Root (Review 2)

review by Luka

What is Root?

Root is a 2 to 4 player asymmetric wargame about diverse factions of woodland creatures vying for supremacy. To win, you must reach a score of 30 victory points with your faction. This is mainly achieved through the destruction of enemy buildings and tokens, and through crafting items. However, every faction is entirely unique and features their own special methods to score victory points. Some factions are militant factions, focused on maintaining a foothold in the forest through combat to score points. Others are insurgents, who get their scores from spreading their influence and disrupting opponents’ plans.

In the base game of Root, you have four of these unique factions to play with: two militant, two insurgent. The militant factions are the Marquise de Cat and the Eyrie Dynasty. The Marquise de Cat is a group of expansionist felines focused on harvesting wood and creating a supply-chain with their warriors to expand their recruitment and workshop building infrastructure to score. As the Eyrie Dynasty, you were a once great kingdom of birds that ruled the forest and now must build and maintain Roosts to score consistently. To accomplish this, you appoint a leader with a unique ability and you must follow an ever-growing decree of actions lest the kingdom plunge into turmoil, forcing you to appoint a new leader. The insurgents are the Woodland Alliance and the Vagabond. The Woodland Alliance is a rebel group of forest animals who are tired of the cats and birds fighting over supremacy. As the Alliance, you spread sympathy tokens across the board to generate outrage, gain supporters, and foster explosive revolts. And lastly, the Vagabond is a lone adventurer who completes quests and chooses their alliances and enemies on their own terms.

Gameplay and Setup Review

The contrast in faction options provides players the opportunity to explore vastly different strategies and identify with the factions from a gameplay and roleplaying perspective. Furthermore, this asymmetrical design heavily encourages players to participate in tabletalk since one faction can't stop the other factions from winning alone; a level of cooperation is needed to hinder the winning player without hindering yourself. For me, these are the aspects I love most about Root. They make every game have something new to learn or experience as you play as and against every faction.

The variety of factions does make Root difficult to grasp at first though. Some factions have steeper learning curves than others, as they introduce new mechanics that contradict what is normally allowed. Setting up the game also requires not only understanding the regular board setup, but the starting conditions for each faction. Additionally, it’s easy to get lost in the multitude of faction specific meeples, buildings, and other tokens.

However, the game becomes easier to approach once you understand both the shared actions all factions can take and the basic setup thanks to the inclusion of faction specific player boards. Each player board informs you on the back how many pieces you should have, some general stats about the faction, a summary, and the faction specific setup. The front features slots for you to place your pieces and a guideline on how your faction takes their turn. This shared layout for all factions makes it easy to pick up and learn new factions.


Something else that can’t be ignored is the game’s aesthetic choices. I am typically not a fan of cute art styles, but I am a big fan of Root’s artstyle. To me, the style is both cute and really cool at the same time. The hard lines and the contrasting colors really make the characters pop in a striking manner while the background elements blend together like watercolor. Root wouldn’t be the same game without its iconic art.

Additionally, the meeples are wooden and painted in their faction’s colors with a contrasting color to show simple details like eyes. The simplistic design helps distinguish each other’s pieces easily when playing, and the wooden texture makes them satisfying to hold.

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend Root to friend groups or families who really want to delve deep into a new complex experience for game day. The strategic depth offered by the variety of factions provides loads of unique gameplay interactions for you and your friends to experience. And when you desire more than what the base game has, there’s many expansions that add new factions, cards, boards, and even co-op and solo gamemodes to explore! Root will remain a board game staple for me and my friends for years to come, and maybe it will be for you too!

Root is available now from our webstore.

Root (Review 2)