Root First Play
On Tuesday night I attended my first Denver GMT+ Meetup. It was a friendly group of war/strategy game players. And that night’s game of the week was Root!
‘Prior to this game, Mike the Marquise, had played once as the Vagabond. I, Woodland Alliance, had watched a few playthrough videos and memorized the manuals :), Robert, the Eyrie, had also watched an instruction video, and our hapless Vagabond, Don, was completely new to the game, but was a very quick study.
The Vagabond selected the Ranger, perhaps with visions of Aragorn. Meanwhile, up in the tree canopy in the Northeast, the Builder seized control of the Eyrie.
The lay of the land was: on the Southwest corner of the board the Marquise had placed her Keep, on the Northeast corner the Eyrie built their first roost, the Vagabond tracked through the forest in the middle of the board and the Woodland Alliance waited quietly for their moment to rise up.
I won the first player position (on an app on my phone which is always suspect) and I struck out hard. I spent 3 cards (rabbit, rabbit, fox) from my supporter stack to place 3 sympathy tokens in the middle/Northwest-ish part of the board. Then I mobilized 2 of my cards, transferring the cards from my hand of cards to my supporter stack. This gave me 3 vp on my first turn and set me up to either spread more sympathy or stage a revolt on the next turn.
Next the Eyrie, placed a bird in their battle decree. So they were required to Recruit, Move and Battle. They recruited into their NE roost, moved into a central rabbit clearing with my sympathy and battled the WA. I received 2 supporters out of this battle. The Cats and Birds discussed how dangerous the WA was and plotted to keep me under control. The Eyrie ended their turn with 1 vp.
Next the cats, built a sawmill, overworked that sawmill to get more wood, and built a recruiter for 2 points. And finally the Vagabond, bless his soul, gave me aid and earned a vp for his selfless good acts.
I built up a good lead for the first part of the game, scoring a lot of vp for placing sympathy tokens and yet getting beaten back and struggling to get a good draw card economy.
The game progressed with the Birds and Cats expanding and beating the WA down when they had too many sympathy tokens. The Birds filled up with bird cards for their decree and then added a Mouse to the recruit, which matched their starting roost and eventually a bird and rabbit to Recruit and another rabbit to move. Their territory was a mouse clearing in the NE and the two rabbit clearings in the North Central.
The cats continued building in the south and west, with a focus on sawmills.
The Vagabond built up an amazing arsenal exploring ruins, with 2 swords and 2 crossbows, but got a teapot a bit late. So until the 5th round, was only refreshing 3 items each birdsong.
My intention was to wait to revolt until I had 2 matching clearings, so I would maximize warriors on the base, but this kept me at 1 draw and finally led to a brutal round where the Birds entered a clearing with my sympathy (giving me my 4th supporter) destroyed the token (my 5th supporter). Once the Marquise realized that I had reached the maximum of 5 cards in my supportor stack, she attacked and destroyed 2 of my sympathy tokens in her territory (both cards I earned from this Outrage had to be immediately discarded. Including one bird.) The following round I staged my first revolt in a central fox clearing, but I felt my momentum was lost, as I was low on cards and this was the first time I was able to finally draw 2 cards.
Next round: the birds attacked my newly created base, but I was able to easily hold on to it. Unfortunately when my next turn came I had 3 different cards in my supporter stack: fox, rabbit, mouse so I was not able to revolt and keep my momentum going. (You are required to spend 2 cards in the same suit to stage a revolt in a clearing of that suit.) Also having 3 different suits I was not able to add sympathy tokens, either, as I required 2 like suited card in order to place the next level sympathy token.
At this time the Birds were at 18 points and I calculated they would win in 2 rounds. The cats were close behind them and the Vagabond and I were at 15. The final 2 rounds were a race between the Birds and Cats for points, while the Vagabond and I tried to stop them. In the final round the Eyrie crafted a 2 vp item, removed a lone Sympathy Token and built a roost for 7 vp to end at 30. The cats were right behind at 27, the Vagabond at 24 and the Woodland Alliance, fallen so far, at 17 vp.
I LOVED this game. It was so fun with all of the interactions, trying (unsuccessfully) to talk other factions into attacking the Marquise or the Eyrie and blowing up clearings (but not you Vagabond!) with a revolt.
In future games I will revolt sooner, the base will likely take care of itself with my Guerilla Warfare ability (which gives the Woodland Alliance the higher dice when being attacked). Also the extra card draw, unlimited supporter stack and military operations I gain from a base are crucial to continuing momentum. In our end-game analysis, another player suggested I should place all of my sympathy tokens in one players territory in order to limit the amount that would get removed, my one concern with this would be that I would then be attacking one of the two armiers and enabling the other expansive player (cat or bird) to run away with the game if I tied up the other one. But I will have to try that next time.
Also I feel like the Vagabond could have been a heavier influence if he had gotten the teapot earlier to refresh 5 items each turn instead of just 3. That is a crucial piece of equipment for the Ranger. As it was he single-handedly took over a clearing from the Birds (with 3 bird warriors yet) with the 2 swords and 2 crossbows.
I assumed after the game I would want to play other factions, but I really want another shot at the Woodland Alliance. But yeah, I can’t wait to play the Eyrie and Vagabond as well!