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  • Ryan Havdala

The Fox in the Forest: Outfox your Opponents in this Tricky Game for Two

If you find it’s a bit tricky to get larger game crews together or just want a light, quick, but still challenging game to play with a partner or roommate, Fox in the Forest, a trick-taking card game for two, would be my first recommendation!

Why I love it

  • The Fox in the Forest brings a twist to trick-taking games and enables players to decide mid-round what strategy to pursue, which creates wins from all kinds of different hands and situations.

  • Just over half the cards have special abilities associated with them, and the effects of these cards cause some interesting variations in gameplay and strategy while remaining straightforward in function and not creating a major imbalance with standard cards. I also love the artwork on the “special” cards!

  • Games do not feel repetitive, and each hand plays differently, so the game is easy to play over and over.

  • It’s been a hit with my friends, and on a recent trip I brought my copy up to a friend’s place, only to find he had bought his own copy after we had last played!

Who would love it

  • Best for: Card Gamers. Fox in the Forest will be a hit with anyone who enjoys card games! I think it is the perfect option for someone who enjoys traditional trick-taking games but wants to try something new or for fewer players. It employs a trick taking system, which may be a bit confusing to people who are not familiar with the style of game. As far as the trick-taking elements go, the game remains simple while retaining a highly strategic nature.

  • People who like trick taking games but may be a bit tired of the repetitive nature of many games with standard decks.

  • Couples looking for a game that is light but also strategic and competitive.

  • People who have played year-long Hearts games scoring in the thousands (ok, maybe this one just applies to my friends and me).

Who might not love it

  • People who prefer larger parties with games may not enjoy sitting down with an avid gamer over a strategic card game, as the game is not very social.

  • If you or your partner are not comfortable losing a head-to-head game, this one might be a bit risky, and The Fox in the Forest: Duet, may be a better fit, as it is a co-operative version of the game.

  • If you’re looking for a longer, heavier two-person game, you might be better off looking at something like Twilight Struggle, which was what I followed this game up with this past weekend!

What it is

The Fox in the Forest is a two-player trick-taking card game. The object of the game is to take 7-9 or 0-3 of the game’s 13 tricks; generally, this means to take a lot of tricks without getting too greedy, in the game’s own words! The high card takes each trick, unless the following player plays a card of the trump suit, which can be changed using the unique power of a certain card (the 3 of each suit). The game has three suits, and odd numbered cards all have their own abilities.

In the photo above, the player on the left won this decisive last trick. Even though the right player played a card in the trump suit (determined by the card next to the deck), 9s count as the trump suit if there is only one 9 in the trick, and it is a higher card!

When to play it

  • Generally, I love this game for any two-player game night. One time, I managed to play a full game while waiting for some other friends to pick up pizza.

  • The game plays quickly (under 30 minutes to complete a game), so I enjoy using it as a warm-up game to see how much energy we have or to play with the first guest to arrive.

  • The deck’s artwork has a wonderful woodsy feel to it, making it a perfect game to bring on a weekend camping getaway or a picnic!

You might like it if you also like…

  • Hearts, Spades, Euchre, or any other classic trick taking game!

  • Sushi Go! Party: though it plays pretty differently, I think the strategic components of both games are similar

  • Arboretum: it’s made by the same folks and features a similarly beautiful deck!

  • Spirit of the North: I normally wouldn’t include a video game, but the vibes are just too similar to leave it out!

Strategy Advice

  • Play to your hand's strengths, but be ready to adjust your strategy.

    • If you’re dealt a high hand, try to give your opponent a few tricks early to reduce your risk of getting greedy!

    • If you planned to take a lot of tricks but find yourself way behind, don’t be afraid to switch your plan to being “humble” if you have the right resources remaining.

  • Don’t be afraid to try the “humble” strategy, where a player takes 0-3 tricks. When I first started playing this game, I lost quite a bit because I was always focused on taking more tricks than my opponent. In that case, the other player would have an easier choice to go low with a low hand or go high with a high hand without much risk of being greedy!

  • Be willing to sacrifice one point to win a hand. The 7s are called treasures in the game, as they reward a player who takes one with a point. Thought the points are valuable, keep in mind that sacrificing one point for a 6-point payout is worth it every time, and playing one encourages the other player's greed.

  • When you’ve been dealt cards that let you take other cards (5s let you draw one card and put one from your hand at the bottom of the deck), try to use them as soon as you’ve fully committed to a strategy, so that you can either dump a low or high card that is not useful. Holding them too long can give you less of an opportunity to pivot your strategy or adjust around the card you draw.

Closing Thoughts

The Fox in the Forest is a perfect add to your collection if you’re interested in a light yet strategic game for two. I’d especially recommend it to anyone who has experience with trick-taking games or couples looking for a bit of competitive fun!

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