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Subject: Designer Diary - Lizards, the Mechanical Marquise, and the Final Development of Root rss

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Cole Wehrle
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TaylorShuss wrote:

I do want to ask Cole - Do you think the Lizard Cult was winning too often before this recent change?

I ask because I really love the Lizard Cult, thematically they are easily my favorite faction in Root (closely followed by the Vietcong err I mean Woodland Alliance.) However in all my games I've yet to see the Lizards secure a proper win (I have seen them a turn away from winning, but they were preempted by the Vagabond winning first).

Maybe it's because the Lizard players we had were too focused on performing Conspiracies when they are inconsistent at best. Maybe it's due to the lack of attention given to forcing a particular suit of cards when Scoring. Heck, maybe it can be attributed to playing with a rule incorrectly. I just want to ask to give them a fair shake before writing them off as too random.

And although it may not come off this way I do trust your design sensibilities - I am more concerned there is something obvious I am missing or some easily missed rule.


They weren't dominant, but I was seeing some optimal patterns in play that were fixed with the adjustments I described. Among my play-testers, the Lizards were winning a lot (something like 40% among 4 player games). That's a perfectly reasonable rate, and I suspect it took a small hit with these changes, but the main reason for the change was that the Lizard play was becoming a little obvious in some circumstances.

(Btw: I think the Alliance is still my favorite faction to play, but the Lizards are close on their heels.)
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TaylorShuss wrote:
First of all, I just want to say how excited I am to see this design diary. Getting this kind of insight into the game is fantastic, and makes everything more engaging and personal to me.

I do want to ask Cole - Do you think the Lizard Cult was winning too often before this recent change?

I ask because I really love the Lizard Cult, thematically they are easily my favorite faction in Root (closely followed by the Vietcong err I mean Woodland Alliance.) However in all my games I've yet to see the Lizards secure a proper win (I have seen them a turn away from winning, but they were preempted by the Vagabond winning first).

Maybe it's because the Lizard players we had were too focused on performing Conspiracies when they are inconsistent at best. Maybe it's due to the lack of attention given to forcing a particular suit of cards when Scoring. Heck, maybe it can be attributed to playing with a rule incorrectly. I just want to ask to give them a fair shake before writing them off as too random.

And although it may not come off this way I do trust your design sensibilities - I am more concerned there is something obvious I am missing or some easily missed rule.


In my games I haven't seen the old Lizards ever lose. That said, it was only two games. Here's one of them and they were dominating: https://boardgamegeek.com/video/171785/root/root-root-pnp-30...

Maybe I cheated somewhere by accident? I'm not sure, but the lead I had was pretty much impossible to come back from for the others pretty early.

Cole: 40% winrate in a 4 player game seems absolutely massive to me. I can't see how that's a "perfectly reasonable rate"
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Cole Wehrle
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Zlarp wrote:
TaylorShuss wrote:
First of all, I just want to say how excited I am to see this design diary. Getting this kind of insight into the game is fantastic, and makes everything more engaging and personal to me.

I do want to ask Cole - Do you think the Lizard Cult was winning too often before this recent change?

I ask because I really love the Lizard Cult, thematically they are easily my favorite faction in Root (closely followed by the Vietcong err I mean Woodland Alliance.) However in all my games I've yet to see the Lizards secure a proper win (I have seen them a turn away from winning, but they were preempted by the Vagabond winning first).

Maybe it's because the Lizard players we had were too focused on performing Conspiracies when they are inconsistent at best. Maybe it's due to the lack of attention given to forcing a particular suit of cards when Scoring. Heck, maybe it can be attributed to playing with a rule incorrectly. I just want to ask to give them a fair shake before writing them off as too random.

And although it may not come off this way I do trust your design sensibilities - I am more concerned there is something obvious I am missing or some easily missed rule.


In my games I haven't seen the old Lizards ever lose. That said, it was only two games. Here's one of them and they were dominating: https://boardgamegeek.com/video/171785/root/root-root-pnp-30...

Maybe I cheated somewhere by accident? I'm not sure, but the lead I had was pretty much impossible to come back from for the others pretty early.

Cole: 40% winrate in a 4 player game seems absolutely massive to me. I can't see how that's a "perfectly reasonable rate"


The numbers are a little funny. So, ideally, you're looking for something like 25-30%, but, with a new faction the numbers are going to tilt hard towards them for the first several weeks as often the best players flock to the new faction and the other players don't have a lot of experience countering them. That's why I wasn't disheartened by the rate I was seeing. Still, there were some easy things to do to prevent future problems
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Chris W
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Can the Riverfolk craft using empty spaces on the trading post track that belonged to removed trading posts?

Do spy cards start shuffled into the deck?
Is the spy card returned to my hand if it doesn't reveal a matching card? When is it returned to my hand?
If the spy card returns to my hand, can I play it repeatedly until it gets discarded or all orders are revealed?


Edit: I just saw that Cole uploaded the expansion learn to play rules and they explain how the spy cards work. You place spy cards in your play area like a crafted improvement and a spy can be used only once per turn.
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Chet C.
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Loving the designer diaries. I wish more designers would do this. Makes me understand the beauty of the design much better. I wish I could sit with you, Cole, and spend an afternoon talking about the logic behind every rule - from the thematic rules to the rules created for making it balanced/fun.

I’m really interested to know the final win percentages, and whether any factions fares particularly well against another.
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Guillaume Cusson
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Hi Cole,

I really love your design notes. Was there any plan to include all or some of them in the final box of Root? I really like games like those produce by GMT Games or those of Sierra Madre that have design notes included in the rulebooks so that you can learn the game along with notes of the designer telling you at the same time about his intent and how it was abstracted in the game.
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Chakroun Karim
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Great read as always. I spotted a few typos on the player board : "mechancial" (mechanical) in the title and 'Poor manual "dexerity"'(dexterity) in the faction abilities. Also, I suggest "omniscient" or "prescient" or "predictive" or "preparedness" as the second ability
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I noticed, and don't know if it has been changed in the final PNP (which I am havinh difficulty accessing) that the map in the Learn to Play still has the old arrangement of Bunny Clearings in the upper right corner.
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Chris W
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Does the Mechanical Marquise have the Keep rule?
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Mihnea Cateanu
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Hi, a few question about solo play if you don't mind.

I'm confused because I found contradictory info:

1. the update on the KS page that announced the solo/co-op expansion talked about bots for every core faction.
2. from this diary I understand that only the Marquis is getting the bot treatment.

So did the plans change, or is it just that Marquis is the first faction to have a bot, with the other core ones following?

Cause if there's just one bot faction, is the solo player limited to playing just core factions against it?


And most importantly: do you have a date for the pre-order closing?
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mihnea_1309 wrote:
Hi, a few question about solo play if you don't mind.

I'm confused because I found contradictory info:

1. the update on the KS page that announced the solo/co-op expansion talked about bots for every core faction.
2. from this diary I understand that only the Marquis is getting the bot treatment.

So did the plans change, or is it just that Marquis is the first faction to have a bot, with the other core ones following?

Cause if there's just one bot faction, is the solo player limited to playing just core factions against it?


And most importantly: do you have a date for the pre-order closing?


Yeah I think it changed. The backs of the faction boards are now used for setup instead of a bot player. They don't really use the term "core faction" anymore. So I think it's just the Mechanical Marquise for bot play.

The recommended factions to use for solo play are Eyrie, Vagabond, or Lizards. Alliance should probably work. But Riverfolk might be hard since the bot can't buy from you.

On twitter they said May 1st is last day for preorders https://twitter.com/LederGames/status/980915992472772609
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Omry Friedman
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mihnea_1309 wrote:
is the solo player limited to playing just core factions against it?

Actually, Cole has already posted the possible combinations from the expansion:

As you can see, you can play solo with Vagabond and WA as well.
The Riverfolk obviously can’t really survive against a bot since he won’t use your services, and the Lizards, despite being core, would find it extremely hard to handle the bot (I accidentally tried).
They are most recommended against eyrie, officially. I’d love to try them in coop mode as well, it’s a great variant for teaching the game.
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Mihnea Cateanu
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Thanks for the info guys. The solo combinations do look a bit limited to be honest (only 3 factions playable, always against the same bot).

It's a bit weird that the expansion has 2 things:

1. components allowing solo play
2. two factions that are useless for solo (or at least that's what that page from the rules seems to indicate).

With the KS it's all bundled together so it doesn't really matter, but I'm wondering what's the purpose for retail.
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Joshua Yearsley
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mihnea_1309 wrote:
Thanks for the info guys. The solo combinations do look a bit limited to be honest (only 3 factions playable, always against the same bot).

It's a bit weird that the expansion has 2 things:

1. components allowing solo play
2. two factions that are useless for solo (or at least that's what that page from the rules seems to indicate).

With the KS it's all bundled together so it doesn't really matter, but I'm wondering what's the purpose for retail.


The expansion is not standalone—you need the core game in order to use the expansion content.
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Elias Helfer
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mihnea_1309 wrote:
Thanks for the info guys. The solo combinations do look a bit limited to be honest (only 3 factions playable, always against the same bot).

It's a bit weird that the expansion has 2 things:

1. components allowing solo play
2. two factions that are useless for solo (or at least that's what that page from the rules seems to indicate).

With the KS it's all bundled together so it doesn't really matter, but I'm wondering what's the purpose for retail.


Loads of expansions contain a number of modules that may or may not be compatible with each other. It works fine, as long as they are all compatible with the base game.
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Karl
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McChew wrote:

Yeah I think it changed. The backs of the faction boards are now used for setup instead of a bot player. They don't really use the term "core faction" anymore. So I think it's just the Mechanical Marquise for bot play.


Quite sad about that personally. One of the main reasons I backed the game was the freedom in competetive, cooperative, ... play.
Which was now all scrapped along with the bear. Dunno if I would still back to be honest.
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Jonas Kissling
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mechanical marquise: what do I do when theres a birdsuit card next up in the order? Wheredo I batzle, recruit etc? I havent found anything in the learn to play...
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Henry T
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Jonas21 wrote:
mechanical marquise: what do I do when theres a birdsuit card next up in the order? Wheredo I batzle, recruit etc? I havent found anything in the learn to play...

Bird suit is wild, so battle and move in every possible clearing.

"Recruit" is based on crafting costs though, and those can't be birds.
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Jonas Kissling
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Thanks! I thought about that, I know that birds are wild, but from the rules its not clear, or is it mentioned specificaly?
Hank Pants wrote:
Jonas21 wrote:
mechanical marquise: what do I do when theres a birdsuit card next up in the order? Wheredo I batzle, recruit etc? I havent found anything in the learn to play...

Bird suit is wild, so battle and move in every possible clearing.

"Recruit" is based on crafting costs though, and those can't be birds.
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Jonas21 wrote:
Thanks! I thought about that, I know that birds are wild, but from the rules its not clear, or is it mentioned specificaly?


No problem!
As far as I know, there's no specific instruction for this case in the available rules. But the Mechanical Marquise board instructs you to take actions in clearings matching the order card, and a bird card matches all clearings.

I figured there's no other way to interpret that part.
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Joshua Yearsley
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Birds are wild, so resolve the action in all clearings meeting the requirements.
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Did you get inspiration/transfer mechanics from the early versions of Woodland Alliance into the Lizard Cult? I played an earlier version at Pax unplugged last year and recall similar ideas (outcast suit, hand building, conspiracies). At the time, the alliance felt a bit more complex than the other factions, so the mechanics make more sense in an xpac faction.


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Cole Wehrle
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It was less specific ideas than a general feeling. But that's not far off the mark.
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Guy Shalev
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Sorry I'm bouncing this thread, but it's really relevant here.

The Mechanical Marquise. The Spy cards.

Since the errata makes it clear that the Marquise spends the cards they reveal, and mostly will reveal one card a turn, how much foresight is there?

How much control over where they'll go next in terms of directing them elsewhere? If you reveal the next card, and it's bad for you, you'll switch it for the next one, but you need 2 spies to actually make sure the card you just switched it with isn't the same. And even then, you need to gamble, see card #2, then switch with blind #3, and then switch the now new #2 with #1.

Or over two turns, see what will be card #1 *next* turn, then the turn after look at card #2 and consider switching with #1.

That actually seems extremely cumbersome for not a lot of gain, since the errata came in. Prior to that, you could remember which cards were where and thus actually modify the program. The issue here is obviously needing something to shake the order now and then.

I think that might've been a more interesting decision-space?
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