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Kyle's story is all too common among artists—juggling multiple hats to make ends meet, the harsh reality of having zero visibility, and what seems like eons to finally "make it." Here's how the winner of the 2018 Golden Geek Best Board Game Artwork got there.
Hey Kyle, thank you for making your time! First up, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure! I’m Kyle Ferrin, I’m a board game artist and illustrator working for Leder Games, an independent board game publisher responsible for Root and the Vast series of games. I’ve also done some work for smaller card games like Dungeon Mayhem by Wizards of the Coast. I live in Utah with my wife, Meredith, and our 4 kiddos.
Your artstyle/linework gives me an impression that you've had tons of mileage on doodling in classes. Is this true? And were you always known among your peers/family as the "art guy"?
I’ve always doodled, it’s true. I’m the oldest of 8 kids and even though I loved drawing from a very early age my parents didn’t find that exceptional in any way until I went to kindergarten and my teacher let them know that I spent a lot of time drawing compared to the other kids. I used to draw Garfield from memory and make up superheroes and comic strips. “Art Guy” is a pretty good way to describe my role in a lot of different settings, haha.
Was becoming an artist always the most obvious path in mind? If not, what was the pivotal moment that led you to pursue art as a career? Were there any times you felt the pressure to have other jobs to support yourself?
From May 2006 to May 2008 I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and during that time I didn’t draw much. It was definitely allowed, I just thought it might be kind of a distraction if I did anything too time consuming. Mostly I doodled in margins for a couple years. Then in 2009 I started attending college with the goal of an English Teaching degree. I wasn’t very passionate about it but I found success in a non-major Graphic Design class. After failing a few literature classes I switched majors and pursued a Visual Communication degree. I now have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in VisComm which I mostly used to get Graphic Design jobs until I had the opportunity to make illustration my main hustle. There were a lot of years of working manual labor and food service jobs before I got graphic design work, and then more years of that before my after hours commissions became a realistic day job.
One of the most frequent questions asked by amateur artists is "how to find my style". First, how would you answer that question? Second, what kind of style are you recognized for?
Your style finds you. You strive to improve your craft and as you develop an artistic taste you begin to settle into what looks like “you” to you. I believe the style of most artists is just the result of leaning into your strengths and embracing your more aesthetically pleasing weaknesses. Todd MacFarlane couldn’t draw anatomy well for a long time, so he drew Spawn with huge capes and that became part of his style.
I’m probably recognized most for my pen and ink sketch-style linework. It’s an aesthetic born from not doing pencil sketches when I doodle most of the time. I like how you just have to commit when you work that way. You don’t get to erase and erase and erase, you just kind of have to live with it, which is one of the reasons I like ink and watercolor. It kind of bakes itself in as you work and if you don’t like it you have to start over.
Who/what were your biggest influences to your style? Who are you inspired by these days?
Quentin Blake is a big influence. Bill Watterson for sure. Both of them have a graphic quality to their work that doesn’t rely on realism but conveys a lot of emotion. These days I love following the work of Jeffrey Alan Love, Kate Beaton, and David Peterson’s work on Mouse Guard. Dustin Harbin and Sam Bosma are wonderful as well. I follow a lot of artists on twitter, it’s a tremendous inspiration for me.
As an artist, I personally experienced a burst of creativity after my wife and I had our son (now 10 months old!). In what ways do you think having kids impacted you as an artist?
I draw a lot of animals for my kids, and I use simple shapes with large areas for them to color if that’s what they’re interested in. It forces me to be fast and emotive and the goal is always about trying to keep someone happy. I think those qualities all translate into my work in some way or another.
So how exactly did you end up transitioning into the board game industry and what was the first board game you had worked on? Could you share how that experience was?
I’ve always loved board games and card games. The first board game I worked on was Vast: The Crystal Caverns, that was called “Trove” at the time. They came to me having seen some of my Dungeons and Dragons commissions and some goblin art I did for the RPG Dungeon World. When Vast ended up being a success, Patrick Leder flew me out to a few conventions. We worked so well together that he hired me full time to be an in-studio illustrator for his company. Board games are a lot of work, with different considerations than making a book or poster, but it’s been fun to create art objects that people interact with and connect with in that different way. I had no idea the hobby was so big until I did my first Gen Con, I’m happy to be a part of it.
How were you first approached by Leder Games? What was the team's main vision behind the art on Root and how do you think your style/experience helped accomplish that vision?
They first reached out to me on twitter with Vast. Root was a group effort that came to being after I was already a full time employee and I got to work on it from the beginning. I helped come up with the theming and setting and worked closely with Cole and Patrick on the feel and aesthetic of the game. The main goal was to make an asymmetric war game without historical baggage, a war game for people who didn’t know they liked war games yet. I think the chance I had to work on it from such an early time in Root’s development helped the whole product become a more holistic experience. I created the meeples and the board as the game was being designed. The game and the art helped inform each other as we went.
What is your typical workflow like? Is everything done digitally?
Most of the work I do is drawn/inked traditionally and then colored digitally. Usually I’ll get a list of card names, for example, and then I interpret them into sketches or sometimes just take them all the way to ink and color if we are tight on time.
What was the most challenging aspect of working on Root? What was your favorite part?
The hardest part was the turnaround. I was drawing cards as cards were being created and that meant having public facing print and play material with as much art in it as possible for our Kickstarter backers. My favorite part is seeing people play Root. I love walking around free play tables at conventions to see people with rulebooks and boxes open.
Which faction do you play as the most and how do you think that reflects your personality?
I sometimes joke that that the Marquise de Cat is kind of like being a parent, because it’s mostly about trying to put out fires, haha. I play the Woodland Alliance a lot because I think they have the steepest learning curve and I am usually teaching new people to play. Maybe that just says that I’m nice? haha
Are all of the factions equally loved by you or was there a particular faction you enjoyed illustrating the most?
I love drawing the birds. The Eyrie was fun to illustrate but especially the bird cards make me happy. I’m glad the Underworld Expansion includes crows so I can revisit my bird friends.
What was your most memorable moment working on Root?
I think when we sold out at Gen Con in 2018 that was the most memorable thing. We made stuffed animals of the Vagabond Raccoon, which was kind of a silly passion project, and we even sold out of those! I think that was the first moment that I realized that people really connected with this game so strongly.
What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Thanks for your support! You’re the reason I have a job! You put gas in my minivan and keep the breakfast cereal on the table for my kids. Thank you thank you thank you.
Lastly, are there any exciting developments in the works you could share with us? What would be your dream project?
Most of the things I’m working on are still under wraps. The official release of Vast: The Mysterious Manor is this Summer and I can’t wait for folk to play it. The minis look so good and the gameplay is next level. I feel like I’m already living the dream. I hope to just keep doing this and improve my craft as I go.
Thanks Kyle! Appreciate you making your time for us and we look forward to your continued work in future board games! It's always inspiring to see artists who've kept up their craft all these years and it's a personal reminder for me to be more diligent with my art as well.
Lovely Readers! Please support Kyle by following the links below:
- Kyle's social media: twitter, instagram
- Kyle's Artist Shop: https://kyleferrin.threadless.com/ (check out the awesome Root merch)
Below are my links to past interviews:
- Victoria Ying, artist of Bargain Quest
- Alexandr Elichev, artist of Gloomhaven
- Atha Kanaani, artist of the Pandemic series
- Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games
- Victor Pérez Corbella, artist of Champions of Midgard
- Sabrina Miramon, artist of Photosynthesis
- Ruwen Liu, artist of Cake Duel
Plus, you can leave comments below with:
- Suggestions for artists/designers/any other board game people to interview
- Any feedback about the interviews so far
- Comments about the games mentioned
- Ask me anything!
Lists...I like lists and I think many of you do too.
I thought I'd take a few minutes to follow a tradition I see on other sites where top 100 lists are compared.
I did a straight copy paste from the sites and did some excel work to get them in a reasonable format. I'm NOT an expert on data analysis so I won't be doing some fancy analysis to tell you interesting data points. I'm sure there is someone else more capable (and motivated) than me to do that.
If this is something you enjoy, let me know and I'll do it again. (I can't commit to a regular timeline right now however.)
I did do one piece of analysis which is shown below the list. What interesting things do you spot in the data?
First off, here is the list:
|Rank||Board Game Atlas||Board Game Geek||Reddit r/boardgames|
|1||Scythe||Gloomhaven (2017)||Gloomhaven (2017)|
|2||Gloomhaven||Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (2015)||Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (2015)|
|3||Root||Brass: Birmingham (2018)||Brass: Birmingham (2018)|
|4||Wingspan||Terraforming Mars (2016)||Spirit Island (2017)|
|5||Azul||Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition) (2017)||Concordia (2013)|
|6||Terraforming Mars||Through the Ages:
A New Story of Civilization (2015)
|Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition) (2017)|
|7||Viticulture: Essential Edition||Gaia Project (2017)||Food Chain Magnate (2015)|
|8||Spirit Island||Star Wars: Rebellion (2016)||War of the Ring: Second Edition (2012)|
|9||Pandemic||Twilight Struggle (2005)||Gaia Project (2017)|
|10||Codenames||Great Western Trail (2017)||Twilight Struggle (2005)|
|11||7 Wonders||War of the Ring: Second Edition (2012)||Great Western Trail (2016)|
|12||Carcassonne||Scythe (2016)||Through the Ages:
A New Story of Civilization (2015)
|13||7 Wonders Duel||Spirit Island (2017)||A Feast for Odin (2016)|
|14||Pandemic Legacy: Season 1||The Castles of Burgundy (2011)||The Castles of Burgundy (2011)|
|15||The Castles of Burgundy||Terra Mystica (2012)||Terra Mystica (2012)|
|16||Concordia||7 Wonders Duel (2015)||Terraforming Mars (2016)|
|17||Splendor||Concordia (2017)||Pax Pamir (Second Edition) (2019)|
|18||Ticket To Ride||Brass: Lancashire (2018)||Star Wars: Rebellion (2016)|
|19||Race for the Galaxy||Arkham Horror: The Card Game (2016)||Keyflower (2012)|
|20||Santorini||Wingspan (2019)||Brass: Lancashire (2007)|
|21||Patchwork||Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion (2020)||Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 (2017)|
|22||Catan||A Feast for Odin (2016)||Arkham Horror: The Card Game (2016)|
|23||Brass: Birmingham||Viticulture Essential Edition (2015)||7 Wonders Duel (2015)|
|24||Jaipur||Orléans (2014)||Scythe (2016)|
|25||Great Western Trail||Mage Knight Board Game (2011)||Kingdom Death: Monster (2015)|
|26||Love Letter||Puerto Rico (2002)||Root (2018)|
|27||King of Tokyo||The 7th Continent (2017)||Agricola (2007)|
|28||Kingdomino||Caverna: The Cave Farmers (2013)||Orl\u00e9ans (2014)|
|29||Star Realms||Nemesis (2018)||Viticulture Essential Edition (2015)|
|30||Everdell||Food Chain Magnate (2015)||Agricola (Revised Edition) (2016)|
|31||Lords of Waterdeep||Root (2018)||Crokinole (1876)|
|32||Welcome to...||Agricola (2007)||Mage Knight Board Game (2011)|
|33||Architects of the West Kingdom||Mansions of Madness: Second Edition (2016)||Caverna: The Cave Farmers (2013)|
|34||Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure||Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 (2017)||Race for the Galaxy (2007)|
|35||Blood Rage||Blood Rage (2015)||Android: Netrunner (2012)|
|36||Clans of Caledonia||Kingdom Death: Monster (2015)||Mechs vs. Minions (2016)|
|37||The Quacks of Quedlinburg||Everdell (2018)||Clans of Caledonia (2017)|
|38||Small World||Power Grid (2012)||Eclipse (2011)|
|39||Puerto Rico||Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar (2012)||Azul (2017)|
|40||Forbidden Island||Mechs vs. Minions (2017)||Fields of Arle (2014)|
|41||Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game||Star Wars: Imperial Assault (2014)||Le Havre (2008)|
|42||Arkham Horror: The Card Game||Clans of Caledonia (2017)||Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar (2012)|
|43||Five Tribes||Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization (2006)||Power Grid (2004)|
|44||Dominion: Second Edition||Le Havre (2008)||Lisboa (2017)|
|45||Sagrada||Eclipse (2011)||Roll for the Galaxy (2014)|
|46||Roll For The Galaxy||Azul (2017)||Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated (2019)|
|47||Orléans||Maracaibo (2019)||Dominant Species (2010)|
|48||Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar||Anachrony (2017)||The Gallerist (2015)|
|49||Coup||The Voyages of Marco Polo (2015)||Codenames (2015)|
|50||Ticket to Ride: Europe||Underwater Cities (2018)||Indonesia (2005)|
|51||Sushi Go!||Robinson Crusoe:
Adventures on the Cursed Island (2016)
|Blood Rage (2015)|
|52||Lost Cities||Android: Netrunner (2012)||Inis (2016)|
|53||Raiders of the North Sea||Too Many Bones (2017)||Patchwork (2014)|
|54||Power Grid||Marvel Champions: The Card Game (2019)||1830: Railways & Robber Barons (1986)|
|55||Sushi Go Party!||Race for the Galaxy (2007)||The Voyages of Marco Polo (2015)|
|56||Agricola (Revised Edition)||The Gallerist (2015)||Star Wars: Imperial Assault (2014)|
|57||Dixit||7 Wonders (2010)||Age of Steam (2002)|
|58||Star Wars: Rebellion||The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine (2019)||Wingspan (2019)|
Adventures on the Cursed Island
|Fields of Arle (2014)||The Great Zimbabwe (2012)|
|60||Cosmic Encounter||Teotihuacan: City of Gods (2018)||Vinhos Deluxe Edition (2016)|
|61||A Feast For Odin||Dominant Species (2010)||Troyes (2010)|
|62||Hanabi||Five Tribes (2014)||Pandemic: Iberia (2016)|
|63||Terra Mystica||Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure (2016)||Kemet (2012)|
|64||Takenoko||Keyflower (2012)||Puerto Rico (with two expansions) (2011)|
|65||The Resistance||Lords of Waterdeep (2012)||Tigris & Euphrates (1997)|
|66||Star Wars Imperial Assault||Caylus (2005)||Glory to Rome (2005)|
|67||Twilight Struggle||Crokinole (1876)||El Grande (1995)|
|68||Stone Age||Lisboa (2017)||Aeon's End: War Eternal (2017)|
|69||Mysterium||Agricola (Revised Edition) (2016)||Yokohama (2016)|
|70||Sheriff of Nottingham||Aeon's End (2016)||The 7th Continent (2017)|
|71||Forbidden Desert||El Grande (1995)||Decrypto (2018)|
|72||Keyflower||Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) (2005)||Five Tribes (2014)|
|73||Mansions of Madness: Second Edition||The Quacks of Quedlinburg (2018)||Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) (2005)|
|74||Inis||Eldritch Horror (2013)||Galaxy Trucker: Anniversary Edition (2012)|
|75||Betrayal at House on the Hill||On Mars (2020)||Hansa Teutonica (2009)|
|76||Mage Knight||Rising Sun (2018)||Sidereal Confluence:
Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant (2017)
|77||Caverna: The Cave Farmers||Architects of the West Kingdom (2018)||Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary (2014)|
|78||Gaia Project||Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game (2008)||Forbidden Stars (2015)|
|79||Suburbia||Dominion: Intrigue (2009)||Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective:
The Thames Murders & Other Cases (1981)
|80||Champions of Midgard||Mombasa (2015)||Aeon's End (2016)|
|81||Istanbul||Troyes (2010)||Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game (2008)|
|82||The Mind||Patchwork (2014)||The Resistance: Avalon (2012)|
|83||Deception: Murder in Hong Kong||Paladins of the West Kingdom (2019)||Cosmic Encounter (2008)|
|84||Onitama||Barrage (2019)||Dominion: Intrigue (2009)|
|85||Century: Spice Road||Russian Railroads (2013)||Robinson Crusoe:
Adventures on the Cursed Island (2012)
|86||Hive||Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon (2019)||Mansions of Madness: Second Edition (2016)|
|87||The Resistance: Avalon||Clank! Legacy:
Acquisitions Incorporated (2019)
|Underwater Cities (2018)|
|88||Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King||Codenames (2015)||7 Wonders (2010)|
|89||Arboretum||Raiders of the North Sea (2015)||Tichu (1991)|
|90||Skull||Tigris & Euphrates (1997)||Teotihuacan: City of Gods (2018)|
|91||Food Chain Magnate||Roll for the Galaxy (2014)||Istanbul (2014)|
|92||Captain Sonar||Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective:
The Thames Murders & Other Cases (1982)
|Grand Austria Hotel (2015)|
|93||Galaxy Trucker||Trajan (2011)||Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan (2011)|
|94||For Sale||Dominion (2008)||Maracaibo (2019)|
|95||Magic: The Gathering||The Lord of the Rings:
Journeys in Middle-earth (2019)
|BattleCON: Devastation of Indines (2013)|
|96||One Night Ultimate Werewolf||Grand Austria Hotel (2015)||Mombasa (2015)|
|97||Castles of Mad King Ludwig||Pandemic (2008)||Millennium Blades (2016)|
|98||Bohnanza||Pandemic: Iberia (2016)||Marvel Champions: The Card Game (2019)|
|99||The 7th Continent||Lorenzo il Magnifico (2016)||Hive Pocket (2010)|
|100||Through the Ages:
A New Story of Civilization
|Kemet (2015)||Ora et Labora (2011)|
I did a quick run through the list and I found 41 games in all three lists. So there's a good chance these are all keepers. :)
|7 Wonders Duel||2015|
|A Feast for Odin||2016|
|Agricola (Revised Edition)||2016|
|Arkham Horror: The Card Game||2016|
|Caverna: The Cave Farmers||2013|
|Food Chain Magnate||2015|
|Great Western Trail||2017|
|Mage Knight Board Game||2011|
|Mansions of Madness: Second Edition||2016|
|Pandemic Legacy: Season 1||2015|
|Race for the Galaxy||2007|
|Robinson Crusoe: dventures on the Cursed Island||2016|
|Roll for the Galaxy||2014|
|Star Wars: Imperial Assault||2014|
|Star Wars: Rebellion||2016|
|The 7th Continent||2017|
|The Castles of Burgundy||2011|
|Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization||2015|
|Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar||2012|
|Viticulture Essential Edition||2015|
Edit: I should have probably recorded the time I gathered this data because the list changed quite a bit all of a sudden since this morning.
Is this because we are talking about certain games which bumps up their trending or are people voting up their favourites? I have no idea.
I'm trying to schedule a game night with my co-workers to play Root together. I've assigned a faction to each of them according to their personalities and complexity that I think they can handle. Will be sending out a how-to video so that they're well prepped before we meet up.
The current lineup:
- Me - Woodland Alliance
- Trent - Vagabond
- Co-worker #1 - Cats
- Co-worker #2 - Birds
Does anyone have suggestions on what else I can do to make the night flow smoothly and more fun? (any videos that are especially well made in explaining the rules and strategies? food? anything really). Thanks!
On a recent Designer Chat with Patrick and Cole, Leder Games shared more information on an upcoming expansion for Root that's currently set for Q1 2021 Kickstarter. The primary focus is to improve the 2 player gameplay experience.
Root is one of my favorite games, but let's face it. It's not the ideal experience with 2 players. Unless you get your hands on the expansions like Root: The Riverfolk Expansion, Root: The Underworld Expansion, or Root: The Clockwork Expansion, you're missing out on several things that make Root great for me:
- No "politicking", tabletalk, or tug of war - Root is an interactive game filled with moments of temporary alliances, betrayals, and a constant tug of war. These aspects are mostly all missing from a 2 player game
- Exploring different factions - Highly asymmetric faction powers are available across different animal factions, but around half of them can't be used when it's at 2 player count
- Simplicity - The core gameplay of Root is quite simple. The shared movement and combat rules are straightforward and the faction specific rules are clearly written on the player boards. The complexity mostly comes from learning the dynamic between the factions. While adding Root: The Clockwork Expansion will drastically improve the 2 player and solo experience, you need to run AI's that are more complex to run than the average AI's out there
Looks like the expansion will tackle at least the latter two of the issues I have.
Summary of Info from Patrick and Cole
The following is a quote from a user on BGG (@Hartwell) who summarized the news:
- Everything is subject to change. Currently, the expansion focus is on improving the two player game. The two new factions are intended to police the board and each are expected to have 20 or more warrior meeples available. They will also have high "reach" scores to allow more faction combinations for small player counts.
- One faction is the Turtles, which will have an ability to improve the infrastructure like adding roads. They will not simply "turtle" in place but that will be an element of what they do. Leder himself has been working on them for about a week, but has drawn elements and inspiration from unreleased factions he's worked on.
- Leder contrasted the defensive turtles with the aggressive Rats, which will be lead by a charismatic "warlord" leader. Players select a leader at the beginning and they may use the Vagabond unique meeples and reuse the art. It was not clear and the faction is still being worked on.
- Another expansion element is changing the set up, which Wehrle sees as an underappreciated priority. Advanced set up will add more to the game overall.
- Wehrle is experimenting with mini NPC factions, which can not win (unlike the automatons) and have simple rules and players can work to influence them. He gave the example of an aggressive cat faction that has 2 rules - if it doesn't rule its clearing it attacks, if it does rule it moves and then attacks - and an influential player can choose where they attack.
- I did not understand why, but the mini factions would have their own meeples but share a color and species with an existing faction. Perhaps I missed something here. Regardless, a 2 player game would use 3 mini factions, a 3-4 player game would use 2, and 5+ would use just 1.
- Leder and Wehrle declared they they do not plan to create a "big box" storage for Root.
- Leder said they are risky from a business perspective, and Wehrle said they become "tombs" for games and lower the odds they will be played.
In addition, there was a mention of a map that will cover more than the typical 12 clearings. This is for the purpose of accommodating higher player counts.
If you know me, you'll know I'm pumped for this! This expansion gives off the feel of having minions in a MOBA game, and it seems like a brilliant way to round out the 2 player experience. This may be the very first Kickstarter I'll back, folks. Cole seems to have my heart because I'm also considering backing the upcoming second edition of John Company.
When living in Minnesota, fall, winter and early spring are all prime board gaming times. As the temperature swings wildly up here right now I start to think about what I want to focus on during this most wonderful time.
The Underworld expansion for Root should be delivered to me soonish and it got me thinking that I want to hit that game hard. Play as much as I can with as many factions as I can. Use the new boards. Really get the most out of it.
What are you looking to get the most out of his Board Game Season?
I recently received #Root: The Clockwork Expansion in a math trade. Ironically, I did not own the base game prior to completing this trade. So, as a result, I bought #Root, #Root: The Underworld Expansion, and #Root: The Exiles and Partisans Deck. I had played Root about four times with a friend's copy before owning any of it for myself.
Upon receiving the games, I wasted no time diving into a few solo sessions. In my four plays, I took the role of the Duchy, the Alliance, the Eyrie, and the Vagabond, and faced off against various faction combinations comprised of two or three bots. I must say, I love playing this game solo! The bots are certainly not flawless. There are decisions they make that would be considered sub-optimal or questionable in a person vs. person game. They also suffer a bit when the human player wants to play a more interactive faction, such as the Riverfolk Company or Corvid Conspiracy, as the bots have no allowance for purchasing cards or guessing plot tokens. For the most part, though, they do give a surprisingly similar feel to that of the multiplayer game.
In each game, the bots gave me a good challenge and a tense affair. I decided to opt for the default difficulty. I also didn't include any traits as I wanted to have a baseline to work from. After four games, I have won three and lost one. Even in the games I won, it was a close race. Often, there was at least one bot only a few points behind me. For those that have played a multiplayer game of Root, this should be a familiar scenario.
I also played a game involving two bots and one other human player. It presented some interesting dynamics, but my initial impression is that this is the slightly less ideal way to utilize the expansion. The human player took an almost semi-cooperative approach with me against the bots. I was incentivized to go along with this as the plans they were making would serve to hurt the bots and allow me to get a better foothold. Yet, my friend and I were far from friends within the game. With this, the decisions some of the bots made in that playthrough (following the rules of course) seemed to focus more on my friend as they had more board presence. As a result, they felt a bit hard done by and it left the experience feeling a little limp. I think I prefer just playing solo against the bots.
As for ease of use, I found the Mechanical Marquise the most straightforward faction to control, while the Electric Eyrie was the most "fiddly." Still, I soon grew accustomed to the various priorities the factions had and the natural flow of their actions. There wasn't too much bookkeeping and I was allowed to focus on my turns most of the time. The designer has done an excellent job striking the balance between human likeness and ease of use.
Root is certainly a game that shines when played multiplayer. There is a degree of politics and negotiation that no bot could hope to replace (mostly because bots have no faculties that allow them to hope lolz). Yet, I find that Root: The Clockwork Expansion allows me to have a very similar experience in a fraction of the time. It allows me to engage with the puzzle that Root presents while also sidestepping the very personal feeling of attacking another player. Sometimes, I want that degree of personal hostility. Other times, I want to just sit back and relax while still getting to play a confrontational game. This expansion allows just that.
[Root: The Riverfolk Expansion, Vast: The Mysterious Manor, Root, Root: The Underworld Expansion, Vast: The Crystal Caverns, Vast: The Fearsome Foes Ex...]
[Wingspan, Gloomhaven, Root, Azul, Scythe]
[Root: The Clockwork Expansion, Root: The Riverfolk Expansion, Root, Root: The Underworld Expansion]