This morning I woke up early, so, I decided to play #Root. I played a solo game using the better bot project. This was my first ever game of Root, and I have some thoughts about it. Again, I want to stress that these are very much some of my first impressions. They are very subject to change. I will start with "Brian's battery" "review" and then share some of my general thoughts after that.
I will not really go much into gameplay specifics, or even to specific about the game itself. This is one of the most popular game on this forum, and while I am happy to try and answer any questions you might have in regards to gameplay, I feel like many of you have a general idea of what Root is. But, for those who don't even have a general idea: Root is a highly asymetric wargame for one to four players designed by Cole Wehrle. However, the factions in this wargame are anthromorphic animals, lovingly illustrated by Kyle Ferrin.
Overall I am very pleased with the quality of the components. The physical quality of the physical components was pleasingly adequate. The cardboard is thick, without being too thick.The cards are of good quality. The wood pieces are nice and chunky. Just in terms of the physical quality, it is really solid, without blowing me away. Where this game really shines, however, is the art. The art and the graphic design on this game is superlative. The art is hugely evocative, and each card paints it's own little story. The graphic design is super clear and readable without obtruding on the game, and that is hard to do. So, top marks with for the components.
Overall I am happy with the rulebooks. They are fairly well written with a number of examples. I found it easy to look stuff up when I needed to. But, make no mistake, this seemed like one of the heavier games that I have played. Every faction has it's own rules, almost it's own game, and playing solo I had to sort know about the three factions that were in play. I can see that this thing would be an absolute nightmare to teach, and it was an amazingly hard game for me to learn.
Solo gameplay +
Once again, I played using the Better Bot project that I pnp'd. I played as the Eyrie, agains the Mechanical Marquis and the Woodland Alliance. I got handily stomped, and had a good time getting my drubbing. There is a bot for each faction available. And, the bots, while lacking some of the subtlety of a human player, seem competitive, and are fairly easy to run. However, I think that Root will be a game that plays best with 3 or 4 players, so you will probably be running 2 or 3 bots if you are playing solo. There is no question in my mind that the bots are amazingly easy to run. But, that is still a lot of mental overhead, especially while running the game. Furthermore, it is a lot of time playing "someone elses" turn. This will rub some people the wrong way, it didn't bother me too much.
I like the box size and shape. I am so done with the TTR sized box for games that don't need it. The storage inside is adequate for the base game, but you wont get anything else into it. But, one thing that I have decided to start complaining about was present here. Namely the player boards and one of the rulebooks are the same size as the box. This makes them way harder than necessary to get out. I used to accept this as a means of holding components in place. I have since decided that it is the product of lazy box design. There are a lot of games that illustrate that you can store your components in such a way that it doesn't depend on the board, or the player boards, or the rulebooks, to hold the components in place in the box. Publishers, get on this, when you make your boards etc. take up all of the interior footprint of the box you make it way harder than necessary to get out.
I feel slightly confused, but generally very positive, about this game. And, am looking forward to more plays to see how it solidifies for me and to see how the different factions feel. I do think it is a tremendously rewarding mental excersise, and one that is very enjoyable. But, I also wonder if it will end up being "the tremendously rewarding mental excersise" I end up reaching for. I know this game is very different from #Spirit Island but they do feel like the operate in a similar mental area for me. And, I admit, I wonder if this might not replace Spirit Island with more plays. I did give this game 5 stars. I really think that it deserves 5 stars. I think I will really love it, but I admit that the first play was more of a promise of good things to come rather than being stellar out of the gate.