This week’s Kickstarter Game of the Week is Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right by Leder Games. I’m excited about this game for a number of reasons – both as a gamer and a game designer.
While it’s readily apparent, it’s worth noting that Root has a great overall aesthetic. The artwork is just gorgeous, and the linework and colour palette make Root reminiscent of a children’s storybook. This overall look and feel play well with the theme of Root: The iron army of the nefarious Marquise (a cat) has seized control of the great woodland and want to harvest its resources to fuel their growing industry. An alliance of woodland creatures (mice and other little woodland critters) have joined forces to stop the rule of the Marquise. In addition, the squabbling Eyrie (birds) are seizing the conflict as an opportunity to choose a new commander who can lead them to victory and reclaim the woods as their own. Meanwhile, the Vagabonds (raccoons, foxes, and other nocturnal creatures) are playing all the sides of the conflict for their own gain.
The storybuilding in Root is phenomenal – and the concept of these warring factions serves as a great thematic justification for the awesome asymmetric gameplay between the different sides. The industrious army of the Marquise needs to collect wood throughout the forest and build buildings, while the Alliance must hide in the shadows while they muster their forces, using cunning and conspiracy to keep the other players in check. The Eyrie builds bird roosts to conquer as much territory throughout the woodlands as possible, but must also balance their own internal squabbling as their forces suffer from grand ambitions which leads to constant transitions of leadership. The Vagabonds plays more like an adventurer, choosing to help whichever side they wish while questing through the forest ruins for treasures.
I’m a huge fan of asymmetric games (check out our Robot Plays article on Blood of an Englishman and the X-Wing Miniatures Game), and Root continues Leder Game’s vision set out in their previous game, Vast: The Cyrstal Caverns of superb asymetric gameplay that’s highly replayable.
From a design perspective, I have to admire what Root achieves. Asymmetry is a difficult thing to do and something that requires tons and TONS of playtesting to ensure the balance is just right. If one side has a distinct advantage that can be exploited, then the game becomes completely broken and not very fun for the rest of the players. I’m completely confident that Leder Games’ team has taken everything into account with Root – I’m in awe of the game and product they’re creating.
If you guys are into into asymmetric gameplay, immersive themes, fantastic artwork, and light-but-not-too-light mechanics, be sure to check out Root on Kickstarter. As of writing this, the campaign’s got just 9 days to go! Stretch goals are unlocked, and the game is chock full of additional content, including custom screen-printed meeples, additional Vagabonds, an alternate winter map, solo & co-operative scenarios, and an entirely new faction: The Opportunists!
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky,