Had our first brush with No-building Moles tonight and we all got thrashed. The other three factions were Lizards, Cats, and Birds. In hindsight as the Lizards it was maybe a bad idea for me to dunk on (and put into turmoil) the Birds early on when they had a lot of troops out but not many roosts or points yet. They might have been our best hope in keeping the mole population down, as the cats weren't quite able to defend all their assets from the hyper aggressive moles.
Man I just don't know about the cats. I'll play them a few more times but I feel like their main chance to win is a *very* developed meta that realizes how little of a threat they are to win. They have strong deer in a headlights vibes, and they put out so many stupid pieces that even if you are no threat to win you're still huge tempatation for any faction on the board.
This game I felt like I had a really good start. Got coffin makers out, put out a coin purse. I guess you just have to play super conservative or you're going to get whacked. I underdefended... but I also had to score points? I dunno.
I've only played the Cats a few times, really try and avoid them. They kinda have to expand aggressively and accept things getting destroyed only to be rebuilt as long as the wood is in a safe spot from what I've seen. Coffin Makers was definitely super super annoying to me all game as a faction with few warriors for sure. I don't think you had a target on you initially, just a bit easier to attack in a few spots. I think the cats have a tougher time winning games in general though right? I'm sure the Root discord server has a lot to say about the faction balance. I'm still kinda baffled at playing Root in a tournament setting. Guess any game works in a tournament setting if enough people are into it though. Its such an inherently uneven, player driven game that trying to force balance on it seems like a bad fit.
The Cats are just too vanilla and too weak in their fairness to compete. They are locked into the same number of actions and can't go beyond except with recruiting, which requires quite a bit of effort.
I've seen the Cats win a few times. It helps if the Birds get off to a slow start and you're eventually able to get towards the end of one of the buildings so it scores more points, and then it gets knocked down and you build it back up again. I think I should have policed the Corvids a little more in this last game (right around when I messed up and hit turmoil) to prevent him from scoring so many on his plots, and we'd have also had to maybe give a little less to the Riverfolk who actually won. For either the cats or birds to win the game has to become a little grindier I think, but without getting knocked down too hard in the process. I might go back to the Despot next time - those extra points for destroying cardboard are handy.
That's a lot for a single expansion! Cole's language around this was something about the exponential growth in testing and such for each faction addition naturally limiting the number of additional factions to 4 more. Maybe they've backed off that.
I do think it's a good sign that the factions in the last one were designed by someone else (Patrick maybe?) and they were still very good.