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Rooting Around - An Overview of Root
Root has swiftly become one of my favourite games to get to the table. Like VAST that came before it from Leder Games, Root is asymmetrical so each time you pick up a new faction you are essentially relearning the game, the core stays the same but your winning strategy will have to change. From the guerrilla fighting Woodland Alliance to the mighty Eyrie you will need to develop the best strategy for each of the unique factions.
To win in Root you must achieve 30 victory points or fulfill a domination victory. The first will be familiar to most, however the latter are cards that have certain condition that once fulfilled will need to be held for one full turn before granting instant victory. Victory points are scored in two core ways, destroying building and crafting items as well as a number of faction specific methods.
Another staple of the game is the division of player turns, each consisting of several phases common to all factions, these are Birdsong, Daylight and Evening. This is however where the similarities end in terms of turn structure, for example the Marquis de Cat produce resources in the morning, takes all their actions in the daylight and just discard down in the evening, I would consider the Marquis the baseline for which deviations are made. In contrast, the Woodland Alliance spread sympathy and raise revolts during birdsong, mobilize and train during the day and commence all their board actions at night, like the insurgents they are.
Handily your turn breakdown as well as all your faction special rules are printed on each faction board, so that what at first could appear daunting becomes clear as you begin to understand how to get the most from your faction, as this is really one of the greatest challenges of the game, understanding where your faction fits in the system, what you need to do to get the most from your woodland creatures and also how best to slow to your opponents.
The map of root is divided into a number of clearings each with trails running between them to show the various paths that can be taken. Each clearing will consist of several building slots and will match one of the three core suits, rabbit, fox or mouse. There is a fourth suit in the bird cards, however they are wild cards. The suit of a clearing will determine a number of things such as crafting and for some factions, such as the Lizard Cult it will determine where you can move to at a given time. These clearings are where the action will be happening as control of a clearing is based on who has the most pieces there, this is the sum of their warriors and buildings. Building slots on the board are very limited so there is no real turtling up in Root, you need to lead your woodland creatures on the offensive time and time again to make sure you keep your buildings intact and secure control over the woods, or at least most of you will. Securing this realm is not for the faint of heart!
Looking for a detailed breakdown of each faction? Keep an eye on out for our analysis where we will be diving into all the factions for a look at their strengths and weaknesses.