Learn how to play Root the board game #

Learn how to play Root, a deep strategy adventure war game. We help you skip the lengthy Root board game rules by providing an online guide that teaches the essential Root board game instructions. Access the guide from any device and get your game started quickly and easily. No more sharing of rulebooks or downloading of board game rules pdf!

What is the goal? #

  • Fast-pace board game of adventure and war
  • Be 1 of 4 factions and be ther rule the vast Woodland. The 4 factions are:
    • Marquise de Cat
    • Eyrie Dynasties
    • Woodland Alliance
    • Vagabond
  • Each faction have their own objectives, abilities and scores points in its own way:
    • Marquise de Cat score by constructing buildings in Woodland
    • Eyrie Dynasties score by building and protecting roosts in Woodland
    • Woodland Alliance score by spreading sympathy for their cause
    • Vagabond score by aiding and harming other factions
Root Board Game Instructions - Marquise De Cat

Marquise de Cat

Marquise de Cat score by constructing buildings in Woodland

Root Board Game Rules - Woodland Alliance

Woodland Alliance

Woodland Alliance score by spreading sympathy for their cause

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Eyrie Dynasties

​Eyrie Dynasties score by building and protecting roosts in Woodland.

Root Board Game Instructions - Vagabond


Vagabond score by aiding and harming other factions

Each player/faction has 3 phases

  • Birdsong
  • Daylight
  • Evening

You win by

scoring 30 victory points for your faction or play and complete a DOMINANCE card

Game setup #

If playing with three players, remove the Vagabond. If playing with two, also remove the Alliance.

Choose a Faction #

Each player chooses a faction and takes all faction pieces

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Place Faction’s score marker #

Place score marker for your faction on the “o” score track

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Deal Cards #

Deal Cards. Shuffle the deck of 54 cards and deal 3 to each player

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Place ruin chits #

Place 4 ruin chits on the 4 map slots marked “R”

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Place item chits #

Place 12 item chits and place them on matching spaces on the map

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Hand out Faction overview cards #

Hand out 16 faction overview cards. Place 2 custom dice near map.

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Setup Faction #

Set up your faction as described in Setup on back of each faction board

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The map comprises of 12 clearings and are connected by paths.

Moving around map

  • You can move from clearing to clearing that has a path connected
  • When moving, take ANY number of your warriors from one clearing to a clearing
  • You can only move from and to a clearing that you RULE
  • You RULE a clearing if you have the MOST combined warriors and buildings there
  • On a tie, there is no ruler


  • Each clearing has 1 to 3 slots
  • Slots hold buildings that players place
  • Clearing with no open slots cannot hold more buildings
  • Each clearing has a SUIT: fox, rabbit or mouse and represents the community living there

Root Board Game Instructions - Map

Marquise de Cat Faction Setup #

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

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Faction Setup

  1. Form supplies of 25 warriors and 8 wood tokens
  2. Place keep token in corner clearing of your choice
  3. Place a warrior in each clearing except clearing diagonally opposite corner of clearing with keep token
  4. Place 1 sawmill, 1 workshop, 1 recruiter. You may place among clearing with keep token and any adjacent clearings in any combination
  5. Place remaining 5 sawmills, 5 workshops and 5 recruiters on matching Building trackings, filling every space except leftmost space

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Eyrie Dynasties Faction Setup #

  • 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

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Faction Setup

  1. Form supply of 20 warriors near you
  2. Place 1 Roost and 6 Warriors in the corner clearing diagonally opposite from the clearing with the keep token
  3. Choose 1 of 4 Eyrie Leader cards. Place in Leader Card slot. Stack remaining leaders face up near you
  4. Tuck your 2 Loyal Vizier cards, showing suit, into Decree columns on your faction board
  5. Place your 6 remaining roosts on your Roost Track. Fill all spaces except leftmost

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Woodland Alliance Faction Setup #

  • 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

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Faction Setup

  1. Form supply of 10 warriors near you
  2. Place 3 bases on matching spaces in your Bases box
  3. Place 10 sympathy tokens on your Sympathy track
  4. Draw 3 cards and place face down on your Supporters stack

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Vagabond Faction Setup #

  • 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

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Faction Setup

  • Choose a character card and place in Character Card slot
  • Place Vagabond pawn in any forest
  • Shuffle quest deck and draw 3 quest cards. Place face up near you.
  • Take the 4 ruins from the map and items marked with ‘R’. Place one under each ruin and shuffle each ruin stack. Return each stack to empty ruin slot on the map

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Key Game Concepts #

Battling #

You battle other players to remove pieces from their map.

  • Choose any clearing where you have warriors,
  • Choose another faction with any pieces
  • Attack!

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Gameplay #

Each play follows their faction’s setup instructions. Once setup, they will take the following actions during the turn:

  1. Birdsong
  2. Daylight
  3. Evening

Marquise de Cat Turn Actions #

Factions Rules and Abilities #

  • Marquise crafts during Daylight by activating workshops
  • ONLY Marquise can place pieces in clearing with keep token (pieces may be moved into but not placed)
  • If keep token is removed, return it to box
  • If Marquise warriors are removed from the clearing, Marquise can save them and place them in clearing with keep token by spending a card matching the clearing they are being removed from

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Turn Actions #


  • Place 1 wood token at each sawmill


  • Activate workshops to craft cards from hand
  • Take up to 3 actions in any order. Additional actions are taken by spending on bird card per action:
    • Battle
    • March
    • Recruit
    • Build
    • Overwork

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  • Draw 1 card plus 1 card per uncovered draw bonus
  • If you have more than 5 cards, discard until you have 5

Eyrie Dynasties Turn Actions #

Factions Rules and Abilities #

  • Eyrie craft before resolving Decree during Daylight by activating roosts
  • Eyrie rules a clearing when tied for most combined warriors and buildings. They do not rule empty clearings
  • Eyrie only earn 1 victory point when they craft an item instead of the listed victory points

Turn Actions #

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  • If you have no cards in hand, draw 1 card
  • Add 1 or 2 cards to the Decree. Only 1 card that is added may be a bird card. You may play each card to any column. Columns can hold any number of cards
  • If there are no roosts on the map, place a roost and 3 warriors in a clearing with the fewest warriors


  • Activate roosts to craft cards from hand
  • You must resolve the Decree, starting with leftmost column and moving right. In each column, resolve all cards but in any order
  • For each card, take action listed for its column:
    • Place
    • Move
    • Battle
    • Build
    • Can’t take an action

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If you cannot take out any action, you fall in Turmoil.


  • Lose 1 victory point per bird card (including Loyal Viziers) on the Decree
  • Discard all cards on the Decree (except your Loyal Viziers)
  • Flip current leader face down and set aside, choose a new leader from those face up and place on your faction board
  • Put your Loyal Viziers into Decree spaces listed on new leader
  • If you must choose a new leader but none are face up, flip all leaders face up
  • End Daylight Phase and begin Evening phase


  • Score points listed on rightmost empty space of your Roosts track
  • Draw 1 card, plus 1 card per uncovered draw bonus
  • If you have more than 5 cards, discard until you have 5

Woodland Alliance Turn Actions #

Factions Rules and Abilities #

  • Alliance crafts during Daylight phase by activating SYMPATHY tokens
  • Battle abilities: As a defender, Alliance faction deals hits equal to the higher roll and attacker deals hits equal to lower roll
  • To take action, Alliance spends SUPPORTERS (cards on supporters stack)
  • SUPPORTERS can only be spent for their suit and are not counted as part of Alliance’s hand size. Supporters are face down but Alliance player can inspect them at any time
  • Supporters card stack limit is dependent on Alliance bases on the map.If Alliance has no bases on the map, supporters stack can only have up to 5 cards. If a supporter is gained but the stack still cannot support it, the card is discarded. If there are bases on the  map, supporters stack can hold unlimited cards
  • When a base is removed, discard all supporters of matching suit (including birds) and remove half of their officers, rounded up
  • If Alliance has no more bases and has more than 5 cards in the supporter\’s stack, cards must be discarded down to 5
  • Alliance has 10 SYMPATHY tokens:
    • clearing can hold only 1 sympathy token
  • Outrage. When another player removes sympathy token or moves warriors into a SYMPATHETIC clearing, they must add 1 card matching the affected clearing from their hand to supporters stack.If no matching cards, they must show their hand to the Alliance. Alliance draws a card from the deck and adds to Supporters stack

Turn Actions #

Root Board Game Instructions - Woodland Alliance Turn Actions

  1. Birdsong
    • Revolt or Spread Sympathy any number of times
  2. Daylight
    • Craft: Activate Sympathy tokens to craft card from hand
    • Support: Add a card from hand to supporters deck
    • Train: Spend a card whose suit matches a built base to place a warrior in the Officers box
  3. Evening
    • Take military operations up to your number of officers:
      • Move
      • Battle
      • Recruit
      • Organise
    • After military operations, draw one card plus any uncovered draw bonus. Then, if you have more than five cards in your hand, discard down to five.

Vagabond Turn Actions #

Factions Rules and Abilities #

  • The vagabond pawn cannot rule a clearing or stop players from ruling one. A vagabond pawn cannot be removed from the map
  • Vagabond has the NIMBLE special ability and can move regardless of who owns the clearing

Vagabond\’s capabilities depend on his items

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Vagabond’s capabilities depend on the items he gets. Items are face up or face down.

When Vagabond exhausts an item, it is flipped face-down  and actions are then taken

  • When items are gained, they are placed on matching tracks. Each track can hold 3 matching items
  • When gained, other items are placed in Vagabond’s satchel
  • Vagabond can freely move face-up undamaged items  between track and Satchel
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  • Vagabond exhausts hammers to craft. All hammers match the suit of his current clearing. If the item is crafted, Vagabond takes it immediately, face-up

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  • Vagabond is DEFENSELESS if the player has no undamaged sword item
  • Maximum rolled hits. In battle, Vagabond’s maximum rolled hits of equal undamaged sword items (face up or face down) in the Satchel

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  • Damage undamaged items when taking hits. When Vagabond takes a hit, he must damage 1 undamaged item and move it to damaged box.
  • If no undamaged items are left, ignore remaining hits

Changing Victory conditions with Dominance Cards

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Dominance cards and coalition

  •  In 4 or more player game, Vagabond can activate dominance card to form a coalition with the player with fewest victory points.
  • Player places score marker on player’s faction board. If tie for fewest, Vagabond chooses a tied player. If the chosen player wins, Vagabond also wins.
  • Vagabond no longer scores victory points and cannot form a coalition with a player who has already activated dominance card

Relationship with factions

  • Improve relationship with a non-hostile faction by taking Aid action
    • Aid non-hostile faction the number of times listed between current Allied space and next Allied space during the turn
    • Advance faction’s relationship marker 1 space right on the track
  • If factions’ relationship marker reaches final space on Allied track, you are now trusted by the faction warriors and is now as ALLIED
    • Each time you aid an Allied faction, score 2 points
    • When moving during Daylight phase, you may move warriors from 1 Allied faction with you. Allied warriors follow normal movement rules of their faction and do not gain from NIMBLE special ability
    • When initiating battle, Allied warriors in the clearing of battle treated as yours. Maximum hits you can roll equals number of Allied warriors plus total undamaged swords. If Ally is a defender, you cannot treat Allied warriors as yours
    • When treating Allied warriors as yours, you can take hits by removing Allied warriors. If you take more hits than by damaging items during the same battle, the Allied faction becomes HOSTILE
    • If you cause OUTRAGE by moving or battling with Allied warriors, you give the matching card

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HOSTILE status. When non-hostile faction warrior is removed, the relationship market immediately moves to Hostile box.

  • When removing a piece of Hostile faction, earn 1 victory point. You do not score a point for removing warrior that made faction hostile
  • Exhaust extra boot item when moving into clearing with warriors of any Hostile factions

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  • You cannot move the relationship marker out of Hostile box by using Aid. You can still aid hostile faction to take crafted items
  • You can form a coalition with a hostile faction. Move the relationship market to Indifferent space

Turn Actions #

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  • Flip up 2 exhausted items for each tea face up at the start of the Birdsong, then flip up 3 more
  • Next, you may Slip once, moving to an adjacent clearing or forest without exhausting any boot


Exhaust items to take the following actions:

    • Move
    • Battle
    • Explore
    • Strike
    • Aid
    • Quest
    • Craft
    • Repair
    • Special action

3. Evening

  • If in a forest, repair all damaged items and flip exhausted items face up
  • Draw 1 card, plus 1 card per draw bonus on your track. If there are more than 5 cards in your hand, discard down to 5
  • If you have more items in your Satchel than your item limit, 6 items plus bag, remove items from your faction board to your item limit

How do you win? #

1st player to reach 30 victory points immediately wins the game. 

If multiple players reach 30 simultaneously, the player taking current turn wins

Each faction scores victory points in their own unique way as shown above. In addition, any faction can score victory points as follows:

  • removing buildings and tokens, every time you remove an enemy’s building or token, score 1 point
  • when you craft an item, score victory points listed on the card

Dominance Cards 

Dominance cards can be played to win the game without reaching 30 victory points:

  • During Daylight phase, if you have 10 or more points, you may activate a dominance card by placing in your play area
  • 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.

A dominance card can be spend for its suit. Once spent, place it near the map to show it is available to be taken

During your daylight phase, you can take an available dominance card into your hand by spending a card of matching suit

Video Walkthrough #

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