LETS ADDRESS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – ROOT IS A GREAT GAME THAT WARGAMERS and boardgamers alike can both play. It is not a straight Eurogame or Ameritrash, nor is it a straight wargame, but a very well done hybrid that I call a ‘waro.” Part of the reason I so like the game goes beyond the game mechanics. The multitude of play combinations means the game never feels repeated. The base game alone comes with four factions and two mapboards (Fall & Winter) for several combinations of play. Since first published in 2018 by Leder Games, the Root series has added three boxed expansions (The Riverfolk Company, The Clockwork Expansion, The Underworld Expansion), an Upgrade Kit, and two smaller expansions (Exiles & Partisans Deck , The Vagabond Expansion) as well as customized playing pieces (Resin Clearing Markers). This weekend I pulled out my entire Root collection to play. In doing so I created a Root Solo Randomizer to help myself play as many different combinations as possible.
Variant Setup (based on The Law of Root Appendix C)
Step C0 (RSR Variant): Choose Solo Play Faction
Roll 2d6 to determine which faction you will play:
- 2= Lizard Cult (Riverfolk Expansion)
- 3= Woodland Alliance (Base Game)
- 4-5= Eyrie Dynasties (Base Game)
- 6-7= Marquise de Cat (Base Game)
- 8-9= Underground Duchy (Underworld Expansion)
- 10= Vagabond (Base Game, Riverfolk Expansion, Vagabond Expansion)
- 11= Riverfolk Company (Riverfolk Expansion)
- 12= Corvid Conspiracy (Underworld Expansion)**
If the faction rolled is Vagabond, roll 2d6 again to determine which Vagabond:
- 2= Vagrant (Riverfolk Expansion)
- 3= Arbiter (Riverfolk Expansion)
- 4= Scoundrel (Riverfolk Expansion)
- 5= Tinker (Base Game)
- 6-7= Thief (Base Game)
- 8-9= Ranger (Base Game)
- 10= Adventurer (Vagabond Pack)
- 11= Ronin (Vagabond Pack)
- 12= Harrier (Vagabond Pack)
Step C1: Choose Map
The Underworld Expansion adds a second two-sided map with the Lake and Mountain. To determine what map is being played, roll 1d6:
- 1= Winter (Base Game)
- 2-3= Fall (Base Game)
- 4-5= Lake (Underworld Expansion)
- 6= Mountain (Underworld Expansion)
Oh yeah, don’t forget that on many mapboards the Clearings are unmarked; you use the random set up to determine which ones are which. Even more randomness in set up!
Step C2: Choose Deck
Roll 1d6. Even roll uses the Standard Deck while an odd roll will use the Exiles & Partisans deck.
Step C3: Choose Bots
This step determines not only what Bots from The Clockwork Expansion you will play against, but also the order of play for them. Roll 1d12 to determine order of Mechanical Marquise 2.0 (M), Electric Eyrie (E), Automated Alliance (W), or Vagabot (V):
- 1= MEW
- 2= MEV
- 3= MWV
- 4= EMW
- 5= EMV
- 6= EWV
- 7= WME
- 8= WMV
- 9= WVE
- 10= VME
- 11= VWM
- 12= VME
For each selected order randomly insert the Human player anywhere in the order.
For the Vagabot roll 1d6 for character: 1-2= Ranger, 3-4= Thief, 5-6= Tinker.
For another level of variation roll 1d6 for each Bot to determine Difficulty. 1= Easy, 2-4= Default, 5= Challenging, 6= Nightmare. Difficulty cards are found in The Clockwork Expansion.
Oh yes, each of the Bots can add from zero to four Traits also found on cards in The Clockwork Expansion. All those combinations of Difficulty & Traits is
almost too much to handle!
[Comment: The Bots are pretty easy to handle as they basically are graphic flowcharts of actions. Adding the Difficulty is easy as it is only one thing to remember off-board. Adding Traits escalates the workload as each extra Trait must also be remembered. Cards near the boards help but as one works their way through the flow of the board it is very easy to forget even when right in front of you.]
For example. I am setting up a game and first rolling 2d6 I see I will be playing the Underground Duchy. Rolling 1d6 next I get the Lake Board. Rolling 1d6 again I will use the Exiles & Partisans Deck. Now rolling 1d12 (and 1d6 for each faction) I see my opponents are Electric Eyrie (Default Difficulty), Mechanical Marquise 2.0 (Nightmare Difficulty), and Vagabot (Tinker/Default Difficulty). Inserting myself randomly in the play order we get Electric Eyrie – Mechanical Marquise – Underground Duchy – Vagabot.
Solo Play Experience
It’s hard to put into words my experience playing Root solo using my randomizer. Not only do I get to explore many different factions, but the variations that come from the different maps and different decks makes every game unique. Add on top of that a set of Bots that are actually pretty easy to execute (but not beat) and you get a great gaming experience with (truly) endless variations.
Oh yeah, in my Root Solo Randomizer game the final scoring was Mechanical Marquise 2.0 = 30, Vagabot = 23, Underground Duchy = 20, and Electric Eyrie = 18. Yes, the Nightmare Mechanical Marquise were really just that!
P.S. – Make sure you get the official Electric Eyrie updates at the BGG Forums.
**Upon further investigation I am not sure you can play The Corvid Conspiracy with the Bots. The Corvid Conspiracy has the Trait “Exposure” which allows an enemy to guess the type of facedown Plot Token in a clearing they also occupy in their Evening before drawing cards. To guess the enemy needs to show a matching card of the clearing. I do not find an official rule as to how the Bots could guess since Bots don’t have cards (Poor Manual Dexterity).
**(Continued) One option I thought of might be: (WARNING – Off the cuff and not playtested)
- Take the extra Plot Tokens and form a draw pile by removing the same tokens that are face-up on the board. Remaining extra tokens are placed in an opaque container.
- On a Bot turn, if that Bot is ahead in VP compared to the Corvid Conspiracy they randomly draw one token from the container.
- If the drawn token matches the Plot Token in that clearing the Plot Token is removed from the board and the Bot scores 1 VP.
- If the drawn Plot Token does not match, the player draws the next card of that suit from the Draw Pile, discarding any non-matching cards until a match is made.