Alright, the moment you have been waiting for. My thoughts on last night with #Root, the most often talked about game on this site! To give you context, we did assign roles and assigned some homework to do before hand, mostly just rules overviews but no strategy.
I was the Eyrie, @Sliddell11 was the Cats, our friend Charlie was the Vagabond (he wins a lot of our games, so we gave him a hard faction), and another friend was the Woodland Alliance.
Right out the gate, there is a lot of rules overhead, from set up to just a lot of specific situations that you do need to constantly need to be referring to the rule books...yes both of them lol.
Our first game (we played two, back to back) was pretty rocky. A lot of learning, referring to the rules, some frustration because of the rules unfamiliarity and the game is very conflict heavy so there is some reason to get passionate about the game! I was able to jump out to a big lead with Eyrie, and I learned that was a rough go, big time target on my back and all three guys made it their mission to send me into turmoil, all the while Alexander (the Alliance) was just quietly and "innocently" built up an army and made it impossible to stop him from easily spreading sympathy even without cards. They ended up winning by just moving his warriors around and placing a sympathy with them. I came in second with about 25 points as the Eyrie and the cats and Vagabond were probably in the teens. We all agreed we needed to give the game another go.
Second game...played much differently. We all were more aware of everything and kept each other in check. I am embarrased to say that I went into turmoil THREE times this game. Two of them were induced by other players, which is fine. But my first one was all me and I most likely lost the game because of that. I just could not recover. We all kept the Alliance in check...but the Vagabond man. Charlie really figured them out well and found a good system with the corssbows and being an aggressive fighter. Even when he is being attacked he was able to gain points which propelled him to a solid victory...with me again at about 25 points as the Eyrie, but it was MUCH closer and there was less time spent in the rule books...which probably caused us to miss some rules but that is ok. We will be better next time!
Here is my battery evaluation:
(+) The game is exceptional at creating conflict and forcing you to interact with other players.
(+) The factions function all so differently so there is a lot to master and there is a lot to be aware of. Once you master one, you can switch up the roles and start all the learning over again!
(+) The game is BEAUTIFUL! Components are great (for the most part, I will get there). The art is amazing, the meeples feel really great, and the board is very compelling!
(+) It is definitely political, you have to play the people as well as the factions which to me is a big plus. We often play some Euro's in our game group with little interaction so this was a nice change.
(-) Man there is a lot to digest. Being in the rule book as much as we were prior to the game, and as many videos we watched...we still had the rule books out almost every turn...plus we still missed rules. Having so many rules cause some frustration in the group, almost like we were really having to trudge through every action to make sure we were playing correctly.
(-) The player boards warp like CRAZY! I actually had to punch the copy that we were able to borrow and as soon as we got the boards out of the shrink, they just had a life of their own! It is probably fixable with some heavy books and letting them get used to the humidity levels, but for such a beautiful game, it took just a little away from the production.
(-) King-making is pretty hard. You can feel like you are doing well and at times you feel like you cannot properly defend yourself. It is part of the game to evaluate who is about to have a big turn, but it can be hard for a Euro gamer to have their "stuff" messed with lol!
All in all, we all had an excellent time! We all wanted to play a second game and we all are looking forward to another play through soon, with hopefully less rules blunders and some more tactics and strategies honed in!