Our step-by-step guide to how to play Fort board game. Fort is a thematic deck building and hand management game that will take you back to your youth. Everything you do, from gaining “currency” in the form of pizza and toys, feeds into this schoolyard theme perfectly and the mechanics all flow seamlessly with one another. Cards can be used in different ways and actions have many different levels of who is doing what. This is a great game for the whole family. Learning how to play Fort is not the easiest task, but everything about it will help you get there.

FOR MORE: Fort Page | Fort Review | Games Like Fort | Buy Fort on Amazon


You’re a kid! And like many kids, you want to grow your circle of friends, grab a bunch of pizza and toys, and build the best fort. Naturally, by doing this cool stuff you’ll score victory points, and at the end of the game, that player with the most victory points is the winner!

Fort is a deckbuilding game with a twist – your cards not only let you take actions on your own turn, but also let you follow the other players’ actions on their turns. Will you devote yourself to your own posse or copy what the other kids are doing?

Keep an eye out, though – if you don’t actually use all the cards in your hand, the other players will get a chance to nab them. After all, if you don’t play with your friends, why should they hang out with you anymore?


Time Needed: Approximately 20 – 40 minutes.

This is a step by step guide for how to play Fort the popular deck building and hand management board game. Additional notions and special rules can be found below the list. These will be referenced for your convenience.

1. SETUP | Give Out Player Boards & Game Pieces
To kick off how to play Fort setup, each player needs to take one of the 4 player boards. These are the same except for color and your corresponding “best friends” on the back. Also take the two corresponding color tokens that match your color, one for your fort progress and one for the score track.

2. SETUP | Collect Best Friends
Flip over your player board to see your two best friends listed. Go through the player cards and grab these. You will know them because there is a star next to each character name. Put any unused best friends back in the box.

3. SETUP | Put Out The Victory Scoring Track
In the center of the table, put out the “Victory track” for keeping track of score. All active players put their color token on the “0” space to start.

4. SETUP | Put Out Macaroni Sculpture Card
There is a special “Macaroni Sculpture” card that gives an end game bonus to one player. Put it to the side of the victory track.

5. SETUP | Set Aside Pizza and Toy Tokens
The major source of “currency” in this game is pizza and toys. There are tokens that represent each. Put them in an area that everyone can reach and access throughout gameplay.

6. SETUP | Put Out Rule Cards
The cards with the red backs are “rule cards”. Shuffle these and make a facedown stack equal to the number of players plus one next to the victory track. The remaining, unused, cards can go back to the box.

7. SETUP | Put Out Perk Cards
The cards with the light blue back and trophy on them are the “perk cards”. Shuffle these up and flip up a total equal to the number of players plus one. Put these along the top of the Victory Track. Put the unused back in the box.

8. SETUP | Make Kid Card Deck
Take all the kid cards (minus the best friends) and shuffle them into a face down deck. This is the “park” deck and goes to the side of the Victory Track.

9. SETUP | Add Cards To Park Area
After you have made the “Park” deck, flip-up three cards from the top and place them at the bottom of the victory track. There is a label at the bottom of the victory track to show you that this is the “park” area.

10. SETUP | Deal Out Kid Cards To Players
Each player draws 8 cards from the constructed “park deck” next to the victory track. Each player can look at these but they should not show the other players. Add in the player’s special “best friend” cards and shuffle the 10 cards into a face-down deck.

11. SETUP | First Player Token
Randomly decide who should go first and give that player the small “first player” card.

12. SETUP | Draw Opening Hands
Each player draws 5 cards from their personal deck of 10 to form their opening hand. And that is it for the how to play Fort setup.

13. GAMEPLAY | Leader Turn
Players each take their turns. It goes around a clockwise circle like anything else. The difference is that there are many things that the other players get to do in response to whatever the active player is doing. That is why the current active player is known as the “Leader”. Start with the first player, take the five-phase turn and then move around the circle until the game ends.

14. GAMEPLAY | Phase 1 | Clean Up Phase
Discard all the cards in your yard. You skip this on the very first turn (because its empty), but in future turns you will do this phase. The cards that are here are the ones that were discarded the previous round. The “yard” allows them to stick around for a turn where other things can happen. You have a discard pile next to your personal deck, put any removed cards there.

15. GAMEPLAY | Phase 2 | Play Phase
The leader plays any one card from their hand. The leader has the option to skip this if they want to, but usually, you are going to want to do it. On each card there are two boxes for options. The top box is the “public” action and the bottom box is the “private” action. The leader has to do one or both of the actions when they put it down. The only rule is that to play a card the leader MUST activate at least 1 of the 2. All these things are made up of confusing symbols, which is why a handy reference card explains what everything means.

16. GAMEPLAY | Phase 2 | Play Phase | Actions Explained
Actions are going to do something about cards, add pizza/toys to your stash which is limited to 4, change the level of your fort or get points. These are all driven by the “suits” (like with playing cards kind of) like the skateboard or squirt gun symbol. Every card will have a “suit” in the top corner to show what group it is apart of, but these are also the main driver of the actions. Everything you are doing is about building up your fort (which expands your capabilities) or getting points. The “X” means “per” so with this you are choosing to play as many of those symbols as you want. Some have multiple suits which means it can be used as either.

17. GAMEPLAY | Phase 2 | Play Phase | Pizza & Toys
If an action would give you pizza or toys, grab that many tokens from the supply and add them to the open spots on your player board. You can only go to your max so say you have room to get 4 pizzas, you could not do a “per” effect that would yield 5 pizzas. This matters because it helps stop players from not using extra cards, which can provide advantages. There is a blank which means it could be either but whatever you choose, it has to all be the same. You cannot mix and match.

18. GAMEPLAY | Phase 2 | Play Phase | Victory Points
If something would give you “VP” or victory points, you move your color token on the victory track up that many.

19. GAMEPLAY | Phase 2 | Play Phase | Other Players
After the leader has done their action, any other player may do the “public” action that is on the played card. It doesn’t matter if the leader did one or both, this is always an option for other players if they choose to do it. The player is known as a “Follower” in this instance. For a follower to do this, they must discard a card from their hand that has a suit matching the action card they are trying to play off of. With the wild, the leader declares the suit. The follower also must match the action exactly, if the leader took 2 toys, the follower must also be able to take 2 toys. With following, you do not get to put down multiple cards for the “X” (per) action like the leader would, they just get the one (unless it is a double suit).

20. GAMEPLAY | “Pack” Explained
The pack is what it suggests, an extra place to put things. Put putting pizza or toys here (actions will do this) it frees up space to gain more of it. When you are paying for something (based on action) you can pay from either your pack or your normal stash areas. The pack is also helpful because there are actions that will let you copy it. The pack size increases as your fort does, which is further explained later.

21. GAMEPLAY | “Lookout” Explained
Similar to the “pack”, the “lookout” space (the indent at the top of your player board) increases with the size of your fort. Here you add cards that stick around forever and are used for their suit. Any suit here will grant that additional bonus when actions are played that use it. You can CHOOSE to use these on an actions, you do not happen and when following you do not use it.

22. GAMEPLAY | The Fort
For your Fort (the bottom of your player card) you start at level zero and can go as high as five. This is the engine building portion of how to play Fort. Your Fort level directly correlates to the max quantity of both the Pack and Lookout. In addition, moving your fort level has a few hurdles and the movement also triggers some benefits. An action has to trigger the level move, but you also need to pay pizza and/or toys equal the the circles shown in between the levels in order to do it.

23. GAMEPLAY | The Fort | Perks, Rules, Macaroni Sculpture
Certain levels in the fort will have the blue perk symbol under them or the red rule symbol. When you reach this level, you get that thing immediately. For the blue perks you get to choose from the available face up cards (so hopefully you get there fast to have the best choices) and with the red rule cards, you do the same but the other players don’t get to see what you are doing. Perks are like extra skills and rules are like hidden objectives that will get you points at the end of the game. The yellow symbol on the bottom of the final level means the first one there gets the macaroni sculpture card.

24. GAMEPLAY | Phase 3 | Recruit
Here the active player must take one new card that can come from a possible three different locations. (1) Take one of the three cards from the park and then replace it with a new card from the park deck, (2) take the unknown top card of the park deck or (3) one card from any player’s yard which is not replaced with anything,

25. GAMEPLAY | Phase 4 | Discard Phase
The leader takes any cards they played, as well as, any cards attached to it and puts them in the discard pile. Then they look in their hand and discard any “best friend” cards they are currently holding. Any remaining cards in the leader’s hand are now added to their “yard” above their player board face up.

26. GAMEPLAY | Phase 5 | Draw Phase
Here the leader draws five new cards from their personal deck. Once you get to a point where you no longer have any cards to draw, shuffle your discard pile to form a brand new deck and keep going.

27. GAMEPLAY | Pass and Repeat
After the Leader (active player) has gone through their five phases, the turn moves to the next player clockwise and starts all over again until the game ends. Players can be followers turn after turn after turn if they so choose, as long as their meet the necessary requirements.

28. GAME END | End Condition Triggered
There are three ways to trigger the end of the game (1) Any player has at least 25 victory points, (2) Any player reaches fort level 5 or (3) the park deck is completely empty. Turns continue until all players have had the same amount of turns. If the first player triggers the end, everyone gets another turn, but if the last person to go triggers the end, the game stops there.

29. FINAL SCORING | Made Up Rule
Everyone flips over their secret rule. If they met the conditions it requires, they get that many points, if not, they get zero.

30. FINAL SCORING | Fort Level
For the fort level you are at, their is a victory point total above it. Each player adds that many points to their victory track score.

31. FINAL SCORING | Macaroni Sculpture
If anyone got the lone macaroni sculpture card, they add 4 points to their victory track total.

32. WINNING | Most Victory Points
After all scoring has been finalized, whoever has the most victory points wins. In the event of a tie, the player with the highest fort level wins.



The suits and symbol references can be found in the included card.

How To Play Fort Action Reference Card
Copyright © 2020 Matt Halvorson. All Rights Reserved.


  • 68x Kid Cards
  • 22x Other Cards
  • 4x Player Boards
  • 1x Victory Track
  • 1x Rulebook
  • 30x Wooden Pizza Tokens
  • 30x Wooden Toy Tokens
  • 4x Wooden Fort Markers
  • 4x Wooden Score Markers
  • 4x Reference Sheets


We hope we have successfully shown you how to play Fort! This is one of our best reviewed games ever and its for good reason. Publisher Leder Games is known for their great quality and this is no exception. Everything about this game screams cohesive balance and fun. You are transported to being a kid, playing on the yard, trading toys and pizza and building your dream fort. The game provides nostalgia more than anything as this is by no means a kid’s game, though it is very accessible for all ages. The mixture of light deck building and hand management make for a wonderful game experience that is light and breezy but has a ton of bite.

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