Trick-taking games are possibly my favorite game mechanic. This may be due to my summers in Michigan spent playing Euchre with friends, but I’ve always loved just how it feels. The Fox in the Forest seeks to give you and your partner one of the better experiences that doesn’t require more than two people. And the game has held such popularity that it’s making a digital debut as well. We’re going to look at both options so you can decide whether The Fox in the Forest is the next game for you to try. The Fox in the Forest was published by Renegade Game. The digital app was developed by Direwolf Games.
The Fox in the Forest is a two-player, trick-taking game that utilizes three suits of cards numbered one to eleven. Trump suits are called decrees and are set at the beginning of a round. Players will score points based on the number of tricks they win. But instead of wanting to win every trick, players will need to finesse their hands by winning an ideal number of tricks. For example, when a player wins one or two tricks, they would get six points. But if they got over-eager and won all of the tricks, they’d be considered greedy and wouldn’t score any. Whoever reaches twenty-one points after a round finishes wins the game.
But The Fox in the Forest isn’t a standard trick-taking game. Odd-numbered cards of each suit have special powers. They might earn a player a point during a round, allow someone to lead the next trick if they lose, or even change the decree mid-round. All this adds a bit of strategy that really makes players have to consider how to play each hand.
The Fox in the Forest app brings some additional play options that players might enjoy. These include solo play against an AI and some Challenges. There’s also a built-in tutorial if you’re unfamiliar with the game or trick-taking as a concept, as well as online play options for remote games.
Now that we’ve talked about the gameplay overview, let’s discuss what the app brings to the table. If you are not familiar with The Fox in the Forest or trick-taking in general, there is a tutorial that will walk you through learning this. It does a nice job orienting you on how to play, and also retrieving functional information like the card text and the trick point system. There’s no prior knowledge required, which I always appreciate when a game gets converted to an app. In short, it does its job well.
The storybook-inspired art in the game is much more prominently featured and iterated upon from the physical game. There’s a gorgeous animated background of the forest that sets the stage for your game. There are some pleasing magical animations when tricks are resolved and music playing in the background that’s not too distracting. Overall, it’s a very nice aesthetic experience.
As I mentioned there are a few different ways you can play the game in the app. Playing against the AI, I personally found the hard mode to mimic best how a human player would play. If you’re pretty adept at playing these types of games, the other difficulty levels will not be very entertaining for you. But if you want to play against a real person, there is a remote play option. If you have played other apps designed by Direwolf Games and created an account, any friends you’ve added from other games like Root will carry over. As for spontaneous games with strangers, while the idea is nice, there weren’t a lot of users who are hosting games or looking to play, so I didn’t use this very much. I kept checking back numerous times to see if there were any players looking for a match and I never saw more than five. Maybe this will improve if more people buy the app, but it’s hard to say if that will happen.
Lastly, there are eight Challenges for you to try out. Each one starts in an easy mode against an AI and has you play the game in some modified way. Most of the time, this meant that the trick-taking point system or end game point was changed. The Challenge I enjoyed the most actually added a fourth suit. It was just interesting to see how even that changed up the experience. I think you could easily bring over most of these Challenges to your tabletop experience if you were so inclined and I’d encourage it, especially if you’re a fan of this game like I am. If you’ve played your fair share of The Fox in the Forest, I think you’ll find this section the most entertaining and enjoyable.
The Fox in the Forest always sits at the top of my arbitrary list of favorite trick-taking games. It’s one I can honestly say I will never get rid of. With regards to the app, solo players will get some enjoyable play options, some of which could be brought to the tabletop. Although I didn’t find playing against the AI particularly challenging, even at the hardest level, the different Challenges were a fun diversion and were the highlight for me. While remote play is a nice addition, it will have limited utility for a lot of players. Unless you have friends that already own the app and can strike up a game with them, spontaneous play with random people will continue to be limited or unavailable until more people play and use that feature.
Final Score: 4.5 Stars – A great game that will hopefully get better with more remote players
• Built for 2 players and delivers a satisfying game experience
• Strategic but familiar for fans of trick taking
• App does a nice job of presenting a pleasing fairy tale forest aesthetic and experience
• Introduction of Challenges in app will give solo players a fun diversion=
• Remote play will be hampered until more players join or friends get the app