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Root: The Board Game Buying Guide

On its surface, there is no denying the visual appeal of Root by Leder games - with its adorable woodland critters adorning the box and storybook-esque art style. But, it may surprise you that under its innocent facade is, in fact, a deep and occasionally cutthroat
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with complex factions to choose from, with each one playing drastically different from the others. Root is a challenging game to learn, with each faction playing differently from one another and there being a lot to keep track of (especially in larger groups). But with its complexity comes depth and avenues for strategy.


If you just snag the base game of Root, you will know pretty quickly—within a few playthroughs—whether it is a game for you or not. (You can also check out our
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to see if it sounds like your kind of hting). This buyer's guide highlights and goes into detail about all the various ways you can expand and further enrich your Root experience with new factions, mechanics, and ways to play!

The Base Game

Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right


MSRP: $60.00 USD

  • 2-4 Players (best with 3-4)
  • 60-90 min.
  • Ages 14+

Root was first released back in 2018 and impressed players with its aesthetic that masks its intricate asymmetric gameplay. This base set of Root includes four factions that players can choose from - the Marquise de Cat, the Eyrie Dynasty, the Woodland Alliance, and the lone traveling Vagabond - with varying player counts preferring specific pairings for the best experience. You will need this box in order to take advantage of any of the following additional content, so consider this your starting point.

For Those Who Want To Play Alone Or Team Up Together

Root: The Clockwork Expansion 1 & 2


Contents (Clockwork 1 - REQUIRES BASE GAME)

  • Law of Robotics Instruction Booklet
  • 12 Priority Markers
  • 31 Cards (12 Difficulties, 16 Traits, 3 Vagabots)
  • 4 Faction Boards

MSRP: $40.00 USD

  • 1-4 Players (best with 3-4)
  • 60-90 min.
  • Ages 10+

Contents (Clockwork 2 - REQUIRES BASE GAME AND ONE OR BOTH OF RIVERFOLK OR UNDERWORLD EXPANSIONS)

  • Law of Robotics Instruction Booklet
  • 12 Priority Markers
  • 47 Cards (12 Difficulties, 20 Traits, 3 Vagabots, 1 Interaction, 11 Services)
  • 4 Faction Boards

MSRP: $40.00 USD

  • 1-4 Players (best with 3-4)
  • 60-90 min.
  • Ages 10+

If there are any “must have '' expansions for Root, I would argue that it would be the Clockwork Expansions - at least the first one. These special expansions allow you to play Root as either a solo experience or a cooperative one, with the addition of “AI ''-controlled factions. The original Clockwork expansion includes robot versions of the base game’s factions - the Mechanical Marquise 2.0, Electrical Eyrie, Automated Alliance, and the Vagabot - while the second box includes factions from other expansions - the Logical Lizards, Riverfolk Robots, Cogwheel Corvids, Drillbit Duchy, and additional Vagabot options.

For Those Who Want More Faction Options

Root: The Riverfolk Expansion


MSRP: $40.00 USD

  • 1-6 Players (best with 3-4)
  • 90-120 min.
  • Ages 14+

Contents:

  • 2 New Factions
  • 3 New Vagabond Variants
  • 1 “AI” Controlled Faction

Lizard cultists and merchant otters have entered the woodlands of Root with the Riverfolk expansion. In addition to the new ways to play Root that both of these groups provide (nothing like some ritual sacrifice and capitalism), this expansion - along with the others that add new factions - increases the possible player count from four to six. The Riverfolk expansion also includes the original version of the Mechanical Marquise, allowing for solo play, but this “AI” faction was revamped and retooled to be better in the Clockwork Expansion.

Root: The Underworld Expansion


MSRP: $50.00 USD

  • 2-6 Players (best with 3-4)
  • 90-120 min.
  • Ages 14+

Contents:

  • 2 New Factions
  • 1 Double-sided Map Board

If you thought that things above ground in Root were hectic, just imagine how things are going underground! The Underworld expansion adds in two new factions to the Root mix - the moles of the Underground Duchy and the secretive crows of the Corvid Conspiracy. The Duchy can amass forces like the Marquise while mixing some of the political balancing shtick of the Eyrie, while the crows tend to work from the shadows - much like the Woodland Alliance agents - but with a bit more of a violent twist. Even if you and your players don’t feel like using the new factions, this expansion includes two new maps for you to wage your critter wars in.

Root: The Marauder Expansion


MSRP: $50.00 USD

  • 2-6 Players (best with 3-4)
  • 90-120 min.
  • Ages 14+

Contents:

  • 2 New Factions
  • 4 Hirelings
  • Advanced Setup cards

Badger Knight Templars seeking relics and angry rat hordes are what you have to look forward to in the Marauder Expansion with the Keepers in Iron and the Lord of the Hundreds. Whether it is attempting to bring your latest relic back to your keep safely or managing the mood of the Lord of the Rats, both of these factions feel especially unique. Marauders adds two new systems that you can apply to your normal Root games, too - the Advanced Setup rules and Hirelings. For experienced Root players, the “Advanced Setup” cards will make the game even more of a wild challenge to contend with new options and restrictions. Hirelings provide players with recruitable units - from a faction not present in the game - that have specific actions that can be used. Representative hirelings from the original four base factions (Cats, Birds, Alliance, Vagabond) are included in this box.

Because Root Needed More Mechanics

Hireling Packs - Marauder Hirelings Pack & Hireling Box, Riverfolk Hirelings Pack, Underworld Hirelings Pack

Marauder Hirelings Pack & Hireling Box


MSRP: $30.00

Contents:

  • Bearer hirelings, Keeper hirelings, Bandit hirelings

Riverfolk Hirelings Pack


MSRP: $20.00

Contents:

  • Lizard hirelings, Otter flotilla hireling, Porcupine Bandit hirelings

Underworld Hirelings Pack


MSRP: $20.00

Contents:

  • Mole hirelings, Stag hireling, Crow hirelings

If you fell in love with the hirelings in the Marauder expansion, then good news - you can get even more of them with these boxes! These various boxes will not only give you representatives from the other factions but brand new ones as well like the Stag and the bandits! If you love the hirelings mechanic, then these are worth adding to your Root collection.

Small Packs - Landmarks Pack, The Exiles and Partisans Deck, The Vagabond Pack

Landmarks Pack


MSRP: $10.00

Contents:

  • Wooden Landmark tokens
  • rulebook

The Exiles and Partisans Deck


MSRP: $10.00

Contents:

  • 54-card deck

The Vagabond Pack


MSRP: $10.00

Contents:

  • 7 Wooden Vagabond tokens
  • 3 new Vagabond types (Harrier, Ronin, Adventurer)
  • 3 cardboard tokens (coin, hammer, boots)

These three smaller add-on packs won’t drastically change your Root experience, but if you aren’t in the market to drop much money and still want to change things up with the game, these can add a little spice into the mix for a relatively low cost. The Landmarks pack lets you stop at various places to take advantage of different benefits, such as bartering items or making special items. The Exiles and Partisans deck replaces the default deck that comes with Root and includes some new cards that focus more on persistent effects and more - this pack is a quick and easy way to change things up without having to learn a brand new faction or system. Lastly, for those Vagabond fans out there, the Vagabond pack adds three brand new choices to pick from, in addition to providing you with unique wooden tokens representing each possible option.

For Those Who Can’t Get Enough Root

Root: The RPG


MSRP: $39.99 (Core Rule Book)

  • 3-5 Players
  • 2-4 hours

If you find yourself in love with the world and factions of Root, you can keep your adventures going with Root: The RPG from Magpie Games. This tabletop RPG will allow you and your friends to create your own furry vagabonds and experience the Woodland in a whole new way! Roll some dice and start exploring.

Root (Digital)


MSRP: $14.99

Platforms:
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Having a hard time nailing down your game group to get some in-person Root going? Or do you just feel like testing your skills with players far and wide? Either way, studio Dire Wolf has created a wonderful digital version of Root that lets you play many of your favorite factions locally, online, or against the computer. This digital option is a great way not only to teach the game but also to play with those friends who can’t get away from their house for a game night.

Currently, all expansions, with the exception of Clockwork 2 and Marauders, are available.

Bottom Line


While Root may not be everyone's cup of Root Tea, there’s a reason that it currently stands at the 30 spot on Board Game Geek’s board game list. It can be time-consuming - and at times confusing - figuring out what the different factions can do, how to counter them, and keeping track of what the other players are doing - but it still has a charm that few other games can match. With a plethora of expansions and additional content available, fans of Root have no shortage of woodland goodness to dive into if you and your game group fall in love with the game.


Also check out our
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, as well as our picks for the
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, as well as our updated list of the
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