Are you in the mood for a more relaxed evening?
The Fox in the Forest from Foxtrot Games is a simple to learn card game for two players.
Easy to set up, few rules to remember, but surprising amounts of strategic depth for its size – The Fox in the Forest is perfect for a casual night in with a close friend, family member, or loved one.
The Fox in the Forest features a fairy tale theme.
The beautiful card art takes you into a world of monarchs, witches, and woodcutters – a place where magic is real and villains are punished for their greed.
You can read the story the game is designed around on their website here.
Are you ready to learn the basics of this trick-taking game?
Into the woods we go…
What’s in the Box?
In the box for The Fox in the Forest, you should find:
- 33 Cards; 3 suits (Bells, Keys, Moons) with 11 cards each
- 17 Tokens. You’ll keep track your scores with these.
- 2 Reference Cards. These help you figure out how to score at the end of each round.
- 1 Rulebook
Very compact, isn’t it?
Goal of the Game
In a standard game of Fox in the Forest, each player is vying to reach 21 victory points first.
For a quicker game, set the target score at 16 instead.
For a long game, turn the target score up to 35.
A long game will require another method of score tracking such as a pencil and paper – there aren’t enough tokens to count scores that high.
You score victory points through rounds of 13 tricks. I’ll explain later what they mean by “tricks” if you’re not familiar with the term, don’t worry!
Each round, a winner will be determined based on how many tricks they have won (or taken) that round.
This is where those reference cards come in handy – they will tell you how many points you score at the end of a round.
You may notice something interesting about the scoring.
If you take 10 or more of the 13 tricks in a given round, you are considered greedy.
You score 0 points, and your humble opponent is awarded 6.
It isn’t always good to win every trick!
Setting up a Round
Setting up a game of Fox in the Forest is quick, simple, and doesn’t require too much table space.
Begin by shuffling the deck. Then, deal 13 cards to each player.
Place the remaining deck in the middle of your playing area face down. Flip the top card face up and place it beside the deck. This is your Decree card.
The Decree card tells you what the trump suit is for that round. This suit will win tricks over the other two suits, even with lower value cards.
A round of Fox in the Forest is comprised of 13 tricks. In each trick, one player will lead and the other will follow. The player who did not deal will lead the first trick.
To lead, you play any card from your hand. Your card determines the leading suit. The other player must follow suit if they can – playing a card from their hand in the same suit as the card you put down.
The trick winner is determined by whoever has the highest numbered card of the leader’s suit. You might find yourself without any cards in the leading suit when you follow – that’s okay!
You can just play any other card you like in these cases.
If it is not of the leading suit, you lose the trick. If that card is the same suit as the Decree card (the trump suit) and the leading card is not, you take the trick!
As you win tricks, line them up in such a way that it is visible to both players how many tricks you have taken so far that round.
Both players should always be able to see at a glance how many tricks the other has taken.
After the first trick is resolved, whoever wins each trick will lead the next one.
This continues until both players have played all 13 of their cards.
At this point, both players count up how many tricks they have won and score accordingly for that round using the reference cards.
Remember from earlier, though, win too many tricks and you will be punished for your greed!
Special Card Rules
This is where the game gets interesting.
The odd numbered cards in the deck each have special powers printed on them.
Here’s how they work:
- 1 (The Swan): When you play the swan and lose the trick – which you almost certainly will – you lead the next trick. If both players put down swans, the loser of that trick leads the next one.
- 3 (The Fox): Playing the fox allows you to exchange the current Decree card with a card in your hand, changing the trump suit. This opens up some underhanded plays; your opponent can’t respond to a change of trump suit if you follow with the fox!
- 5 (The Woodcutter): This card lets you draw from the middle deck, then place a card from your hand on the bottom of the deck. Keep in mind this can be the card you just drew if you don’t like what you picked up.
- 7 (The Treasure): This card adds some extra stakes to the trick it is played on. The player that wins a trick with a treasure card gets 1 victory point per 7 played in the trick.
- 9 (The Witch): The witch counts as the trump suit when she is played, unless another witch is played in the same trick. If both players put down 9s in a trick, ignore the effect of both witches and proceed normally to determine the winner.
- 11 (The Monarch): When this card is played by the leading player, the other player must follow with their highest value card of that suit. If you’re lucky and have the swan (1) of that monarch’s suit, though, you can play that card instead and save your higher value cards for tricks they can win!
The Winner Is…
You will continue to re-shuffle the deck, deal new hands of 13 cards, and turn over a new decree card every round until somebody wins the game.
This happens when the first player reaches the coveted 21 victory points.
In cases of two players reaching 21 in the same round, whoever scored the most points in that final round takes the game.
Lightweight, Quick, Fun
The Fox is the Forest doesn’t eat up much space when storing or playing the game.
The quick set up and short running time of a typical game makes it easy to pick up on a quiet evening in.
The simple rules take the edge off learning the game, but as you get comfortable with the flow of the game you will quickly realize that there is quite a bit of strategy involved in each round!
The fact that winning too many tricks in a round will punish the greedy player gives you an alternate approach to a round if you have a “bad” hand.
If you’re looking for a casual two-player game that isn’t hard to learn but has plenty of depth once you master the basics, The Fox in the Forest is definitely worth a look!
- Easy to pick up the basics
- Small footprint – stores compactly and requires very little table space
- Trick-taking games usually include more players, this works well with 2
- Only for 2 players
- Probably too simple/repetitive to play for too long in one sitting