The first water balloon flies past you and you realize that you need more cardboard boxes for your fort. As you build your fort bigger and get more kids involved more water balloons start flying faster. Welcome to Fortify the second game from Barrel Aged Games. Designed by the duo who brought you Moonshine Empire Jason Mack, Caleb Zwar. Fortify will hit Kickstarter this fall!
The goal of fortify is to score three hits on your opponents fort. Each turn is two phases, The fort building phase and the water balloon fight phase. Both of these phases happen in real time with both players preforming the actions at the same time. At the end of each phase there is a bonus to the person that finishes first. You have to move quick and not think too long so you can get the bonuses. Beware though playing too fast can also get you into trouble too.
Fortify starts with the players sitting across from each other at the table and in the middle between them is the fort. During the first phase players draw 4 cards and if you have box kids in the fort you will draw an additional card for each. The box cards are rectangular cards that have different colored lines running through them you will connected them to the fort or other box cards to make enclosed areas (blank spaces between the cards). The first player to play all of their cards may grab the block token. This will allow you to roll the block die in addition to your other dice in the next phase. The block die has an extra block symbol on it compare to the normal dice. After you have finished building and the block token is grabbed then you fill in the enclosures on your fort with balloon kids (rectangular tokens) or box kids (Square tokens). These get you more cards or more dice.
This is where things get loud and exciting at the table.
The Water balloon fight phase. This is where things get loud and exciting at the table. Players take an amount of dice equal to the balloon kids that are enclosed in their your fort. Both players start rolling the dice and placing them. You can put the dice if they have water balloon on them onto a fort card, a balloon kid, or a box kid. If the die has an umbrella on it that's the block symbol you can place those on top of a die your opponent has placed on your fort card, a balloon kid, your side of the fort card, or a box kid. You may also place the block token on any other space on your fort to protect a space or on the wild symbol on the fort card itself. Your opponent can place another balloon or wild card on that space if they want to and you can put a block on it again too. Whichever (blocks or Balloons) has the higher amount takes the action.
So you had a bad roll... not to worry you can re-roll a die every time you place a die. After all the dice have been placed and someone has grabbed the jerk token (person who finished placing dice first) then its time to clean up the carnage. For every card that has a balloon on it, they get discarded with every adjacent card that has the same color. for example if you had three red cards together and one had a balloon die on it all three would come off. Then you will flip the balloon and box kids over that were hit with a balloon. This means they no longer count towards your total dice/cards. Finally if there is a die with the wild side up on your fort then you will add a hit token on your fort. Get three hit tokens on your fort and you have just lost Fortify.
There is a lot of quick strategy that happens in this game like not putting all the same color cards together and making sure that all of your tokens are not in one big enclosure. If you lose just one segment then next turn you only get 4 cards and that might be a disadvantage you don't come back from. The block and jerk tokens are a nice catch up mechanism. If you have less cards or dice you are likely to finish first, however it also has the added physiological bonus of making every one rush. This is where a lot of the excitement is drawn into the game and when people seem to get the loudest.
This game was really fun and the theming of it was really cute. Its fast paced and has a decent amount of strategy that you can use but it also hurries you through and that keeps everything going and interesting. Much like a certain brand of potato chips I betcha you can't play just have once. Hit that notify me on launch button on kickstarter to get your notice when Fortify launches.
Year Published: 2022
Recommended Ages: 7+
Time to Play: 15-30 minutes
A preview copy of Fortify was provided to Bert's Tabletop Games by Barrel Aged Games for review purposes. This is a preview copy and not the final product changes may occur to the final product. The copy was returned after we completed play testing.