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It Came From the Tabletop! Board Game Podcast - Root and the Legendary Series

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Podcast Details

Description
Join Josh and Al as they talk about what games they just played, going beyond mere reviews and into mechanics, genres and where games fit in the hobby itself.
Topics
Root, Legendary, Legendary Encounters

All the woodland creatures come out to hear Josh and Al talk about Root, the enormously popular game of cute animals and brutal warfare.   Afterwards they play Legendary: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and run through their favorites from the Legendary deck-building series.

 

Thanks to Minibosses!

There Will Be Games

Josh Look (He/Him)
Staff Podcaster

One night during the summer of 1997, Josh Look's cool uncle who owned a comic shop taught him how to play Magic the Gathering. The game set off his imagination in a way that he could not sleep that night, and he's been fascinated by games ever since. He spent many afternoons during his high school years skipping homework to play Dungeons & Dragons and paint Warhammer minatures, going on to discover hobby board games in his early 20s. He's been a writer for Fortress Ameritrash and is the creator and co-host of the geek culture podcast, The Wolfman's Lounge. He enjoys games that encourage a heavy amount of table talk and those that explore their themes beyond just their settings.

Articles and Podcasts by Josh

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DukeofChutney's Avatar
DukeofChutney replied the topic: #295597 16 Apr 2019 19:06
The pod was cast and it caught me. I get the thing were you want to hate on something because it is popular. I tend to be like this with a lot things including games. Usually my hipster credentials break under-pressure from something actually being good though. Root does look neat/ I've played quite a bit of the COIN series, which is an inspiration according to some, and am bit done with them. Perhaps that wont matter when playing root.

Only legendary games I've played are Firefly and Predator. I was sure Firefly didn't use paste ups but some okish original art.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #295598 16 Apr 2019 20:22
I know I gush with every episode, but seriously, you guys are raising issues that no other podcast does. Al asked, "with the extreme asymmetry, will the game get better the more you play it, or worse?" That is a damned good question.

There's a comfort in listening to someone who doesn't have all the answers, who's still exploring. You're not mansplaining to me, you're letting me sit in on your conversation. The only problem is that when I interrupt you ignore me!

Only halfway through. Does it get better?
engineer Al's Avatar
engineer Al replied the topic: #295615 17 Apr 2019 10:21

DukeofChutney wrote: Only legendary games I've played are Firefly and Predator. I was sure Firefly didn't use paste ups but some okish original art.

Yes, Firefly used original art, but calling it "okish" is giving more credit than it deserves.

Sagrilarus wrote: Only halfway through. Does it get better?

Yes, of course it does. The second half features us making fun of Shellie for taking long turns in Legendary as well as a direct "thank you" to YOU for helping to spread the word about the podcast. Listen closely. . .
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #295622 17 Apr 2019 11:22
Regarding asymmetry, we are in a weird spot right now where the goal seems to be creating asymmetrical factions and then assuming that the existence of asymmetry creates a better game.

Some thoughts:

-- asymmetry itself creates an INITIAL sense of depth because you can experience something new by just changing which faction you are playing

-- I feel like asymmetry creates more singular paths for each faction. While it might take sometime to plumb the depths of each faction, there aren't as many available options once you learn how they play.

Given the current rate of game production and the lack of desire to keep replaying the same game over and over, this may be ok.

However, I think a more interesting design actually uses symmetrical factions with several viable paths to victory. Then, different paths are context dependent and become more/less desired depending on the state of either the game, available actions, or even initial seeding of space dependent resources (e.g., access to different materials for production, etc.). I feel like this requires a greater degree of versatility among players and also opens the game up for more exploration of hybrid strategies both on offense and defense.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #295631 17 Apr 2019 12:13
Those are some great points, SG, and this:

Space Ghost wrote: However, I think a more interesting design actually uses symmetrical factions with several viable paths to victory. Then, different paths are context dependent and become more/less desired depending on the state of either the game, available actions, or even initial seeding of space dependent resources (e.g., access to different materials for production, etc.). I feel like this requires a greater degree of versatility among players and also opens the game up for more exploration of hybrid strategies both on offense and defense.


is why I still think that Chaos in the Old World is the best game that FFG ever produced, based on mechanics, theme, and production.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #295638 17 Apr 2019 12:34
^I think some people would say Chaos is the most straightjacketed of them all in almost all the respects Space Ghost talked about.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #295640 17 Apr 2019 12:35

Gary Sax wrote: ^I think some people would say Chaos is the most straightjacketed of them all in almost all the respects Space Ghost talked about.


Then they probably don't know how to play outside the confines of what an initial glance reveals.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #295642 17 Apr 2019 12:38

Jackwraith wrote:

Gary Sax wrote: ^I think some people would say Chaos is the most straightjacketed of them all in almost all the respects Space Ghost talked about.


Then they probably don't know how to play outside the confines of what an initial glance reveals.


I don't think this is completely fair. For instance, Khorne cannot realistically win by VP in the base game.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #295644 17 Apr 2019 12:46
It's true that my perception is certainly colored by the expansion, which does allow the factions to play in ways that are essentially contrary to their approach in the base game. But I think the ease of that transition, changing only one element (the cards), is another mark in its favor. There's inherent flexibility in the design because of the importance (and timing) of card play. All it took was swapping out that element to be able to play the others in a distinctly new way. I've also seen all of the factions win via both methods, including historically difficult Nurgle. I simply don't agree that the game is "straightjacketed" at all. It's just older than the latest new things, so people have had time to dissect it, often build false narratives, and make erroneous declarations.

And the other parts I spoke of (theme, production) are part of what push it over the top. Anyone who's ever had an interest in GW's Old World would take a shine to this game just for those elements, in addition to the excellent production values that FFG normally had with their games.
Jexik's Avatar
Jexik replied the topic: #295648 17 Apr 2019 13:21
I should maybe give Legendary another shot. I played Aliens first, which didn't do a whole lot for me, and then we tried the marvel one against Apocalypse another day with some random assortment of heroes and just got our butts kicked. I've also been more of a fan of Dominion/Puzzle Strike style deckbuilders where you have more control over what goes in your deck than the Ascension style conveyor belt thing. The one big advantage to Ascension style deckbuilders is set up time, but at the cost of letting you feel like you're constructing something coherent.

I'm also in the discovery phase with Root and enjoying it.

Space Ghost wrote: However, I think a more interesting design actually uses symmetrical factions with several viable paths to victory. Then, different paths are context dependent and become more/less desired depending on the state of either the game, available actions, or even initial seeding of space dependent resources (e.g., access to different materials for production, etc.). I feel like this requires a greater degree of versatility among players and also opens the game up for more exploration of hybrid strategies both on offense and defense.


Sounds like Settlers of Catan but with some kind of battles.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #295651 17 Apr 2019 13:29

Jexik wrote:

Space Ghost wrote: However, I think a more interesting design actually uses symmetrical factions with several viable paths to victory. Then, different paths are context dependent and become more/less desired depending on the state of either the game, available actions, or even initial seeding of space dependent resources (e.g., access to different materials for production, etc.). I feel like this requires a greater degree of versatility among players and also opens the game up for more exploration of hybrid strategies both on offense and defense.


Sounds like Settlers of Catan but with some kind of battles.


We call it Blood Rage.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #295658 17 Apr 2019 15:02
@ Jexik

Yeah, with Legendary you have to pay attention to which heroes you choose during set-up, so you get groups that combo together and can create an effective deck. I find that in the Buffy version the way in which the heroes combo together is more obvious than in some of the other sets. Like, do not choose to include Tara unless you also choose Willow. Without Willow, Tara is pretty weak and boring.
engineer Al's Avatar
engineer Al replied the topic: #295689 17 Apr 2019 21:29

Space Ghost wrote: -- asymmetry itself creates an INITIAL sense of depth because you can experience something new by just changing which faction you are playing.

This is exactly what I was getting at in the podcast. Once everybody at the table has played every faction a couple of times, is there any "fun" left in the game. Personally, I'm currently still having fun learning the game but we'll see where we are with it in a few months.

Jexik wrote: We tried the marvel one against Apocalypse another day with some random assortment of heroes and just got our butts kicked.

Try going with a team that obviously works, like a bunch of X-Men characters. Then choose a villain that they beat all the time, like Magneto. You will have fun!
DarthJoJo's Avatar
DarthJoJo replied the topic: #295690 17 Apr 2019 23:37
I always want to like Legendary (have only played Marvel), but I keep getting annoyed at the lack of decisions outside of hero purchase. You can always play every card in your hand, and the only decision is the order you play them in, which is normally pretty obvious. Making some bonkers combo is fun, I guess, but it happened because I was smart and lucky in buying the cards, not because I played well.

After a certain point, it feels like my deck pretty well just plays itself. Maybe that wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were a quicker, tighter game, but the setup and breakdown are no small things and games can drag in that space between stomping every villain to appear in the city while still building fight to take on the mastermind.
RobertB's Avatar
RobertB replied the topic: #295700 18 Apr 2019 09:11
@DarthJoJo - My husband-and-wife coworkers love Legendary. My brother and nephew like it a lot too. But I just don't see it as the be-all and end-all of deckbuilders.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #295701 18 Apr 2019 09:30

RobertB wrote: @DarthJoJo - My husband-and-wife coworkers love Legendary. My brother and nephew like it a lot too. But I just don't see it as the be-all and end-all of deckbuilders.


And it absolutely isn’t. I greatly prefer the newer deckbuilders that have incorporated less “pure” elements, ie, Quest for El Dorado and Tyrants of the Underdark. Legendary isn’t even at the top of the “pure” deckbuilder heap (I’d have to give that to Aeon’s End), but it still is fun. The setup isn’t a drag for us because it has that child-like thrill of digging through the toy box and pulling out your favorite superhero action figures for a big battle royals. The big shuffled up deck vs separate piles of cards doesn’t bother me that much, as tons of deckbuilders start playing themselves no matter how they handle the cards you buy. The interactions between cards and how they represent their characters are the stars of the show in Legendary, and some people are into that and some aren’t. ALL deckbuilders a bitch to tear down.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #295702 18 Apr 2019 09:35

DarthJoJo wrote: . . . but I keep getting annoyed at the lack of decisions outside of hero purchase. You can always play every card in your hand, and the only decision is the order you play them in, which is normally pretty obvious . . . After a certain point, it feels like my deck pretty well just plays itself . . .


Forgive me but, isn't this more or less Deck Building's M.O.? You make your decisions during the purchase and let the thing play itself on future turns. You're never making a single decision without full prior-knowledge of the luck element's result. It's a chin-scratcher's play.

That's not a dig at the concept, more of an observation. In my opinion deck-building should be used as a member of the supporting cast in a game, something that needs to be tempered with some other random element, and frankly my choice would be dice rolling after the decision. Without putting some chatter into the game it's a very procedural affair. But that's a personal preference.

From that point of view, I see Dominion as kind of the top dog of the genre still, because the nature of the game fits the play. You're building a business where the goal is to accumulate wealth. Hire your employees, let them do their jobs. Kind of an HR Department game.

Thematic elements like superheroes or dungeon explorers don't mesh very well with so conservative a functionality.

I played Marvel Legendary twice, and both times thought to myself that the theme and the play were complete mismatches. When you're in Reviewer mode playing a game, something is wrong. Didn't help that their choice of art of Maria Hill, a personal favorite character (I dig competent women) was just plain awful.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #295704 18 Apr 2019 11:09
@Sag,

This is why I prefer the Buffy version. You often have to choose between doing something that is good for the co-op aspect of the game, or doing something that is good for you personally. Also, many of the cards have multiple options on them that have a trade off - you can do something that gives you a bonus, but to get that bonus you have to something that is risky.

Last game I played I leaned a bit to much towards preventing the Big Bad from defeating us as a group, and ended up losing by one point.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #295706 18 Apr 2019 11:28
I've only played the Alien and Predator versions of Legendary and, in that respect, it's a step down from Marvel because the characters are less iconic (especially in the case of the Predator IP.) Honestly, I never really thought of them as deckbuilders and I have a hard time thinking of them as anything more than solo games. I think I need more time with them with other people to really get a better handle on player cooperation/interaction (and to actually win a game against Alien, since any encounter with a Face Hugger that you can't immediately kill pretty much ends the game for you.) I agree with Josh that I think games like Tyrants of the Underdark (and Rune Age!) do the concept better, both for their incorporation of other mechanics and their direct interaction with other players (which, of course, is not really the point of the Legendary series.)
DarthJoJo's Avatar
DarthJoJo replied the topic: #295707 18 Apr 2019 11:33

Sagrilarus wrote:

DarthJoJo wrote: . . . but I keep getting annoyed at the lack of decisions outside of hero purchase. You can always play every card in your hand, and the only decision is the order you play them in, which is normally pretty obvious . . . After a certain point, it feels like my deck pretty well just plays itself . . .


Forgive me but, isn't this more or less Deck Building's M.O.? You make your decisions during the purchase and let the thing play itself on future turns. You're never making a single decision without full prior-knowledge of the luck element's result. It's a chin-scratcher's play.


I see what you’re saying, but I think that’s most true in the weakest deck builders. Their algorithm is simple: emphasize recruit pumps early, fight pumps late, play every card in your hand, clear the weakest cards.

The best pure deck builders (I agree with you on Dominion and might put Puzzle Strike just below it because it goes a little crazy in plus actions for specific actions) punish you for just buying whatever because of action and buy restrictions. Maybe the deck does play itself eventually, but you have to be a lot more careful in building it first.

Of course, that only really works with bank-style builders where you can have a turn-zero strategy. Legendary can already be punishing with too many high-cost heroes in the HQ too early. Restrictions on card play would just make it worse.
lj1983's Avatar
lj1983 replied the topic: #295708 18 Apr 2019 11:42
Legendary (esp Marvel) is far from the best deckbuilder. and the dumb semi-coop parts of it still hinder the game. there are other decisions to make.....when the game is hard. some of the later masterminds and schemes can combine to make some difficult situations, where you are deciding with the other players where to attack, vs buying a card, vs helping others out. and just buying the most bestest card isn't always the best idea.

but with the wide variety of characters/bad guys, there are definitely times when your deck will play itself, and which card to buy can be a simple decision.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #295727 18 Apr 2019 14:59
I'm in the beginning phase of Root education as well, and I really do look forward to playing a game with a full complement of experienced players.

But sometimes I wonder, if everyone is doing their jobs... does the score board really move that much? Will everyone just limp toward the finish line at a glacial pace? Will a repeatedly punished Vagabond have a completely miserable experience?

Every faction has specific ways that they can be countered. I am a bit worried that if people always act on those counters, will ANYONE be having fun?
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #295729 18 Apr 2019 15:08

hotseatgames wrote: I'm in the beginning phase of Root education as well, and I really do look forward to playing a game with a full complement of experienced players.

But sometimes I wonder, if everyone is doing their jobs... does the score board really move that much? Will everyone just limp toward the finish line at a glacial pace? Will a repeatedly punished Vagabond have a completely miserable experience?

Every faction has specific ways that they can be countered. I am a bit worried that if people always act on those counters, will ANYONE be having fun?


It's kind of Cthulhu Wars-ish. You can beat up on the leader to stall them, but then a new leader emerges.

Our plays include much negotiation and collaboration on slowing the leader's advance. Some of the fun arrives in determining who is close to winning and evaluating the different engines.

The pace of the game is extremely deceptive as many factions can explode for points quite surprisingly. Identifying this at early stage is part of the dance.

The Vagabond specifically, can't be completely stomped. At most, if people focused on beating him down as much as possible, he'd still get a full turn every other turn. Everyone won't be beating him down as much as possible if they're playing well and following the incentive structures provided in the design.
Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #295731 18 Apr 2019 15:24

hotseatgames wrote: I'm in the beginning phase of Root education as well, and I really do look forward to playing a game with a full complement of experienced players.

But sometimes I wonder, if everyone is doing their jobs... does the score board really move that much? Will everyone just limp toward the finish line at a glacial pace? Will a repeatedly punished Vagabond have a completely miserable experience?

Every faction has specific ways that they can be countered. I am a bit worried that if people always act on those counters, will ANYONE be having fun?


Short answers to your questions:

Q) Does the score board move when people know how everything works?
A) Yes. You can't really shut anybody out without ruining your own chances, and as a result I've never seen it get to that point. Different factions score at different rates, but they will score.

Q) Will a repeatedly punished Vagabond have a bad time?
A) Any faction beat into submission will probably lose, but you need to balance your own needs with policing each other. Interestingly the Vagabond profits the most from beating on players because they can actually score points for killing warriors, meaning they can play enforcer for one or two people depending on their power/loadout.

Q) Will acting on counters all the time mean no fun allowed?
A) Game just doesn't work that way. You will completely exhaust yourself trying to do so and hurt yourself more than anyone else. Then people will make fun of you.

Basically what I'm saying is the game still works, just a bit differently. Not even -that- differently TBH.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #295732 18 Apr 2019 15:28

hotseatgames wrote: But sometimes I wonder, if everyone is doing their jobs... does the score board really move that much? Will everyone just limp toward the finish line at a glacial pace? Will a repeatedly punished Vagabond have a completely miserable experience?


I can’t speak for the Vagabond, but I don’t think that’s the case. The game is deliberately paced to do what it does, and that’s made possible by the opening board state (at least, that’s how the base game works). Everyone should be doing their jobs, but you can’t really do them until you’ve got a bit of an engine going (unless you’re the cats, then it’s all about securing your engine). The birds and WA have the scoring pattern that they have because they simply they don’t start everywhere on the board and they need to work up to it.

Something that none of us newbie players are mentioning that could also factor into long term replay value are Domination cards. Nevermind playing with a group who are all at top level, I want to play where someone puts one of those out and can actually pull out the win.

And you know, if the long term replay isn’t there, I’ll still have played a whole bunch more than I play most games. I kind of don’t care if that’s the case. I hit that point with Chaos in the Old World, then I hit it with the expansion, and I’m ok with that. It’s one of my most played games in my collection, can’t call that a bad thing.