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The May Getaway Gaming Weekend

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08 May 2023 23:32 #339277 by Shellhead
I've heard a lot of good things about Root, here and elsewhere, but they didn't show up in the three games that I played. I played a different faction each game, and it was a different experience each time, but I felt like my faction card showed me a recipe that I needed to follow closely if I wanted to play well. We were all playing so differently that it felt like different games on the same board, which is an interesting idea, but our interaction seemed largely a side effect of specifically defined points of contention. My feeling is that if I have played a game multiple times without enjoying it, I need to move on to something else.

Maybe a richer and more enjoyable game of Root emerges once all the players are familiar with it, but is that the game on the table or a game above the table between experienced players second-guessing each other?

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09 May 2023 00:07 #339278 by dysjunct
I like Root a fair amount, and think it’s not really that much different than other asymmetric dudes on a map game IMO. You have unique powers, and the better you understand how to use them (and how your opponents use theirs), the better positioned you are to evaluate the board state and recognize strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

My main criticisms are that the factions are more opaque than they need to be, and that the game runs long at higher player counts. But it’s still fun for me.
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09 May 2023 10:37 #339281 by Sagrilarus
Let's discuss Scythe next!

I cannot fathom how many games of Root I would have to play to start understanding all the combinations of factions and how they would interact. Regardless of that number, I'm not going to pursue it.

I think my more experienced friends might have offered to have us all play the same factions for a few games to maybe give me the chance to catch up and understand those in particular, but that opportunity has been lost because I came to it late. Those of us coming in now that there are 20 factions to choose from have a very steep learning curve in every single play because everyone wants to play a new faction. The result is that we noobs struggle to learn our own new faction for most or all of each session, and the play becomes clunky and uninspiring. And you feel like an idiot.

Fuck asymmetry. I'm looking forward to the next new thing so this one can be put to bed.

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09 May 2023 10:45 #339282 by charlest
Root has been out for several years and is Leder's best selling title. It made Cole Wehrle and Kyle Ferrin well known. It's as evergreen as a modern release comes and is going nowhere.

I imagine people will still be playing and excited about it 10 years after the final expansion comes out. It checks so many boxes for many people and is one of the very rare titles that really brings Euro and Ameritrash gamers together.

I totally get that it's not for everyone, but it really is the most universally enjoyed game of its weight that I've ever seen, at least in terms of the various groups I've intermingled with.
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09 May 2023 10:56 #339283 by Shellhead
I belong to a local Facebook group where members buy, sell, and trade board games. So far, I have just sold Mansions of Madness 1st edition there, but I will probably eventually unload several other games there. Anyway, the most common games sold in that group are classic eurogames (turn of the century games, as one FATtie recently described them), shovelware kickstarters with a pile of boxes of minis linked to a weak set of rules, and Root. Apparently many local gamers bought Root because of BGG ratings, then discovered that they just didn't like it. I never buy games from this group, because the prices are too optimistic (high) for second-hand games.

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09 May 2023 11:07 - 09 May 2023 11:13 #339284 by Sagrilarus
Monopoly sells much better.

Translation -- You can't use notoreity or sales in an argument about the merits of design. It's something you throw out when your other arguments aren't working.

Root needs a set of new players to start from the beginning together, and they need to explain to each other exactly how their factions work as they play, and the first three or four plays need to kinda have everyone suck together. The same factions each game. That's the price of getting in, and it's not limited to just Root. ASL is the same way, where new people need training wheels to come up to speed.

I'm playing with people with 20 or more plays, so when it's my turn they say "so I can take this here while he can move that over there but you need to block her from gathering 13 of her tokens and you need to give one of your pieces to the river folk to kick off your special power that you'll use next turn to get your minimum rabbit count that you'll need to block me from capturing the two opposite corners in my alternate win condition while still being able to get the additional cards you need to prepare for your pieces coming back from Karl. So, go ahead and take your turn." That's when I just play a card and score its two points.

That's what it sounds like to new players. If you're not in, you're out. Unfortunately I'm out. Didn't get on the train before it left.

Root's architecture antagonizes that problem.
Last edit: 09 May 2023 11:13 by Sagrilarus.

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09 May 2023 11:16 - 09 May 2023 11:19 #339285 by charlest

Sagrilarus wrote: Root needs a set of new players to start from the beginning together, and they need to explain to each other exactly how their factions work as they play, and the first three or four plays need to kinda have everyone suck together. The same factions each game. That's the price of getting in, and it's not limited to just Root. ASL is the same way, where new people need training wheels to come up to speed.


This hasn't been my experience, at least not anymore than any other game where someone is stepping into a group that has played 20 or so times.

I wonder if what you're seeing is that the quality and depth of Root has inspired people to play it 20 or more times in a relatively short timespan, when games rarely do that now.
Last edit: 09 May 2023 11:19 by charlest.
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09 May 2023 11:50 - 09 May 2023 12:24 #339286 by sornars

Sagrilarus wrote: I'm playing with people with 20 or more plays, so when it's my turn they say "so I can take this here while he can move that over there but you need to block her from gathering 13 of her tokens and you need to give one of your pieces to the river folk to kick off your special power that you'll use next turn to get your minimum rabbit count that you'll need to block me from capturing the two opposite corners in my alternate win condition while still being able to get the additional cards you need to prepare for your pieces coming back from Karl. So, go ahead and take your turn." That's when I just play a card and score its two points.

That's what it sounds like to new players. If you're not in, you're out. Unfortunately I'm out. Didn't get on the train before it left.

Root's architecture antagonizes that problem.


I don't even like Root that much so don't expect this to be a full throated defence but it sounds like you don't enjoy the fact that players are required to police the board state collectively and can leverage board position and turn order to "force" players to do things they don't want to do, hence the feeling of being scripted.

This is a property shared by plenty of games, cube rails and 18xx games come to mind, but Cole has definitely explored this in his other games including John Company, Oath and Pax Pamir. Everything in your quote sounds like a player interpreting the public board state and making an argument to get you to do something to their benefit. While they were probably being truthful in outlining a way forward, I doubt they were entirely right; there was probably a different way to force the player to your left into the hot seat (which it sounds like you did by just ignoring the board and crafting points). Forcing the other players into the hot seat while you get points is the game. Knowing the factions well enough to do that effectively is definitely a barrier to access and if you don't like it you don't like it but I wouldn't call the game scripted.

I'm still reeling from you claiming Knizia lacks depth. T&E is almost Go like in terms of depth! I do agree some of his games are of varying quality but Modern Art and T&E cement his status on their own.

That sounds like a pretty solid weekend of gaming nonetheless!
Last edit: 09 May 2023 12:24 by sornars.
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09 May 2023 14:17 - 09 May 2023 14:23 #339289 by Sagrilarus
I think they understood I was overwhelmed and were trying to help me out so I wouldn't have a miserable time. The fact that I was competitive without even understanding game state in a game I'm told is scrupulously balanced leads me to believe I was near optimal path just playing cards and chits. Unless they were ignoring me back.
Last edit: 09 May 2023 14:23 by Sagrilarus.

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09 May 2023 15:37 #339290 by ubarose
A while back ago I saw a recipe for a wheat free Almond Olive Oil Cake. I decided to attempt it. Most flourless cakes are a bit tricky, but this one was particularly tricky as the results hinge on whipping egg whites to the perfect consistency and folding them in just exactly right. Plus one of the major flavors comes from orange zest, which varies from orange to orange. And then you have to factor in the quality of the olive oil. And you don’t want to get me started on the how variations between different brands of almond flour impact the final product. It took several attempts over several weeks to actually produce an eatable, nicely flavored cake. After successfully producing the cake several more times, I am now considering trying lemon zest rather than orange.

I have friends who enjoy baking, especially this process of mastering a tricky recipe and then finally getting good enough at it that they feel confident enough to start tweaking it. I however, do not. It is messy and tedious and I rather be doing other things. I just want to enjoy an f-ing slice of cake and a cup of coffee with my friends and family.

Root is an Almond Olive Oil Cake.
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10 May 2023 17:09 #339301 by Ah_Pook
I played root once, as the birds, and didn't have a good time. I have not sought out a second play. I would believe that with the right group of dedicated players there's a lot there to have fun with. That's my root story, I hope you all enjoyed it.
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10 May 2023 19:29 #339306 by Virabhadra
Wasn't there a map of F:ATties once upon a time? Let's all meet in California and have a GrailCon.
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10 May 2023 23:42 - 10 May 2023 23:45 #339307 by Jexik
My first game of Root, I lost with like 0 points as the birds in a 2p game. Now I love the birds and Root.

I don't think it demands repeat play to enjoy it (I've had fun even in that loss and have seen new players like it), but it certainly rewards it.
Last edit: 10 May 2023 23:45 by Jexik.
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11 May 2023 10:07 #339309 by Cappster_
I wonder if the problem is that Sam is introducing expansion factions?

I think it would be easier to grock if only the base set factions were being used the first few games.
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11 May 2023 13:13 - 11 May 2023 13:13 #339311 by Sagrilarus
So as is often the case, Root dominates the conversation in something like this.

But I think the real take away from the weekend is just how well received Buffy was, a game that is almost 25 years old and quite frankly looks cheap sitting on the table. But we played over and over again the first night that I got it out in spite of it being a bit of a tough sell to the four people that were there with me, and then we opted to close the game of Root quickly on the second night so that we would have time to get to Buffy again for another couple of plays.

I think it is sort of interesting that a pulp game that is a quarter of a century old managed to hold its own against several new and plenty of Marquee titles for the entire weekend.

The photograph attached to this blog post was not staged by the way. That was the actual situation that happened during one of the games, where both one of the baddies and one of the goodies were pinned in place during a fight as others came to help them out. The map really really plays an interesting part in the game.
Last edit: 11 May 2023 13:13 by Sagrilarus.
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