If you haven’t played Root, or read much about it, check out my review for a summary of the theme and mechanics. If you have already enjoyed playing root, but would like some thoughts on strategy, this is the post for you.
During the Game:
Attack from Start; The birds must attack the cats from the start, but it’s not just them. All players should look for some presence on the map from the start and I think it can be underestimated the way that this approach can give you bonuses, and reduce the risk of either the cats or the birds dominating the board for a domination win. This is important because the other players cannot hope to achieve this (realistically) but if the two major powers stockpile armies, they will have the option.
Eyrie- Charisma; The starting leader I would choose every time is the Charismatic leader and focus on recruiting to your home territory. Recruiting is easier than any other action (until it’s impossible) and the Charismatic leader will give you 2 for 1 on those. Keep in mind that extra cards to re-enforcement may be unnecessary though.
Eyrie – Birds; The bird cards give you flexibility, but you will have to place cards every time. Recruiting to a home location, or moving from a location you are recruiting in can make the pre-programmed actions more manageable but be aware that you will need the bird cards for the battles and for the building. Without this you will get pushed to keep invading and building in a limited number of spaces across the whole map!
Cats – Dominance; As the power with the biggest army and most steady defence, the opportunity exists to take the dominance cards and use them for the win. If you hold one, then start to position your front line of war to hold these key locations and work yourself to a position of fortitude at each. you can afford to lose ground between them if you can be sure that you can hold these points for the whole turn.
Cats – Build; I would encourage players to build evenly. There is a strategy to having excess resources, and to recruiting quickly, but I think the even build strategy will give you the best ability to react. You might get a dominance card or you can just continuously rebuild any damaged buildings. Against new players a quick build strategy might get you the points for the win, but against experienced opposition I find you need to build and rebuild. Don’t leave yourself exposed to the removal of key buildings, as this is an easy target for the vagabond. You can always make the final push for the building points late game.
Craft; It doesn’t which army you are, make sure you have the ability to craft what you need to win. Get those keys to the game in place early to ensure that early military success isn’t simply knocked back by a single player building a trap!
Sympathy; The woodland alliance should spread sympathy where the Eyrie have to move. Moving into the sympathy can otherwise be avoided – but there’s nothing the Eyrie can do if they want to keep their regime!
Woodland – Base; The alliance gets extra cards for getting a base down. Military can seem unimportant to woodland but this card boost will be much more of an impact – helping you stop players and ultimately have the flexibility to win.
Vagabond – Items; Get items (from the caves) to get cards. Use the cards to open up the opportunity for more items. Items are the key to your victory, but the items that get you cards are the most valuable in the early game because of the compound effect.
Vagabond – Heal; Vagabonds can retreat at any time to heal, but it’s better to hold out until almost everything is broken. Healing too often is what will stop you winning – other players read this and choose to attack the vagabond. The vagabond needs to be slowed down and it will take military force to do that. Of course, the vagabond should therefore stay away from big armies, play to the skirmish tactics of hit and run. Search the caves early and then stay to the front lines where the fights between other players take priority.