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Subject: Enemies of My Enemies - A Guide to Winning As and Against Different Factions rss

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Lex Zypher
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Who this guide is designed for: If you're the type of person who writes about how much the Vagabond and Woodland Alliance just keep winning, or how the Marquise and the Eyrie are hot garbage, this might be useful.

Why this guide exists: I'm the type of person who kind of gets tired of pointing out why a certain player is going to win in my games of Root as everyone takes actions, and then, to no surprise, that player wins. Yeah, I'm a little spiteful, but it's not exactly thrilling to play through a game where things just go into the toilet around turn 2.

THE BASICS

Hi, welcome to the guide. This guide is going to get split up into separate sections for each faction. We'll be looking at what each faction's goal is, at what pace they score points at, and how to snuff out each faction before they pick up their necessary traction.

In this first post, we'll be discussing scoring curves, faction types, crafting goals, and generally approaching the game from the macro view. In the second post, there will be a short snippet on each faction, focusing on how to win and how to defeat each faction.



SCORING



This here is a graph I made based on the scoring patterns of each faction. I made a few assumptions here, such as players occasionally hitting each other when it's worthwhile, the Eyrie managing to somehow not turmoil, crafting items being done sparingly, and Favor cards being used at specific points of the game. As such, this isn't a 100% accurate snapshot of games. It also makes the following assumptions:
- Players are opportunistic, aiming for tokens and buildings when it's feasible to, and otherwise focusing on their own faction's engine and scoring methods. The Vagabond only aids when it's inexpensive to do so.
- Cats have a mixed strategy of building recruiters and maintaining workshops.
- Birds do not make extensive use of the Despot's ability, nor do they turmoil.
- Woodland Alliance are moderately contained (mostly through opportunity.)
- Players do not craft swords or hammers for the Vagabond.
- The Vagabond is not a Scoundrel, e.g. they possess at least one hammer or sword.
- The Riverfolk only take 2 to 3 warriors out of their Payments box each turn.
- There are expected times for a Favor card to hit the board, based on how feasible it is to craft it for each faction and how much destruction is expected. This is turn 7 for Lizard Cult, turn 8 for Riverfolk and Woodland Alliance. The Vagabond has a large burst of points around turn 9 based on using triple swords or triple hammers to wipe clearings, or using Allied Aid to score multiple +2 points.

On one hand, this graph isn't made with actual game data. On the other hand, this graph has been compared with actual game data, with the following observations noted:
1. The majority of games follow the trends of this graph.
2. The winners of games tend to skip ahead one turn in expected points.
3. The closest players to winning tend to follow the trends almost exactly, sometimes being a turn behind the data trend.
4. The furthest players do not remotely follow this trend and seem to sputter out very early.

If lack of data concerns you, compare the graph against games recorded here in the following link and note how suspciously close the data is to my own: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yf1kZLdlWCSBdiROvzjI...

So, what can we learn from this graph and the games it has been compared to?

Marquise: Gains about 3 points a turn at a steady rate, after one or two turns at 2 points. Gets outpaced by everyone else.

Eyrie:
Gains about 3.5 points a turn at a steady rate, after a short buildup period. Is about one turn ahead of the Marquise in points.

Woodland Alliance: Starts off with a small point gain, about 2 points a turn for five turns. After this point, they've established a strong enough foothold with bases or sympathy to either organize or play a Favor for big points. They'll start gaining about 6 points a turn at this portion of the game, ending the game a turn or two before the Eyrie can.

Vagabond:
Gains about 1.5 points a turn for the first four turns, as they pick up their items from the ruins. Once they get their hammer and second sword, they can score 3 points on turn 5 easily, and then typically start gaining 5 to 6 points a turn as they combine aid, quests, crafts, and the stabbing of enemy warriors to their advantage. If they get a third sword or hammer, expect a 10 point jump as early as turn 7.

Lizard Cult:
Sits at a pretty 0 points for the first three turns, almost always. They start gaining about 3 points a turn after that point, swapping between 2 and 4 as they decide which gardens to score on, and then nabbing around 6 points a turn if they can survive to about turn 8. Lizards have a very reliable use of Favor cards, which is measured in a 10 point jump on the graph on turn 7.

Riverfolk: Probably gains 0 points for the first two turns, before moving up to about 3 points a turn between crafting, slapping vulnerable buildings and tokens, and throwing down trade posts. These guys are pretty good at throwing out Favor, accounting for the 10 point jump on turn 8 of the graph. Otters tend to sputter out at the end from a lack of scoring opportunities, requiring a big burst of points in the final two rounds.



SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN?

There's basically four types of scoring in the game.
- Steady scoring is done by the Marquise, keeping a relatively predictable pace.
- Linear-steady scoring is done by the Eyrie, who build up to a point where their roosts reach an equilibrium of being constructed and being destroyed.
- Exponential scoring is performed by the Woodland Alliance, the Vagabond, and the Lizard Cult, who each start by gaining very few points, and end by gaining a huge, increasing point lead.
- Burst scoring is performed by the Riverfolk, whose ability to score is limited by the items available to craft, how many trade posts they can throw down, and if they're allowed to hold onto Favor cards between turns.



I think there's a couple key concepts to approach here.



The first has to do with general commentary on Root and the faction balance. It's often stated that Woodland Alliance and Vagabond win far more games than any other faction, especially among newer players. Just by the way that these factions score, it's not really a surprise that they win in the ways they do. A Vagabond looks harmless at the start of the game, and that's because they are. But, as soon as they pick up enough items to take hits for them and enough hammers and swords to start picking up points, the Vagabond becomes uncontrollable in terms of containing their point gain.

The second is that there's a very obvious pace to the game, and the pace is set by the Marquise and Eyrie. As such, it's in the best interest of these two factions to do battle with the other, faster scoring factions, in order to slow those factions down. By that same logic, it's on the Marquise and Eyrie to not strike each other down every chance they get, because neither of them will gain points fast enough for their battles to matter. If one of these factions isn't in the game, the dynamics of the game definitely change, though often it is obvious who will take the place of the Eyrie or the Marquise in terms of who needs to work to slow down the other factions.

In regards to this last statement, we can split the game's factions into three separate types, based on their composition:
- Armies, or Counterinsurgents, who field a large number of warriors and rule large swathes of the board, including the Marquise, the Eyrie, and the Lizard Cult.
- Insurgents, who have little offensive power and ability to rule, including the Woodland Alliance and the Vagabond.
- Hybrids, who can often choose which role to pick, class of the Riverfolk.

In the recommended setups of the Learn to Play books, the setups are basically at least 2 Armies, with the rest of the composition not mattering so much. As such, your best experiences with Root will likely be with some combination of cats, birds, and lizards (and otters filling in if only one of the three show up) having a relative truce and joining forces to battle the Insurgents to prevent their rapid scoring.



CRAFTING

There's all sorts of intricacies involved with crafting that, honestly, you don't really need to sweat the details of. Here's the rundown:
- Crafting in Mice makes you relatively immune to ambushes.
- Crafting in Rabbits gives you extra actions.
- Crafting in Foxes makes your armies more efficient.
- The majority of Bird suit cards use Foxes to craft.
- It takes 2 Rabbits to make any of the action-gaining permanent effects, as well as the three point Coins.
- It takes 1 Mouse to make Tea and Bags
- It takes 2 Foxes to make a Sword
- There's only one Hammer in the deck.

What suits you want to focus on are really dependent on your faction. Marquise and Lizard Cult typically want the extra actions, the Eyrie hates getting ambushed, and everyone else could use the extra military power. The Vagabond wants items, so deciding which suits to craft items in, if any, is crucial to not allowing the Vagabond to run away with the game. In all, knowing what you want to craft should help you set yourself up so that you can craft what you need when it's drawn into your hand.



DOMINATION

As something that basically allows the armies to win separately from the rat race, Domination Victory is a difficult task that tends to result in either instant victory or instant defeat on the next turn. Virtually impossible for the Woodland Alliance to perform, and difficult to manage with the Riverfolk's 15 warriors, Dominance is restricted to the bigger players of the forest (and the Vagabond, of course, via a roundabout method.) If you're going to try this, you're going to need the stars to align and for enough people to lack the energy to stop you:
- Marquise has to be suffering on warriors to contest rule
- Eyrie needs to have a lack of warriors or have fallen into turmoil
- Woodland Alliance needs to have no ability to Revolt against you
- Vagabond needs to be forced to make the decision to repair
- Lizard Cult can't threaten any Conspiracies against you
- Riverfolk honestly just make this impossible in most cases, though it can happen that they simply lack enough funds to generate a necessary army.

Of course, the sad part is that the Marquise and Eyrie very often rely on Dominance to win, simply due to their low scoring margin. Should you be successful, bask in the glory of your win. Should you fail, don't expect to be given a second chance to try again for the remainder of the game.
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MARQUISE DE CAT
Faction type: Army
Scoring type: Steady
Crafting preference: Rabbits

Who you are: You're Spain wanting gold, you're a superpower demanding oil, you're the Marquise seeking wood.

Winning with the Marquise: Well, your options are limited. You can try scoring, which isn't particularly simple. Doing so requires that you build workshops (these have the highest point value of all buildings) and craft items. The issue with crafting is that the Vagabond simply profits off of your strategy, even if you're hostile to them. Your second option is to toss as many warriors on the board as possible and steady yourself for a Dominance victory. You'll probably have to team up with whichever faction starts in your opposite corner in order to beat down everyone else, which doesn't help when your massive armies and limited actions make you look like a huge punching bag. Craft in Rabbits to make the most out of your turns.

Special Note: You are the police of the woods. You're going to want to make good friends with the player in your opposite corner and probably spend your first turn moving 3 guys onto the Vagabond and knocking the stuffing out of him. You've got enough guys to rule an Alliance base, and you probably should. You're the most capable of pulling off a Dominance victory out of everyone, and your field hospitals might allow you to make a second bid at it if your first attempt fails.

Defeating the Marquise:
You just kind of ignore them. Let's be honest, everyone else is faster at scoring than the Marquise, and you can't really slow them down, save dropping a Favor on them and crippling their entire economy. Try to make friends with the Marquise and get them to bash on your enemies, then zoom past them in points.


EYRIE DYNASTIES

Faction type: Army
Scoring type: Linear-steady
Crafting preference: Mice or Foxes

Who you are: Your family once ruled these lands! And so did that guy's family! And that guy was once a duke! And this one over here is the son of the daughter of the cousin of an earl! Why don't any of the common folk appreciate your perfect feudal society?

Winning with the Eyrie: Step one, draw a good opening hand. Step two, draw even better cards. If you don't believe in luck, then you've at least got four different paths to victory. Your Charismatic eagle is pretty great in the early game for producing troops, your Despot vulture and owl Commander give you great benefits for pursuing a military strategy, and your adorable Builder woodpecker can easily close games through sheer point volume. You can go for collecting as many roosts as possible in as few turns as possible and seek an early Turmoil, or you could try to play the long game and chip away at your enemies while building up one roost at a time. Going for a Dominance victory is risky, but especially plausible when you win ruling ties. Play your colored cards in Recruit and Move to help avoid turmoil, saving your bird suits for battling and building.

Special Note: You are one of the Armies, making you part of the woodland police. Make friends with the player starting in the opposite corner of you as early as possible, and then set up a way to stop the Vagabond from abusing the board. You're pretty well set up to fight the Riverfolk, especially when you've got the Despot available. The Commander is particularly good at sending a guy into an Alliance base and swinging for at least 1 hit, possibly 2.

Defeating the Eyrie: Turmoil. It's so easy to figure this one out that they printed it right on their faction board. You generally want to turmoil the Eyrie as early in their turn as possible, to prevent them from gaining maximum benefits. The easy targets are Recruit and Battle, given that a colored Recruit simply requires destroying all the roosts in that color, and a colored Battle can be made impossible by simply moving out of the appropriate areas. Find the right point to nail the Eyrie and slow them down for a bit. The most significant things that should give you worry are letting too many roosts remain on the board for too long, and allowing the Eyrie to make huge scoring plays with the Despot and Commander, especially in a three player game where they don't need to play the police.


WOODLAND ALLIANCE
Faction type: Insurgency
Scoring type: Exponential
Crafting preference: Foxes

Who you are: The common people, united! Birds have no right to rule anymore, and the cats have no soveigrnty!

Winning with the Alliance: Get yourself a nice spread of Sympathy turn one, specifically away from your enemies so that it's difficult for them to deal with you. Throw up a base on turn two, then start the party. Try to ensure that your supporter pile has no colors in your base suits, in case of enemy invasion. Spread Sympathy out with supporters and warriors to get big points, then threaten Favor crafts. If you can't leave your base for whatever reason, just build a new one elsewhere.

Special Note:
You've only got 10 warriors. Balancing the amount of officers you need is pretty crucial. If you're particularly willing, you can throw 7 guys in the box and try to defend a base with 3. It might throw you into a cycle of Attack -> Recruit -> Attack if people keep ruling your clearing, but if you can break out, that gives you a ton of actions to spread sympathy with.

Defeating the Alliance: Restrict their Sympathy to one corner of the board, then squash their bases by simply applying Rule over them. You can't fight a revolution, but you can surely police it. Force Martial Law whenever possible by always stacking three or more warriors. Obviously, smack any Sympathy that threatens to wipe a valuable clearing, but otherwise feel free to let it sit around if there's no harm to it.


VAGABOND
Faction type: Insurgency
Scoring type: Exponential
Crafting preference: Hammers make this a non-issue

Who you are: You are a ronin, the Man with No Name, a wandering outlaw whose motivations are mysterious and sometimes unsettling, and often requires playing all sides against each other.

Winning with the Vagabond: You've got so many paths to victory that it's hard to pick just one. You need your sword and hammer as soon as possible, so that you can begin crafting all the items you'll ever need and defend yourself while doing it. Should you aid for easy points, giving your opponents a little bit of extra resources to work with? Do you try to collect enough items to easily do quests? The most valuable option tends to be to do battle with the opposition, gaining points for killing warriors and double points for killing buildings, though this limits your ability to maneuver around the board. In all, your goal is to survive long enough and develop your inventory quick enough to ensure that nobody can stop you from achieving your goals. If you feel like you've been beaten too badly and forced to retreat too many times, try to form a Coalition with the Woodland Alliance, the Riverfolk, or the Lizard Cult for another path to victory.

Special Note: There's one hammer item in the whole deck. Assuming everyone is playing around your existence, you're never getting it except on a lucky draw. If you don't get it in your hand in the first four turns, you should immediately consider your options. Two swords can be enough to get 4+ points a turn on hostilities, making an Ally of the Woodland Alliance gives ridiculous point gain, and quests can seriously stack up. If people mess you up, you can still maneuver around the board as long as you have your torch to clear ruins with.

Defeating the Vagabond: The Vagabond gains most of their points rapidly after the fifth turn. Thus, the best time to stop them is within the first four turns. While bashing on a defenseless Vagabond seems kind of mean, forcing him to retreat into the woods once or twice during the game means putting his points back on pace with every other faction. The earlier you do this, the earlier he becomes Hostile, which forces him to spend extra boots to move anywhere. The longer the game continues, the more items the Vagabond will have to take hits for them, and the more chances they'll have to swing two or three swords around. Speaking of items, you probably shouldn't craft any for the majority of the game. If you must craft anything, avoid hammers and swords at all costs, and try to avoid giving the Vagabond their first tea, their second boot, and any bags. This should keep their ability to function independently much lower, and grant everyone else the ability to actually stay in the game.


LIZARD CULT

Faction type: Army
Scoring type: Exponential
Crafting preference: Rabbits

Who you are: The non-believers need to be punished, and we have the people willing to become martyrs to our cause.

Winning with the Lizards: Assuming that you're playing with the updated faction boards for these guys, your game plan is fairly rote. First, build up a defensive line of lizards wherever possible. Second, use your defenses to construct two gardens of each color, both for the scoring abilities and the card draw. Third, use your conspiracies to fend off invaders and make opportunistic grabs over territory by converting warriors and then using those warriors to bash any leftover buildings. Fourth, position yourself in case of possible Favor draw and then start scoring every turn, if possible, while dumping off your extra bird cards.

Special Note:
If you're in the opposite corner of another army, you're going to have to join them as the woodland police. You can't easily spread out, but you can convert pesky Riverfolk and Woodland Alliance troops to free your buddy to take care of Woodland Alliance bases and the Vagabond. Dominance can get real silly when your opponents have to literally kill you to the last man to rule your clearings, so set yourself up for it.

Defeating the Lizards: Pay attention to when they pick up Ambushes and Favors so that you know where to pick fights and how to manipulate the Outcast. Your primary goal here is to find poorly defended gardens and smash them in order to deplete the Lizards' hand. The more of their warriors you kill, the more conspiracies they can perform, so make sure that you can wipe a garden or two if you commit to an attack.


RIVERFOLK COMPANY

Faction type: Hybrid
Scoring type: Burst
Crafting preference: Mice or Foxes

Who you are: Tony Stark with an oyster on your belly, you're here to supply the goods so you can make maximum profit.

Winning with the Riverfolk: You don't need to be a good merchant to win, nor does anyone have to buy any of your services. What you do need to do is know your role in the game and remain frugal. If there is only one Army in the game, you are the other Army. If you're up against an Army, the Lizards, and a pair of the Vagabond with another Vagabond or the Woodland Alliance, then you're not only another Army, but the Lizards are also now the Hybrid, due to their inability to really contest the Alliance or the Vagabond without the Outcast being in their favor. Buy up cards, buy lots of cards, and charge low enough that things will get bought, and discard any extras to mess with the Outcast. Drop your otters on the river spaces to wipe out poorly defended tokens and buildings. Offer Rule in contested or out-of-reach areas to get factions, especially the Eyrie, to buy your Mercenaries. Keep enough trade posts around so that you can craft later, and set your prices unreasonably high whenever a high value Ambush, Coin, or Favor comes up. You should rarely, if ever, rely on Dividends, and instead take solace in the fact that your military and your item crafting are fairly difficult to displace.

Special Notes: If your opponents are playing hard-to-get, you might get stuck with only 2 of your own warriors in your Payments box every turn. Optimally, 2 warriors is all you'll ever get, regardless of who gives them to you, sometimes you'll get 3 when it's important. Be careful with charging 1 on anything, but sometimes getting people to throw down with your riverboats and mercenaries requires taking some hits on sales.

Defeating the Riverfolk: Note that the Riverfolk will always gain 2 funds each turn if their Payments are empty. Therefore, they should always be paid 1 or 2 in total before each of their turns, so that some benefits can be gained in spite of their automatic income. Sometimes you'll need to spend 3 to double up on card draw and Riverboats, for instance, or 4 to ensure that Favor doesn't end up in the wrong hands. Feeding the otters, as it's often referred to, is an easy way to lose the game instantly. On turn 5, they should have gained around 12 Funds; on turn 10, they should have gained around 25 Funds. Don't let them breach these threshholds without a fight. Don't destroy trade posts; this only allows the Riverfolk to place another one in that clearing, and all you got was a lousy point. Do kill warriors, since the Riverfolk have incredibly cheap Move and Battle actions, requiring only a temporary commitment of one fund, while throwing more warriors on the board requires a costly permanent expenditure. Think of these guys as a slightly slower, slightly more stable Vagabond.



CLOSING


I'd like to thank the people at the Root discord server for participating in many many games and helping to discuss the finer parts of the game: https://discord.gg/XX2kGWa

I'd like to thank Swuft for setting up data collection for the server's played games, with which I've been able to find some really interesting data comparisons: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yf1kZLdlWCSBdiROvzjI...

So long, and thanks for all the fish.
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Benjamin C.
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This is going to be mandatory reading for newcomers to the table !
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Esben Heick
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This is great, and worthy of further study ! Great job !

EDIT:

While the "people generally shouldn't craft for the vagabond" is true, its also true that if no player crafts, and then a single player starts to craft stuff, then there is only one player who gets a boost in points. And if I am the only one crafting, I have a source of points the others don't. They hungrily look at my points from my latest Bake Sale, and someone lose their cool. This sometimes leads to a points race where the only one who really benefits is the vagabond. I believe the key thing to craft is to gain the right points from crafting, not the most points.
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Kirk W
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Subscribing so that I can come back and read this another day, maybe in a year or so. Don't get me wrong, I think this research is really cool, but one of the biggest allures of this game for me is personally exploring with my gamer friends how each of the factions interact with the others. Having just played one game of my newest aquisition I'm very excited to play a LOT more. And then I'll be back to compare notes.
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Lex Zypher
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esque wrote:
This is great, and worthy of further study ! Great job !

EDIT:

While the "people generally shouldn't craft for the vagabond" is true, its also true that if no player crafts, and then a single player starts to craft stuff, then there is only one player who gets a boost in points. And if I am the only one crafting, I have a source of points the others don't. They hungrily look at my points from my latest Bake Sale, and someone lose their cool. This sometimes leads to a points race where the only one who really benefits is the vagabond. I believe the key thing to craft is to gain the right points from crafting, not the most points.

It's really comes down to expected returns, doesn't it? I think everybody should craft when it becomes feasible to, which, assuming the table kept the Vagabond down for the early game, comes around turn 5 or 6. I still would hold onto swords and hammer for a last turn score, but at that point making items gains more value (especially if the Vagabond is hostile with you, which means they can't gain points while taking your items.)

Of course, coins are pretty much always a safe choice to craft, given that cards don't really help the Vagabond out too much. I reason that you shouldn't give the Vagabond their first tea or their second boots for the reasons of:
- 2 boots means an ability to move through hostile territory.
- Refreshing 5 items means over half an inventory.

Of course, bags hold extra inventory, but the Vagabond usually doesn't want to take hits to those, so those are mostly a discretion thing. Crossbows aren't worth much, so they tend to just hurt the person that crafted them.
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True. I guess its the same economy mechanism, but the same thing happens with the Otters. Its fundamentally the same dilemma. Do I want to enable the third party by gaining an edge that will allow me to win? Do I thereby incentivize the other players to initiate an arms race (or points race in the case of the vagabond) that makes me lose control, allowing the third party to profit enough to win ? I believe there is a trend like this:

* If you're in a conflict as a merchant, and nobody buys your wares, you lose, and the rest of the table must fight to see who wins.

* If you're in a conflict as a merchant, and one player starts to buys your wares, then that player gains an edge against the others.

* If you're in a conflict as a merchant, and all parties buy your wares in an attempt to defeat the others, you win.

Same goes with the vagabond, although the flow of wares is reversed, the system remains the same. Thoughts ?


 
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Dom Rougier
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I really like what you've done here, thank you.

The limitations of the guide are that the actual "game" in Root has to lie in this murky mid-game. Assuming Root ends up being a game worth analysing and playing for an extended period - which it seems like it might - then the mid-game interaction is where the meat has to be.

For example, the section "Winning with the Marquise" hits all the right notes, but doesn't really go far enough, I think. The Marquise is a control faction, playing the long game, and since their path to victory is a turn or two behind others, the way they'll win is to disrupt the other players and slow them down enough to sneak past them. If you can win in 10 turns, and make the other players win in 11, you'll win without rolling the dice for Dominance.

Equally, the characterisation of "hope you get the right cards" for the Eyrie isn't really true, I think - it definitely helps, but I generally feel that you can make something out of pretty much any Eyrie hand, even if that involves intentionally going into turmoil earlier than you'd otherwise like. I also think the aim for the Eyrie is to turmoil two or three times total during a game, and always when you've planned to do so.

Seven warriors in the Woodland Alliance box seems very much like an all-or-nothing strategy - I could see it working, but it's going to be incredibly restrictive, so it's probably only good for a sprint over the line.

The idea of refusing to craft as a response to the Vagabond seems like a sensible one, but I think there's a degree of nuance there - not only in terms of VP, but also in terms of useful cards. The Marquise needs bird suits, and the Eyrie need as many cards as they can get, so Aid actions are valuable to both parties - there's definitely room for social interaction here, but even just mechanically there's more to this than just "never craft", I think.
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Lex Zypher
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esque wrote:
True. I guess its the same economy mechanism, but the same thing happens with the Otters. Its a dilemma, and fundamentally the same dilemma. Do I want to enable the third party by gaining an edge that will allow me to win? Do I thereby incentivize the other players to initiate an arms race (or points race in the case of the vagabond) that makes me lose control, allowing the third party to profit enough to win ? I believe there is a trend like this:

* If you're in a conflict as a merchant, and nobody buys your wares, you lose, and the rest of the table must fight to see who wins.

* If you're in a conflict as a merchant, and one player starts to buys your wares, then that player gains an edge against the others.

* If you're in a conflict as a merchant, and all parties buy your wares in an attempt to defeat the others, you win.

Same goes with the vagabond, although the flow of wares is reversed, the system remains the same. Thoughts ?

Kind of a bit of what makes dealing with the Vagabond and the Riverfolk messy is that helping yourself tends to help them far more. In the case of the Vagabond, they're so self-sufficient that they don't need your help anyways. In the case of the Riverfolk, it's entirely possible to survive a whole game operating on your own natural income and do work, but it's implied through their mechanics that having customers is a serious boon and they just don't function right otherwise.

So, here's the thing with the Riverfolk: They're far more valuable to the Marquise and Eyrie than they are to anyone else. They both could use permanent improvements, they both could use Bird cards, and they both stand the most to lose if a Favor hits the board. Lizards too, certainly, though not nearly to the same degree. I'm not sure what the design intent of the Riverfolk are, but I feel like they're meant to be more useful to the armies as a way to help equalize games. The issue here, of course, is that anybody can access their services in the same exact way, and oftentimes all of these services are set to 2+ cost, so there's very little incentive to actually make use of these once one person has.

I will say that crafting items that the Vagabond can grab for you, yeah, you end up with some points and some cards by the end of it, but you have to figure that the Vagabond's score just tends to soar the more crap they collect. All about timing and knowing when benefits outweigh the costs.



Domfluff wrote:
I really like what you've done here, thank you.

The limitations of the guide are that the actual "game" in Root has to lie in this murky mid-game. Assuming Root ends up being a game worth analysing and playing for an extended period - which it seems like it might - then the mid-game interaction is where the meat has to be.

For example, the section "Winning with the Marquise" hits all the right notes, but doesn't really go far enough, I think. The Marquise is a control faction, playing the long game, and since their path to victory is a turn or two behind others, the way they'll win is to disrupt the other players and slow them down enough to sneak past them. If you can win in 10 turns, and make the other players win in 11, you'll win without rolling the dice for Dominance.

Equally, the characterisation of "hope you get the right cards" for the Eyrie isn't really true, I think - it definitely helps, but I generally feel that you can make something out of pretty much any Eyrie hand, even if that involves intentionally going into turmoil earlier than you'd otherwise like. I also think the aim for the Eyrie is to turmoil two or three times total during a game, and always when you've planned to do so.

Seven warriors in the Woodland Alliance box seems very much like an all-or-nothing strategy - I could see it working, but it's going to be incredibly restrictive, so it's probably only good for a sprint over the line.

The idea of refusing to craft as a response to the Vagabond seems like a sensible one, but I think there's a degree of nuance there - not only in terms of VP, but also in terms of useful cards. The Marquise needs bird suits, and the Eyrie need as many cards as they can get, so Aid actions are valuable to both parties - there's definitely room for social interaction here, but even just mechanically there's more to this than just "never craft", I think.

I was hoping that my less serious remarks would come across as being less serious. Part of the problem is that this isn't meant to be a comprehensive guide, as someone else is already working on that. What I do hope is to elucidate what folks should be doing on the macro and micro levels for handling problem factions in their games.

The Marquise can win through points, but I'm going to quote Cole on this one: 2/3s of games are won through military and Dominance, the other 1/3 are won through crafting. In a three player game, cats can throw their weight around a lot more, given that they no longer have to police as many factions. It's very possible, given that Eyrie is in the game, that they force an Eyrie turmoil and can ride out the rest of the game in piece. The more players you add, the less stable the economic victory becomes. It requires a very concerted effort to keep down two or three other factions without the opposite army playing along, and even then it becomes a struggle.

Eyrie is definitely all about turmoiling on your own terms, though I haven't seen anyone turmoil twice and live to tell the tale. You're really only allowed one good turmoil, after setting yourself up in the early game to profit. Otherwise, you're honestly just throwing away a whole turn of points to reset your action board.

Alliance really needs 4+ officers, the exact number fluctuating between 4 and 7. You need enough to recruit, move, and spread sympathy, and have enough left over for flexibility. 7 officers is the most extreme you can get, with the argument being that you don't really need more than 3 warriors. The main problem that you run into is that people want to Rule you to prevent you from escaping your base. The more warriors you have around, the less actions you can take, but the fewer warriors, the more control people have over you. My personal opinion is that you should just make more bases if someone jumps on you, but some other people are of the opinion that you should just fight your way out and try to score like 9 points in one turn. It really comes down to what your current goals are, I suppose.

Here's the thing about the Vagabond's Aid: It always helps them more than it helps you. You get one extra action for one turn. They get one extra action for the whole game. They become more immune to attacks and get a point out of aiding you, you get one whole card to work with. There's no guarantee that the Vagabond is going to give you anything worthwhile, and it's hard to say "oh no I'm not going to craft anything for you anymore," because now they have what they want and you've got crap. There's no reason to be friends with someone whose goal is to play the sides against each other and profit off what remains. Should you never craft items? Well, no, but I think I was clear on what I think you should avoid crafting, and when. It's a lot of fuss to be chummy with someone when it costs you the game.
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Simon Agner Holm
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Fantastic stuff here. Can´t wait to really dig into this article.
Must have taking a ton of time to compile all of this. Well done!

one small comment: When you say "Logarithmic" scoring, don´t you mean "Exponential"? Since logarithmic scale decelerates while an exponential scale accelerates.
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I think this is solid advice.

Petty greed is a factor though, in my experience. If I have solid crafting cards and crafting pieces, I'm left with the question, "should I craft this card?"

I have the crafting Piece by default. It will cost me nothing to craft this card. I'll get points, and a replacement card when a vagabond aids me. So it comes down to: do I want to score some points at zero personal cost right now? Should I craft ? Well, quite probably not, but I am probably going to do it anyways, because, well, greed.

Also, the next player will hopefully get a little scared of the 'bond and whack him.
 
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Doug DeMoss
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esque wrote:
This is great, and worthy of further study ! Great job !

EDIT:

While the "people generally shouldn't craft for the vagabond" is true, its also true that if no player crafts, and then a single player starts to craft stuff, then there is only one player who gets a boost in points. And if I am the only one crafting, I have a source of points the others don't. They hungrily look at my points from my latest Bake Sale, and someone lose their cool. This sometimes leads to a points race where the only one who really benefits is the vagabond. I believe the key thing to craft is to gain the right points from crafting, not the most points.

I would say it's more that if you DO craft, you should try to do it late, but preferably before everybody else. Yes, there's some tension there.
 
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WELL DONE SIR!!!
 
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esque wrote:
I think this is solid advice.

Petty greed is a factor though, in my experience. If I have solid crafting cards and crafting pieces, I'm left with the question, "should I craft this card?"

I have the crafting Piece by default. It will cost me nothing to craft this card. I'll get points, and a replacement card when a vagabond aids me. So it comes down to: do I want to score some points at zero personal cost right now? Should I craft ? Well, quite probably not, but I am probably going to do it anyways, because, well, greed.

Also, the next player will hopefully get a little scared of the 'bond and whack him.

Why not craft and whack the Vagabond? whistle

They weren't going to give you a good card anyways.
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Doug DeMoss
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All cards are good cards.
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Agner wrote:

one small comment: When you say "Logarithmic" scoring, don´t you mean "Exponential"? Since logarithmic scale decelerates while an exponential scale accelerates.

I think you're correct and I forgot which function was which. Oops.
 
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Andrew Newell
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Domfluff wrote:
I really like what you've done here, thank you.

The limitations of the guide are that the actual "game" in Root has to lie in this murky mid-game. Assuming Root ends up being a game worth analysing and playing for an extended period - which it seems like it might - then the mid-game interaction is where the meat has to be.

Yeah it's the midgame that's the most unpredictable and the one I probably need the most help with... and I suspect the answer to any questions might be "be better at negotiating".

For example, let's say I set up a bit of breathing space as the Marquis and the Vagabond isn't hostile yet. Do I waste a turn smacking them? Or considering the fact that I'm likely behind on points do I try to convince them to form a Coalition to remove the threat of his explosive point scoring? The best solution depends so much on the players at the table that it's very hard to strategize.
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Triskelli wrote:
Domfluff wrote:
I really like what you've done here, thank you.

The limitations of the guide are that the actual "game" in Root has to lie in this murky mid-game. Assuming Root ends up being a game worth analysing and playing for an extended period - which it seems like it might - then the mid-game interaction is where the meat has to be.

Yeah it's the midgame that's the most unpredictable and the one I probably need the most help with... and I suspect the answer to any questions might be "be better at negotiating".

For example, let's say I set up a bit of breathing space as the Marquis and the Vagabond isn't hostile yet. Do I waste a turn smacking them? Or considering the fact that I'm likely behind on points do I try to convince them to form a Coalition to remove the threat of his explosive point scoring? The best solution depends so much on the players at the table that it's very hard to strategize.

Among the wargames that I play, your early game is often the most crucial portion of your game. Of course, what you consider a wargame and what I consider a wargame might be different, but as an avid player of Dune, Starcraft, March of the Ants, Eclipse, even Risk, you need to set yourself up in a formidable position before the game really takes off, otherwise you're pretty much dead on the second round. One little slip up tends to be fatal, and then you're stuck trying to recover to no avail for the next twenty minutes. I don't believe that Root is really that much different from other games in that regard, but it does change the formula so that:
- Cats don't suffer as much from early hits
- Birds tend to be able to recover fairly well if they're appropriately set up
- Lizards are incredibly easy to set up defences for
- Everyone else scores through arbitrary means and doesn't really need the perfect setup to score any better.

In Root, you can basically split the game into three eras:
- Early game in turns 1 through 4
- Mid game in turns 3 through 7
- End game in turns 8 through 10
The Vagabond is special enough that, if they go without slipping into the woods, they can reduce all of these eras by one turn. Mid game for them basically starts when they get their sword and hammer from the ruins, which is usually on turn 3.

In a hypothetical situation where you haven't attacked the Vagabond in the first four turns, the situation kind of evolves into one of the two following scenarios:
- Other people dealt with the Vagabond, and now you're slightly ahead because of it.
- Nobody else dealt with the Vagabond and currently the Vagabond is already thinking about their endgame.

The first scenario is favorable to you and you're probably set up for a Dominance victory at this point. The second scenario is bad for everyone except the Vagabond, and the table probably screwed the pooch on this.

Assuming scenario 2, your best bet is to hit the Vagabond and try to go for a Dominance before they can turn into a point engine. It's unlikely, but you might even hit them hard enough that they can't function normally, so that they have to form a coalition with someone (possibly even you!) Of course, they may still just not care, and at this point the Eyrie or whoever probably has free run of the board and getting 6 points a turn.

So, ask yourself what the situation is on turn 4. Ask yourself if you can pull out of your point hole, or if you need to just cripple everyone for just a whole turn so that you can get a Dominance out. On turn 4, the following scenarios should be true, assuming a game where people are alright with bashing everyone:
- Marquise has only one Workshop in yellow and/or hasn't gotten out more than one "extra action" card.
- Eyrie is only getting +3 points on roosts.
- Woodland Alliance is sitting pretty in a single base tucked in the corner of the board, where it's expensive to expand outwards.
- Vagabond has had to retreat at least once, going on twice.
- Lizard Cult has only three clearings to expand from and they only have two gardens of one type out, at most two of two types.
- Riverfolk have made no more than 10 Payments this game and haven't had any of their Trade Posts removed.
If anybody has gone beyond these boundaries, they're leading the game. The obvious thing to do is to bash the leader, but this can be easier said than done.

Then there's a matter of what factions are in the game. If people have been chummy with the Riverfolk, then you're in a pretty terrible situation of the Vagabond and the Riverfolk having run of the game. If Eyrie is out and hasn't been harassed, they're probably making an easy 5 points a turn, same with Woodland Alliance and Lizard Cult. If you're really unsure about your midgame, figure out who the leaders are, figure out who the losers are, and try to pit people against each other in a way that the losers profit and the winners get crapped on. That's basically all it comes down to: Play your early game so that nobody has a significant advantage in the mid game.
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Kaganishu Khan
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Regarding the Marquise, I dont have that many games under my belt, but nobody here is ever talking about setting up the wood engine to win through building. I am able to score more than 3 on many turns, usually building one or two buildings (sometimes with overwork), and then hitting an easy roost or sympathy token to supplement my VP income a little, and keep others down.

In my experience, it makes sense to withdraw from about 3-4 clearings to leave them to the other army instead of contesting them. In addition, there is really only one good starting position (the only corner with 2 building slots, top right) in my opinion, as you setup first and thus cant react to anything except which factions are present.

I hog ambushes and only craft rarely, this has served me well with not overly helping the vagabond. Main problem, of course, is the WA, although the occasional VP from sympathy tokens (if I dont have to give them a card for the lack of one) helps a lot.

By concentrating mostly on sawmills and recruiters, I was able to score reliably while having enough warriors to project force and defend accordingly.

Of course, if the WA decides to just throw themselves at you, neither of you are going to win.
 
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Khaunshar wrote:
Regarding the Marquise, I dont have that many games under my belt, but nobody here is ever talking about setting up the wood engine to win through building. I am able to score more than 3 on many turns, usually building one or two buildings (sometimes with overwork), and then hitting an easy roost or sympathy token to supplement my VP income a little, and keep others down.

In my experience, it makes sense to withdraw from about 3-4 clearings to leave them to the other army instead of contesting them. In addition, there is really only one good starting position (the only corner with 2 building slots, top right) in my opinion, as you setup first and thus cant react to anything except which factions are present.

I hog ambushes and only craft rarely, this has served me well with not overly helping the vagabond. Main problem, of course, is the WA, although the occasional VP from sympathy tokens (if I dont have to give them a card for the lack of one) helps a lot.

By concentrating mostly on sawmills and recruiters, I was able to score reliably while having enough warriors to project force and defend accordingly.

Of course, if the WA decides to just throw themselves at you, neither of you are going to win.

Weird. I think the only good starting position is the lower left, as it gives you quick access to the most important clearing in the game (the one with the most connections)
 
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Kaganishu Khan
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Zlarp wrote:
Khaunshar wrote:
Regarding the Marquise, I dont have that many games under my belt, but nobody here is ever talking about setting up the wood engine to win through building. I am able to score more than 3 on many turns, usually building one or two buildings (sometimes with overwork), and then hitting an easy roost or sympathy token to supplement my VP income a little, and keep others down.

In my experience, it makes sense to withdraw from about 3-4 clearings to leave them to the other army instead of contesting them. In addition, there is really only one good starting position (the only corner with 2 building slots, top right) in my opinion, as you setup first and thus cant react to anything except which factions are present.

I hog ambushes and only craft rarely, this has served me well with not overly helping the vagabond. Main problem, of course, is the WA, although the occasional VP from sympathy tokens (if I dont have to give them a card for the lack of one) helps a lot.

By concentrating mostly on sawmills and recruiters, I was able to score reliably while having enough warriors to project force and defend accordingly.

Of course, if the WA decides to just throw themselves at you, neither of you are going to win.

Weird. I think the only good starting position is the lower left, as it gives you quick access to the most important clearing in the game (the one with the most connections)

As the Marquise you rule that important clearing anyway, if you need it. I do, however, think you dont, and it makes you even more of a target. Never get in the way of other factions beating up on each other - that clearing is highly sought-after by the Eyrie and WA, too!
I was talking solely about the Marquise in my post, in case that wasnt clear.
 
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Thanks for the incredible guide. I think it gives a lot of perspective on a game that is so abstract in nature and play.

I have a question though: what does applying Rule over the WA bases do? I read the rulebook and didn't see any mention which prevents them from recruiting etc. on a ruled base/ prevents them from doing anything on a ruled clearing (maybe except walking around).
 
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Byron S
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Winter_Knight35 wrote:
Thanks for the incredible guide. I think it gives a lot of perspective on a game that is so abstract in nature and play.

I have a question though: what does applying Rule over the WA bases do? I read the rulebook and didn't see any mention which prevents them from recruiting etc. on a ruled base/ prevents them from doing anything on a ruled clearing (maybe except walking around).
It prevents them from moving out and Organizing in Evening.
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Dom Rougier
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Yeah, containment is the thing.

If WA rule their base, they could (for example), Recruit, Move and Organise with three Evening actions.

If someone else has a parity of ruling pieces in the WA base, they'd need an additional Recruit action to move out, which is slowing their tempo and making them inefficient.

The other wrinkle is that the WA have a very limited number of Warriors, and would much rather be attacked than attack themselves. If you're forcing them to put a large number of pieces on the board just to move, then they'll be running into their Warrior limits, or eventually forced to waste turns attacking your warriors for no immediate gain - all of which will slow down their tempo and allow you to get ahead.
 
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Isaac Hudson
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Hi, is this still current? I know WA and Vagabond have both been nerfed a bit so I'm curious if it changes this guide, particularly in terms of timings.
 
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