Personally, I like deck builder quite a lot.

Ditto the group as a whole.

But, as we have now played more than 40 games which have deck-building as at least an element within the game, it’s not so easy to find a game in the genre that really impresses.

But, it happens.

Forest Fighters is such a game.

I’ll cut to the punch line here as they say, and note that the three of us who sat down recently to test drive the pre-production version of Forest Fighters all ended up agreeing it flirts with the top-10 deck builders we’ve played.

In my case, I track that on Board Game Geek where I keep a ‘GeekList’ of deck builders, and after adding Forest Fighters to the database, it’s that new, it ended up number six.

So yes, I like this game a lot.

I’ll start with admitting it plays much like Dominion at its core. Dominion is the granddad of the genre, and some might balk that this plays so much like its foundational ancestor.

But, there is certainly enough different here that the comparison, while natural, is not a steal of concept.

To start the theme is a fun one, focusing on the critters of the forest fighting to secure acorns. The player with the most acorns at the end of the game wins.

From Forest Fighter’s Kickstarter; “The winter is fast approaching and with the cold and snow comes a lack of food. The leaves are beginning to fall from the trees and with them the acorns. All of this means that it is time for the squirrel tribes inhabiting the forest to begin gathering food for the winter. There is just one problem! There is only one oak tree left in the forest making the much-coveted acorns a source of warfare. The squirrel tribes have gathered their forces and have even resorted to hiring other forest animals to help them squirrel away as many nuts for the winter as possible. Gathering acorns is easy; protecting them from bands of raiders sent out by the other squirrel tribes is a different story. In Forest Fighters, you will hire forest animals to help your tribe of squirrels gathers and protect acorns while stealing acorns from your opponents. Once all of the acorns have been gathered, the game ends and the player with the most acorns wins.”

You might gather from the introduction that this game allows for more player-to-player confrontation than a game like Dominion.

Most critters have an attack and defense rating and on your turn, you can attack an opponent. If the attack rating is higher than their defense you get to steal acorns, or send critters back to the supply, or rob them of blackberries, a key resource in the game. Even in a battle win, you face decisions.

Of course if you battle, then you likely won’t have resources left that turn to buy acorns – remember you need them to win or to add other critters to your hands.

Most critters come with special abilities too, all well thought out here. For example, a rabbit attracts another rabbit when played, the old multiplying rabbit theme. Bees get you, honey. Moles can bury acorns.

I like that the abilities fit with the animals.

The game comes with 326 cards: including 21 different characters and 3 items. This allows for a lot of replay as you don’t use all of the animals every game. Different strategies emerge depending on what critters are in play.

The artwork, again this is a prototype has a school student artist appeal that might not please all, but if it is the final art I’d be quite satisfied.

This is a game where cards have neat special abilities and so far we haven’t found a broken combination which detracts from the game.

There are always choices for players to make, and there does appear to be different strategies, based on card combos, that can put you seriously in the race for a win.

If you like deck builders at all this is a game I’d rate a must-have.

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.

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Personally, I like deck builder quite a lot. Ditto the group as a whole. But, as we have now played more than 40 games which have deck-building as at least an element within the game, it’s not so easy to find a game in the genre that really impresses. But, it happens. Forest...