And the thing is, Scythe is barely a minis game - you get, what, four or five per faction? It’s so much more of a pain on the games that are really leaning into them. But unfortunately, the genre I love best is positively infested by them, so…
The second expansion for Root launches next week. I had landed a copy with some defects, and quite frankly was shocked by the poor quality of the game. In talks with Leader Games to get a few pieces replaced, they mentioned they were changing manufacturers and would have a 1st/2nd printing upgrade option to add to the new expansion.
Given my experience and the fact that they’re changing shops like this, I have to believe folks are likely going to be interested in that, so heads up.
Does the expansion address any of the issues SU&SD brought up in their review?
For Root? Really couldn’t tell you as I’ve barely gotten it to the table, never with a proper group, and never with the expansion factions.
Quinns talks about the new card deck in the expansion in the latest podcast and how it probably would help with some of his reservations about the game over the long term.
I doubt it. There have been some relatively minor amendments to the factions to rebalance, but I really don’t think anything in the game can fix what they don’t like about the game. It’s one of those ‘its greatest strength is its greatest flaw’ things - making it less interactive would increase player agency but would lose its character.
I’m curious as to how the new factions fit in. The base box factions all feel essential, the expansion faction feel like extraneous faff. I struggle to see how additional factions will feel like they belong, rather than more convoluted mechanisms piled on top of already convoluted mechanisms.
From the podcast it sounded like the best feelings the root evokes are ones which revolve around novelty and precariousness through unknown. This new deck seemingly adds that but probably doesn’t inherently improve the game.
Quinn’s did mention during the podcast that the designer specifically referenced Cosmic Encounter when discussing the new deck. Sounds like they may try and make it more weird?
I’m really torn on this. I’m not sure how often I would get it to the table as it seems to require 3 players, but is best at 4…not sure I can justify taking the plunge.
I wouldn’t play Root with less than four. It’s playable with fewer, but feels like a whole slice of the game is absent.
That’s just one take on it though. Seems to me that the people who like Root the most are the people who have worked through all the learning phases, know the game inside and out, and actually enjoy it as a game of “not being the leader until you can win”. I mean, it’s the same thing as Inis, surely? I’m not sure why SU&SD like it there but not in Root. I suspect it is the longer learning curve with the asymmetry.
I haven’t played either game, but I get the impression from the respective reviews that Inis is more “we’re equal, we’re equal, now I’m going for it” while Root is more “we’re equal, he’s a bit ahead, someone stop him, now he’s won” – and there’s one right player to stop anyone who’s pulling ahead, and they have to be the one to do it, which cuts down the possibility space and meaningful choices.
Which may be entirely wrong but it is potentially another distinction.
I’d say the “someone stop him” being seen as a problem is just an issue when players are of greatly different skill/experience. So Quinns was telling people what to do mostly because he wasn’t confident they’d see it themselves, which doesn’t feel good for anyone. And this is an issue with Root because of the learning curve/asymmetry.
I should also note I haven’t played Root =P
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Inis is held together by the cards limiting your mobility. The board state is really tight and constricted. It’s a knife fight in an elevator.
Root is an ecosystem. You want everyone to be fit enough to compete, but not fit enough to beat you. If someone is out the race, that’s when a runaway leader is likely to happen. If you beat on someone too hard, chances are they can’t beat on someone else. I wouldn’t say there’s always one precise player who needs to attack another precise player for it to work, but there is certainly a point for every winner where they’re weak to the right kind of attack before they score big.
They feel very different to play. Inis feels quite defensive - you need to get a win state and hold your ground. Root is far more offensive - every turn involves screwing someone over while improving your own state. In Root there’s little you can do as a defender without ambush cards - the only defense is a strong offense. The use of citadels in Inis aid the defender a lot and make attacking a far tougher prospect. All in all Inis feels like you’re defending yourself against everyone else - it’s very internal in that you’re thinking about your own team. Root feels like you’re holding everyone back while they do the same to you - it’s much more about the external factors (you spend more time thinking about stopping everyone else than your own faction).
I would say they’re pretty much opposite approaches to area majority.
The whole Inis comparison is pretty much why I love this game.
I have played Root once (at SHUX) and Inis three times, so it’s not the largest sample of games, but I think I see where @RogerBW is coming from. I played the Aerie faction in Root and because I did a subpar job the Marquise de Cat got off to an early lead. The only reason she didn’t win is because we all ignored the Vagabond player, who just kept going and getting more points. But really, from the way the game went, it feels that at first only the Aerie can keep the Marquise in check. Maybe more plays would reveal another option, but even the owner of the game who had played many more times said that’s how the game typically works. Woodland Alliance requires time to really get any kind of presence on the board at which point they can knock the other players around a bit. The Vagabond…just gets points? That’s how our game went anyway
I’d love to play it more, but I don’t know anyone who has it. But from the one play, it feels like at the start everyone has a particular job they need to do in order to keep the game balanced and either prevent another player from running away with the win or keeping themselves in the race.
Inis, on the other hand, feels very different to me. There’s no points, so you are just trying to maneuver yourself into one or more victory conditions, preferably in a way that you can get another one during the rest of the round without other people noticing it. You can foil other people’s plans simply by moving away, combat is not a necessity. While you might get teamed up against when you declare a victory condition (so you’ll still have the “he’s winning, someone stop him” thing), when you do win the game it feels more like you performed well, rather than Root’s someone screwed up keeping you in check.
Thanks, I hadn’t listened to the podcast yet.
I got to play Root twice during SHUX. Here’s my take: what Quinns seems to object to is someone winning (or him losing) because other players don’t know the game well enough to recognize that someone is dangerous. In my first game, because the table was focused on the cats and birds fighting and scoring points, when my mice started their rebellion (if that’s the term; sorry, it’s been a while), no one put the brakes on. And I spun that up to a colossal engine that won. In the review, Quinns said he told the table they needed to put down the mice, probably because they were threatening to do what I did. Though as a result, his mice opponent were basically out of the game.
Anyway, how important is winning? Do you sit down to a game of Twilight Imperium thinking all those hours will be wasted if you don’t win? In my second game, I played the Vagabond and was no where near winning. After the game, we did a post mortem and came to the conclusion that I should have been trying to bargain with the trailing players, they sell me the items I needed, and I help them catch up. For that matter, no one was using the mercenary otters, so they were starved most of the game. Because we were playing with 4-5 players who didn’t know the game dynamics, it was only in retrospect that we could see what we should have done instead to help the lagging players and hold back the winner. But it was still interesting to play the game and look at all these systems interacting. But I think I’m also less competitive than Quinns…
One worry of mine is, which is part of Quinns’s point, is when some players are more experienced than the others. Then there may be something like the quarterback problem in cooperative games, where the experienced player tells others what they collectively need to do. So either all the players should be about the same skill level, or the quarterback needs to learn to control themselves?
Man, now I’m on the fence for Root again. Maybe if I don’t care about who wins and why, I can just have fun pushing cute meeple across the board, playing cards with rabbits on them, and watching all the mechanism and dynamics in the game.
Yeah, it’s difficult. It depends how much negotiation comes into the game. I don’t think Root is particularly negotiation heavy, but there can sometimes be ‘if you let me do X I’ll let you do Y’ agreements. Is that against the spirit of the game or part of it?
Generally i would discourage too much game talk with Root. I think a lot of the game is in other people seeing what’s important on their own (almost in the same way it is in pandemic). It’s an anti-semi-coop, whereby you know you’re all doing well if there’s no run away winner. Its kind of a learning curve, but not in difficulty - more in understanding the interactions. Like pandemic you can be told the tricks in a couple of minutes, but that destroys the joy of discovery.
Thinking about it, i see Root more as a puzzle to unlock rather than a game to win. Discovering how to make each faction viable is more interesting than who actually wins
Yeah, that’s about what I expected. Between the player count, and the learning curve, this game would never hit the table.
The crows in the new expansion are tempting me (they remind me of my beloved Kenku rogue character from my first D&D campaign), but I know I’ll probably end up like this playing it. I don’t do well at games that require complex strategies. But I do still enjoy playing them …
But surely, unlike Pandemic, you still have a real game to play beyond the puzzle once everyone has everything figured out?
(I keep prodding at this because it is a game I am genuinely interested in, but the time and effort involved to get myself and 3 other players to that point sounds a bit out of my reach right now. For me, the “puzzle” you describe is just the learning curve to get to the real game. If it’s a fun puzzle, so much the better, but figuring that stuff out is not why I play games.)