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Root is a board game designed by Cole Wehrle and first released by Leder Games in 2018. It is a fully Asymmetric Multiplayer strategy game simulating burgeoning tension and war that's about to take place in the forest.

Each player takes the role of one of the anthropomorphic animal factions and battle each other for the control of its resources or to spread their ideology.

Games and expansions include:

  • Root: The base game, which includes four factions (the exploitative Marquise de Cat, the stuck-up Eyrie Dynasties, the insidious Woodland Alliance and the independent Vagabond) and two maps.
  • Root: The Riverfolk Expansion: The first expansion, which adds two new factions (the radical Lizard Cult and the mercantile Riverfolk Company), a second Vagabond and an automated version of the Marquise de Cat.
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  • Root: The Underworld Expansion: The second expansion, which adds two new factions (the invasive Underground Duchy and the secretive Corvid Conspiracy) and two new maps.
  • Root: The Marauder Expansion: The third expansion set which adds two new factions (the Keepers of Iron and the Lord of the Hundreds) and introduces hirelings.
  • Root: The Clockwork Expansion: Four bots based on the base game's factions. These are official retoolings of the fan-made Better Bot Project.
  • Root: The Exiles and Partisans Deck: An alternative shared deck of cards.
  • Root: Vagabond Pack: Personalized pawns for each possible Vagabond, including three new Vagabond characters.
  • Root: Hireling Pack: Adds more hirelings to the mix.
  • Root: Landmark Pack: Adds new pieces called Landmarks to the game with special abilities.

In August 2020, a digital version of the game was released on Steam.


Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game, where players take on the role of Vagabonds navigating the forest, was produced by Magpie Games. See also Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile, the next game by the same developers, with similar themes.

The base game of Root contains examples of:

  • After the End: For the Eyrie Dynasties at least. They were once the ruler of the forest before the Marquise de Cat came in and chased them out.
  • Aggressive Play Incentive: The combat mechanics encourages attacking other players over playing defensively by how combat is resolved: players roll two dice, and the attacker deals the damage equal to the higher roll, while the defender takes the lower (the only exception are the Woodland Alliance faction, who take the higher roll even if defending, because they are Famed In-Story as guerilla fighters).
  • The Alliance: The Woodland Alliance is trying to form a coalition among the normally-neutral foxes, mice and rabbits who inhabit the forest.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Despot leader of the Eyrie Dynasties. Under his reign, you are incentivized to destroy other players' buildings and tokens. And he's a freaking vulture!
  • Armies Are Evil: Once the inhabitants of a clearing are sympathetic to the cause of the Woodland Alliance, it will spark great outrage if any enemy army marches into their homes or if an enemy removes the sympathizers to prevent a potential revolt.
  • Army Scout: The Mice have a Scouting Party card which allow any faction to prevent Ambushes.
  • Asymmetric Multiplayer: The game is essentially a War Game, but the Marquise plays a Construction and Management wargame, the Eyrie plays a Programming wargame, the Alliance plays a Political Strategy wargame, and the Vagabond plays an Adventure Board Game with Equipment-Based Progression. Each additional faction plays some other method.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The basic combat rules are stacked in the favor of the attacker (Woodland Alliance being a special case), so being on the defensive is usually a worse strategy than attacking.
  • Back Story: The rules give an insight into each faction's reason for why they are where they are and why they must do what they do.
  • Badass Adorable: You wouldn't think that such adorable visuals and cute colorful meeples are actually waging a violent war.
  • Badass Army: The Woodland Alliance. After a Revolt, you'll find them extremely difficult to dislodge since they are experts in guerilla tactics.
  • Balance Buff: The third printing provided buffs to the Cats and Lizards.
    • Originally, the Cat could save one warrior from death by discarding a card matching the battle clearing's suit. After the update, the Cat player can now save all of their warriors from being killed by spending a single matching card.
    • The Lizard's Hated Outcast mechanic made them much more powerful if the Outcast (the most numerous suit in the discard pile) were the same twice in a row, meaning it seldom actually activated. In the update, the original Outcast can become Hated if it isn't outnumbered by a new suit.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The strongest "baseline" NPC in the RPG; with 5 boxes of injury and exhaustion, 4 morale, and an attack that inflicts 3 injury, is described simply as "A bear. Run."
  • BFS: The Mouse in the Mouse Ambush card.
  • Bird People: The Eyrie Dynasties.
  • Blind Obedience: Once your faction is allied with the Vagabond, he can move your troops, battle with them and assign damage however he wants without your consent at all.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: The Woodland Alliance's whole strategy is to spread Sympathy and create explosive revolts.
  • Came Back Strong: After having been chased out of the forest, the Eyrie Dynasties are back in numbers.
  • Cat Folk: The Marquise de Cat.
  • Civil War: The principle of the whole game is this.
  • Cute Is Evil: All the factions basically.
  • Death from Above: The Bird Ambush card depicts this.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: The Vagabond grows in power by collecting items.
  • Escort Mission: Sort of. The Vagabond has an Escort quest where he has to exhaust two boots to escort a mouse.
  • Everyone Has a Special Move: The whole game is asymmetric so each player is essentially playing a different game than the others.
    • Each Vagabond has a different special move and a different set of starting items.
    • Each of the Eyrie Dynasties' Leaders have a different passive ability and their Loyal Viziers start in different positions.
  • Evil Colonialist: The Marquise de Cat. While the Marquise herself may not think so, she IS exploiting the forest for its wood while trying to maintain military control over as many clearings as possible.
  • Exact Words: Like many complex board games, the rules deliberately use similar but different terms that have different game play implications. For instance, most factions have "warriors" which can be killed and removed from the board, while the Vagabond's piece is a "pawn" which can fight like a warrior, but isn't removed from the board in the same way. "Buildings" take up an available spot in a clearing, but despite representing a building, the Cats' Keep "token" doesn't take up space the same way.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The Eyrie Dynasties are destined to enter Turmoil at some point simply because of the way the Decree snowballs with each turn. Eventually, your resources are simply going to be spread too thin to be able to fulfill the myriad requirements of a late-stage Decree. It then becomes a matter of how well you're able to tank the inevitable point penalty. Better hope you haven't been abusing bird cards, or that you can win before you reach your next Turmoil.
  • Fan Game: BGG is full of fan-made factions.
  • Fantastic Racism: The base game mainly pits the feline Marquise de Cat against the bird Eyrie Dynasties, with a brewing revolution planned by the Woodland Alliance (represented as mice meeples, but who are actually an alliance between the mice, the foxes and the rabbits).
    • The Marquise de Cat even has an action where sacrificing Bird cards gives them bonus actions.
  • Flavor Text: Most factions have one on their boards and in the rules.
  • Folk Hero: What the Vagabond wants to become by accomplishing the various quests.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The Tinker Vagabond is one of only two Vagabonds who can get three hammers and craft most of the cards.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Each faction's mechanics deliberately tie into its theme and backstory.
    • The game begins just after a successful incursion by the Marquise de Cat, which is why she starts the game with a warrior in every clearing. Her main path to victory, industrialization, depends on her securing supply lines and exerting military control over the board.
    • The Eyrie Dynasties were the original rulers of the forest, and after suffering a handy defeat by the Cats, only have one base left at the furthest point from the Cat's fortress. However, they have a better claim to legitimacy among the forest-dwellers, which is why they are able to control a clearing by matching other factions' numbers instead of outnumbering them. This is also reflected in the fact that the 30 victory point win condition is meant to represent a tipping point of legitimacy—and the Eyrie passively gains points each turn. Bird cards can also be played in any clearing, because the birds live in the treetops instead of alongside the commoner animals matching the clearing's suit. The Decree also represents the strain of leading a large government with multiple factions to please.
    • The Woodland Alliance represents a popular revolution, and any action against them by other factions only makes them more popular; opposing players must pay cards to the Alliance player that they can use as "supporters" to fuel their own actions. As guerilla fighters, the Alliance also always takes the higher die roll in battles. Finally, their actions mostly occur at night, as opposed to during the day like the other factions.
    • Crafting a card is meant to represent exploiting the animals of that card's suit. The Lizard Cult recruits these alienated commoners to their cause, which manifests as the Lizard player gaining advantages in clearings matching the most numerous suit in the discard pile.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The Vagabond needs to collect as many items as possible. The more he has, the more things he can do.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: Few of the factions can really be described as "good"; the Marquise is an Evil Colonialist, the Eyrie Dynasties are The Remnant led by a Feudal Overlord, the Lizard Cult are a Cult that needs radicalised followers to fight for it, the Riverfolk Company are seeking to exploit the conflict for profit, the Underground Duchy is The Empire, and the Corvid Conspiracy are The Syndicate.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Mostly averted since the Vagabond has a carry limit. As to why he can still move "nimbly" with 12 objects stored in 3 bags while separately carrying 3 teapots and 3 stacks of coins, well...
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Eyrie Dynasties lost everything and start in a single clearing.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: The Woodland Alliance is supposed to be an alliance between the foxes, the mice and the rabbits, and they were supposed to have a mix of fox, mouse and rabbit meeples as their warriors, but ultimately they are all represented as mouse meeples.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Favor of the Fox card depicts Foxes wielding a torch.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: The Vagabond can never be removed from play, unlike nearly all other buildings and units. Of course this is because the Vagabond player only has the one unit.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The combat system is a simple roll of two dice numbered 0-3, with the aggressor taking the higher roll...unless you're fighting the Alliance, who always gets the higher number.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Attacking means you will always get the better dice roll, meaning the worst result you can get is a tie. The Woodland Alliance's Guerrilla War ability always gives them the higher die roll in battle.
  • Made of Explodium: Sympathy tokens are, in effect, remote-controlled bombs that may go off any time, removing any non-Alliance pieces from the clearing in one go.
  • Magikarp Power: The Woodland Alliance starts with no presence at all on the board. And then, revolts explode...
  • Mega-Corp: Essentially what the Marquise de Cat wants to build.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Between the Marquise de Cat, the Eyrie Dynasties, and the Woodland Alliance, with the Vagabond acting more as a potential Spanner in the Works.
  • Nerf: The third printing nerfed the Woodland Alliance and Vagabond.
    • The Alliance's point track for spreading sympathy was slightly weakened, limiting their lategame power somewhat.
    • Under the original rules, the Vagabond becomes basically invincible in the lategame. They gain points from killing enemy warriors in battle, even including when the Vagabond was attacked. Since the they had pretty good odds of at least killing a few of their attackers anyone attacking the Vagabond to try and slow them down was likely to just be feeding them points instead. The new rule is that the Vagabond only gains points from attacking during their own turn.
  • Neutral No Longer: In four-player games, the Vagabond is allowed to form a binding coalition with the lowest-scoring faction and, if it does achieve victory, wins alongside it.
  • No-Sell: The Vagabond can move by ignoring who rules the clearings.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Nearly everything but the Vagabond is destroyed after taking just one damage.
  • One-Man Army: The Vagabond is a single-individual faction and still has the potential to take down armies.
  • Pit Trap: The Sappers card, although you have to craft it in advance for all to see in order to use it, so it also qualifies as a Schmuck Bait.
  • Planet of Hats: Each faction represents a different kind of political movement or group.
  • Police State: The Marquise de Cat. Ruling clearings is very important to her if she wants to build, which is her main way of gaining points.
  • Political Strategy Game: Downplayed. Unlike Leder Games' next release, Oath, Root is still firmly a War Game focusing on conflict over territory and resource, rather than over ideology and influence. However, like in political strategies, its players have different scoring criteria that reflect the underlying political ideology of their respective factions: the Marquise represents colonialism and capitalism, so she earns points by exploiting the environment and expanding her enterprises; Eyrie Dynasties, meanwhile, are a traditional militarist aristocracy, so they gain points by backing up their historical legitimacy claims with conquest; the Woodland Alliance is a populist reaction of the exploited working class, so they earn points by nurturing sympathy among the general populace for a popular uprising (the Alliance gameplay actually comes closest to that of typical political strategies, thanks to its influence and popular sympathy mechanics); finally, the Vagabond stands for opportunistic individualism and gains points by doing favors for the highest bidder, whether it's other players or the general populace (via quests). On that note, while the Vagabond also appears to stand for a dismissal of any sociopolitical agenda, the Coalition mechanic makes him the only faction who can join another's ideology and win together with them.
  • The Power of Friendship: If the Vagabond makes a coalition with another faction, they'll have to help them win the game.
  • The Power of Hate: The Vagabond earns more points when attacking hostile factions.
  • Programming Game: The Eyrie Dynasties' Decree. Each turn the Eyrie player must add one or two cards to the Decree under certain actions, and they must execute the entire set in order. If it isn't possible, their government temporarily falls apart.
  • Properly Paranoid: Other players should be wary of the Sympathy tokens. At any time, the Alliance player can set them off like a bomb and destroy any warriors or infrastructure in the clearing and place an Alliance base.
  • Quickly-Demoted Leader: Whenever the Eyrie Dynasties go into turmoil, the current Leader is immediately deposed.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The Winter map.
  • The Remnant: The Eyrie Dynasties.
  • La Résistance: The Woodland Alliance.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: The Marquise de Cat has to generate wood and guard supply lines in order to use it, while the Vagabond has various tools that have to be refreshed after use.
  • Rugged Scar: The Ranger Vagabond has one over his left blind eye.
  • Shamed by a Mob: When the Eyrie Dynasties go into turmoil, they are publicly humiliated and lose victory points, their current decree is torn apart and their current leader is sacked.
  • Shown Their Work: The designer posted a lot of Designer Diaries on BGG, giving insights into his thought process and motivations.
  • Slave Race: The forest folks can be freely exploited by any of the factions. Serves as a reason for revolution to the Woodland Alliance, while others may be pulled into the Lizard Cult.
  • Spiritual Successor: Root succeeds Vast: The Crystal Caverns, Leder Games' other asymmetric title.
  • Stone Wall: The Woodland Alliance's Guerrilla War makes their armies incredibly hard to fight against.
  • Take Me Instead: Armourers absorb damage by being discarded. This is thematic since all the cards you spend represent the forest folk working for you.
  • Take Over the World: The Eyrie Dynasties' goal.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential: The Woodland Alliance's revolt activates their Evening actions where they now become a militaristic faction.
  • Variable Player Goals: The first player to get to 30 victory points wins, but the way in which each player gains those points varies vastly from one player to another.
  • We Help the Helpless: The Vagabond's quests are these.
  • Wild Card: The Vagabond's starts off with no allegiances and can switch sides at any moment.
  • War Has Never Been So Much Fun: Root sure makes war look adorable.
  • Zerg Rush: The Eyrie Dynasties' Charismatic Leader makes this very easy.

Root: The Riverfolk expansion contains examples of:

  • Arms Dealer: The Riverfolk Company are mercenaries and set prices for various goods and services that the other factions can buy.
  • Attack on One Is an Attack on All: The Lizard Cult gains Acolytes if they are attacked by the other factions. This in turn allows them to foment conspiracies, their strongest abilities.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: The Scoundrel Vagabond can drop their Torch and start a forest fire, rendering that clearing useless.
  • Brainwashed: Lizard Cult's Convert action allows them to convert any enemy warrior to their faith.
  • Clockwork Creature: The Mechanical Marquise.
  • Coop Multiplayer: There's a coop mode against the Mechanical Marquise.
  • Cult: The Lizard Cult.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Scoundrel Vagabond's Scorched Earth ability, in which it permanently expends a torch in order to burn its current clearing to the ground, not only instantly removing all enemy pieces located there, but removing that clearing from play for the rest of the game.
  • Lizard Folk: The Lizard Cult.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: The Lizard Cult gains new Acolytes after one of their kinds dies while defending in combat.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Lizard Cult have a deep hatred for birds, so Birds cannot act as jokers for their rituals and can never be chosen as outcasts.
  • Hired Guns: The Riverfolk Company's Mercenaries and the Arbiter Vagabond can all be hired for combat.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The Vagrant Vagabond can start a battle between two other factions.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The Mechanical Marquise.
  • Mind Manipulation: Lizard Cult's Convert action is essentially this, converting a warrior to their faith.
  • No-Sell: The Lizard Cult's Gardens supplants the Eyrie Dynasties's rule.
  • Nuke 'em: The Scoundrel's Scorched Earth ability, which not only completely empties the Vagabond's current clearing of all enemies, but completely removes that clearing from play for the rest of the game.
  • One-Man Army: The Arbiter Vagabond is the only Vagabond who can get five swords, enabling him to fight up to five times with maximum damage.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The Scoundrel Vagabond.
  • Playing Both Sides: The Instigator Vagabond.
  • The Power of Hate: The Lizard Cult's Acolytes allow them to do conspiracies based on who are the outcast creatures. Those conspiracies get even better if the outcast is hated.
  • Resources Management Gameplay:
    • The Lizard Cult has to a draft a hand.
    • The Riverfolk Company has to cleverly manage their funds.
  • Slave Race: The forest folks again. The most used color of a round will determine the Outcast.
  • Warrior Monk: The Lizard Cult, especially after gaining some Acolytes.
  • Zerg Rush: The Lizard Cult can pop up almost everywhere.

Root: The Underworld expansion contains examples of:

  • No-Sell: Much like the Vagabond, the Corvid Conspiracy can freely move to any adjacent clearing regardless of who rules which clearing.
  • Not the Intended Use: The Conspiracy's Snare Plots are intended to trap enemies inside the clearings in which they're activated and prevent reinforcements from rescuing them. However, a Difficult, but Awesome tactic to use with them is to place one inside of a clearing free from enemies, move a single Corvid warrior into that clearing, and then sacrifice that warrior on the next turn to activate it, effectively locking all other players out of that clearing for the rest of the game (since at that point it becomes impossible for any player other than a specific type of Vagabond to enter the clearing to get rid of it). This tactic is highly vulnerable to an enemy simply moving into that clearing and either exposing the Plot, thus harmlessly removing it, or destroying it outright with an attack should they lack the necessary card for an exposure guess. However, when pulled off successfully, it gives the Conspiracy an immense board control advantage and can be used to help secure a Dominance victory.
  • Properly Paranoid: Because you don't know what the Conspiracy's Plots are until you've either guessed it correctly or it's been removed from play, and they can be activated at the start of the Conspiracy's turn as long as the clearing has a Corvid warrior in it, players should be wary of moving into clearings with face-down Plots.
  • Schmuck Bait: In regards to the Not the Intended Use strategy above, wily Conspiracy players can trick opponents into needlessly giving up cards by placing other Plots into empty clearings, then goading other players into making an incorrect exposure guess.
  • Shamed by a Mob: The Price of Failure, which forces you to deactivate your highest-ranking Minister and remove their crown from the game permanently, effectively reducing the number of ministers you can activate for the rest of the game.
  • Shell Game: The Corvid Conspiracy can swap Plot tokens to confuse the other players.
  • Trap Master: The Corvid Conspiracy and their Plot tokens.
  • Zerg Rush: The core strategy of the Duchy is to recruit new soldiers en masse, then use your tunnels to effectively teleport them to virtually any location on the map, overwhelming your opponents with sudden, unexpected swarms of mole people. This strategy is best suited to victory by Dominance, which is further reinforced by how difficult it is to earn VP with the Duchy compared to the other factions.note 

Root: The Clockwork expansion contains examples of:

  • Coop Multiplayer: There's a coop mode against the different bots.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The whole bots.
  • Tabletop Game A.I.: Root received two expansions adding automated players to it, with the first being the Mechanical Marquise from The Riverfolk Expansion, which automated one of the asymmetrical factions of the game (Marquise de Cat). The original Mechanical Marquise was, however, widely considered unplayable, so a fan-driven Better Bot Project produced a complete overhaul of it, as well as automating the other three OG factions. All four of these were then made official by Leder Games in The Clockwork Expansion, containing Mechanical Marquise 2.0, Electric Eyrie, Automated Alliance, and the Vagabot (while the BBP has since also automated all expansion factions).

Root: The Exiles and Partisans Deck contains examples of:

  • Brainwashed: The Propaganda Bureau card emulates the Lizard Cult's Convert conspiracy.
  • No-Sell: Several of the craftable cards allow the players to bend the rules, e.g. Boat Builders, Corvid Planners

Root: Vagabond Pack contains examples of: