Root on Switch review: the blockbuster board game is great on the go

Racine: A game of strength and law in the woods is an awesome board game. Released in 2018 by Leder Games, it presents a cute and cheerful take on a woodland kingdom and its people. The setting could rightly be compared to the comedy series Mouse guard or Brian Jacques Redwall novels. Corn Root is a lie. It is neither pleasant nor serene. It’s a vicious turn-based game where players scramble for control of the forest and slaughter each other. And now you can engage in this fierce beak and claw war on your Nintendo Switch.

To put it bluntly, Root is a game beast. But Dire Wolf Digital – a studio known for its tabletop translations in electronics – did an exemplary job bringing it to Nintendo’s hybrid console. It’s a complex affair with gnarly interactions that force participants to follow a wealth of information. So the sophisticated tutorial is not only useful, but quite necessary. It teaches fundamental concepts, but also describes the four extremely asymmetric factions.

Cat’s marquees are the most straightforward and straightforward, starting with controlling most of the forest and seeking victory points by constructing various buildings. The Eyrie, a coterie of royal birds, present a heavy faction capable of gaining momentum through their intriguing “decree” system. This allows you to program action cards into a sequence and engage in strategy. The Woodland Alliance functions as a form of insurgency. They seek to muddle the gears of opponents and cause open revolt, completely destroying entire spaces of the map. Finally, the Vagabond is represented by a single piece on the board: a raccoon dedicated to exploration and the desire to travel. As a raccoon, you travel to trade items with players and explore ruins. If the going gets tough, you can even start harassing and eliminating opposing warriors. Additionally, two factions (previously available as an expansion for physical play) are now available as add-on content: the Lizard Cult and Riverfolk. I haven’t played them in the digital version, but having experienced them on the tabletop, I can say that they are just as robust as their counterparts.

Image: Dire Wolf Digital

Because they each play by their own rules, learning the differences between RootAsymmetric factions can be heavy. As for the physical version, players only start to understand the game after a few games. As False, another modern classic board game, Root is played in the open air with each player able to look at each opponent’s reserve and follow their actions. Players will even tend to announce out loud what they are doing every step of the way. RootThe open nature of it’s help players understand the game in a holistic way.

The digital experience, by its very nature, is much more opaque. The game is smooth and fast thanks to the automation of resource management, but it is extremely difficult for someone who does not have a good understanding of the whole game to understand the decisions that other players are making. It is trying to pass the value of a literal array on a single screen, after all. You can analyze everything through the menus, but the amount of information in RootThe digital adaptation of can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, then, this construction is relatively refined. The Switch edition of Root enjoys months of returns based on the early access version of Steam from last August. Many tricky points, such as slow combat animations and outright bugs, have been mitigated.

Turn-based tactical games live and die by the quality of their AI, and Root mostly successful in this regard. I didn’t feel isolated or in league, and opponents’ strategic decisions were generally appropriate. The difficulty also scales well. The main flaw with AI, however, is that it doesn’t seem to prioritize which factions are ahead. While not essential, the tenuous alliances that form when one player outstrips others creates exciting rushes in multiplayer games. These moments are lost here.

A player lights the Root Woods map

Image: Dire Wolf Digital

One of RootThe defining qualities of it’s intrigue are its social performance. It is very difficult to discern who is on the verge of success as each faction operates at its own pace. This leaves a void that is often filled with conversation. It’s not uncommon for someone to spend half the game trying to convince the table to attack the Drifter, but the others realize it’s too late when they finally agree. Unless you’re playing in person with pass and play, that group dynamic is cut off with live opponents on the Switch version due to limited communication.

In all other respects, Root is an extremely faithful adaptation of the board game. There is even a selection of additional content that has never been present on the tabletop version. A new fantasy mode features challenges that alter the game setup or change the rules. One of these changes allows the Marquise de Cat to use her Field Hospital abilities and return downed Warriors to their base for free; another alters the map so players can move along the river, completely disrupting normal spatial dynamics. There are several options, and they are welcome for anyone who knows Rootcomplex systems of.

I love Root in its cardboard form, and the adaptation of Dire Wolf’s Switch accomplishes the unenviable task of bringing its machinations to the screen. It’s a great process to learn this game, but there are enough tools here to integrate patient players. Disassembling and reassembling such a complex system into an entirely different format is no easy task. Root, in its two incarnations, is a resounding success.

Root released on November 16, 2021 for Nintendo Switch. Previous versions released on September 24, 2020 on Windows PC, iOS and Android. The game has been tested on Switch using a download code provided by Dire Wolf Digital. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find further information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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