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How to play Root board game rules

Learn how to play Root, a deep strategy adventure war game. I hate reading and searching through rulebooks. I wrote these how to play Root board game rules to help you get straight to the important steps.

If you are looking for an overview of the Root, click here for a quick summary of the gameplay, mechanics, what makes it fun and who will like it.

How do you explain the Root Board Game?

Root 1

Root is a fast-pace board game of adventure and war. You are one of 4 factions (Marquise de Cat, Eyrie Dynasties, Woodland Alliance and Vagabond) seeking to rule the vast Woodland. Each Faction has their own objectives, abilities and score points in its own way. Marquise de Cat score by constructing buildings, Eyrie Dynasties by building and protecting roosts, Woodland Alliance by spreading sympathy for their cause and Vagabond by aiding and harming other factions.

Each player chooses a faction and sets up their faction. Click on the button below to get step by step instructions on how to set up your Root game and each faction.

Setting up a Root game
Root gameplay in simple steps
Root game concepts
Root Marquise de Cat Gameplay and Rules
Root Eyrie Dynasty Gameplay Rules
Root Woodland Alliance Gameplay Rules
Root Vagabond Gameplay Rules

How to Play Root – Step by Step

Step by step gameplay overview of the Root board game.

Total Time: 60 minutes

Starting faction and seating order

Starting faction (player) and seating order is determined (randomly). Factions take turns to take their game actions.

Factions take turn and actions

There are 3 phase in a faction player’s turn. During their turn, players will perform faction specific actions in the following phases and order:
1. Birdsong
2. Daylight and
3. Evening

Scoring of Victory Points

Faction score points in their own way. In addition, each time a faction removes an enemy’s building or token, they score 1 point. Each time a faction crafts an item, score victory points listed on the card.

Win by achieving 30 Victory Points

1st player to reach 30 victory points immediately wins the game.  If multiple players reach 30 simultaneously, the player taking current turn wins.

Win through Dominance Cards

Root Dominance Card

Dominance cards can be played to win the game without reaching 30 victory points. During Daylight phase , a player may activate a Dominance card if they have 10 or more points by placing it in their play are. Remove score marker from score track as you no longer score victory points.

Mouse, Rabbit or Fox Dominance
Win game immediately if you rule 3 clearings of the suit matching the activated dominance card at the start of your Birdsong phase

Bird Dominance 
Win game immediately if you rule 2 clearings in opposite corners at start of your Birdsong phase

Activated dominance card does not count to your hand limit and cannot be removed from play. You cannot replace activated dominance card.

Factions in Root

Marquise de Cat

Root Board Game Instructions - Marquise De Cat

Marquise de Cat occupies the Woodland and wants to turn Woodland into an industrial and military powerhouse

  • Marquise scores VICTORY POINTS each time she builds one of her BUILDINGS:
    • a workshop or
    • a sawmill or
    • recruiter
  • The more of the same building she has on the map, the more points she scores
  • To support ongoing construction, Marquise must maintain and provide strong interconnected economy of WOOD

Click here for Marquise de Cat faction actions and gameplay

Root 9

Eyrie Dynasties

Root 2
  • Eyrie Dynasties wish to retake control of forest clearings
  • During their EVENING phase, they score victory points based on the number of ROOSTS on the map. Greater their presence in Woodlands, greater their gains
  • They bounded by a certain set of increasing compulsory actions
  • Each turn they must take these actions or fall into TURMOIL

Click here for Eyrie Dynasties faction actions and gameplay

Root 11
Root 12
Root 13

Woodland Alliance

Root Board Game Rules - Woodland Alliance
  • Woodland Alliance goal is to gain sympathy of various creatures of Woodland who are dissatisfied with present conditions
  • Each time Alliance places a sympathy token, they SCORE VICTORY POINTS
  • The more SYMPATHY on the map, the more points scored
  • To gain SYMPATHY, they require SUPPORTER
  • Supporters incite rebellions in the forest. When there is a rebellion, the alliance will establish a base
  • Base allows Alliance to train officers, and increase military power

Click here for Woodland Alliance gameplay actions

Root 14
Root 16


Root Board Game Instructions - Vagabond
  • Vagabond plays all sides of the conflict while going on quests to increase his own influence throughout the wood
  • Vagabond scores points by improving the relationship with another faction or removing a warrior belonging to a faction hostile toward him
  • Vagabond can also complete QUESTs to score points
  • To move and act effectively, Vagabond must manage and expand his pack of ITEMS
  • Vagabond can do this by exploring forest ruins and helping other factions

Click here for Vagabond faction gameplay and actions

How to Play Root Rules FAQs

How long does it take to play Root?

A game of Root takes about 60 to 90 minutes.

How do you win the Root game?

1st player to achieve 30 Victory Points wins the Root game. Dominance cards can be played to win the game without reaching 30 victory points. During Daylight phase , a player may activate a Dominance card if they have 10 or more points.

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