So bucket list item completed....I went to Gencon last week. Just went for the day but wowzers, fun times. Not sure my heart could take more than one day, but it was super funsies. I only had one objective: buy Root. Achievement unlocked. And to make it even sweeter, it was my night to pick this week, so guess what we played? Woot indeed.
I love games with asymmetrical factions. (In fact, we owe our entire game group to asymmetrical godfather Chaos in the Old World.) Everything I’d read about Root said it took asymmetry and turned it up to eleven. I was excite.
I read the rulebook and the learn-to-play (twice each) and watched a how-to-play video. And I was still concerned that I’d jack up the teach. I had the main game grokked, and I pretty well understood how to play the Cats. And the Eyrie. But the Woodland Alliance I wasn’t too sure about. And the Vagabond? Forget about it.
I was so nervous about killing everyone’s enthusiasm with a bad rules explanation that I made notes for myself:
Why yes, I am lame, thanks so much for noticing.
I explained the basic game rules, and then we ended up just collectively taking everyone’s first turns and trying to talk through everything. It seemed like this game was as much about stopping other people from winning as it was about winning yourself. So it was important to understand what everyone else was doing, but for the first game, it was ALOT. We did our best.
I was the Cats. They seemed like the most intuitive faction and a good one for me. Steve was the Woodland Alliance, Workman was the Vagabond, and Leon was the Eyrie. The first couple of turns were rough, but we got there.
Upside down and backwards, Steve’s warriors looked like asses. He also made a series of phallic sculptures by placing other faction’s warriors atop his, but I elected not to photograph those. You’re welcome.
I did ok to start. I built stuff. I crafted. I connected wood. It’s good being a cat.
Workman just followed me around the board, giving me aids and taking my stuff. (I know the Vagabond is a raccoon, but in my mind he will forever and always be a weasel.)
Actual photo of me and Workman in every game we’ve ever played. I’m all “goddamn you” and he’s all “whaaaattt?”
Workman did well. Since I was the only one crafting, he could only get items from me. But I kept him stocked with a never-ending supply of items. We misplayed his battle action for half the game though. We thought he couldn’t battle until he had made an ally, so we mostly left him alone. But when we realized we could attack him whenever, I spent my entire next turn just taking battle actions to attack him. I even spent a bird to attack him a fourth time. It got me no points and didn’t really help me at all, but damn it felt right. I hate the Vagabond.
Leon struggled with his decrees. He would roll for a couple of turns, moving around and attacking me (what did I do!?!?) but then he wouldn’t be able to take all his actions and he’d have to do the turmoil thing. The decree seems really cool when it works, and really frustrating when it doesn’t.
Meanwhile, the Woodland Alliance got off to a slow start. (“You know Steve, maybe if you’d get out of your corner and meet people, you’d get aids.”) Steve hung out in last place for a good half of the game. But once he got going, he exploded up the track. At one point, I thought he had it won.
I really dig the board and the pieces in this game.
But of course the wily Vagabond pulled out the win. It was closer than I thought it would be: Steve was in second with 27, I had 24, and Leon had 12 (damn those decrees!)
We had a clunky play, with several rules missed, some things played wrong, and lots of time spent checking rules. (And let me give a shoutout to Leder Games for an awesome rulebook and learn-to play: both are very clear, very concise, and very well-layed out. Well done!) But despite all the clunk, I REALLY enjoyed this game. The factions are so different, but they seem to work really well together. The Cats were fun to play, and I think everyone else liked their factions as well (except maybe Leon.) I love the board and the components, and I LOVE the art work:
I mean honestly. How great are these cards?
Everyone else seemed to like it as well. I hope so. I hope we play again soon. I really liked it.
So, you know how I’m all “Let’s play something....ANYTHING...other than Love Letter” for our closing filler? Well, towards that end, I packed my quiver with a bunch of small box filler card games. (Bet you didn’t know I had a quiver. Well, I do. I’m cooler than I may seem.) I packed it full of all these wonderful options and I left it at home. Goddammit to hell.
We played Love Letter. I won. And so it goes.
And that was our evening. It was a fun one. Thanks for coming along!