(This review was originally published on our site Two Moms Game. Please click the link to read it in its original, recommended format).
A cooperative roll to move whodunit game for ages 5 and up
Shanon Lyon, Marisa Pena, Colt Tipton-Johnson Published by: Gamewright Games
In this co-op game, 2-4 players play the role of investigators looking into the disappearance of Mrs Plumpet’s pot pie. You’ve narrowed your search down to a fox, but which one? Players move around the board via dice rolls looking for clues and identifying suspects. But be careful because for each unsuccessful turn of dice rolls, the clever thief gets closer to escaping.
Game Play Overview
Gameplay in Outfoxed! is very straightforward. Players start in the middle of the board and try to work their way to various clue locations. At the same time, the fox starts at one end of the board and winds his way along the path in an attempt to make his escape.
On their turn, players will roll 3 dice up to 3 times, keeping successful rolls. Before they roll, they announce whether they are aiming for movement points (paw prints) or reveal suspects (eye balls).
Success = all 3 dice showing same action (eyeballs or paw prints)
Failure = fox moves 3 spaces
A turn is as follows:
Select main action (move or reveal)
Roll dice up to 3 times
If successful, complete chosen action
Movement: when a player is successful on movement they may move up to the total number of paw prints shown on the 3 dice, towards a clue space on the board. Diagonal movement is not allowed
Clues: Insert clue token into decoder and reveal.
Green dot: Suspect has/is wearing the item
No dot: Suspect does not have/is not wearing item
Reveal suspects: when a player is successful they may flip up 2 face down suspect cards
Discard suspects as appropriate based on revealed clues
Fox makes an escape out the fox hole at the bottom of the board
Players identify the thief
What do we think?
While the gameplay sequence may seem like a lot for a young kid’s game, it is generally smooth, quick, and fairly intuitive. This is especially true if you’ve got a kid that familiar with memory games.
Before we talk too much about playing this with our 3-year-old, we should mention that parents should be aware of the choking risk. This is probably some of the reason the publishers decided this was for ages 5+. We generally disregard suggested age ranges and focus more on what we think will work for our kid specifically, but with this one if you’ve got a young kid who still wants to shove not-food things in their mouths (or a baby who wants to be up in the older kid’s business), be aware of the adorable little trachea-shaped hats.
That said, Outfoxed! has teaching opportunities abounding. Rowan is 3, under the listed age of 5+ on the box, but is still able to get tons out of this game. We use it for counting skills of adding up the dice (this is a great basic math opportunity), problem solving (finding the shortest path to a clue), following directions, letter recognition from suspect names, and if that then this deductive reasoning. He has a hard time doing each turn entirely on his own without guidance, but the co-op nature of the game means it’s easy for us to help him along.
Sarah side note: Putting on my social work hat here. While I haven’t had the opportunity to try this myself, based on my day job experience I suspect Outfoxed! would be a great game to play and work on skill development / retainment with individuals with cognitive disabilities, brain injuries, or dementias. It has many elements reminiscent of childhood games like Yahtzee and Guess Who and, like those games, doesn’t have obviously childish artwork that makes it feel too much like it’s only for kids. I could see this being very successful in a therapeutic or clinical setting.
The artwork & components are on point
There is something whimsical about the components in this game. The board colors are vibrant without being overdone or garish and the player pawns are delightful little investigator hats reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. The fox is also a cute little mini wearing a top hat. If you’re gonna be a thief, do it in style.
We also talk a lot in our various reviews about diversity, and this is especially important in kid’s games where the separation between boy/girl target audiences is still alive and well. It’s also still very common to see anything aimed at kids have 3 boys for every 1 girl, especially in action-oriented games/movies/TV. We like that this is a game where the characters (somewhat gender-neutral foxes) with largely male vs female names are balanced, and the artwork isn’t explicitly geared toward traditional “boy” or “girl” markets. Kudos to Gamewright and the designers for doing a great job on that.
Outfoxed! is probably one of my favorite kids games that we have right now. There is enough to it to make it engaging for me as a parent and there are so many teaching opportunities for Rowan. The charming art definitely helps. I love to see Rowan figure things out and start to put together different thoughts like “if the thief is wearing a hat and our suspect Daisy is NOT wearing a hat, could she be the thief?”. Obviously, we coach him through the thought process but as a parent, one of the more satisfying things is to see the wheels of your child’s brain start to turn as they gain the ability to understand complex thoughts and ideas. This is a game kids can grow into and I love that.
I really like that this game has strategy mechanics to it that will translate well to harder games as Rowan gets older. Being able to choose which action makes the most sense based on what else is happening in the game is a critical skill that kids (and grownups) need to develop and nurture and this game gets him started on that.
I like the place where the fox goes (mom translation: he likes the game box insert, it does have a clear spot for everything which is very satisfying).
I need mommy and mama help.
I like the hats on the board. They are my favorite. I like to flip the cards because they have names! There are so many foxes in there!
Fun fact: Rowan was gifted Outfoxed! by Sarah’s 2019 BGG Secret Santa. We played it immediately upon opening the box. Smart Santa (perhaps a taunting Santa) put the kids game front and center for him to see as soon as the box was opened. We didn’t even get to see what else was in the box because he immediately explained “Fox game! Can we play it now?!?”. And as weak, weak parents we gave in and played immediately.
The rule book is short, direct, and easy to understand. We did not have any trouble figuring out how to set up or play the game.
There have been many subsequent plays. For a while we were not tracking plays of kids games on BGG (via BGStats) because they were played so often, yet so often abruptly stopped too. We still are not great about tracking plays of kids games, but we’ve played Outfoxed! many, many times. It continues to be enjoyable each time.
Play Time, # Players
Typically, we play this at 2-3 players and it takes about 10-20 minutes. Even adding a second kiddo doesn’t dramatically increase the play time. The gameplay remains the same at any player count. We played a game with us, Rowan, and the 7 year old son of a friend. The 7 year old had a good time, but he is a smart kid and he had clearly outgrown the game.
Also, the box lists this as a game for 2-4, but since it is cooperative, there’s no reason this couldn’t be played solo.
As parents that play games that are accessible to toddlers, one of the most important factors to us is that we don’t want to shove a pencil through our eyes during or after the game. Outfoxed! does not do this! The cooperative nature definitely gives us some leeway to guide Rowan through the game but we try to give him free reign…usually. About 95% of the time we let Rowan make his own decisions on what he wants to do on his turn. Could we encourage him to take a different approach, or do something we consider smarter? Absolutely, and when we take our turns we try to over-explain why we make our decisions. He’ll get there someday!
Outfoxed! has learning opportunities in spades for kids under the age of 6 or 7. But games in general provide so much opportunity for us as parents to learn from our kids – learn how their brains work, what they value, how they make decisions, and so much more. We can also demonstrate far more valuable life skills to them through games. Showing respect to others’ decision making, how to trust one another, the value of picking your battle when everyone is all working toward the same end goal. Perhaps this became too deep, but for us there is more to gaming with kids than just a couple minutes of fun here and there before moving on to the next thing.
4: Likely to play again
*See our rating scale on our site