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Let's Talk About Root
Jackwraith wrote: One of the more interesting details in the Underworld expansion was the new copy of the Law. It has the same stuff as the previous copies, plus details on the new factions, but it also has some appendices. They're typical stuff like a component list and variants, but the first one is a system called Reach, to help determine what faction combinations will work with what number of players.
2: 17+ 3: 18+ 4: 21+ 5: 25+ 6: 28+
The values are: Marquise- 10; Duchy- 8; Eyrie- 7; 1st Vagabond- 5; Riverfolk- 5; WA- 3; Corvids- 3; 2nd Vagabond- 2; Lizards- 2.
Interesting. My friend who loves the lizards looked around and found this too. It's kind of surprising because the Lizard Cult has so many warriors I had previously assumed them to be one of the core factions like Birds and Cats. You can sort of divide them up into weight classes, with the Marquise, Duchy and Eyrie being the "heavies," Vagabond and Riverfolk being mid, and the WA, Corvids, 2nd Vagabond and Lizards being lightweights for larger games. It's kind of a bummer that even with the newest expansion, there are only two recommended 2p setups- Marquise/Duchy or Marquise/Eyrie. Seems like the short version of the reach table is "Someone's probably playing the Marquise."
Every game I've played has involved a Vagabond (we've always been 4 or 5.) I'm kind of interested to see how the game functions without one, such that crafting doesn't become a measured decision based on how much of an advantage one wants to give to the Vagabond player, but instead just a flat out use of cards for points.
3p is my most common player count, and with me liking the Riverfolk and my friend loving the Lizards, we actually rarely have a Vagabond. Even in our larger games with Vagabond(s), our table tends to try to craft quickly to not be on the receiving end of crossbows and swords. Predictably, the Vagabond usually does pretty well. WA have also been hard to stop, I'm thinking I should play with the re-balanced sympathy track for them unless maybe it's someone's first WA game.
Y0eah, my first instinct was that the lizards feel like a board presence faction. I think what their number might be alluding to is that they need a crowded board to make most of their powers work, esp. v1 rules lizards. So even though they get good board presence they have a hard time doing that without being able to get way in everyone's way so that they have to kill their warriors and gardens.
First up was Lizards vs. Riverfolk (Reach 7) just to splash around and see what happens. With the new Lizard rules where it's easier for them to uncover their card bonuses, he never bought a single card or service from me all game. So I was usually sitting on 3-5 funds and just making trading posts with my own warriors like wandering nomads, and then crafting for points. Lizards dominated the board and scored a massive 10 points on Royal Claim for the win.
Then we tried Lizards vs. Woodland Alliance (Reach 5). I got a base early, but it made the same suit the outcast which just immediately converted my base back to a garden. Without anyone battling my sympathy tokens out of fear, I never really got my card economy going until it was too late. Lizards steamrolled. This was a great example of two factions that kind of want a more stuffed up board to function properly, but it also shows that if you want to mess with the WA's win rate, the Lizards might be the right tool for the job.
Then we tried my Eyrie vs. his Marquise for a more classic matchup. I started in a Rabbit corner and had 2 of the coin cards in hand, so I went for the Builder (Recruit/Move, crafting gives full points) thinking I might get some nice points from crafting. I didn't draw a single Rabbit or Bird card for my first 3 turns though so I was unable to get the 2nd Rabbit clearing to craft those coins, so I bit the bullet and actually stuffed a Fox in Build to try to get something going. Once I got my 3 Fox roosts, he piled all of his guys onto the last fox space to force me into turmoil. So I ignored that space and made a Rabbit and Mouse roost that turn instead, getting me up to 6 roosts and minimizing the pain of losing 3 points to turmoil. I switched to the extra hits as attacker leader and I inched my way back up and we eventually got to 24 points at the same time, with him opting to go for a Mouse dominance victory to try to lure me away from my goal of battling and building in Rabbit clearings, but I managed to destroy the two buildings I needed to make it so that +4 from my roosts would do it. Even though movement is the safest way to avoid turmoil, I'm getting more comfortable with putting non-bird cards in battle and build and making more aggressive plays. The birds are my second favorite faction behind the Riverfolk, and my win rate has been pretty high with them lately.
I'm curious if I could make them work on a crowded board of 5 or more players, typically I've been at 2 or 3, with the occasional 4. With so much going on between your turns, it seems like it'd be harder to avoid turmoil if people really wanted to screw with you.
So if I had to make a personal enjoyment ranking, it'd go 1. Riverfolk, 2. Eyrie, 3. Woodland Alliance, 4. Lizardfolk, 5. Marquise de Cat, 6. Vagabond. Once I won once with the Tinker/Vagabond, I kind of got it. A power ranking order would be pretty different though (WA>Vaga>RC>Eyrie>MdC>LC).
What I do like, now that I'm up to nearly 30 plays probably, is that there's potentially a faction for everyone. My two favorite factions are quite different, since one is all about above the table wheeling and dealing (Riverfolk) and the next is essentially an Into the Breach style head-down puzzle with the other players messing with you (the Eyrie). Although listed as medium complexity, the Vagabond can be great for new players and has a number of distinct playing styles depending on which character you pick and how much the other players craft. For the guy who likes to win there's the WA, and for the person who just likes goofing around you've got the Lizard Cult. The Marquise is um... kind of like playing Kingsburg? Or just good for a challenge and to be in the center of the action.
I also like how just one deck of cards is used in so many different ways by the various factions; this is especially true when you get into the oddities of the Riverfolk expansion. If this were a FFG joint there'd be like 6 different decks.
Been looking around and it seems like the expansion won't hit stores until sometime next month. So I've gotta wait on the two new factions unless someone shows up with them.
I had a solid recent experience with the Eyrie leading with Builder and it's an approach I may try again, depending on what other factions are in play. You can jump out to a surprising lead in points, even for the Eyrie, and then weather turmoil pretty easily because of your significant number of Roosts still in play. It will, of course, irk the entire woodland, but most people are constantly monitoring the birds' progress, anyway, so that's nothing new.
I really like the Riverfolk, too, since it suits my usual desire to have "wheels within wheels", as it were, where the shopkeepers/mercenaries are suddenly the most threatening force on the board (kinda like the Mamluks in Cairo) and everyone saw it building in front of them but couldn't keep themselves from feeding the machine (modern corporations.) This is why I'm so eager to try the more overt conspiracy (literally) of the Corvids, which I haven't gotten to yet. I've enjoyed all the factions and really enjoyed a couple of the Vagabond roles which let you function as the ultimate opportunist in the midst of a war (profiteering, anyone?) I think the only one I'm a little cool on is the Woodland Alliance (which is funny, considering my own political outlook), since their play tends to feel more scripted than the others.
I've only played maybe 3 multiplayer games so no one should trust me, but my favorite factions are the woodland alliance, moles, and lizards right now. I want to be a riverfolk guy because their mechanics are most intriguing but I'm just bad at wheeling and dealing in truth.
I was afraid of doing poorly with the Lizards due to their underdog nature, but I was very happy with my performance.
I quite liked the Mountain map. I’m not a fan of the random clearing assignments, so we just made them roughly even and similar to the normal map. The Pass clearing (king of the hill mechanic) is a nice addition where a lot of action happens and no one was allowed to rule it for long. Plus an extra VP here and there is always nice. I assumed the blocked passes would be cleared immediately but we still had half of them in place at the end of the game. Unlike the winter map, I’ll definitely throw this one into the mix here and there.
Need to think on it. Tricky.
You also had the difficulty of not really being able to solidify a position in the face of both the constant threat of the Eyrie, but also TWO opponents who could move and place things outside of the normal constraints. I think the Corvids are designed to be really destabilizing to the "big" factions (i.e. more Reach) and having finally played them, I can see why.
On Reach computations: In both games we've played on TTS, we used the "basic 3" of Marquise, Eyrie, and Alliance. That's 20 Reach, which means that any faction can be combined with those to get to the 21+ suggested for 4 players. Gary was commenting on how the games felt weird, when the only missing base faction was the Vagabond. That's interesting. I wonder if next time we should try a more unusual combination?
Marquise de Cat 10
Underground Duchy 8
Eyrie Dynasties 7
Vagabond (first) 5
Riverfolk Company 5
Woodland Alliance 3
Corvid Conspiracy 3
Vagabond (second) 2
Lizard Cult 2
We could just hit the total with the Duchy, a Vagabond, the Riverfolk, and the Corvids. Would that be workable? I know both the Duchy and the Corvids are card-hungry, so both Riverfolk and Vagabond would have customers. That's a ridiculously mobile grouping, between Tunnels, Slip, Swimmers and Riverboats, and Nimble and Recruit, everyone would be able to be pretty much anywhere at anytime and Rule would be much less significant. But with that much movement, there wouldn't be much call for Riverboats and Mercenaries might be only used to beat back the Duchy, depending on how the Riverfolk position themselves. Might be worth trying.