Gencon 2019 Games Played Report Part 3

We close out the Gencon 2019 games played report with the “Root” board game, “Clockwork Dominion” and “Secret Hitler.”

Secret Hitler

I do not enjoy “social deduction games” like “Werewolf,” but I had a couple hours to kill and jumped into a game of “Secret Hitler.” I am still not a fan of the genre, but it does inject some strategy besides random guessing to determine the enemy.

“Secret Hitler’s” setup randomly assigns either a fascist or liberal role to each player (one fascist is Hitler). Players choose a President and a chancellor. There is a voting track with liberal or fascist policies. The president draws three cards, passes two on to the chancellor who picks one to play. No one besides the President or Chancellor sees the cards. Too many fascist policies and Hitler wins. Too many liberal cards and the liberals win.

I am still not a fan, but the game plays in 15 minutes and has at least some modicum of strategy. When you are president/chancellor you can get some idea of who is helping or hurting the cause. An amusing time-killer, but not worth a purchase for me.


“Root” has a cute theme, but ruthless execution. Woodland creatures fight for control of a forest. Leder Games clearly loves asymmetrical strategy games and this is another entry in the same vein as “Vast.” Each of the woodland creature types has a unique ability, cats begin with a large, widely dispersed army, crows can leave “mines” that you have to either set off or destroy to find out what they do. Moles tunnel and teleport around the board. One of the odder creatures were “Eyrie.” They chose their plans well in advance and failure to execute the plan (in order) caused them to choose a new leader.

Root the Board Game with Kickstarter Expansions

Players gather resources, fight and generally try to exterminate all who stand in their way. The asymmetric aspect does elevate this game from a standard move and fight strategy game to something else entirely.

I am not doing the game justice. The abilities are shockingly well balanced and the final score was within two points between all the players. It did play a bit odd because it was basically a beta. Tape held rule blocks on cards updated from the night before!

While a great game, several of my cohorts thought it had the same issue; new players will die horribly. Knowing what the other players can do is key to victory. For example the “moles” player got his tunnel system going before any of us understood what it meant. More experienced players will not allow it to reach that point before taking destructive action. Great game, but it has a learning curve.

Clockwork Dominion

“Clockwork Dominion” always caught my eye in the vendor hall of Gencon, but I never got to play it. Finally, this year I played it. A mixed bag, but still fun.

Clockwork Dominion RPG

“CD” is a fantasy/steampunk mash up set in roughly Victorian England. That said, it is definitely skewed towards the social aspect of role-playing.

We started out as down-on-our-luck soldiers and nobility in need of some quick cash. We agreed to provide a distraction during a dinner party so a fetching young woman might be relieved of her necklace. We agreed and attended. This was a “shotgun” wedding party for reasons no one knew, so we decided to cause problems with the groom, the bride, their entourages and a spurned suitor. For two real hours we worked the room, dropping hints the groom visited brothels and had an…ahem…social disease. We also raised some national tensions between the foreign groomsmen and some British soldiers.

Net result; wedding brawl!

Heist went off without a hitch, but then the girl turned up missing. Turns out some local fey wanted her for a fey wedding, so we betrayed our employer, killed the fey and got her out. She even married her suitor. Hurray!

The combat system uses a deck of cards (add skill points to card draw, high total wins) and for the social elements it worked really well. During a sword fight the rules felt clunky and bolted on. I might pick up this game for the setting, but the rules left me cold.

That is it for games played, but I will be back with some vendors of note and other miscellaneous cool things I saw at Gencon 2019

Trask The Last Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.