It's finally happened. I got to play my favorite game with Anna (my wife) using @trentellingsen's copy!
First, it's been forever since I've played #Root. My last play was around 9-10 months ago so I had to brush up on the rules leading up to our game time. And while Root can be a monster to explain to a group of 4-6, it's quite straightforward if you're just explaining it to one person.
Here's how it went:
- Anna played as the Marquise (the Cats). I played as the Eyrie (the Birds) for the first time. I've played as the Marquise two times and as the Woodland Alliance two times in the past.
- Anna's first comment looking at the game was, "this is cute!".
- Good thing I was only explaining the game to Anna. I hadn't expected us to play at the time we did so I wasn't fully prepared to explain the game in the most methodical way. It wasn't too bad though haha.
- It's helpful that I introduced Anna to heavier games since playing Catan during Thanksgiving (#Viticulture: Essential Edition and #The Voyages of Marco Polo). Root's mechanics are simple once you've played through a few turns so she picked that up relatively quickly. She's also gotten used to engine-building elements in games like Viticulture so it's always helpful to play games that build up on previous experiences. For those who haven't played Root yet, the Marquise faction is centered around engine-building elements.
- Anna prioritized building sawmills first (which builds up the growth rate of resources/wood to build more structures), recruiters second (which builds up the growth rate of your army), and workshops last (which builds up your capability to craft for bonus actions or VP's). That's similar to the direction I took in my first play as the Cats because first time players aren't aware of the importance of crafting. The Cats typically only get three main actions to perform per turn so I've personally found that developing your workshops earlier tends to help drastically so that you can craft one of the cards that allow a bonus action.
- The Eyrie is a "programming" faction, where you continue to build a tableau of cards that represent the actions you need to commit to in each turn (e.g. I will recruit 2 times in a rabbit clearing, move once into a fox clearing, move once to mouse clearing, battle two times in a fox clearing, and build once in a mouse clearing). Each turn, you need to add more cards to this tableau of actions and then execute them. So the Eyrie has the potential to execute way more actions compared to the Marquise, but it gets more and more difficult to guarantee executing each of those actions. And failure to do any one of them will result in a "turmoil" where you need to build up your tableau from scratch. I ended up making a mistake and went into turmoil on my own during my 7-8th turn or so and that gave Anna a good laugh xD
- After around the 1.5 hour mark, we had to call the game earlier after our son woke up from his nap (we typically play at nighttime but we were playing during his nap because my wife wanted to play when she's not running low on battery!)
- If the game had continued, I have no idea who would've won. My guess is that Anna would've won by a few VP's, but who knows! We'll have to wait till our next full game to see.
- Oh boy, while Anna's biggest weakness in gaming is her forgetfulness (I constantly have to watch out for her to pick up her bonus VP's or resources in whatever games we play), she's a pretty quick learner when it comes to picking up on strategies. I have a feeling that the next game will be highly competitive.
Lastly, here are some final comments:
- This is Anna's first asymmetric game and she was very impressed by the idea. She's been enjoying variable player powers in Marco Polo, and she likes that Root takes it to a whole another level by providing players with highly unique factions to try out and identify with based on their play style/personality. Hence, she currently places Root above Marco Polo.
- She likes that there are many more factions to play with. Based on her personality, my guess is that her favorite faction in the base game will be the Marquise (mine is the Woodland Alliance).
- Viticulture was the first to dethrone Catan as her favorite game. Looks like Root will likely become her new favorite after we get in our second game!
- I pre-ordered Root! :D
- Hmmm now I will have to look up the bots mentioned by @sdirrane so that we can try out adding in a bot for a 3p game in the future or try out a co-op against two bots (I wonder if it'll be worth purchasing #Root: The Clockwork Expansion?)