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Subject: Is the Woodland Alliace overpowered? rss

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Kai Mayer
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I just finished my third game in a row where the Woodland Alliance won. This last game it wasn't even close - they skyrocketed to 30 points while their closest opponent sat at 20.

How do you counter these guys? Sure,you can hit their sympathy - except doing so gives them the cards to spread right back. In one game (3 player with Cats and Eyrie) I won as the WA without revolting even once. My opponents killed my sympathy ever turn, but it didn't matter because when they did so I got more cards to simply spread again the next turn. Even if your opponents are killing your sympathy every turn, you can probably manage around 3 victory points a turn just by placing 3 sympathy tokens - as much as the Eyrie get fo having half of their roosts down, but for much less effort. If they stop killing your stuff, cutting off your supply of supporters - fine, I revolt, get a few officers, and start spreading sympathy through organizing, which is even more powerful than spreading it with supporters.

What do you all think? What am I missing? Have we just been playing against incompetent opponents, or are we on to something? I'm currently feeling pretty confident that, if given the opportunity to play the WA, I could win four times out of five.
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J Ruble
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A couple of things to make sure you are remembering:

8.2.4 If you don't have a base on the board than you can't gain more than 5 supporters in your support pile. You discard cards beyond that.

4.3.3 Your opponents are scoring a VP every time they remove you sympathy token.

8.2.4 and 8.2.3 I If you lose a base you lose all your supporters of that type. You lose Bird supporters and half your officers.
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Chris Reimer
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As you pointed out, attacking sympathy tokens isn't always worth it. Put 3 warriors in adjacent clearings so they have to pay for martial law. Consider swatting sympathy tokens that pop up underneath you, but leaving the others alone - the Eyrie's Despot is probably happy to do this. Park cats on their bases so they can't leave. Make them use their actions to attack you. Bonus points if you can play an ambush.

One base on the board is bad. Two bases is a disaster - +2 cards every turn! Everyone in the forest should be aggressively bullying the WA at that point.

A Vagabond with a crossbow is a wonderful harasser of entrenched Woodland Alliance bases. A "favor of the..." card can completely shut down a WA armed resistance.
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Matt R
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Another trick if you are playing Eyrie or the Marsquise is to dump a few warriors on locations where the WA have a base but don't attack their base. Make sure you have enough warriors there so that the WA have to add several of their (very few) warriors into that same clearing so they can do much.

The idea is to just keep the WA warriors pinned there at that base and unable to move out without attacking you first. Definitely feel free to attack their sympathy token and any of their warriors that show up in that clearing but do NOT attack their base specifically (but keep in mind that they can choose to remove their base instead of their token if they have an extra hit to take after their warriors are removed). That will pin them to that clearing making it difficult for them to move their warriors out of the base and elsewhere onto the board where they can start quickly overwhelming in sympathy tokens (and points) by converting their warriors into free sympathy tokens.

When I use that strategy I try to bring in a mass of like 5 or 6 warriors and then attacking them once the WA get 3 or more warriors into the clearing.

Do NOT let the WA start pumping out warriors at bases and moving them around and turning them into sympathy tokens - you will quickly lose the game once the WA can start doing that.
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Tirth Rami
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The rules make it seem like placing sympathy next to each other is optional. Do you have to place it next to another sympathy if you can? For example, there is a fox clearing that is empty next to a sympathetic clearing, If I discard a fox card to put sympathy in a fox clearing can I put it in a non-adjacent fox clearing?
 
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Mikko Saari
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Rule 8.4.2.I is clear: "Choose Clearing. An unsympathetic clearing adjacent to a sympathetic clearing. If there are no sympathetic clearings, you may choose any clearing."

You must choose an adjacent clearing. It's not optional. Only if there are no sympathetic clearings, you can choose freely, ie. your first sympathy token can go anywhere. After that, you must choose an adjacent clearing.

However, this only applies to Spread Sympathy action. If you Organize, you don't have to care about adjacency.
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Mike T
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I misread spreading sympathy as well - I thought that you could choose a fox clearing anywhere on the board, so long as there were no adjacent fox clearings. That is not the case. Maybe the language in the learn to play guide was ambiguous? Because the Law is not.
 
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Mark Watson
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Kaiman620 wrote:

How do you counter these guys? Sure,you can hit their sympathy - except doing so gives them the cards to spread right back.

The minimum cost to spread is two cards, so if you can avoid having to march in to remove it you're only reimbursing half of the cost. Also note the martial law rule; if you make use of this before they have a base out they're limited to a single spread of sympathy per turn due to the five card limit on the supporter stack (something to be mindful of when picking which token to remove. Try and force them into a position where they have to burn most of their supporters to replace lost sympathy, unless of course you're trying to funnel them towards being someone else's problem).

WA basically have a snowball mechanic. If you allow them to gain a good board presence they're hard to stop. Ideally you want to delay, if not outright stop, them getting the ball rolling as much as possible.

In cases where they do manage to get themselves established then hitting their bases should be a priority; losing the cards and generals is a significant hit to their progress and if you can knock them back to the five card limit you seriously impair their ability to re-establish themselves. Rule can be used to lock down their warriors and prevent them using organise for cheap spreads.
 
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Doug DeMoss
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Here's a thought - the WA typically lags a bit in points early but explodes late. This leads to an irritating opportunity (for the other players) if a Vagabond is in play - the Vagabond will likely be able to go Dominance, pinning his or her fortune to the WA's. That coalition seems truly unstoppable.
 
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Kai Mayer
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Thanks for all the replies everyone! I'm seeing that there are ways to slow the WA down, but that they just might not be obvious to newer players. It's good to be reminded of the 5 supporter limit when lacking a base; while it didn't come up in the WA's last two games, I'm fairly certain we missed that during the three player game where they won without ever even placing a base.

I did want to point out one thing:

Archonsod wrote:

The minimum cost to spread is two cards, so if you can avoid having to march in to remove it you're only reimbursing half of the cost.


Actually, the cost to spread sympathy is only 1 supporter when placing the first 3 sympathy tokens (assuming the martial law rule doesn't apply to the clearing they're trying to spread to.)
 
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Mark Watson
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Think I swapped the points and the cost. Wouldn't care but I was playing WA on Saturday (and did win, though largely because Riverfolk tried the old extortion tactics on Cat and I was able to secure most of the left side of the board in relative peace while they helpfully culled each other) modest

 
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Nicolas Lemacon
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Slowing down WA is demanding lots of actions:
- recruit warriors
- move them in WA sympathy/base clearing: triggering ourage
- battle: with no garantee of doing any damage because of the Guerilla, except if no WA warrior is present.

If the Cat has to do it alone, this means automatic loss of the game: You have 3 actions, you must exhasut them all. You lost your entire turn, while the WA gains cards and no hindrance to rebuild the lost Sympathy. Furthermore if there is at least 1 WA warrior, you must score 2 hits. The Guerilla makes it a 4/16 probability. If the WA has a base, it's easy to replace the lost warrior for cheap on his next turn.

The game is nice to play, but if there are not 2 experienced players to know they need to pile up on the WA, there is no way to prevent its victory.

I think the Guerilla is too powerful. It makes going after WA both actions demanding and far too uncertain. 1 of these 2 should drop.

We played all our games (4 so far) in the turn order of the setup (Cat-Eyrie-WA-Vagabond). Now I read the reviews, I think it's the only way to give Cat a chance at winning. If an exprienced WA plays before Cat, Cat won't win.
 
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Lord Loki
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I agree completely. WA wins in 90% of our games. The cats are by far the weakest. 3 actions is simply not enough. No point in having such a large army if you can't use it.
 
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Jordan Murari
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I've logged 10 plays of Root so far and I feel like I'm starting to get a decent grasp on the relative strength of each faction. Admittedly, nearly every game I've played has had at least one new player, which means that at least one faction was played sub-optimally in each game. I don't think that this skews my assessments too badly though, I've played each faction myself and seen each played by experienced players. I've seen each win as well. Note that 8 of the 10 games I've played have been without the expansion.

I think WA is the most powerful faction (I'm not sure that means they are "overpowered" though). I'm not sure this is a problem though. The game is asymmetric on purpose, I don't think the factions need to be truly balanced. The more powerful factions, the WA and Vagabond IMHO, need to be kept in check by the other factions more than the Birds or Cats.

It seems that it takes both the Birds and Cats, at different points, and even the Vagabond in many cases to keep the WA in check. Since WA typically have a very compact board presence it falls to their neighbor to be a check on their power. As I've seen mentioned elsewhere it's important that WA be held to a single base and that base's clearing is occupied by a stack of enemy warriors to inhibit WA's ability to use their warriors to spread sympathy and generate a massive load of points every turn.

The key to Root seems to be each faction acting as a check on the power of the others. As the Birds or Cats you can't pursue your own win without actively disrupting the strategies of the other players, you can't win fast enough. This is a big difference from the WA and Vagabond players who can race for their own victory, largely ignoring the other players.
 
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Kai Mayer
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After some more plays, I agree that the WA can be stopped, but the amount of effort necessary to do so seems...excessive, not to mention thematically off. Part off the problem stems from playing the WA when there are new players at the table. Because the WA can *look* so weak early on, it can be hard to convince new players that they need to be focusing on them instead of another player who might be technically in the lead at that point. And if the WA aren't stopped early, you're probably going to lose to them.

It also seems like an issue to me that so much of the other players' resources must be devoted to stopping the WA. Without real agreement amongst the other factions to stop the WA-which often involves taking actions that earn them fewer points than their alternatives-the WA will likely win. The other players' have to hope no-one decides to be selfish, which, as we all no, probably isn't going to happen (after all, the other players' need points too).
 
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Lord Loki
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Kaiman620 wrote:
After some more plays, I agree that the WA can be stopped, but the amount of effort necessary to do so seems...excessive, not to mention thematically off. Part off the problem stems from playing the WA when there are new players at the table. Because the WA can *look* so weak early on, it can be hard to convince new players that they need to be focusing on them instead of another player who might be technically in the lead at that point. And if the WA aren't stopped early, you're probably going to lose to them.

It also seems like an issue to me that so much of the other players' resources must be devoted to stopping the WA. Without real agreement amongst the other factions to stop the WA-which often involves taking actions that earn them fewer points than their alternatives-the WA will likely win. The other players' have to hope no-one decides to be selfish, which, as we all no, probably isn't going to happen (after all, the other players' need points too).


I don't think it's really up for debate, IMO they are by far the strongest faction. They are great crafters, getting out multiple bases isn't hard to do and is easy to defend, and once they have 5 officers you can't really stop them for exploding (coupled with their great crafting abilities).
 
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Game Guy
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My group has been switching the roles from player to player. WA has won exactly one game out of 10 or so. Basically, they put out their sympathy markers. Every clearing is occupied early in the game, either by the Cats or by a faction which has given the Cats the boot. Even with Guerilla, the Sympathy Tokens are sitting ducks and everyone makes sport of killing them for the point (one action). WA gets a card back, but still face their hand limit plus they only get a card matching the clearing they are attacked in if the attacker has one, otherwise they get a random one. Since the one game WA actually won, they have rarely ever been able to get a base onto the board. They spend their turns feeding Sympathy Markers (AKA Points) to the other factions and getting nowhere. Notice that WA has a very narrow path they must follow- Sympathy, Revolt, Bases; interrupt the first step and they can do nothing. One thing about our games is that we play with the expansion and there are generally 5 or 6 players. That means the actions needed to kill the Sympathy Tokens are spread among the other 4 or 5 factions. It would be tougher to keep WA down with only 1 or 2 opponents. In our games, it has been the Vagabond which is hard to keep down. Even with just starting items and items from the Ruins, the combination of points for Aiding other factions and for Quests makes Vagabond a points machine. They will Aid a faction then move away from it to avoid being attacked. Then use the rest of their available items to Quest. That is hard to stop. WA just requires, as noted by others, that players treat them seriously when they are first starting out.
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Stephen M
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TerrapinStation wrote:
My group has been switching the roles from player to player. WA has won exactly one game out of 10 or so. Basically, they put out their sympathy markers. Every clearing is occupied early in the game, either by the Cats or by a faction which has given the Cats the boot. Even with Guerilla, the Sympathy Tokens are sitting ducks and everyone makes sport of killing them for the point (one action). WA gets a card back, but still face their hand limit plus they only get a card matching the clearing they are attacked in if the attacker has one, otherwise they get a random one. Since the one game WA actually won, they have rarely ever been able to get a base onto the board. They spend their turns feeding Sympathy Markers (AKA Points) to the other factions and getting nowhere. Notice that WA has a very narrow path they must follow- Sympathy, Revolt, Bases; interrupt the first step and they can do nothing. One thing about our games is that we play with the expansion and there are generally 5 or 6 players. That means the actions needed to kill the Sympathy Tokens are spread among the other 4 or 5 factions. It would be tougher to keep WA down with only 1 or 2 opponents. In our games, it has been the Vagabond which is hard to keep down. Even with just starting items and items from the Ruins, the combination of points for Aiding other factions and for Quests makes Vagabond a points machine. They will Aid a faction then move away from it to avoid being attacked. Then use the rest of their available items to Quest. That is hard to stop. WA just requires, as noted by others, that players treat them seriously when they are first starting out.

It seems like your group has overcompensated, and some factions would win more if they spent an action attacking the Vagabond instead of the WA.
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Jay M
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TerrapinStation wrote:
My group has been switching the roles from player to player. WA has won exactly one game out of 10 or so. Basically, they put out their sympathy markers. Every clearing is occupied early in the game, either by the Cats or by a faction which has given the Cats the boot. Even with Guerilla, the Sympathy Tokens are sitting ducks and everyone makes sport of killing them for the point (one action). WA gets a card back, but still face their hand limit plus they only get a card matching the clearing they are attacked in if the attacker has one, otherwise they get a random one. Since the one game WA actually won, they have rarely ever been able to get a base onto the board. They spend their turns feeding Sympathy Markers (AKA Points) to the other factions and getting nowhere. Notice that WA has a very narrow path they must follow- Sympathy, Revolt, Bases; interrupt the first step and they can do nothing. One thing about our games is that we play with the expansion and there are generally 5 or 6 players. That means the actions needed to kill the Sympathy Tokens are spread among the other 4 or 5 factions. It would be tougher to keep WA down with only 1 or 2 opponents. In our games, it has been the Vagabond which is hard to keep down. Even with just starting items and items from the Ruins, the combination of points for Aiding other factions and for Quests makes Vagabond a points machine. They will Aid a faction then move away from it to avoid being attacked. Then use the rest of their available items to Quest. That is hard to stop. WA just requires, as noted by others, that players treat them seriously when they are first starting out.


If the WA is getting all its Sympathy tokens killed every turn, then it has decent odds of scoring 3 victory points per turn, spending only one card each point. The player mat balances out that scenario by requiring only a single card to lay a sympathy token.

If they are leaving some sympathy tokens while killing others, then it only takes 2 to make a Base and nuke everyone in the clearing.

In my experience, it has not been that difficult to get the WA going.
 
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Byron S
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Race Bannon wrote:
TerrapinStation wrote:
My group has been switching the roles from player to player. WA has won exactly one game out of 10 or so. Basically, they put out their sympathy markers. Every clearing is occupied early in the game, either by the Cats or by a faction which has given the Cats the boot. Even with Guerilla, the Sympathy Tokens are sitting ducks and everyone makes sport of killing them for the point (one action). WA gets a card back, but still face their hand limit plus they only get a card matching the clearing they are attacked in if the attacker has one, otherwise they get a random one. Since the one game WA actually won, they have rarely ever been able to get a base onto the board. They spend their turns feeding Sympathy Markers (AKA Points) to the other factions and getting nowhere. Notice that WA has a very narrow path they must follow- Sympathy, Revolt, Bases; interrupt the first step and they can do nothing. One thing about our games is that we play with the expansion and there are generally 5 or 6 players. That means the actions needed to kill the Sympathy Tokens are spread among the other 4 or 5 factions. It would be tougher to keep WA down with only 1 or 2 opponents. In our games, it has been the Vagabond which is hard to keep down. Even with just starting items and items from the Ruins, the combination of points for Aiding other factions and for Quests makes Vagabond a points machine. They will Aid a faction then move away from it to avoid being attacked. Then use the rest of their available items to Quest. That is hard to stop. WA just requires, as noted by others, that players treat them seriously when they are first starting out.


If the WA is getting all its Sympathy tokens killed every turn, then it has decent odds of scoring 3 victory points per turn, spending only one card each point. The player mat balances out that scenario by requiring only a single card to lay a sympathy token.

If they are leaving some sympathy tokens while killing others, then it only takes 2 to make a Base and nuke everyone in the clearing.

In my experience, it has not been that difficult to get the WA going.

If they get surrounded by groups of 3+ warriors in their lone sympathy/base, they're spending more cards to drop tokens down than they're receiving. A hemmed in WA has a tough time getting out.
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Jay M
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runtsta wrote:
Race Bannon wrote:
TerrapinStation wrote:
My group has been switching the roles from player to player. WA has won exactly one game out of 10 or so. Basically, they put out their sympathy markers. Every clearing is occupied early in the game, either by the Cats or by a faction which has given the Cats the boot. Even with Guerilla, the Sympathy Tokens are sitting ducks and everyone makes sport of killing them for the point (one action). WA gets a card back, but still face their hand limit plus they only get a card matching the clearing they are attacked in if the attacker has one, otherwise they get a random one. Since the one game WA actually won, they have rarely ever been able to get a base onto the board. They spend their turns feeding Sympathy Markers (AKA Points) to the other factions and getting nowhere. Notice that WA has a very narrow path they must follow- Sympathy, Revolt, Bases; interrupt the first step and they can do nothing. One thing about our games is that we play with the expansion and there are generally 5 or 6 players. That means the actions needed to kill the Sympathy Tokens are spread among the other 4 or 5 factions. It would be tougher to keep WA down with only 1 or 2 opponents. In our games, it has been the Vagabond which is hard to keep down. Even with just starting items and items from the Ruins, the combination of points for Aiding other factions and for Quests makes Vagabond a points machine. They will Aid a faction then move away from it to avoid being attacked. Then use the rest of their available items to Quest. That is hard to stop. WA just requires, as noted by others, that players treat them seriously when they are first starting out.


If the WA is getting all its Sympathy tokens killed every turn, then it has decent odds of scoring 3 victory points per turn, spending only one card each point. The player mat balances out that scenario by requiring only a single card to lay a sympathy token.

If they are leaving some sympathy tokens while killing others, then it only takes 2 to make a Base and nuke everyone in the clearing.

In my experience, it has not been that difficult to get the WA going.

If they get surrounded by groups of 3+ warriors in their lone sympathy/base, they're spending more cards to drop tokens down than they're receiving. A hemmed in WA has a tough time getting out.


So now we've gone from their tokens getting blasted off the board as soon as they can lay them, to the special case of being surrounded by 3+ warriors. In that case, two cards for the clearing they do have on the board, and BOOM. Base. Defended by Guerrilla.

I think it's balanced. The WA is one of the powerful factions. If all other players devote their turns to destroying WA, then yes, that's pretty much a problem for any faction.
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Geoff C
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WA appears powerful when you see their first revolt...but once you understand how to contain them via martial law, they are not overpowered imo.
 
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Talonz wrote:
WA appears powerful when you see their first revolt...but once you understand how to contain them via martial law, they are not overpowered imo.


You're making it sound like martial law is a hard to understand strategy. The reason WA is so strong is that martial law is very difficult to maintain.
 
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Geoff C
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No, im saying once you understand how martial law works *and* to utilize that as part of a containment strategy, the WA struggles. ie: let them have 3 sympathy, and then ring that with martial law. 3 cards to put down another sympathy with little to no movement into their sympathy.
 
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Simon Agner Holm
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This is definitely the most effective way of shutting them down!! But it can be somewhat hard to pull off without compromising your own position too much, especially on the autumn map. Alliance on winter feels a lot more manageable!
 
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