Best Root expansions for the asymmetric board game

From Underworld to Marauder, here are the best Root board game expansions for die-hard fans of Cole Wehrle's adorable, animal-based wargame.

Photo of a meeple from the Underworld Root expansion

With only four factions in the base board game, Root expansions are a great way to make the asymmetric strategy title feel fresh again. The best Root board game expansions offer innovative new playstyles, exciting new levels of complexity and power, and some much-needed adjustments for different player counts.

Below you’ll find the best board game expansions we recommend for Root. We cover all the key factions in the strategy board game, with top picks for players of every experience level and budget.

These are the best Root expansions as of 2024:

Photo of the Underworld Root expansion

1. Root Underworld Expansion

The best overall Root expansion, with excellent value for money.

Number of players 2 – 6
New factions The Great Underground Duchy, The Corvid Conspiracy

Pros:

  • Adds new maps
  • Varied and interesting new factions

Cons:

  • Corvids are tricky to play well

The Root Underworld Expansion gives players a little bit of everything, and it’s got great value for anyone who needs ‘Root, but even more of it’. It introduces a new mole-based military faction in the form of The Great Underground Duchy, and the Corvid Conspiracy adds a unique insurgent faction to the mix. Plus, you get two brand-new maps, featuring mountains and lakes which significantly change the way your factions get about in the forest.

The moles are widely loved for their play style, which sees you building tunnels all over the map and popping up wherever you like. As long as they can defend their buildings from other factions, they can build up to explosive levels of power over time. This might be one of the best factions in Root, period.

The crows come with their own unique style of subterfuge, which involves placing tokens that meddle with your opponents if they can’t guess your plans. They’re a fairly simple faction to learn, but they can be tricky to master and rely on risky strategies – so playing as them can be a bit of a mixed bag overall. 

Photo of the Riverfolk Root expansion

2. Root Riverfolk Expansion

The best Root expansion for players who like complexity and want to try new things.

Number of players 1 – 6
New factions The Riverfolk Company, The Lizard Cult

Pros:

  • Factions offer engaging new play styles

Cons:

  • Faction power is comparatively unimpressive

The Root Riverfolk Expansion introduces two new factions with incredibly idiosyncratic styles. The Riverfolk Company is full of otters who sell their services to other factions and work to overthrow their buyers in the background of their squabbles. Meanwhile, the Lizard Cult, who hatch complex schemes to recruit more believers to their cause.

This expansion also adds an extra vagabond, and scenarios that turn Root into a co-op board game. Plus, there’s a bot player, the Mechanical Marquise, for those who want to play solo. This is an expansion that’s all about innovation and trying something new.

Its success is mixed, however. This version of the Marquise isn’t our preferred way to play Root as a solo board game (more on this later). And while the new factions can be a lot of fun, they can be fiddly to wrap your head around, and they regularly fall flat when facing stronger factions in the game (which, to be honest, is most of them). Still, topping the meta isn’t everything – and if their playstyle appeals, it’s still well-worth adding The Riverfolk Expansion to your base game. 

Photo of rat meeples from the Marauder Root expansion

3. Root Marauder Expansion

The best Root expansion for games with fewer players.

 

Number of players 2 – 6
New factions Lord of the Hundreds, Keepers in Iron

Pros:

  • Hirelings are an excellent addition
  • High-power factions that feel great to play

Cons:

  • Most complex factions to learn

The Root Marauder Expansion introduces Hirelings, giving you a chance to gain benefits from factions that aren’t in play. They’re a neat addition that offers new strategic dynamics to mull over, and they give a serious quality-of-life boost to games played with small groups.

And, of course, there’s the Marauder factions. The Lord of the Hundreds are a rodent mob led by a fickle warlord who wants to overwhelm the board, looting and razing as they go. And then there’s the Keepers in Iron, knightly badgers who score by collecting lost relics.

These are two of the most complex factions in the game (the Lord of the Hundreds in particular). This will be a major draw for experienced Root players looking for a new challenge, but perhaps something to be wary of if you’re still finding your feet. However, with a bit of mastery, these factions offer some glorious, crunchy gameplay. 

Photo of the Clockwork Root expansion

4. Root Clockwork Expansion

The best Root expansion for single-player games.

Number of players 1 – 4
New factions

Pros:

  • Still as fun as playing with real people

Cons:

  • Needs a strong understanding of the base game and factions to play properly
  • Not much value added beyond solo play

The Root Clockwork Expansion is a must-have for tabletop gamers who want to play Root solo. It takes the four factions of the base game and turns them into robots, meaning a single person can take them all on without having to arrange a get-together. Despite the fact you have to move and manage your rival factions yourself, this is a pretty close replica of the gameplay that made Root great in the first place.

Root is a fairly complex board game, though, so managing three robot factions is a lot of busywork. The Clockwork Expansion expects you to have a fairly firm grasp on how the base game plays, so there’s not much hand-holding for a solo player that’s spent all their time on just one faction.

There’s also not a lot to recommend here for anyone who wants to play with actual humans. Generally, adding Hirelings to a game is enough to spice up a game for smaller groups, so there’s very little need to add robots into the mix. 

A card from the Exiles and Partisans Root expansion

5. Root Exiles and Partisans Deck

The best small Root expansion for board gamers on a budget.

Number of players 2 – 6
New factions

Pros:

  • Cheap and high value for money
  • Extends replayability of the base game

Cons:

  • Not a dramatic change – no new factions

The Root Exiles and Partisans Deck introduces a new deck of cards to replace the original in the base game. It’s a significant shake up of the familiar formula – favor cards are gone, and new powers are introduced that give the existing factions a huge amount of strategic flexibility.

We won’t say this deck is necessarily better than the base game one – that’s all down to personal preference. But it feels very different from its predecessor, and that adds a new level of replayability to a game that’s already easy to sink hours upon hours into.

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