The Whole Enchilada
I really like basic Root but I loooved six player Root.
We had three new players so we let them play the Marquis, Eyrie and Woodland Alliance. I took the Vagabond, and my experienced players took the Lizard Cult and River Merchants.
The rules explaining the last two factions are not well written in the “learn to play” book, mostly in not explaining how to set them up. There’s an extra punchboard in the expansion box and we still don’t know what all the pieces are for. In any case, there’s no key explaining what’s what. We figured it out, not that big a deal, but a weird oversight.
The Lizards look really interesting from the outside: mostly they just expand their influence across the map and ultimately force everyone else to make martyrs of their meeples. Their “gardens” take up a building spot and grant absolute control over the clearing. About four turns into play they had fucked up movement for everyone (since you have to control the clearing you’re either coming from or going to). We misread their scoring method and had to rewind a bit to get it right. But I really liked their presence on the board.
The River Otters are neat but seem boring to play. Mostly they sit back and wait for folks to come buy their services and cards. That option is available to all other players before their Birdsong round, and it’s easy to forget. I kind of like that that phenomenon forces the Otters to actively hawk their wares throughout the game. Very RPG-y!
Since I got to play the Vagabond I enjoyed a marvelous roleplaying game experience. Adding the two factions complicated the board game but made the fictional environment feel vibrant and alive. No idea what it would have been like to be a more conventional faction facing off against religious and mercantile machinations.
One thing this game highlighted was that we’re not really sure how to wheel and deal within it. Since nobody really shares resources and only obliquely share goals, we spent a good bit of time trying and failing to dream up deals. As the Vagabond, I felt like I should have some deals to cut in terms of who I supported via the Aid action and the cards I spent on that. But in my case at least, factions don’t really have much to offer the Vagabond. There’s no quid pro quo, just quid.
I suspect this is a matter of experience, and more fluency with all the factions’ interplays will reveal the deal making space.
Anyway! Super fun, loved it, can’t wait to hustle give more people into another table of it.