13 February 2019
Mountains and molehills
After getting its toes wet in first expansion Riverfolk, asymmetrical animal-filled wargame Root is headed underground for its second major add-on.
Root: The Underworld Expansion brings two new woodland factions to the brutal clash for forest supremacy.
First, there’s the Corvid Conspiracy, a murder of crows that has a smaller overall presence on the board and excel in espionage, suggesting an experience similar to a mixture of the Vagabond and Woodland Alliance. The crows rack up points by manipulating other players’ hands by placing plots similar to the Vagabond’s quests and spread infiltration around the map in a manner similar to the Alliance’s sympathy.
Secondly, the Great Underground Duchy is a labour of moles (yes, we did have to look that one up) who are comparable to the Marquis de Cat and Eyrie, as well as the Lizard Cult introduced in the Riverfolk expansion. As you’d expect if you’ve ever seen a village green covered in molehills, the blind battlers gain their strength in the number of warriors they place on the board and by controlling clearings in the map.
Speaking of maps, the Underworld expansion brings two new environments to Root. There’s a skirmish around the edge of a lake on one side of the double-sided board in the box, while the other splits the action between two mountain passes. The maps join the original woodland battlefield and its snow-covered alternative in the original game.
Perhaps the most significant addition in the upcoming expansion is a brand new card deck, which can replace the original shared deck of cards used by players to perform actions, craft items, apply ongoing effects and more.
In a Reddit thread, designer Cole Wehrle described the standalone deck as being influenced by the social effects and player interaction of Cosmic Encounter, with players able to craft versions of other factions’ abilities and apply various modifiers to the gameplay.
“The governing ethos of the deck is quite different. The original deck was, by design, conservative,” he said. “The result is something that leans into the inherent strangeness of the core design in ways I hope players find provocative.”
The upcoming Kickstarter for Root’s Underworld expansion on March 14th will include the chance to grab a copy of the hard-to-find original game, as well as the Riverfolk expansion. Publisher Leder Games has also confirmed it is looking at offering a box big enough to fit the game and all of its expansions.
Also in the works is Root: The Roleplaying Game, an upcoming RPG set in the world of the warring animals developed by Magpie Games. A Kickstarter campaign for that game is expected later this year.