Last week was a vacation time. As we had pretty limited space for packing stuff, there was discussion which one game to take. Of course a one allowing us to have many interesting and varying sessions – eight evenings sounded like a lot of time for boardgames.  There are few positions giving you possibility for such a divers gameplays. Fortunately, ROOT plus its Riverfolk Expansion are among those and were unanimously chosen as a great candidate to become the main vacation title. And it really worked out splendidly…

Ok, once the game have been identified there were few goals which I personally wanted to achieve:

  • first and foremost, familiarize us with Mechanical Marquise as well as its mechanics. That is a really nice addition provided by Riverfolk Expansion and allows you to play with three races when you have only one opponent; always better then play with wife 1 to 1 🙂
  • secondly, the idea was to check how it would be to play in cooperative mode against bot – as you will see below, our experiences were pretty… painful 🙂
  • last but not least, finally play with expansion factions, so Lizard and Riverfolk and see what changes / new mechanisms they bring.

Now, to the sessions itself. As there were pretty many of them I prepared short table to sum it up:

# Type Marquise Me My Wife
GAME 1 Cooperative 30 6 (Alliance) 7 (Eyrie)
GAME 2 Competitive 30 19 (Alliance) 14 (Eyrie)
GAME 3 Competitive 23 30 (Lizard) 20 (Eyrie)
GAME 4 Cooperative 29 30 (Lizard) 30 (Eyrie)
GAME 5 Competitive 30 29 (Riverfolk) 24 (Lizard)
GAME 6 Cooperative 30 12 (Vagabond) 17 (Vagabond)
GAME 7 Cooperative 30 20 (Vagabond) 27 (Vagabond)

Table explanation: so above you can see all seven games, clearly showing details like whether it was competitive or cooperative game, points scored by Marquize and us – with indication which races were used. The games with underscore are the only two we managed to win in any mode.

And now, let us have a look as particular games.

GAME 1 & 2

Full of enthusiasm and ready to check the new game modes we started our first cooperative game and… were pretty quickly overwhelmed. It was really surprising to see how fast Marquise was developing:

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She is everywhere! That Marquise…

She was unstoppable, recruiting 3 units in multiple clearing first 2-3 turns and defeating or rather crushing us mercilessly: Marquise – 30, Magda (Eyrie) 7, Michal (Alliance) 6.

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Marquise gameboard plus hand of (secret) cards

The set-up for both first and second game was similar – I played Alliance, Magda Eyrie plus Marquize as a bot. In second attempt we were not risking anymore cooperative mode – which gives in such a set-up every turn 2 points  to bot. In competitive we did much better:

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At least that part of the forest it more or less controlled by human players!

Still, it was a defeat: Marquize – 30, Magda (Eyrie) 14, Michal (Alliance) 19. Something has to be changed…

GAME 3 & 4

And a change we did – we started to play with and expansion race, Lizard cult:

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Lizard Cult

The board immediately grew much more dense with units:

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Lizard Cult really has means to spread once it builds its hand of cards

In Game 3 we did not risk cooperative mode and checked how would it go in normal, competitive game – it went splendidly as it occurred that although Lizard cult develops slowly, it has a fast and deadly finish and can reach clearings anywhere on the map where outcast is. Results: Marquize 23, Michal (Lizard) 30, Magda (Eyrie) 20. Hurray, victory!:

For game 4 set-up was left unchanged but this time we “risked” playing in cooperative mode. Just a reminder – to win in such mode all human players have to reach 30 points while bot receives additional VPs every turn equal to number of players.

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It was not looking too great at the beginning of game…

Oh, that was the closest and most exciting game we play:

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Final look at the board – that was a really close affair!

The blood was spilled all over the forest, the tension was till last moment but we managed to prevail by one point! Marquize 29, Michal (Lizard) 30, Magda (Eyrie) 30. Hurray, another victory!:

GAME 5

For the next evening we planned to test the Riverfolk race – I had pleasure to lead those nice creatures:

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My wife really liked cute-looking beavers

Magda took management of Lizard Cult and with two expansion races we faced Marquise:

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Lizard is clearly contesting Marquise whenever possible while Riverfolk builds trade posts

I must said I was surprised how well it went. We achieved pretty decent results, being beaten marginally. I had some problems playing with my beavers as they need funds from other players to fuel their expansion. Finally I managed to design some strategy which resulted in 29 points! Marquise 30Michal (Riverfolk) 29Magda (Lizard) 24.

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Beavers can be a powerful faction – especially with more players

GAME 6 & 7

For last two days we decided to play in the cooperative mode most suggested by playbook – so with two Vagabonds vs Marquise. Also, for the first time we checked winter map:

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In the middle of the game – try to spot both – black and (!) white Vagabond

I have taken the Arbiter character while Magda took Ranger. I must say that the playbook suggestion to choose exactly that race (Vagabond) was not without merit – we always had at least one move per turn (slip) and Magda’s Crossbow was an automatic kill/VP. However, the problem was that the board is pretty separated (North from South) by the river and it was very hard for us to move quickly. Marquise 30Michal (Vagabond) 12, Magda (Vagabond) 17.

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Game lost to Marquise but a lot of fun at the same time!

For the Game 7 we decided to continue with two Vagabonds but on normal map. Magda again have taken Ranger – he was a real killer against Marquise. I decided to test a new character – Scoundrel – that was fun to play with it, especially special ability:

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Five points in one turn – nice result!

However, once special ability was over I was not able to gain points / reduce Marquise warrior numbers in satisfactory time:

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They are everywhere, how am I supposed to get to all of them?

The normal map allowed us to much better respond and control the threats but some points were still missing to win the game. Ranger character proved superb while Scoundrel was only a nice-looking possibility, which once its main ability was over, had not too much to do a real damage. Marquise 30Michal (Vagabond) 20, Magda (Vagabond) 27.

SUMMARY

I think couple of words as a summary is needed.

  • It is hard to beat Mechanical Marquise. Really. Especially in the Cooperative mode – those two free points every turn plus possibility to recruit in every, even not controlled clearing was a killer.
  • The only games we won with Marquise where the ones in which Lizard Cult took part. I think they are well poised to counter the bot – combined with Vagabond (Ranger) that could be a devastating duo.
  • Riverfolk Company is a nice race but shines only with more players – they really need funds for their actions.

All in all, it was fully confirmed that ROOT gives great fun and has enormous replayability!

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