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Which Root Expansion Should I Buy?

Root clockwork expansion booklet

Root is an asymmetric woodland warfare game where each faction is vying for ultimate domination by wiping out all opposition in a violent yet cute grudge match. This game has a LOT of different expansions, all which offer something new and something different to players new and old. This guide will aim to give you a quick overview of the expansion suited to each kind of playstyle so you can get the Root stuff you’ll enjoy most, although I will say that if you are a completionist like me this may just help you order the way you buy everything rather than stop you buying anything. I really love Root and so of course I want a full collection.

Best For The Solo Gamers

Root is a great game at the higher player counts, but as one of my favourite games I really want to play it even when I don’t have the full complement of human players around the table. If you are like me, then the Clockwork Expansion is for you. This contains 4 bot characters which you can operate to help drive the conflict in a single human player game. These bots are, just like the main game, relatively complex to run. If you know the factions though you won’t have too much both with playing one or two bots at a time. The way the movement is determined uses a series of priority markers which are distributed at the start of each game.

Best For Low Player Counts

If you are generally playing at lower player counts then you may find that the reach across the map required for balanced games makes life a bit more tricky with the choosing of factions. If you are looking to play Root consistently at those lower player counts then you might want to consider the Hirelings pack. This smaller expansion offers six different hireling factions who all operate in a slightly different way to amp up the tension in those lower player count games. These can also be used at higher player count games to offer new special abilities and spice up your typical root experience.

Best For Those Who Love Negotiation

If you and your game group love interaction between players and negotiation then the Riverfolk expansion has to be top of your list. This expansion offers the otter Riverfolk company who are constantly trying to peddle their wares to their fellow woodland creatures. They set the costs of their wares to try and capitalise on the chaos of woodland war. As your opponents scrabble to gain traction in the woods, you can expand your trade operations with the hope to toppling the power tower in your favour. The other faction in this big box expansion is the Lizard Cult, these are the mormons of the Root world, spreading the good word of their leader throughout the land.

Now I run away from the mormon analogy as these are not nice people, of course this is a war game after all. You will be converting other pieces to become your followers with your wily ways, sacrificing warriors to gain more actions and ramp up your “spreading of the creed” engine. This expansion offers new types of factions that feel nothing like any of the base game ones, but are definitely best suited to groups you love to have a bit of negotiation and fun with their Root games. Perhaps not so much for the quiet and serious groups. It also brings into the foray three new vagabond characters for use with the base game material, and instructions for both cooperative and competitive bot play for those smaller player count games. With all the content from this game, Root can now be played with up to 6 players, although I am not sure I could sit at the table long enough for such a huge game to run its course.

Best For Those Who Love To Be Devious

Some of the time, there simply is great joy to be had in being bad. We can deny it, but often our joy in a game does come from the downfall of others, often sweetened if we think that we created that by our own superior devious planning. If you are willing to accept that you enjoy the schadenfreude of watching your opponents fall into your trap, then there really is no other expansion better suited to you than the Root Underworld Expansion. The Corvid Conspiracy in this expansion is the guerilla band of spies that secretly place out tokens that create dastardly opportunities for them to gain the upper hand. Trouble is, if your opponents can guess what you have played out, then they can foil your plans and remove the token. However, the risk of potentially being able to ignite a bomb and decimate that clearing of pieces really makes the reward worth the risk.

The other faction in this expansion actually happens to be my favourite of them all, that is the moles or to use their proper name, the Underground Duchy. These noble little guys burrow their way into the woodland and cause utter havoc with their engine as it ramps up. Keeping them in check requires destroying buildings wherever possible to limit their growth.

Additionally to the two new factions, this big box expansion also offers a brand new board to play on too. One side is the mountain range which has moveable pieces that block off connections between certain clearings which can really hamper movement around the map for some players. The other map has a large lake in the centre which you can move around using the barge, of course only if the barge is next to you. This will also change up the way in which you are able to move about the woodland and adds an extra layer of complexity to movement for those experience players.

Best For Those Who Love Complexity

If you are the player who finds themselves hunting for the difficult factions to choose, there is the Root Marauder Expansion. This offers two new main factions; the Lord of the Hundreds and the Keepers of Iron. The Lord of the Hundreds is a new high reach faction that aids with keeping the board moving and exciting, especially in a 3 player game. These guys swarm over the board and also offer competition for the vagabond in the looting of ruins and player boards too. They are a formidable force and gain their power from pure numbers. The Keepers in Iron are a smaller faction devoted to finding their ancient relics. Collecting these relics requires thinking ahead when moving your troops around to ensure you are present in the right places on your turn. Of course these best laid plans can be thwarted by your opponents if they clock what you are trying to get done.

This box also offers some hireling factions. These smaller factions will change hands throughout the game, but whilst under your control they can be moved at your whim and you will be immune from their negative effects. Introducing these factions will help your lower player count games shine with a new brighter light.

Best For Those Love To Play The Vagabond

If you are the player in your group who loves to play the vagabond and generally irritates your fellow players with your “easier wins”, then perhaps we need to shake things up a bit. Why not try the Root Exiles and Partisans deck instead? This small card box sized expansion is a cheap way to really shake up your games, gone now are the Favour of the Foxes/Rabbits/Mice cards, but they have been replaced by things that are equally as exciting if you manage to pull them off!

You can also pair this with the Vagabond pack which offers you a different meeple for each different kind of vagabond. The cute little owl piece is probably my favourite meeple, but honestly, what is not to love. This small box expansion comes in a deck of cards sized box and offers you a way to personalise each play to the type of vagabond that you have elected to play for that game.

For The Completionist

If you are a total completionist and want to “have it all” then there are a few other bits that you may want to consider. Firstly the resin clearing markers, which replace the small cardboard chits used to randomise the clearing types. These are chunkier and much easier to see at a glance, they are pretty bougie and not essential, but also lovely. Secondly to upgrade your experience still further then why not consider a neoprene mat to replace your game boards. There are two types, the lake/mountain and the spring/winter ones, to give you upgraded experiences for all four options. Finally the landmarks pack which offers a couple of very small modular twists to gameplay, complete of course with beautiful screen printed wooden pieces.

Round-up

As you can see, there really is something for everyone in the Root expansion collection, and I am sure that Leder Games are not done yet! I for one will be looking forward to my next Root game, there is so much left for me to explore still in terms of gameplay styles and strategy and perhaps I also need to get the resin clearing markers too…