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Let's Talk About Root

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19 Sep 2018 08:59 - 19 Sep 2018 10:43 #281886 by GorillaGrody
I know, I know, it's very hot and hard to get. But I feel the need to talk about this game, having read the rules, played a two-player (Cat vs. Eyrie), and read the designer's diary, where I half expected some dispiriting Eklandianisms but instead found this:

“Thematically, I wanted space in Root to attack some of the most insidious tropes about how states should behave in games… The biggest offense, in my opinion, is the erasure of the different peoples that comprised a state… The cards in a players hand represented the biopower on which their political faction could draw. So managing a hand by choosing which cards to hold and whether to expand hand size or the flow of new cards in and out of a hand became an exercise in Foucaultian biopolitics.”

I mean, I have my problems with Foucault (which we don't have to discuss here). But still. Huh.

It's a fun game, too. The playstyle of the Eyrie just blows my mind. Looking forward to seeing the Vagabond in action.
Last edit: 19 Sep 2018 10:43 by GorillaGrody.
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19 Sep 2018 09:07 #281888 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Let's Talk About Root
I have only played one game of Root so far, as the Eyrie. It was an interesting experience, but not necessarily enjoyable. We had four players and just the base game. I liked that every faction had a very distinctive play style, but it felt like the Vagabond was sort of irrelevant and the Woodland Alliance was too powerful. The Eyrie was extremely powerful and yet I suffered two huge setbacks. Most of the cards seemed useless except to the cats. Maybe the game isn't intended to be balanced and players learn after a few plays which factions need to be teamed up against. I would be willing to play Root again, but I'm glad that I didn't buy it.

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19 Sep 2018 09:33 #281890 by GorillaGrody
Replied by GorillaGrody on topic Let's Talk About Root

Shellhead wrote: Maybe the game isn't intended to be balanced and players learn after a few plays which factions need to be teamed up against.


“Self-balancing” sometimes means Dune/Cosmic Encounter levels of intrigue and mechanic-based role play. More often, though, it seems to mean lazy design.

My impression is that Root is more the former, but I haven’t fully explored it, yet.
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19 Sep 2018 09:34 #281891 by Count Orlok
Replied by Count Orlok on topic Let's Talk About Root
I have to admit I'm superficially turned off by the game for its cutesy art style, but after watching a play through I'm pretty intrigued. I really like the concept of the asymmetry but do wonder about both balance and also balance of experience. The vagabond seems like it could be a bit dull to play, but I have only seen the one game played. I have read a little about the other expansion factions which seem like they would be a bit more interesting.

It seems like the kind of game that is really hard to judge without a lot of playthroughs. I do worry that the balance on the game is forced by each faction being held in check which seems really easy to throw off with inexperienced players. Unless I'm mistaken, the game seems like it would be best with a consistent group of experienced players, but may otherwise fall flat.

I'm curious to try it, although it's unlikely I'll get the chance any time soon.

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19 Sep 2018 09:49 #281892 by charlest
Replied by charlest on topic Let's Talk About Root
I've played 7 games spanning 2-5 players, and I'd definitely say it's the former. In my plays it's felt as though each faction can win and every game has been pretty close.

You'll see some things like the Woodland Alliance or perhaps the Vagabond winning in early plays as people don't quite understand their potential - particularly the WA who can explode for 10+ points at end game very easily. Once players are familiar and understand the pacing, everything falls into place.
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19 Sep 2018 10:09 - 19 Sep 2018 10:11 #281893 by GorillaGrody
Replied by GorillaGrody on topic Let's Talk About Root
As a fan of stuff like Watership Down, The Wind in the Willows, Animal Farm, Warner Brother cartoons, etc. etc., I have a soft spot for anthropomorphized animals. As a medium of exchange for ideas, they often can't be beat. Though they can slide into essentialising categories (Maus always weirded me out in this way), when used well they often illustrate difference in a way that realism just can't. I think this aspect is done very well in Root, and my wife and I love the artwork.

Regarding "cuteness," however, after painting and selling off a whole batch of Arcadia Quest stuff, I realized I have an allergic reaction to Chibi, and I've finally realized why. The women look like sexualized 5 year olds. I just can't not see it, and I fucking hate it.
Last edit: 19 Sep 2018 10:11 by GorillaGrody.
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19 Sep 2018 10:40 - 19 Sep 2018 10:46 #281896 by Colorcrayons
Replied by Colorcrayons on topic Let's Talk About Root

GorillaGrody wrote: Regarding "cuteness," however, after painting and selling off a whole batch of Arcadia Quest stuff, I realized I have an allergic reaction to Chibi, and I've finally realized why. The women look like sexualized 5 year olds. I just can't not see it, and I fucking hate it.


There is a well known psychological basis for this.

As a fan of Warner Bros cartoons, I'm sure you may also be aware of it.

It's babies. Or rather, depicting the subject to emulate a baby.

Big eyes, fat cheeks, etc.
[Edit] we are biologically predisposed to like babies because of these features, or at the very least feel instinctive to protect them if maternal, or not want to harm them if paternal. This behavior can be seen in animals in regards to human babies too[/edit]

Look at Bugs Bunny. Animators had a heck of a time making Jimminy Cricket into a likeable character that wasn't a menacing insectoid. The solution was to make it look like a slightly warped, green skinned baby.

Chibi has the identical effect, by accident or by design.

Add to the fact that fantasy women are universally depicted sexualized (form fitting armor, when there is any at all) and you have the components of a Japanese Lolita ideal.
Last edit: 19 Sep 2018 10:46 by Colorcrayons.
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19 Sep 2018 13:34 #281900 by Ken B.
Replied by Ken B. on topic Let's Talk About Root
I have a pre-order of Root with CSI thanks to the hype Root has been getting here. However, I watched the teaching and play through videos for Pax Pamir 2nd edition and went and immediately Kickstarted it.

But now I wonder if I need Root. The art style, cards, and game flow of Pax Pamir seems much more my speed. I’ll probably keep my preorder but have been wondering about it the past few days.

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19 Sep 2018 15:50 #281909 by Not Sure
Replied by Not Sure on topic Let's Talk About Root
I backed this game (Backerkit after the KS closed), and I'm glad I did. I like it, it's right in my wheelhouse of game styles, and it's approachable enough to play it with my sons.

The hype is way the fuck out of control, though. It's a good game. That's about it. If you skipped playing it forever, you're not missing anything critical. It's a fun asymmetric light wargame, set in a forest. There's some decent depth to it, and it does a lot with not too much chrome in the rules.

I had to unsubscribe from the BGG topic when the first rule-questions started to overwhelm my feed (basically all useless shit answered in the book), so I've been unaware of just how crazy that site has gone for this new hotness. The TWBG Slack folks pointed me at a thread showing it's reached backlash stage, where people who didn't do any research played it and say "I didn't like it", and that causes fits. It's just stupid. So much yammering.

It's a cool little game. It's not the gaming event of a generation or anything. If you're wondering "do I need this?", the answer is "probably not". If you think "I like asymmetric war-type games, but COIN is too fat or too real or too long", this is a great game to fill that empty spot.

It's definitely not a game people can coast through without learning all the factions and how they operate. You can, but you'll be pretty underwhelmed at what's going on, and feel like none of it is really in your control. A table of folks all doing that, and it's going to fall pretty flat. It's also short, and the endgame comes at you quite quickly. Like Charlie said above, a faction like the Alliance can score 10 points or more in a round towards the end (if allowed to set up for it), which is 1/3rd of the total victory. That can be, um, offputting to some gamers as well.

If you know me, and know what I like and why, you'll see why I really enjoy this game. But it's not going to be universal. That's cool.
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19 Sep 2018 15:57 #281911 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Let's Talk About Root

Not Sure wrote: The hype is way the fuck out of control, though. It's a good game. That's about it. If you skipped playing it forever, you're not missing anything critical. It's a fun asymmetric light wargame, set in a forest. There's some decent depth to it, and it does a lot with not too much chrome in the rules.


Predicted timeline for Root at this site:

Now: This thread picks up steam and goes to five pages.

Early 2019: Barnes names Root as Game of the Year, 2018.

Summer 2019: Barnes put up Root for sale.

2020: Nobody here talks about Root anymore, even in the What BOARD GAME(s) Have You Been Playing? thread.

2028: Ubarose starts a Flashback thread about Root. Several people rave about how it was such a great game and they played it just last month.

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19 Sep 2018 16:11 #281912 by GorillaGrody
Replied by GorillaGrody on topic Let's Talk About Root
“I like asymmetric war-type games, but COIN is too fat or too real or too long” pretty much fits me to a tee.
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19 Sep 2018 16:19 #281913 by Not Sure
Replied by Not Sure on topic Let's Talk About Root

Shellhead wrote:

Not Sure wrote: The hype is way the fuck out of control, though. It's a good game. That's about it. If you skipped playing it forever, you're not missing anything critical. It's a fun asymmetric light wargame, set in a forest. There's some decent depth to it, and it does a lot with not too much chrome in the rules.


Predicted timeline for Root at this site:

Now: This thread picks up steam and goes to five pages.

Early 2019: Barnes names Root as Game of the Year, 2018.

Summer 2019: Barnes put up Root for sale.

2020: Nobody here talks about Root anymore, even in the What BOARD GAME(s) Have You Been Playing? thread.

2028: Ubarose starts a Flashback thread about Root. Several people rave about how it was such a great game and they played it just last month.


I think you should cut each "time until" in half. Otherwise I think you're 100% accurate.
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19 Sep 2018 16:50 #281914 by Not Sure
Replied by Not Sure on topic Let's Talk About Root
Here's the old thread about this from pre-Kickstarter up through the KS copies arriving and the first few session reports.

Previous TWBG Root thread

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19 Sep 2018 19:59 #281923 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root
My copy is on the way. I've got Not Sure pinned down on a pbem. Someone else can let us know if they want in. I can be unreliable at PBEM but it generally doesn't come out in short games like Root. Not Sure is like the most reliable PBEM player I've ever seen.
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19 Sep 2018 20:10 #281924 by Michael Barnes
Ha! I saw Not Sure’s post after I put my review up.

Not Sure: It’s not like the game of a generation or anything.

Barnes: It is the game of a generation.
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