Finally had another FtF day on the 20th. Sadly, a last second cancellation left us at three people: me, Dave, and Jason.

First up was Root, which I’d gotten for Christmas. I nearly got to try it out well over a month ago, be we had to cancel for a Covid scare. (Baron didn’t have it, but got a cold or flu which took him about a week to properly recover from.)

I’d played around with the bits right after getting it, but hadn’t done more than that, other than read the rules. First off, as a package, it is really well produced. The art is well done, with a nice whimsical air when needed. Rules questions tended to be relatively minor and easily solved. That said, there’s a few things the ‘main’ rule book would benefit from having along with being in “Learning to Play” book; notably, which factions are recommended at less than four players.

Dave took the Marquise, Jason the Eyrie, and I tried the Woodland Alliance. Dave set up shop in the upper right corner of the map, putting the Eyrie in the lower left, and soon that corner of the board turned into a battleground, with the central fox clearing gathering mighty armies that couldn’t really be defeated.

I had a couple plays in the first turn or so that generated VPs, but I ended up stalling myself out for two-three turns as sympathy hit the point where I needed two cards per clearing. I then started a rabbit revolt in the lower right clearing, and then stalled out again, as I slowly recruited and worked out their action economy.

The Eyrie made steady progress up the VP track, initially a bit behind the Marquise, but then passed it in a ‘slow and steady’ race. Dave put out the rabbit Dominance card, and lunged after Jason’s initial roost, giving him control of the three rabbit clearings needed. Jason didn’t have a great way to stop it, but some thinking got us through the puzzle of at least making his Decree work for another turn. I could interfere with what Dave was doing, but still didn’t have what it took to break his hold on the nearest rabbit clearing. And if I did, then Jason would win when his roosts put his VPs to 30.

Overall reactions to the game are a bit muted, but I think the game is currently punching below its weight as it needs people who’ve seen how things work to really sing. Certainly, the Woodland Alliance needs some careful planning to get going, and I learned a lot about that.

That took us to lunch (it is a fairly quick game), and we tried out The Oregon Trail Card Game that Dave got for Christmas. Surprisingly, I was the only one of the three of us with memories of playing the original game (or, really, my grade school class playing it in unison around second grade). The rules are fairly simple, as is the overall package, and fairly clever for the simple job it’s trying to do. The game admits that its a fairly tough co-op; and the main secret is there are a number of events (excuse me, calamities) that are insta-death for whoever draws it. In fact, three of us all died to those just a bit before hitting the halfway mark.

After that, we wrapped up the day with a round of Settlers of Catan. I got the high roll to pick first and last in the opening. The bad news was I got shut out of most of the board, so no long-range expansion was possible. The good news is I set up with some access to everything, even though I didn’t really use the ports I got access to. My dice were streaky, with my first three to four rolls being 7. Jason got off to a slow start thanks to not quite as good odds, but lateish in, I rolled a number of 11s which were giving him three wood each, and did a lot to power an income that was already growing.

Thanks to a less compact start than the others, I was able to snag the Longest Road bonus, and kept it for the rest of the game (Dave generally jealously guards this). I managed just enough expansion to get to 9 VPs (including the road), and then revealed an early development card to get to 10. Any sort of longer game would have gone against me, but I managed to make a lunge for the VPs work.

I was Red, Jason was Blue with 7, and Dave was white with 6, including a development card he hadn’t shown yet.

Overall, a pleasant day. I don’t think Oregon Trail will make a reappearance, but I personally do want to get Root at least two more tries to start getting a better feel for it.

And then, the following Thursday, I took time off, and had Jason over for a couple hours. We revisited Commands & Colors: Medieval with the Tricamarum scenario (we’d done the three parts of Decimum previously).

It’s an all-cavalry scenario, with the Vandals having an edge in numbers, but the Belisarius has better quality, and twice as many leaders. I had the Byzantines the first time, and after the first move, Jason did a lot of damage with a Leadership card boosted with Cavalry Charge (I had also managed to cut off the evade of the forward MC in my move; I spotted that just after my turn was done). I managed to get things organized, and started grinding up the center, and then moved towards my right, and finished off the game by smashing into the combined mass of MC and LC there. My dice were moderately to very hot for most of the game, which helped a lot. 6-3

Things didn’t even go that well for the Vandals when I had them. Dealing with superior cavalry and leadership takes some doing, and Jason had the cards to generally leverage his abilities. I managed to pick off one unit fairly early, so at least it wasn’t going to be a shutout, but units were going down fairly hard whenever Jason could get an offensive going. By the end, I pretty much had no right or center, and lost one of the two leaders early. The end of the game saw my lone good center unit (a MC) splash across the stream and drive off a Byzantine MC, and then a First Strike let them get another on Jason’s turn, but he had units behind them, and even with two dice out of the stream, he got a banner that killed them. 3-6

It was a fast, action-heavy scenario. I’ll admit I’m tempted to try this setup out under pure Ancients rules just to see how different it is.