Wednesday Game Night

Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right is on Kickstarter for one more day and it is neat.

A couple weeks back we got to play an early production version of the runaway Kickstarter success Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right at the spectacular Wednesday Games at the Brass Cat.

What is Root? We’re glad you asked! It’s an asymmetrical strategy boardgame. Unlike every other asymmetrical strategy boardgame we’ve ever played, the theme isn’t “you dropped your history textbook” but is instead “you dropped your most beautiful children’s book”. It is the fastest and most intuitive example of the genre we have ever played.

We played as the Eyrie, a bunch of birds working to retake the forest. It was fun as heck!

Here is the explanation of the Eyrie on their Kickstarter page:

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The Eyrie muster their hawks to take back the woods. They must build roosts and capture as much territory as possible before they collapse back into squabbling and turmoil, choosing a new commander to guide them.

The Eyrie have to try to get as much as possible on the board, while managing their extremely rigid social structure. Every turn you need to build up more and more orders in a queue that you NEED to complete, or else society will collapse and there will be a time of crisis while a new leader is chosen. It’s a great way of making you feel ever more powerful and less steady as play proceeds.

Other players were the Marquis de Cat, whose goal is to use her position as the current ruler of all the forest to build up her domain into an industrial juggernaut, the Woodland Alliance who want to try to boot out both the Eyrie and the Cats using their Conspiracies because they’re tired of being stamped on by monarchs, and the Vagabond who is interested in getting as much as possible from everyone by whatever means necessary whether that’s killing, stealing, or giving gifts.

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But what’s an asymmetrical strategy boardgame? Basically think Risk only every player has a completely different set of rules and paths to victory. The differences can be anything really, it’s just important that while some players might share some aspects of their strategies, it’s not “four people try to all control the largest area of the map”.

In the case of Root, everyone wants to get to 40 points, but for instance the Eyrie get points by controlling the map while the Vagabond can get points by giving cards to other players and the Marquis can get some by building a sawmill.

These games tend to be intriguing but complicated. The fact that they have to balance disparate player goals means they can be a real bear to actually play. You need to focus on your own goals, recall what other people need to do to win, track their progress against your progress against the possible result of this turn if you do A, or B, or C, and if they do X, or Y, or Z on their turn… they’re often very much Boardgames for People Who Love Boardgames.

Our favorite example of this complexity is from the excellent game that we like “Liberty or Death” from GMT Games, which is about the American Revolutionary War. This is what the French player does in that game:

As the French, you have the ability to be the thorn in the side of the British in North America. With the Hortalez Rodrigue et Cie Company, formed to feed the Patriots resources, you can fund the Insurrection. Your agents can rally assistance in and around Quebec and you can facilitate privateers to steal resources from the British. When you sign the Treaty of Alliance with the Patriots, you can bring French Regulars to America to March and Battle. You can also increase French Naval Intervention, Blockade Cities, move Regulars by sea and Skirmish with the British.

That’s a short summary of the set of actions available to a single player and it starts with teaching you that the Hortalez Rodrigue et Cie Company exists. We don’t even remember how the French win the game. It is exactly as intuitive to play Liberty or Death game as you imagine it would be, and it takes exactly as long to play as you wish it wouldn’t.

Root took about two hours, using almost exclusively the player-boards to figure out what to do. Well, and some explanation from the local editor extraordinaire Joshua Yearsley, who is in the process of working on making the game more intuitive for new players! We were playing a super pre-production in-development version of the game and we’re pretty sure we’ll see some of our suggestions for more intuitive symbols implemented because we’re geniuses and they were lucky to have us.

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Often the very first game of an Asymmetrical Strategy Boardgame is going to be mostly about learning because it’s hard for anyone to keep track of everyone else’s special rules. Root simplifies that as far as it can by having everyone share a victory track and by having everyone move pieces according to the same rules, but it’s still going to be something where the first try at each faction is a time for learning the game. But it’s fun learning, and it doesn’t seem like it would take more than a couple of games to get a solid handle on every faction thanks to the carefully shared rules.

We played the most unintuitive, least inviting possible version of this game with as little rule-book reading prep as possible for our first time and it was a riot and we’ve been eager to play again since. That bodes well for the final version!

If all this sounds great then should take this moment to back it on Kickstarter while you can and then look forward to it next August! Thanks to hitting all of the Stretch Goals there are now a bunch of extra unique Vagabonds, two totally new factions, and a special Winter board with rules for randomized placement of starting positions to make for even more varied replaying!

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Bonus Events!

No, not FORGOTTEN events.

We’re implacable event-gathering machines, it’s impossible that in the course of putting up a bunch of stuff this week there were any events we missed, inconceivable!

BUT ANYWAY there are some events we may have accidentally elided in our zeal to bring you the Nerd Watch in a timely manner. They are:

TONIGHT – October 12th:

Drink and Draw at The 121 Club in Eastworks [116 Pleasant St, Easthampton, MA 01027] at 7:00pm

They’re going to drink! And draw! You can do either or neither, depending upon your desires! Matt Lubachansky will be there as a special cool guest.

Wednesday Game Night at the Brass Cat [65 Cottage St #101, Easthampton, MA 01027] at 7:00pm

They’re going to drink! And play board games! You can do either or neither, as is your wont. Justin Dowd will be there teaching you to play awesome games!

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the 14th-16th:

The Realm of Fire: An Interactive Theater Adventure at Valley View Farm [16 Walpole Road, Haydenville, MA] at 5:30pm – 8:30pm Friday and Saturday and 2:30pm – 5:00pm Sunday

The Realm of Fire is an interactive theater experience where you’ll interact with elves, dwarves, and fairies as you walk a half-mile trail through Valley View Farm’s beautiful grounds! Groups led by one of the show’s characters leave every 15 minutes, and the walk is about 45 minutes! The trail is candle-lit, but bring flashlights! There are also pick your own pumpkins and food trucks! It’ll be a blast! A blast… of fire!

Saturday, October 15th:

Jedi Academy: A New Class! at Shea Theater [71 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA 01376] at 2:00pm – 2:30pm

“Join New York Times Bestselling Author/Illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka as he celebrates the release of Jedi Academy: A New Class! There will be a group reading of the book, drawing demos and much more! Come dressed as your favorite Star Wars character! May the Force be with you!” It sounds like a blast! A blast… of lasers!

Event Alert! Wednesday Game Night In Easthampton!

Sound the alarm! We forgot to put this in the main newsletter because of we’re going to say our severe exhaustion after we spent most of the day saving dogs from volcanoes. Either way, we realized our mistake!

This week, check out fun games with fun people in a fun town! It takes place at the Brass Cat [65 Cottage St., Easthampton, MA 01027] at 7pm – 11pm on Wednesday, August 3rd.

From the Facebook page for the event:

“Alright Folks, we are back to it! This week, we’ll be featuring two more great games (and of course, whatever else you all bring).

Mysterium (2-7p) is the glorious combination of Dixit and Clue in a race to discover who killed the owner of this now haunted house. One player is the ghost, who is doomed to haunt this house until their killer is revealed and justice is served. She can only communicate information through a series of surreal visions. Everyone else plays the psychics, who will work together to discover the killer, location and murder weapon. Will you solve the mystery in time? Or is the ghost doomed to haunt this house for all eternity?

Shut Up and Sit Down Walkthrough: https://vimeo.com/164075775

In Istanbul (2-5p), you lead a group of one merchant and four assistants through 16 locations in the bazaar. At each such location, you can carry out a specific action. The challenge, though, is that to take an action, you must move your merchant and an assistant there, then leave the assistant behind (to handle all the details while you focus on larger matters). If you want to use that assistant again later, your merchant must return to that location to pick him up. Thus, you must plan ahead carefully to avoid being left with no assistants and thus unable to do anything…

Rahdo Runs Through Istabul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk3OtpvRWHw

If you see a stunningly charming person handing out Nerd Watch stickers, that’s our the homunculus we send into the world to do our bidding. Don’t let the bouncy curls and easy smile fool you, it’s like 90% fingernail clippings!