This The Fox in the Forest Duet review was made after playing the game 16 times. We were sent a copy of this game by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
What is The Fox in the Forest Duet?
The Fox in the Forest Duet is a two-player cooperative trick-taking game co-published by Foxtrot Games and Renegade Game Studios. In this card game you’re attempting to work together to move through the forest and pick up all of the gems without getting lost.
The Fox in the Forest Duet Gameplay
In The Fox in the Forest Duet, you have three rounds to pick up all of the gems in the forest. During each round, both players are dealt 11 cards and one “decree” card is put off to the side, representing the trump suit for the round. There are 11 turns (tricks) in each round, and the Team Tracker token moves along the path towards the winner of each trick.
There are three things to pay attention to on the cards: the suits, the numbers, and the paw prints. There are three suits in the game, 10 numbers (1-10) in each suit, and zero to three paw prints on each card. The paw prints represent how far you’re going to move along the path.
The winner of each trick “leads” and gets to play the first card of the new trick. The other player has to match that lead suit if they can, but if they can’t, they can play any other card in their hand. If the second player doesn’t have a card in the lead suit and plays a card in the trump suit, they win the trick. Otherwise, the winner of the trick is the player with the highest valued card in the lead suit.
The Team Tracker moves towards the winner of the trick by the number of total paw prints shown on the two cards. If there are any gems next to the space where the Team Tracker lands, you collect one of them. If the Team Tracker would move beyond the path, you have to place a forest token on the last empty space on that end of the path, making the path shorter (that’s a bad thing).
Every odd-numbered card has a special ability that will change the rules in some way, such as the Musician’s ability that lets you choose which direction to move the tracker, and the Gazelle’s ability that lets you ignore the movement (paw print) value on one of the two cards. Some activate as soon as you play them and others activate at the end of the turn.
You can’t talk about the cards that you have in your hands, so you have to deduce what the other player has based on what’s in your hand and the cards that have already been played. All of the tricks are put in a face-down discard pile, though, so it can be tough to remember the cards that have been played. Plus, you only see 23 of the 30 cards each round – the 22 that are dealt and the one decree card – so you usually won’t know for sure what your teammate has.
At the end of each round, more gems are added to the board and a forest token is placed on one end of the path. You then shuffle all of the cards and start a new round.
You’ll win if there are ever zero gems remaining in the forest (only possible in the second and third rounds). You’ll lose if you ever have to place a forest token but can’t, or if there are still gem tokens remaining on the board at the end of the third round. If you win, you can record your score by using the chart in the rulebook.
- The thing that makes The Fox in the Forest Duet really unique is the cooperative tug-of-war/two-person saw thing you’re doing on the board. You can’t talk about which direction you want to move, but you have to make sure that you do move in both directions to get the most gems. It’s a really strange feeling wanting to lose a trick. This game just has a different all-around feel to it than any other co-op that I’ve played.
- I really like the way the tension ramps up as you play through a round. It’s especially nerve-wracking when you’re near the edge of your side of the board and you have to lead, hoping that your teammate has a card to beat you.
- The five special ability cards are great. Not only can they get you out of some sticky situations on their own, they can also create some very satisfying cooperative combos. For example, you can use the Foxes card to let your teammate pick up the decree card, which could then change the trump suit and the outcome of the trick.
- Since this is a limited communication game, it’s impossible to quarterback. You can’t say what’s in your hand or talk about strategies, so there’s no way for someone to take over.
- Just like in the original The Fox in the Forest, Duet’s cards have a nice and clean look to them. I also like that each suit has different art for their special ability cards.
- The reference cards are great. I especially like that they list the number of paw prints each card has, which definitely helps new players figure out what they need to play.
- I think they should have added in a few more cards and/or different goals to give the game better replay value. It can start to feel samey after three or four games, especially when playing with the same teammate. Really, that’s my only major issue with the game.
- There are three difficulty levels, but I don’t think I’ll ever play the first two again unless I’m playing with a new player. The third level is very challenging – you pretty much have to play a perfect game – but it didn’t take me long to consistently beat the first and second levels, regardless of who I was playing with. I just wish those first two levels were a bit tougher.
- The board and the tokens could look better. They have a pretty bland look to them when compared to the cards.
I’ve had a good time playing The Fox in the Forest Duet, but it isn’t going to be a go-to two-player game or filler game for me. Still, I am going to keep it because it’s currently the only cooperative trick-taking game that I own and I know that it works well as a quick gateway game. I’m pretty confident that any non-gamer who also happens to like trick-taking games will get a kick out of this one. So, for those reasons, I’m glad that I now own The Fox in the Forest Duet.
If you’re a fan of the original The Fox in the Forest and like the idea of playing it cooperatively, I’d say give The Fox in the Forest Duet a try. This could also be a great option if you’re looking for a two-player game that you can easily play with the non-gamers in your life.