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Cole Wehrle on the design of Pax: Mouse Guard, Root
indianajens wrote: I made a copy of & played a couple of games of the first print-n-play version of Root (both with 4 players). Opinions around the table were mixed; at least one person didn't seem to care for it, but most of us liked it well enough. The second print-n-play has some significant differences from the one we tried, but unfortunately I haven't tried that one yet.
At heart Root is a highly asymmetrical conflict game, so playing, say, the cats will be a radically different experience from playing the vagabond.
Anyway, the game felt cutthroat, and there was lots of interaction. The graphical presentation is fantastic.
Here is the latest Print-and-play:
Not Sure wrote: Still tempted by this, still haven't committed.
F:AT just makes me feel bad for buying games. So I say "screw you guys!" and do it anyway. Because Ameritrash.
*sirens blare behind Not Sure's car and a loudpseaker can be heard*
"This is the Fortress Ameritrash constabulary. Sir, please pull over so we can confiscate that contraband game."
*Not Sure flips them the bird and drives away*
"Gad Dammit! We lost another one, Cletus! Hot pursuit! Hot pursuit!"
This is exactly the type of dumbass game I really want in my collection but I am seriously pushing back against myself because it will *never* be played until I get a local game group. Trying to fight toad buildup.
I'll also see if I can change the name of this thread to add the name "root" so someone could actually find it if they wanted to in a search.
Gary Sax wrote: I'll also see if I can change the name of this thread to add the name "root" so someone could actually find it if they wanted to in a search.
You just have to edit the first post. And the most recent if you want replies to include it going forward.
edit: to add content, I was surprised by how fast this plays despite being pretty complex due to the very asymmetric sides. I wonder if it would go longer if the sides actually knew all the positions and powers well... strikes me as the problem with this genre, you have to know your opponent's options for proper strategy.
Three players. My 12-year-old I gave the cats to, as they seemed the most straightforward. My 15-year-old got the birds, as I figure he could handle the planning requirements. I took the Alliance.
The Marquise de Cat has lots of troops, and most of the score comes from buildings. This is a pretty straight economic engine sort of player. Build more buildings, get more stuff every turn, expand to get more space for buildings. You start with troops all over the map, but they're all very weak in isolation. You're a little bit action-bound.
The Eyrie Dynasties (birds) have lots of troops, but they have to pre-plan all their moves, and execute everything that's planned or eat a stiff penalty (including loss of VP). The pre-planning also never resets until you fail. If you say "we battle in Fox clearings!" you'd better be prepared to find a battle in a Fox clearing every turn. When the orders get rolling, you can really see them crank out a lot of stuff, but then they get the orders fouled up and lose half of it. Very surgy.
The Woodland Alliance is a typical Guerrilla war faction, and feels very COIN-like. Spread influence tokens, rebel, that sort of thing. No starting point, fewer troops than everyone else (but very strong on defense). They can be hard to kick out, and engaging with them has a clever mechanic that makes them stronger. If you go after them, you need to be decisive about it, and not continue to move forces in turn after turn.
The Vagabond is playing a different game. He wanders around the map, collecting objects (or stealing them from other factions, since they're cheap VP to build). He uses those to complete quests for VP, but can also be a backstabber and turn on a faction (or more than one). He's all alone, but if loaded up with weapons he can be a death-dealer by himself, and rack up VP with kills too.
We played the in-game walkthrough for its 2 turns, then abandoned the Vagabond and then played on as three.
Lots of mistakes were made as learning game, and some misplay was had by many. The cat strategy (table-wide) didn't really figure out until too late that building is where it's at, and he mistook his few dudes scattered all over for more control than it was. Some frustration ensued, as you can get rolled back pretty hard in this game.
The birds did well in the beginning, the goon took really well to the forced orders aspect. Eventually he was facing a failure, so he activated a Dominance win condition card to avoid losing a batch of VP. In retrospect, this was bad choice. He needed to control 3 (out of four) Fox clearings. The Cat's Keep was in one, and I'd put my first Alliance base in another.
Not to be outdone, the Cats activated the "two opposite corners" card. They took three corners, but couldn't hold onto them across the next two turns. I exploded one corner with a rabbit Revolt that send a lot of cats and birds back to their piles.
Despite me telling them that they'd better watch out for Green, they sort of kept ignoring my Sympathy tokens, and I eventually grabbed a win with 30 points. Learning game, and one of the biggest lessons is "don't grab onto a win condition you aren't prepared to achieve". I'm pretty sure the Birds would have won easily if they'd just kept to trying for 30 VP.
The factions are all really interesting. One thing that was a little difficult is that without a Vagabond on the board, some spaces never get cleared out. That means the Cat has fewer building options in the middle areas.
I think with four it would be great, and I'm looking forward to giving it another try. Haven't even cracked the expansion yet, but I did read the rules for the other two factions. Even more complexity there. It's got a cute woodland theme, but there's some definite depth to it.
I wasn't wrong about it feeling very COINy, but then the Dominance cards (special victory for holding certain territories) definitely remind me of the Pax games.
Will need to keep my eyes open for the expansion coming out at retail, hopefully Q4 this year. First run of the expansion is sold through, apparently.
Not Sure put another toad on my shelf. Love it.
I think this would be very Vassal-friendly, there's only a few real surprise interrupts (the Ambush cards), plus a few places where the inactive player can choose to play a previously crafted card. Those are face-up, so they're no more inconvenient than asking "unless you want to spend that..."
The rules for the expansion factions are in the main book "Law of Root", so I've read them. Haven't even had a need to crack the shrink on it, though. There's plenty of game in the main box.