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Let's Talk About Root

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11 Apr 2020 15:27 #309173 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root

Shellhead wrote:
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.


Decided to look at the start of this thread and read this post from Sept 2018.

It's 2020 and a few of us are still talking about it.

Has Barnes sold it yet?
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11 Apr 2020 17:45 #309174 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root
I'm almost certain he has, I think he's doing mostly RPGs these days and prospero hall mass market rules density stuff.

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23 May 2020 07:09 #310556 by ExiaGN00
Replied by ExiaGN00 on topic Let's Talk About Root
A very good game. My Top 20 I think.

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25 Jun 2020 01:13 - 25 Jun 2020 01:17 #311367 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root


Jexik, Disgustipater and I played maybe my best experience with Root ever? Felt extremely non-arbitrary and skill based with really explicit big decisions deciding the game.

My big question is what made this game so good? Could be

1) experienced players playing at pace
2) only traditional board dominance factions
3) I might like 3 players better than 4?
4) mountain map
5) exiles and partisans deck

Whatever it was, this game really clicked with me more than it normally does.

Strong recommendations for the newest expansion faction, but *especially* the map. Also, the exiles and partisans felt like it made the cats 10x as fun so big bang for your buck there. Need to play it more for a more final impression but first play I hearted the deck a lot.
Last edit: 25 Jun 2020 01:17 by Gary Sax.
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25 Jun 2020 01:44 #311368 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
6) The score was tight. I think it was 30-28-28, with everyone being in striking distance *and* me barely making 30.

I've played a lot of 3 player and agree that it is good with 3. The exiles and partisans deck was also pretty neat - you and I both used some of the new cards to interesting effect.
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25 Jun 2020 12:34 #311374 by Disgustipater
Replied by Disgustipater on topic Let's Talk About Root
I think 3-player games are more dependent on faction composition. If the cats are in the mix, you need another faction that can reliably provide a speed bump so they can’t just expand across the whole map unchecked.
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26 Jun 2020 00:54 #311396 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root
Was watching a game with Corvids and Eyrie in it. Eyrie feels like Corvid kryptonite. They have so many dudes so they don't give many fucks about extra losses and they have tons of battles if they want.

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26 Jun 2020 05:33 #311402 by mezike
Replied by mezike on topic Let's Talk About Root
Underworld finally arrived here a couple of weeks ago so we’ve predictably played it quite a bit, all with three players. Everything about it is sooo good - Vagabond meeple, excellent, resin markers, excellent, partisans deck, so good I don’t think I even want to go back to the original deck, new maps and factions, all excellent.

The mountain map is a lot of fun, not just for the additional scoring options but also the tactical elements it creates; clearing a pass can slow down an expanding faction and likewise can be a disingenuous move if you are under threat and want to keep a barrier between you and them. Haven’t tried the lake yet.

Moles seem to be a little explosive, they remind me of the alliance where they just seem to suddenly slip between bumbling and unstoppable. The most successful strategy I’ve had against them is to treat them like weeds and cut them back whenever they start to spread in small numbers and are weakened enough to be able to cut through to their buildings. A well-armed Vagabond is a particular menace to them, as are the Crows, as neither cares about rule and can strike into a well-defended heartland. I would expect the Alliance to have a good chance also but haven’t yet tried that combination.

The Crows are powerful for sure but I also find them quite fragile. We had an interesting game where I was the Cats and I played super aggressive, focussing on recruitment and overwork to build big scary armies, and then I pounced on the Crows every time they thinned their numbers through plotting. At that point I didn’t care about losing troops with the extra defensive hits in much the same way that the Birds can keep on recruiting and battling. I think the Moles would also be a problem for them in the same way.

I’ve given up on the Otters in a small game like this, I think the only way they can work with three is in building an alliance - give me your workers and I’ll send them back with a trading post and we can keep the mutual cycle going until one of us stabs the other in the back - but that isn’t much fun for the spare wheel at the table.
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26 Jun 2020 19:13 #311420 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root
I'm so Root focused I played a bit game as the moles, love the moles.



I know why they did it but I wish they hadn't used a simplified version of the better bot project for the physical solo product. It's solid but it could be so much better.

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30 Jun 2020 01:28 #311507 by OhBollox
Replied by OhBollox on topic Let's Talk About Root

charlest wrote: Yeah for sure it's intentional and it's an interesting playstyle.

It's an odd feel though as in our game the cats built up a ton of units meaning they had two balls of 6+ warriors they could move about the board. They don't mind losing buildings nearly as much because they get points to rebuild them.

Defending against large cat armies felt very rough as I could not outpace him in troops when I needed to defend 2-3 clearings (which would take 12-18 troops to maintain identical numbers to his 6 troop group that attacks).

It looks like they altered them from the final PNP release just before going to print. The changes gave them more troops but required they spread out much more.


I'm going to be annoyed if this is the Lizards all over again. I remember playing the Lizards in the PnP and having fun getting to grips with them, only for them to be nerfed, and then the game go off to the printers, before we'd even got to grips with those changes. The fact the nerfs were promptly rolled back in the balance update was painful to witness.

I've got Underworld and the extras I ordered, but haven't managed to get to play it yet thanks to covid.

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02 Jul 2020 11:09 - 02 Jul 2020 13:26 #311606 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root
I mentioned elsewhere we played another game of Root that I really liked, riverfolk win and my moles agonizingly close. I can see where I lost it. Definitely feeling like this game has actual legs beyond the learning period, my internal rating on the game has improved.

Still like that replacement card set better than the normal one but I want to get 2-3 regular card set games in with experienced players.

I want to reopen the discussion on the riverfolk. They're fascinating because I get why people think they never win. They depend absolutely on board meta. If your table thinks they're strong and holds the line, or "why strengthen them?" is the rule of thumb, they're hopeless. If your table tries to squeeze utility out of them to get a leg up and leave them at like 20-25 points at the end of the game... then you're in business. They're basically a giant collective action problem for the table and if table equilibrium is "we're not doing this" then they're a garbage faction.

Also, are the lizard cult secretly just a big crafting faction? I thought Disgustipater played really well but got few crafting draws and was stuck on like low 20s at the end.
Last edit: 02 Jul 2020 13:26 by Gary Sax.
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02 Jul 2020 11:50 #311609 by mezike
Replied by mezike on topic Let's Talk About Root
I find the Lizards to be super passive-aggressive. You really want to get some martyrs to get things going which means you want to provoke the other factions into attacking you. Building gardens to restrict movement and leaving a temptingly small contingent to guard them, or even just wandering into vital clearings and threatening to block ownership, which is super annoying for factions that need rule in order to fulfil an action. I like the double edged sword involved, factions want to cut back the gardens but doing so just makes the lizards even more threatening.
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02 Jul 2020 14:35 - 02 Jul 2020 15:06 #311623 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root

Gary Sax wrote: I want to reopen the discussion on the riverfolk. They're fascinating because I get why people think they never win. They depend absolutely on board meta. If your table thinks they're strong and holds the line, or "why strengthen them?" is the rule of thumb, they're hopeless. If your table tries to squeeze utility out of them to get a leg up and leave them at like 20-25 points at the end of the game... then you're in business. They're basically a giant collective action problem for the table and if table equilibrium is "we're not doing this" then they're a garbage faction.


I joked about it at the start, but that faction mix (Moles, Eyrie, Lizard Cult, Riverfolk) is among the best for the otters. Cats could be substituted for Moles and maybe make it slightly better. They also like buying bird cards and shaking down the wood lanes is a decent way to get them to pay for your Mercenaries.

The lizards and birds were buying a lot from me in this last game, and I think I played about as tightly as I ever have. That ending where I pressured him into buying mercenaries to avoid going into turmoil, and then turned around and used that army to actually make him go into turmoil the following turn was pretty dastardly. I got all my trading posts down, crafted a bunch, fought a little when the opportunity arose, and I barely won essentially by luck of the draw at the end. (I had 4 draws to pull a coin card to craft for my final points).

Also, are the lizard cult secretly just a big crafting faction? I thought Disgustipater played really well but got few crafting draws and was stuck on like low 20s at the end.

The tricky thing about crafting as the Lizard Cult is that you can only craft the outcast suit. Disgustipater had a coin card in his hand forever that he couldn't craft because he couldn't swing the outcast to Rabbits. In the original card set, like the Riverfolk, the Lizards are among the most likely factions to actually craft the "Favor of the ____" cards which can cause ridiculous swings in power.

This game got me thinking about the arcs of scoring that the different factions have. If you think of it as kind of like a graph with turns played on the x axis and cumulative score on the y, the factions that we normally think of as having high win rates, (WA/Vagabond) have exponential curves, while the birds and otters seem to be more S shaped, slowing down towards the end. I think Cats are almost the reverse of the exponential growth model, with a big jump at the start and then slowing down from the middle onward. Although I think each faction can hit 30, the perception in the mid game that someone is "ahead" can sometimes be wrong* just based on these curves and then someone can sorta sneak away with the win if people aren't careful. Moles seem to have a curve more similar to the WA/Vagabond which means they might end up being pretty strong/unassuming. Lizards also have this shape of curve I think, but they usually start their scoring a turn or two too late to actually win.

*In our last otter game I think you guys were right to start singling me out, but the way to hurt the otters usually isn't related to their board presence, which is frustrating.
Last edit: 02 Jul 2020 15:06 by Jexik.
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02 Jul 2020 17:13 #311624 by Not Sure
Replied by Not Sure on topic Let's Talk About Root
Yeah, I made bunch of mistakes as the Birds, including that turmoil turn. In retrospect, I'd have been better off not buying the mercenaries and eating the turmoil, but I'd already lost by then and hadn't quite come to grips with it.

That group of factions really sucked for the Eyrie, because everyone was about unpredictable board presence and surprise appearances. That's not so easy to play a few turns ahead with as the birds, so I found myself playing conservatively. As the Birds, that's just a slow death and I should have known better.

I think this is the first time I've played the Birds without Cats around, and it really makes a huge difference in the game and how the Birds have to go about things.
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02 Jul 2020 17:41 - 02 Jul 2020 17:42 #311625 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
You were right behind me in second place for the first 50-70% of the game, so I don't think you really made too many mistakes. When I went ahead and attacked you I think it was probably a bit too much (since others had been kind clipping at your wings a bit)... I recognized that the Moles were most likely my biggest threat at that point but also didn't have a really clear path to hurting him substantially. It was really the Lizard Cult who had the best shot at messing with the Moles, but again for most of the game the Moles were in 3rd so it seemed kind of weird for them to fight each other.
Last edit: 02 Jul 2020 17:42 by Jexik.

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