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Return to the world of Root with new factions, maps, and an alternative game deck!
Return to the world of Root with new factions, maps, and an alternative game deck!
20,886 backers pledged $1,726,461 to help bring this project to life.

The Corvid PNP, a Surprise Stream, and a Development Diary.

Posted by Patrick Leder (Creator)

 Hi everyone,

We’ve got a few bits of news today. First, we’re happy to officially release the Corvid Conspiracy PNP. You can find the PDF for them here. Second, to celebrate the release of the Crows, we’ll be hosting a livestream this afternoon, starting at 1pm (central time). Feel free to head over to twitch and follow along! 

Finally, I wanted to say a few words about the design of the Corvid Conspiracy. One thing that I really enjoy about Root is the robust framework that lives at the center of the game. You could build a simple wargame off of these mechanics alone, and, I think, it would prove to be an interesting game. I think this is one reason why Root saw so many fan factions generated by its players. Even as early as April of last year, playtesters started creating their own factions based on the publicly shared PNPs for Root. The stream fan-generated factions only increased when the game saw a general release. 

This past summer I handed off Vast: TMM to Cole and Nick for final development, I found myself with my first creative break since I began working on Vast in 2014. I tinkered a little with some old designs, but eventually found myself being pulled towards Root. At this point new fan factions were being posted nearly every day, and I wanted to get in on the fun. 

Before I started designing, I looked closely at the game and how the roles interacted with the base mechanics. The Cats police the board. The Woodland Alliance gives a tax to moving and fighting—the better the player sets up that tax, the more prosperous they will become. Each faction in Cole’s design explored different elements of the core system, but the six factions that had been built left a lot of room yet to be explored. One place that immediately jumped to mind was the players' hands, so I started to think about how a faction could be built around manipulating those cards. Generally I don't like making someone else discard cards. A person’s hand should be a sacred, protected space. But in Root, so little is sacred. I think it’s fair to say that Cole showed me a little about the narrative value in designing games that violated some norms. Perhaps playing with another player’s hand was okay in the context of Root.

Along these lines, the Corvid Conspiracy quickly jumped to life. Thematically, the faction represents a collection of spies (and moles!) that are infiltrating the other factions. The Crows use their influence to manipulate the other players by essentially ransoming their hands, and place infiltration tokens to spread their agents into the hands of the other players. Agents take up space in other players' hands just like any other cards, but they can’t be spent or used for anything. A player can voluntarily give up their agent cards at the end of their turn, or they can be removed by force by the Crows.

Anytime an agent leaves a player’s hand, all Agent cards leave that player’s hand. The Crow player then scores two points and resolves an effect based on the number of agents returned.

As you can see, these effects are pretty strong, and usually players will want to return agents before they find themselves stuck with a potential bomb-maker. At the same time, if they shed agents too frequently, players are going to quickly find the Conspiracy breaking out of the pack. 

The best way for opponents to rein in the Crows is simply to knock out those pesky infiltration tokens. To protect those tokens, they have a few handy tools. For one, they can recruit using their nest, which allows them to reinforce quickly. Second, the they can move their warriors around the board very easily, as they ignore rule.

Like with the Great Underground Duchy, the key challenge to playing the Crows is their hand management. Many of their actions are powered by spending cards, and trying to decide how to divide your cards among your different strategic priorities is critical.   

The Crows have been an absolute blast to test in the studio. We’ve so far been using them mostly as a replacement for the Woodland Alliance in three-player combinations, but we think they really shine in four- and five-player games! 

Take care, everyone!


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    1. Nathan on

      Am I reading this right in that the Corvids can only place one infiltration token/ warrior per Birdsong? I feel like the tokens go down too slow - other players keep killing them almost immediately.

    2. Tham Jing Wen on

      @Leo Brooks Yeah now that I see them, v10 & 11 are quite interesting, let's hope that they managed to incorporate some of these aspects back into the current Crows, as Cole mentioned they were still experimenting with them.

    3. Leo Brooks on

      @Tham Jing Wen
      That is exactly the way it was up to v.11. I prefer v. 10. If you don't know what I am talking about visit the google drive PNP file below for the moles and crows from earlier in the year as the team was developing them. There was this awesome balancing act of keeping agent cards to perform actions or adding them to the plot to trigger it. I highly recommend printing it out and trying it.

    4. Austridad on

      Thanks the reply! I knew i was missing something. For some reason i thought you only got to do the action for electing a lord once. But now i see it's every turn.

    5. Tham Jing Wen on

      Another possibility is to separate the plots from the agents - maybe we can select a plot and install it like electing an Eyrie leader, then use discarded agents to 'advance' the plot and trigger it when that plot's limit of agents has been reached. So players have to balance between keeping the agent cards taking up space in their hands, or advancing the master plot.

    6. Cole Wehrle Collaborator on


      Re: Mole Lords. Sure they could elect the same lord over and over again. But, once they have elected three from that zone they will get no more (lords lost to not return to the board). In addition, you elect lords after you take actions, so losing a scoring lord means you miss out on that kind of scoring for a turn. It hurts!

    7. Cole Wehrle Collaborator on

      @Ian Nope.
      The Vagabond will usually only get 1 card per turn and that too is pretty easy to avoid. And, the Woodland Alliance has the ability to store the majority of their hand in their supporters stack and can therefore let the agent cards build up.

    8. Cole Wehrle Collaborator on

      Thanks everyone for your responses. Just a quick note that we've got a busy week coming up and may not be able to respond to each post directly. Our regular development schedule will open up right after the campaign ends and we'll be sure to mine these comments if we get stuck :).

    9. Ian Liddle on

      how do the Corvids interact with a) the Vagabond, and b) the Woodland Alliance?

      it seems like they'd pump a lot of points into the game by adding so many tokens to burn without consequence.

    10. Austridad on

      When the moles lose a rightmost elected lord do they lose the victory points? I'm reading the rules as saying no they don't and then they could potentially re-elect a lord to the same spot. Albeit they only have 3 lords for each column.

      In affect losing a lord is actually a benefit (excluding the fact that you just lost a building).

      Am i reading the rules right?

    11. Missing avatar

      Bernhard Thomas Haselberger on

      hi everybody and JUST THE BEST greetz from europe (austria) to all involved people!

      1: i love "Root"
      2: i love "The Riverfolk Expansion"
      3: i'm sure, i will love "The Underground Expansion"

      AMAZING WORK !!!

      But now, after my opinion, just a little question ... there is this perfect, sweet and short video about the upcoming "Underground Expansion" (don't know, who made this arty stuff) ... and so i wanna ask, if it would be possible, to make the same cool shit (a little history of the world of root) on the origin game "Root" and the "Riverfolk Expansion" too ?!?

      All the best and God bless ya !!! ;-)

    12. Michael Boyle on

      Might I suggest: Instead of the Agents all basically doing the same thing, and that thing being basically nothing. (In this version it isn't the Agent card itself, but rather the number of agent cards that get discarded that cause an effect.) Perhaps each of the agent cards could do something different and interesting like: "Double Agent: Discard all Agent cards and replace an opposing non-Corvid warrior with your own." Or "Launch Conspiracy: Discard all your Agent cards and draw half that number of Plot cards." Or "Sabotage: Discard all agent cards to destroy a building or token in a clearing where you have a presence" Or "Propaganda: Discard all agents to force a non-Corvid opponent to discard half the number(Rounded down) of Plot cards as Agent cards you discarded.

      In this way you entice players to discard their Agent cards, and cause clandestine havoc at the same time.

    13. Tham Jing Wen on

      @Leo Brooks I agree with you, I feel that the current version of the Crows is not as interesting as the older versions, but it is definitely more streamlined and smoother. Hopefully a balance can be found eventually.

      I think part of the problem might be that the current crows are a bit one-dimensional, watching the live-stream gave me that feeling. It was mostly a repetition of the same thing - putting the infiltration tokens, putting cards in peoples' hands, and then they usually discarded them quickly so it was mostly only the 2+ plots being done.

      I suggested in the Comments that perhaps they can bring back some form of infiltration by having crow warriors infiltrate buildings to disable their usage and allow the Corvids to craft using those buildings instead of infiltration tokens. The tokens could still be used to determine how the agent cards are given out.

    14. Jesse Kopelman on

      @Steinar Furuli
      Based on Creators response:
      2 agents discarded - 2+ plot
      3 agents discarded 2+ plot OR 3+ plot
      4+ agents discarded: plot of your choice.

    15. Steinar Furuli on

      Why does it say 2+, 3+ and 4+ for the agents discarded?

      To me, 2+ means "two or more". So whenever a player discards 2 or more agents, the Corvids draw 2 cards. But that doesn't make sense, since discarding more than 2 agents grants a different effect. Shouldn't it say 2, 3, 4, instead of 2+, 3+, 4+?

    16. Rodney Cockrell on

      I'm very excited for both new factions! More Root=More FUN!

    17. Leo Brooks on

      @ Cole - YAY. Thanks for replying - I know how busy you guys must be. Again, IMHO the previous version had SO much going for it. I'd be happy to give you some of our groups observations on play through.
      I'll watch the twitch feed tonight to see how the new Crows look in action.Maybe I'll warm to them. Thanks again

    18. Tham Jing Wen on

      The wording for the 4+ action seems to conflict with the way it is worded in the rules. The card and board suggest it is the Corvids choosing which pieces get removed, while the rules suggest it is the discarding player who chooses. Given that this is a powerful effect, I'm thinking it should be the Corvids who choose right?

      I also wonder if there will be more than one action available, for the sake of variety. Maybe for each discard row, there could be 2 actions to choose from, one beneficial to the Corvids and one hurting the discarding player.

    19. Cole Wehrle Collaborator on


      The game isn't done and our active development version of the Crows is a little different from the one we are sharing with everyone. Some things that you like may return in one way or another ;)

    20. Cole Wehrle Collaborator on


      1. They have 12 agents.
      2. They start with 3 cards in their hands like everyone else.
      3. Yup, the Corvids get to chose!

    21. Leo Brooks on

      Thanks for posting an update on the Crows. They are the most interesting faction in the game IMHO.
      Or maybe I should say they were the most interesting faction. I have been playing with them up to Version 10 in the PNP files updated until about January 2018.
      I thought that version was just about perfect. The plot and agent cards were thematically really strong, the infiltration of other players buildings was genius, the intrigue dice roll was also really interesting. I loved the balance between agent cards needed to perform operations and agent cards needed to carry out plots. Admittedly, the faction seemed really strong and needed some nerfing to even out the plots and points, but I thought you guys were really close.
      Then the next version after v.11 was a a complete makeover. It felt cobbled and forced to me and thematically isn't nearly as strong. I've written a lot about this. I don't do it to be a whiner, I do it because I absolutely LOVE this game, and I really wanted to see the crows come to fruition with the earlier version. I've looked at the latest version thoroughly and while I haven't played it, it just doesn't seem as fun, unpredictable, or thematic.
      (Like - BOOM - I just bombed your clearing. Very subversive. I loved that.)
      Any chance you will go back to this model? Is there anything you could offer backers so we could play with the older version (i.e. extra crow warrior pieces and professionally printed plot cards?)
      Please respond when you can. I've been looking for some feedback about this for weeks.

    22. Meshiki on

      Well link works great for me, I have already accesed mountain map, moles and board upgrade poster, but for some reason do not see the new addition.

    23. Cole Wehrle Collaborator on

      @Meshiki. I'm not seeing any troubles with the link. It's a public google drive folder. Sometimes if you are logged into a corporate google account it won't let you access material in another domain. Try logging off everything google related (or use an incognito tab in chrome) and then access it.

    24. Missing avatar

      Daniel Fehr

      @Shawn George: Adding more than the four original factions in your first game is possible, but it increases the length and complexity of the game by quite a lot; it also greatly increases explanation time.

      Unless your group is very patient and used to complex games, I'd suggest playing with just the four for the first game.

    25. Shawn George on

      This might be a dumb question, but I just got a copy of The base game of Root as a gift. I haven't played, nor has anyone in my game group. I'd love to, but we typically have 5 or 6 people on a game night. Would it be advisable to try adding one or both of these PnP factions for a first game? Or is that just asking for a frustrating first experience?

    26. Meshiki on

      For some reason, I can't find the PNP file in the link. Am I missing something?

    27. Missing avatar

      Matthew deMedeiros

      @Nathan: The print and play mentions they will have a typical card back to blend in.

      Questions/comments about the print and play:
      -rules say 10 agents print has 12 shown. Any reason for this?
      -do the Corvid start with any cards in their hand?
      -rule 12.7 says resolve one plot based on number of cards discarded and the plots start at 2+. Does this mean the Corvid gets to choose which plot or if three cards are discard I have to go with the 3 option (i.e. based on the number of cards being discarded).

    28. Benny Lee Pryor

      I don't usually come out of the shadows to say things like this, but man, I would really dig a Corvid plush.

    29. Nathan on

      What are the card backs for the Agent cards most likely going to be like? Are they going to blend in with the main card deck or have a unique back like the Eyrie's Leaders/Vagabond quests/etc. (harder to be "random" when discarding a card for Asassinate if the back stands out)