playable wherever you may journey (including forest paths), and a delightfully whimsical theme.


The Fox In the Forest is available now and The Fox In the Forest Duet will be available in January at your friendly local game store, each with an MSRP of $15.00.