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Let's Talk About Root

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19 Apr 2019 16:22 #295783 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
At least in my case, I wasn't really buying board games for myself last August-ish. I haven't had to have something opening day since stuff like Halo 2 and some Heroscape expansions when I was super into one game at a time.

I do like Root a lot but currently it's not a great fit (which I was warned about) for playing at home with family members. The 8-year-old is a bit young to grasp the strategy without a lot of help, and heaven forbid his precious dynasty goes into turmoil...

I wish I had the space to try Heroscape with him again. I'm a bit unsure how much my wife will like Root long term. I didn't realize that she was this conflict averse, it shows up in Puzzle Strike too. It could also be asymmetry that she doesn't like if she doesn't understand what all the sides can do. 2-player Tragedy Looper with her as the mastermind is one of her favorite things of all.
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19 Apr 2019 22:02 #295787 by mc
Replied by mc on topic Let's Talk About Root

Jexik wrote: heaven forbid his precious dynasty goes into turmoil...


My son was watching me on Vassal and pestering me to get the game with the cute animals but a vision of this exact thing tells me hell no.
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20 Apr 2019 00:51 #295791 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic Let's Talk About Root
Yeah, and I'm not sold on the whole "accessibility" thing. There are people who continue to rave on Reddit about how Root is the "accessible" wargame for non-wargamers or people who don't like DoaMs or whatever. There are a LOT of rules to absorb in this game, which is one impediment and, when you look at it honestly, it's still a wargame. I took it over to a friend's house tonight with a stack of other things that I know she likes because I know she also doesn't like DoaMs. But I thought I'd give it a try if someone opted for it. Turns out it was just me, her, and her husband, who immediately said: "Let's try Root!"

No sale. Five turns in, she was just waiting for it to end. That kind of strategic thinking is just not in her wheelhouse. Regular gamers are into it because it's a solid game. Non-wargamer types have gotten into it because of the theme and the simplicity of the combat, so perhaps they've learned that wargames/DoaMs aren't as bad as they thought. But it's definitely not something that I'd label as "accessible", even for regular gamers, since you're going to have to play it three or four times before you really have a handle on its depth and what makes it so good.
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20 Apr 2019 08:32 - 20 Apr 2019 08:45 #295795 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
In our three player game, my wife enjoyed playing a very peaceful Vagabond, except that it got her in last place. Had we forced our son into turmoil on a crucial turn I'd have probably won. (He was going to run out of troops to Recruit, but I started some battles and took out a Roost or two, instead of just building some buildings as the Marquise- it was a way to throw the game without being obvious about it).

I might try the Woodland Alliance against his Cats or Birds just because I think it's pretty lopsided without a 3rd party to play off of. That might give him the confidence that he can win even if he goes into turmoil once or twice.
Last edit: 20 Apr 2019 08:45 by Jexik.
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21 Apr 2019 19:24 - 21 Apr 2019 19:29 #295841 by ubarose
Replied by ubarose on topic Let's Talk About Root
I've only played 3 times. I'm still not sure what I think, other than I want to try it again
Last edit: 21 Apr 2019 19:29 by ubarose.

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21 Apr 2019 23:23 #295856 by WadeMonnig
Replied by WadeMonnig on topic Let's Talk About Root

Gary Sax wrote: It's extremely interesting to me that rank and file TWBG regulars (not our/any reviewers who post here) seem to be really digging into this game like 8 months after it reached its peak hotness...

I'm over here digging the asymmetrical hotness of... cthulhu wars. Catch me in 4 years, maybe I'll be on the Root hotness but it failed to draw me in on initial play.
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22 Apr 2019 11:52 - 22 Apr 2019 11:56 #295885 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
Cthulhu Wars seems like a great game for your best friend to have. I played one time as the Black Goat at a table of new players and played them about how I felt like I was supposed to, and everyone attacked me constantly because I had the most guys. I came in last place by a lot. I've never read H.P. Lovecraft.

I prefer the price, setting, and themes of Root.
Last edit: 22 Apr 2019 11:56 by Jexik.
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22 Apr 2019 13:15 #295894 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic Let's Talk About Root
I like Cthulhu Wars fine but have no intent of ever buying it. There are plenty of other DOAM games that don't require a storage unit and a second mortgage to own. That said I'll gladly play other people's copies and heft plastic around.

Root hits an entirely different kind of vibe for me than most DOAMs. The faction interplay has wheels within wheels and there's a good amount of different approaches to victory within each faction too, meaning different players bring very different experiences. That depth combined with the fairly easy teach and non-bloated playtime means it's absolutely perfect for me and I probably won't shut up about it any time soon.
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22 Apr 2019 13:24 #295896 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic Let's Talk About Root

Jackwraith wrote: Yeah, and I'm not sold on the whole "accessibility" thing. There are people who continue to rave on Reddit about how Root is the "accessible" wargame for non-wargamers or people who don't like DoaMs or whatever. There are a LOT of rules to absorb in this game, which is one impediment and, when you look at it honestly, it's still a wargame. I took it over to a friend's house tonight with a stack of other things that I know she likes because I know she also doesn't like DoaMs. But I thought I'd give it a try if someone opted for it. Turns out it was just me, her, and her husband, who immediately said: "Let's try Root!"

No sale. Five turns in, she was just waiting for it to end. That kind of strategic thinking is just not in her wheelhouse. Regular gamers are into it because it's a solid game. Non-wargamer types have gotten into it because of the theme and the simplicity of the combat, so perhaps they've learned that wargames/DoaMs aren't as bad as they thought. But it's definitely not something that I'd label as "accessible", even for regular gamers, since you're going to have to play it three or four times before you really have a handle on its depth and what makes it so good.


Have people been saying it's mechanically accessible? That's news to me. And also wrong. I mean it's not the most complex thing, but it's certainly not simple.

What I have seen people say is that it's thematically accessible. By removing the historical context and the bloodshed/baggage attached more people can play and enjoy Root who otherwise wouldn't play a wargame. It's still very much a wargame, just more broadly appealing, and it turns out that was something that a lot of people liked.

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22 Apr 2019 13:51 - 22 Apr 2019 15:36 #295900 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root

Vysetron wrote: Have people been saying it's mechanically accessible? That's news to me. And also wrong. I mean it's not the most complex thing, but it's certainly not simple.


I mostly went by the prescribed ages on the box, which said 10+. Ages on boxes often equate to rules complexity, although stuff like Cards Against Humanity and any of the Rick & Morty games are outliers. I thought I'd give it a shot with an 8 1/2 year old. It's mostly forming a strategy and having the emotional maturity of having his stuff get attacked that are the issues, which are things I can work on. He's really attached to the Birds for some reason, and the whole turmoil thing is bound to upset him when it happens.

My fear is that if I play it a bunch of extra times with other groups I'll learn it too well to come back and play on an even footing with my family, but the fact that they can gang up on me and I can pick underdogs means that probably won't be too much of an issue.
Last edit: 22 Apr 2019 15:36 by Jexik.
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13 May 2019 21:56 #296983 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
Played my first full game with 4 players, at the club. Everyone was new except for me. I let everyone else pick and ended up with the Cats. I got to an early lead, hitting 15 before anyone else got 10, but I slowed down. The Eyrie player did something interesting where he put almost all of his cards into Move, essentially ping-ponging around to avoid ever going into turmoil as the game took more turns. The Vagabond did vagabondy things, trading with me and the WA while murdering birds (and making sure that they wouldn't over-recruit themselves into turmoil in the process). The WA player didn't quite get much going because I maybe wasted too many actions fighting him, and eventually he put 4 guys right on the middle of my stuff and broke down my chain of building in new areas. Birds won with that crazy royal claim card, but the Vagabond player said he'd for sure get the next 6 points needed to win if it didn't go that way. Eyrie: 30, Marquise/Vagabond:24, Woodland Alliance: 13.
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29 Jun 2019 08:45 #299024 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
Got four more games in the last couple of weeks. Two 4-player games, one 3-player without the Eyrie, and one 2 player with just Marquise v. Eyrie. Vagabond won all three that it appeared in, and the Birds (me v. a first timer) won handily.

Here are some unofficial bylaws of Root I've been thinking about. I'm curious if others have the same experience.

1. The Eyrie Dynasty played conservatively (going for 1 roost per turn) is the clock for the game. Slow and steady, they will win unless someone else goes faster.
1a. Most people pick Charismatic (2x Recruiting) or the Despot (extra points for destroying and the only one with a Vizier in BUILD) to start.
1b. If the game goes long enough and you don't win, going into turmoil is nearly unavoidable from either over-recruiting or over-roosting. Sometimes people just not fighting you for a round can do it.
2. The Marquise is easy to understand and teach, but difficult to actually win with. (This was a difficult concept to explain to my son after telling him that the "Cats are easy").

3. The Vagabond will win if no one messes with them. Since they don't hold territory, there's little incentive to mess with them.

4. The Woodland Alliance is a natural enemy of the Marquise. It's hard to pick a spot that won't affect the Marquise.

5. Because the Eyrie usually doesn't craft in the first couple rounds, they become the natural target of an aggressive Vagabond.

6. I probably have yet to see the WA played extremely well. 3 seems like the minimum number of officers for them to do their shenanigans, but 4 might already spread them too thin to protect their bases.

I bought the expansion before I played that last two player game, but have yet to give it a whirl. I somehow found an FLGS that still had a copy for $39.
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29 Jun 2019 11:08 #299028 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Let's Talk About Root
I was talking with Chris Farrell about this on instagram, so your post is really interesting and timely.

Yeah, I think of the Vagabond and Woodland Alliance as the timers on this game. And in early games with newcomers, no one wants to make the big mistake so it's very easy for the timers to win by exploding (Woodland Alliance) or just by wandering around racking up points once a couple key items are grabbed (Vagabond). Chris was talking about how it takes a very experienced table indeed to beat the Woodland Alliance (even with new rules nerfs), as it requires a full table understand of the specific rhythms of that faction's explosion. I'm not sure that's a big problem, but he said he liked to swap that faction out with an expansion faction (lizard cult iirc, need to look again) unless the table was very experienced in Root and self-balancing against factions.
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30 Jun 2019 09:44 - 30 Jun 2019 09:46 #299048 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Let's Talk About Root
In our games, the WA player is usually new to the WA and other people reflexively beat them down at least once per turn. It gives a point if I'm not mistaken, even if it costs a card, which it sometimes doesn't if you lack that suit anyway.

It's worth pointing out that I haven't played with any of the errata yet. Not sure how much the improved field hospitals would help the Marquise. The Vagabond changes would certainly change his ramp up I think, especially with the Tinker.
Last edit: 30 Jun 2019 09:46 by Jexik.
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30 Jun 2019 13:42 - 30 Jun 2019 13:43 #299052 by mezike
Replied by mezike on topic Let's Talk About Root
Just referring back to an earlier post regarding accessibility, I have played Root quite a few times with my kids (11 & 12) and they had no problem whatsoever picking it up. I've even come home on more than one occasion to find them playing it with one of their friends who have come back with them after school. The complexity is all in understanding the strategies in how the different factions function and interact, which is exactly how a good game should be - easy to play but difficult to master. The fact that it's cute and fun is all upside on top of that.
Last edit: 30 Jun 2019 13:43 by mezike.
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