This is a guide for Root players who want to create more Root players
out of their friends. The Teach is the notoriously difficult
part of introducing a new board game to a group. They may not be
familiar with “heavy” board games, but if they're willing to learn, I
hope this guide can help you teach them — I extracted it from my mental
notes from having taught the game multiple times.
Requirements for this guide:
You have the Root base game (duh)
You're already familiar with Root
You have a table of four players
Everyone is willing to learn a more complex board game and pay attention
to the teach
Perhaps you're one of the four at the table
You have about three hours to play (everyone's first game takes a while)
This is the general structure of this teach.
Objective and key ideas
Tips: keep in mind
before starting the teach
Do setup if you can. Do most of the setup ahead of time
if you can. Don't set up the player boards so you can hold them and pass
Welcome questions. Let everyone know that it's okay to
ask questions. You may want to delay answering a question because an
upcoming part of the teach will cover it.
How to invite questions: Ask players something like,
“What questions do you have about XYZ before we continue?” Note that you
should ask “what questions”, not “do you have
questions”, so people must actively answer you instead of saying yes or
Connect flavour to mechanics. Emphasize the thematic
flavour in your explanations. This helps players connect abstract game
mechanics to familiar concepts from Root's theme.
Save some explanations for after the game starts. Some
details (like crafting) are better explained later, once everyone's
experiencing the game live and those things start becoming relevant.
Introduce the theme, describe the gameplay, and explain why you like
Root (and why they should like it, too). Here's an example of how to
deliver the introduction. Of course, change it to fit you.
Introduce the theme:
After decades of rule under the birds, they collapsed in civil war, and
now there's a power vacuum in the woodlands
[Show player boards] Marquise is here to colonize the region, Eyrie is
back to reclaim their realm, Alliance is fighting for home rule,
Vagabond is making their own story out of the war
Describe gameplay broadly:
Asymmetrical war for territory and control
Table talk and inter-player politics
Threat assessment: who is your biggest obstacle?
Explain why you like Root:
Rich in flavour: gameplay tells a story
Objective and key ideas
First to 30 points wins
There are general rules for everyone
Asymmetrical: unique rules for each faction
There are shared ways to earn points and each faction also has its own
Start the explanation with just the rules that apply to everyone.
Don't worry about the exceptions during this part. It's super helpful to
give examples; those are also good moments to quiz the table on the rule
you just explained (“Now who rules this clearing? Why?”)
Suits. [show cards] Cards have one of four suits; bird
is wild. Note how clearings also have suits. Many effects want you to
Rule. You rule a clearing if you have more
warriors & buildings there than any other player.
If tied, no one rules. Examples:
Warriors and buildings: your two buildings will rule vs one opposing
Plurality rules, not majority: your three pieces will rule vs Alice's
two pieces vs Bob's two pieces
Moving. Choose 1+ warriors in a clearing and move them
to another connected clearing. You must rule either end
of the move!
Battling. You can battle in a clearing where you have a
warrior — choose an opponent who has any kind of piece there and they'll
be the defender.
Attacker high. Attacker rolls both battle dice and
takes the higher roll, defender lower. The die is the number of
Hit limit: max hits = warriors. The number of hits you
can deal is limited by the number of warriors you have there. Example:
rolled 3, only 1 warrior → deal 1 hit.
Ambush cards. [show an ambush card] When defending,
spend a matching ambush card to deal 2 extra hits (extra hits ignore hit
limit). Battle is cancelled if attacker has no warriors left. Ambushes
can be ambushed.
Remove warriors first. When you take hits, remove
warriors first, then remove cardboard of your choice.
Extra hit if defenseless. Defender has no
warriors → you get 1 extra hit.
Removing cardboard is 1 point. Making an opponent
remove their buildings and tokens (aka cardboard) earns you 1
point for each.
Whew! That was a lot! Remember to invite questions from the table:
“What questions do you have about XYZ before we continue?”
Pass the player boards around. While that happens, explain each
faction broadly. Focus on their gameplay, main source of points, and (if
possible) compare them to something your friends are familiar with.
Marquise de Cat
Start the game in control of the woodland
Manage army and logistics
Earn points by building buildings
Think Starcraft or Risk
Fight to reclaim the woodland
Plan and execute increasingly complex turns
Earn points by building roosts and defending them
Think RoboRally or programming
Guerrilla warfare for the revolution
Obstruct opponents, invade their clearings
Earn points by placing sympathy tokens
Think… I don't know. IRL guerrilla warfare?
Lone wanderer, mercenary, wildcard
Navigate a woodland at war, manage your inventory, and profit
Earn points by completing quests and interacting with other factions
Think an RPG, like Skyrim
Ask the table what they think of the factions. As a group, work out
who's going to play what. You choose last.
Once everyone has a faction, explain to each player the details of
playing their faction. The others don't need to pay full attention.
Go through each player's board with them. Draw their attention to the
box detailing the phases of their turn. Use that box as the base for
your explanation. You can also quiz them on how they can earn
The rest of this Faction Rules section is my outline for
explaining each faction. Not all rules and details of the factions are
included! I explain the deeper things when they come up in-game.
Marquise de Cat
Core mechanic: make wood, use wood to build buildings
Birdsong: Place wood at sawmills
Daylight: Do up to three actions (more by spending bird cards)
March: move two times (they can be separate)
Recruit: place warriors at recruiters
Build: pay wood to place a building in a ruled clearing. The wood
must connect to there! Gain the revealed points.
Overwork: place wood again
Evening: Draw 1 card, +1 for each exposed plus-card symbol. Discard
down to 5.
The Keep. Only you can place pieces in its clearing.
Others can still move their pieces in.
Field Hospitals. Spend a matching card to send your
removed warriors to your keep instead of actually removing
How to earn points
Core mechanic: bigger decree → more actions during daylight
Birdsong: Add 1-2 cards to decree, max 1 bird card
Daylight: Follow the decree. Do each action in matching clearings.
If you can't, turmoil!
Evening: Gain points based on your roost tracker. Draw and
Lords of the Forest. You rule even if tied.
Disdain for Trade. Crafting items gives you only 1
point instead of the listed point reward.
How to earn points
Keep roosts to earn points every turn
Core mechanic: use supporters to place sympathy tokens, then revolt
Birdsong: Spend matching supporters to place sympathy (adjacent to
already sympathetic clearing if possible). Gain the revealed points.
In future birdsongs, you can spend 2 matching supporters to
Daylight: Do these any number of times
Mobilize: put card from hand into supporters
Train: spend matching card from hand to add an officer
Evening: Do actions, up to the number of officers. Then draw and
Recruit: place one warrior at one base
Organize: replace warrior with sympathy token
+1 cost for sympathy if someone has 3+ warriors there
Outrage. When someone removes sympathy or
moves warriors into sympathy, they give you a matching
supporter from their hand.
Guerrilla War. In battle, you always take the higher
How to earn points
Core mechanic: collect items for actions and quests
There are different Vagabond characters. Start with Thief. Note the
ability and starting loadout.
Nimble. You can move ignoring rule.
Lone Wanderer. You're not a warrior and can't be
removed from the map.
Slip: may move to clearing or forest for free (only player who can
Daylight: turn items face down to do corresponding actions
If in forest, repair all items
Draw and discard
Ditch items that exceed your satchel capacity
Aid another faction to improve relationship. You may take an item from
When you pass an aid hurdle in one turn, the relationship improves and
you gain points
Remove a warrior → faction is hostile for the rest of
Costs one more boot to move into hostile clearings
Gain points for attacking and removing hostile pieces
Can still aid just to take an item
How to earn points
Aid friendly factions
Attack hostile factions
Which source of points to focus on depends on game conditions
Summarize key rules again and emphasize easily overlooked rules (like
removing cardboard for 1 point).
30 points wins.
Moving. Must rule either end.
Battling. Attacker high, defenseless, removing
cardboard is 1 point.
Marquise: Build buildings, Field Hospitals.
Eyrie: Keep roosts, rule if tied.
Alliance: Place sympathy, always high roll in battle.
Vagabond: Do quests and manage relationships.
Invite questions again, since this is the last moment before starting
Distribute helper cards to each player for them to reference.
Complete the setup.
The game includes a walkthrough script that guides four players
through the first two turns of the game; ask if they want to use it. If
Follow the script's special setup instructions
Have everyone read from the script when it's their turn
After each turn, invite questions from that player. Highlight the key
mechanics in action to everyone.
If you can, explain the why of that turn. Why do that action?
Explain the point of doing it and the strategic impact.
Once the game gets going, remind everyone to narrate their turn.
(This is a good habit to have in all tabletop games.) That will help
them learn their actions and highlight to other players what's going on
in the game state.
Players will probably ask about game jargon. The Learn to
Play booklet included in the box explains them. Here's my summary
of the commonly-asked ones.
Warriors are wooden animals (except Vagabond).
Buildings are cardboard squares.
Tokens are cardboard circles.
All are pieces. Buildings and tokens are
cardboard (this is a popular mnemonic for the point
reward for removing them).
Spend a card means you discard it to pay for something.
Extra hits bypass the hit limit.
Concepts to explain later
Some rules are too finicky to explain beforehand. Leave them for
later, when the game has started. Here's a list of things the teach
Crafting  (explain a few turns in)
Battle as Vagabond 
Must have matching base to revolt
Explain (or look up) obscure effects when they come up
Pop quiz! What happens when an effect (like revolt) tries to remove the
: Crafting explained:
Everyone can craft, but only Vagabond can use items
[show item card] Craft items for points or to entice Vagabond (table
Vagabond takes a crafted item by aiding that player
[show Cobbler card] Craft other cards for their effect
Crafting cost is in the top right and bottom left
Pay by “tapping” matching resources: workshops, roosts, sympathies,
: Battle mechanics for Vagabond:
Hit limit = undamaged swords.
Defenseless if no undamaged swords.
Getting hit damages items. When you take hits, move
that many items into the Damaged zone. Slip to the forest to repair.