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Root Early Access Preview

Posted by GG Goblin On September - 9 - 2020

The digital board game for those who want to rule over the forest.

While board games have been around for many hundreds of years, they had fallen from popularity with the rise of the video game. However, in recent years players seem to have rediscovered the humble board game and as a result there have been a huge number of quality and varied new board games released to keep game nights interesting. Root, from Leder Games and with artwork from Kyle Ferring, has proved very popular and has even won awards. The game revolves around controlling one of four factions, in the core game, as they try to gather victory points through various actions, all while ruling over the forest. With the large number of new and interesting board games releasing, it makes sense that developers would look to make digital versions of these games, and Root is the latest to get this treatment. Developed by Dire Wolf, the digital version of Root is currently in Early Access on Steam and looks to stay faithful to the core board game, providing all of the Root action and intrigue to players who, for one reason or another, cannot meet up with their other players in person.


Now, I am not going to embarrass myself by trying to explain how to play Root because, quite simply, it is really complicated. I would liken it to a game of Chess that you have to learn to play four times, before you even have a chance of working out what the hell is going on. Don’t let this complexity put you off though, as Root digital has a lot to offer.

Basically, Root has four different factions for the player to choose from, and each faction plays very differently and has to abide by different rules. To this end, the game does provide a basic tutorial followed by four faction specific tutorials, explaining the basics of how to play with each of them. Winning a game relies on gaining enough Victory Points, and as each faction earns their Victory Points in a different way, understanding how your opponents can win will be essential in stopping them. Root is a game of preventing your opponents as much as achieving your own victories.

The four factions are a highlight of the game. First, there is the Marquise de Cat, a feline-based faction that are new to the forest and gain Victory Points through industry. That being said, they are not short of manpower though and are capable of fielding plenty of military units. Next are the birds, the Eyrie Dynasty, former rulers of the forest. These guys gain Victory Points from the roosts they have on the map, and have a very good military. However, the faction is ruled over by a leader, of which there are a few to choose from, and their decrees dictate what actions the faction can take, with failure to comply leading to turmoil, which is not good.


The Woodland Alliance is the third faction and they rely on a much more subversive tactics. This faction is all about the revolution and spread sympathy throughout the forest, leading to revolt and the establishment of bases. Finally, there is the Vagabond, a scoundrel that is happiest when playing all sides of a conflict. This one can win the match through helping out friendly factions or hindering hostile factions, and interestingly can leave the paths of the map to explore.

Root is a game for two to four players, and this being a digital version on PC means that there is a competent AI to ensure players can enjoy the game solo. I can’t imagine that the AI at this time will provide much challenge to those who have already mastered the complexities of the game, but for those who have never aid their hands on the charming wooden counters of the board game, it will provide ample competition. There are also challenges for the solo player to try and conquer once they have got their footing, and obviously multiplayer matches once the player is ready to take on their friends. This is where the game will shine.

As an Early Access game on Steam, it would be reasonable to expect some bugs or unfinished aspects of the game, but Root is already looking incredibly polished and plays really well. The charming visual style from the board game has translated perfectly to the digital, and has been expanded upon with some great animations that just add to the cuteness.


Root is a difficult game. Not only does the player have to master their own favourite faction, but they also need to master each of the other factions in order to predict their movements and how they will potentially win. However, it is testament to the charm and depth of the game that putting in that time doesn’t feel like a chore. With expansions available for the board game, I would expect even more content and options to come to Root digital in the future. Right now though, Root is in Early Access on Steam and is supremely playable, and will be coming to Switch and mobile platforms soon. Anyone who enjoys a board game and likes to get their brain working, or fancies the idea of raising a revolution in a forest, should take a look at Root on Steam.


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