Deep Dives, The Woodland

Keepers in Iron Guide

by Luke Bridwell

The Keepers in Iron (nicknamed badgers through the rest of this guide) are a tough but fun faction to learn and master. This faction is a continuous learning process. The more practice you have, the better you understand the faction and adapt to the board state. Badgers have a lot of flexibility, and this guide will help you learn which options you should consider when making strategic decisions. They are very rewarding when you have gained an understanding of how badgers play.

This guide is meant to be a resource to new and old badger players alike and also is continually being reevaluated by me.  Badgers have many layers, and as the Root meta shifts, tactics/strategy will have to shift as well.

Check out The Woodland for most posts on Root!

How do They Win?

Badgers have a potential of 27 victory points in relics and 8 points in relic column bonuses. This gives the Badgers one of the highest point totals in the game from the player board. You will primarily score victory points from your relics, supplemented by scoring with enemy pieces and craftable items. General information about the game. How many players I played the game with


Brief overview taken from the law of root: badgers “have twelve relic tokens of three types, figures, tablets, and jewelry. Each relic type has four tokens in total. The relic front shows only its type, and the relic back shows a value of 1,2,3, or 3.” They are tokens that you will delve to bring out of the forests of the map and then recover at your waystations to score points.


The main action engine of the badgers is their retinue, which is located at the top section of the faction board. This is where the badger player will allocate cards at the end of their turn allowing them to undertake future actions (similar to the Decree of the Eyrie Dynasties). Simply put, the badgers will add cards to their retinue to take actions, and if certain conditions in the action column are not met that card will be discarded from the retinue.

There are three columns in the retinue: move, battle and then may delve, and move or recover. The guide will go into this in detail later. Each card added allows that corresponding action to occur in matching suit clearings. When you choose the move action, you will move from a column matching that clearing. When you take the battle and then may delve, you will battle in a clearing with badger warriors that match that suit. You then may delve a relic (taking the relic piece from an adjacent forest into the clearing you battled). I will go into this action more during the daylight portion of the guide, but if no enemy piece is in the clearing you will still be able to delve. The move or recover column is the same for the move action, and you will recover relics from a clearing that has a waystation and matches the suited card.

Two triggers will cause cards to be discarded during these steps. During the delve action (the specifics of when you may take this action will be explained later), if the badgers do not rule more clearings in the surrounding forest than the value of the relic being delved, that card will be discarded. During the recovery action, if badgers do not rule more clearings of the matching waystation suit than the value of the relic that is being recovered, the card will be discarded.

The biggest piece of knowledge to share is that, unlike the Decree, you will never lose a card from the retinue if you choose to not take an action or take a partial action on your turn. You can never lose a card from the move column as there is no trigger for losing a card. When choosing to battle and then may delve, you may choose to not delve after battling which does not enable the trigger for discarding cards from the retinue to occur. Finally, you may choose to not recover a relic even if you are able to. Because of this, choosing to perform an action will have the chance or will cause a card to be discarded from the retinue. Always realize you do not have to. Sometimes it is better to just fight and set up for a future turn where you can make your actions being discarded have more of an impact.

The badgers want to get cards added to the retinue early and often because it is your action engine. You start with three bird cards in your retinue, called the faithful retainers. You start with one in each column. The earlier you add a card into your retinue, the sooner you are able to use it to take the corresponding action. More cards means more actions, and more actions will usually correlate to a higher scoring potential or the ability to control the board. All factions have different caps that limit how hard you can push your engine. For example, the Eyrie dynasty can only add one or two cards to the decree, and only one of those cards can be a bird card. The limit for badgers is not the number of cards that can be added from your hand to the retinue per turn but is the number of cards the retinue can hold (10 cards). Therefore, the sooner you maximize the action potential of the badgers, the sooner you have the flexibility to use cards for recruiting and crafting.

For the first couple of turns, you want to add at least two cards into your retinue, if not three, to hit the cap. But as you gain more experience with the badgers, you might only add one because of the need to gain more warriors or craft an improvement or item. The less you add to your retinue, the slower your engine of actions will take to reach maximum, which you will need to recover consistently. Below is the ideal framework for how that could happen. We will discuss warrior pressure later on in this guide, but when you prioritize the retinue, you will see a lack of warriors on the board. It is easier to add cards early in the game as other factions are also prioritizing their own engine.

Another key point is that badgers do not want to discard their retinue in the first couple of turns. Later in the guide, I will discuss how discarding does not matter but I want to make it clear that it very much does in the early game. You should not discard a card in rounds one to three. The only reason to break this rule to is to score a high three-point relic from a hostile board where players will attack you and you must score the relic. Badgers like being close to maximum actions, and discarding cards limits those future actions. Discarding is very helpful for badgers as you can curate the actions you can perform. But throwing away actions by discarding too early can limit what you can do in a turn and might put you into trouble when you need actions but also bodies as the table pressures you.

Round 1-3: Try to add 8-10 cards into the retinue.

Round One – 3 cards (Retinue total = 6)

Round Two – 2 or 3 cards (Retinue total = 8 or 9)


Waystations are the building component of the badgers. Waystations have two sides, with two different relic types (one on each side). Every waystation that is on the board allows badgers to draw one more card at the end of the evening phase, which can be up to four cards! Waystations are also the badgers crafting pieces.

Badgers ideally will have a waystation in two different clearing suits. This is a goal you should try to achieve throughout the game, as it will provide consistency. Usually, one suit is your main recovery suit. By recovery suit, I mean you will place waystations in this suit to try to maximize the amount of relics that you recover per card in the move or recover column of the retinue. The off recovery suit (the suited clearing you are not trying to recover relics from) helps with your recruitment RNG. You will want to place your waystations onto the map early, as the card draw is massive for getting your engine online (each card either can be an action, a craftable point/improvement, or a recruit action).

In my experience, as the game progresses players will attack you and try to force you into fewer and fewer clearings, which will minimize the amount of waystations that will be on the board and limit your card draw. Therefore, it is important to try and hold edge clearings that have multiple building slots so that you can still be able to have multiple waystations out, even if you are in only one clearing. It also increases the efficiency of the recover action, as you are able to recover different relics in the same clearing as long as you have the matching waystation.

Cards Uses

Cards have three roles for badgers and the importance of each depends on a few factors. Badgers have three main uses for cards, and due to the importance of these options feel a lot of pressure when deciding what option to choose. The three main uses are listed from greatest to least importance in my experience. All of these are truly needed for the badgers to succeed, and practice will help you see how a decision of a certain card helps or hinders your strategy.

  1. Retinue

Suited- Suited cards are never bad as actions but they are more limited in their uses due to the nature that the action must happen in a clearing of the matching suit. Suited cards should normally be used mainly in the battle/delve, recover/move columns. The suited cards in the battle and then may delve column should be in clearings that you can delve multiple times in a round (explained in greater detail in the battle and may delve portion). The suited cards in your move or recover columns should match the suit of clearings you are ruling for recovery that also have your waystations. The danger of placing a suited card in the move or recover column is that players will remove any warriors you have in that suit of clearings to remove the chances you have at recovering in those clearings.

Bird – These are highly coveted for your retinue as they provide lots of flexibility. These cards are best used in the move or move or recover action columns. Birds are also strong as it does not reveal your plan for your turn to the rest of the table. But just because you do not have birds in your retinue does not mean you have a bad retinue. It just means planning has to occur on your turn.

  1. Recruiting

Suited- Recruiting should almost always be suited cards. Due to prioritizing birds in the retinue, you will want to use your suited cards to help place warriors on the board. The suited cards will have to be the same suit as the waystation you are recruiting from, so as stated in the waystation portion of the guide, having two different suits where waystations allows you to reliably draw a card that matches the suit.

Bird – Bird cards provide flexibility to recruiting, but are stronger as an action in the retinue. But, if you are board wiped, a bird card will allow you to recruit in any suit no matter what clearing you choose to restart in. So if you believe you are about to be board wiped, keeping a bird card or two will allow you to reestablish board presence.

  1. Crafting

Crafting is the third and final pressure on badgers for their use of cards, so it can be harder to decide when a craft is worthwhile to do.  Badger’s cycle through cards so quickly that you normally will find quite a few items/abilities to craft. Badgers will score primarily through relics, but if a high point item such as coins appears and you have the waystations in the suited clearings to craft in the mid to late game, I would craft those items. I go into more detail on priorities for badger’s for what should be crafted later in the guide.

Faction Abilities

Devout Knights

Ah, the ability that will probably bring you the ire of the table. Devout knights is the ability where in battle if badgers have at least one relic and one keeper warrior, they ignore the first hit they take. Ambushes will trigger this and any future hits in the battle are not negated.

This ability is very strong on defense, but even more on the offense. The ability to fight single warriors and never take a loss except when an ambush is used is very powerful. But due to this ability being tied to relics, be aware that your opponents will target your warriors when this isn’t active as this will be the easiest way for them to clear your board presence and be expensive for you to bring back.

The other part which is very important as well is that when moving keepers may move one relic with each keeper warrior they move. So if you have two relics and two warriors, you may move both. This usually is not an issue, but always I usually take 2-3 extra warriors than the number of relics I want to delve when going to battle in a clearing for delving purposes.

Prized Trophies

Prized trophies means that your relics are all an extra point when destroyed and the opponent can place the relic into a forest of their choosing when they destroy the relic. What this means is that players are incentivized to remove your relics when they can to score big after fighting through the devout knight ability.

In my experience, do not leave more than two relics in a clearing. Players will punish you for this, and the scoring that will result will probably place that player in a strong if not unassailable lead. Just don’t do it. Extra relics do not increase the strength of devout knights, so it isn’t worthwhile. If you have to have multiple relics out, spread the relics out as much as you can so that players do not score a massive number of points for attacking your warriors that have a relic present. Overall, in my most recent experience, the less relics you have on the table the better, as any relic even one is a major incentive for the other players to battle you for the extra points.



Encamping is all about planning out your future turn. You encamp to place a waystation so that you can either recover, craft or recruit. But throughout your turn, you should consider what clearings you might want a waystation in. Look at your hand, see the suits and try to place a waystation in a clearing that matches the most common suit you have unless you already have a waystation in a clearing of that suit. We will talk about how the ability Live off the Land (just know for now it’s an evening action that removes your warriors from the board if you have too many in specific clearings) and encamp tie together later, but it is a smart decision to leave single badger warriors on the map to give you flexibility in where you can place a waystation.

When placing a waystation, I will place the waystation that matches the relic I want to recover first, and the backside is the relic I want to recover last. I would make sure that if you are encamped both turn 1 (pretty normal for most badger games) you try to keep the waystation matching the relics you will recover your second or third burst on your board. Also the relics I want to recover first will be placed in the clearing that is my on-suit clearing (clearing with a suit that matches where I want to recover). The later relics will be placed in the off-suit (a clearing not matching the suit you are trying to recover in) for recruiting purposes.

The other part of this ability is your comeback mechanic where if you have no waystations or warriors on the map, you get to place a warrior and a waystation on any clearing on the map edge. When placing this, try to be close to relics you need to delve into and in a clearing that you have multiple cards of that suit. You will need to reestablish board presence quickly to be able to get back into the game and score points.


To be honest, I rarely decamp, I usually let other players destroy the waystation. With the high point-scoring of the badger engine, the single point is usually not an issue. I would consider decamping if I needed multiple clearings with the same relic shown on the waystation to provide consistency. Decamping primarily will be used when you placed a waystation earlier in an off suit clearing to relocate it to that clearing you are planning on encamping at.


Badger’s recruitment is mostly a decision on what the card needs to be used for. In general, in low-reach games, I will prioritize cards in retinue before recruiting. In high-reach games, I will try to recruit once per turn to be able to contest clearings and be able to handle other red factions. The reason to both of these strategies is that in games where players cannot actively battle you to remove warriors from the map, you are able to not prioritize getting more warriors on the map. In high-reach games where losses will probably occur more due to the high number of battles, you will need to recruit to be able to keep a strong amount of warriors on the table.

Your warriors are very expensive to bring to the table. You might say this is not the case, as for every card you use to recruit you gain two warriors and are able to burst a high number of warriors at once. The reason it is expensive is that it is very conditional, and I have had many times where my hand locks me out of recruiting. You have to match the suit of a waystation on the map and you might want your cards for other uses (such as adding cards to the retinue or crafting for points).

As said in the waystation section, waystations in multiple suits will improve recruiting consistency. This is also a reason I highly suggest prioritizing your retinue early, as you want to be able to discard cards to recruit. There are moments where you will draw only one or two suits, and sometimes you will not draw a card matching a suit you have a waystation in. Try to limit losses as much as possible and keep warriors safe under the protection of devout knights as this can dissuade others from attacking you.



My priority of craftables are as follows:

Card draw: Badgers should do anything to gain more card draw. With every extra card you gain, you have more flexibility to recruit, draw more items, and being able to choose to discard cards in the retinue that you then can replace. Every extra card is extra flexibility on what can happen on your turn.

Points: Craftable items are second. Badgers only need six extra points from the table to win if you recover three columns of relics, so use that to your advantage when choosing what items to craft. But if you are playing in a game where you might only be able to obtain two full columns, make sure you take 2 or 3 point items when available, as they are worth the value of most relics and help you close out the game with a win.

Movement: Finally, I care about craftable improvements that help movement (i.e. boat builders, corvid planners). You want to wait to craft these until the turn they are useful as you are able to craft before you move, and this will mitigate the damage of saboteurs. This also allows for flexibility for recruiting or as an addition to the retinue. Certain maps need these more than others (I am looking at you Lake and Winter map).


You will never lose a card from this column. As you start with a bird card due to the faithful retainer, either add a single bird early on in the game or a suited that matches the clearings you are going to try to rule for recovering relics. As said before, suited cards provide their own risks due to the ability to be blocked if your movement cannot be through that suited clearing. But really prioritize placing birds in this column for flexibility.

In my opinion, this column does not need more than two cards in the first few rounds, with a third card added in the midgame for the movement flexibility. Movement is very crucial to the badgers, as you will be moving to reach the clearings that are connected to most forests. In the images below, you can see a breakdown of clearings and the number of forests they are connected to based on the number in each clearing. As you will see, certain clearings provide many more forests to delve relics from than others.

Battle then Delve

Brief strategy tip before moving into the columns where cards can be discarded. If you have the choice to discard a bird card or it is highly likely that it occurs (example you are delving and you know the remaining relics are a 2 or 3 value), you will want to discard a faithful retainer before discarding another bird card. This is because a faithful retainer does not discard to the discard pile, but it removed from the game. You can therefore deny cards to other factions by locking them as actions in your retinue.

The new concept to understand about the badgers is that the badgers’ actions work on two different axes that are based on ruling specific clearings. The two axes are ruling 3 clearings surrounding the forest they are delving relics out of and ruling 3 clearings of the same suit to recover relics at a matching waystation. Ah, now we start the choice between which axis to care about. And I will tell you, don’t give a s*** about the battle/delve axis one except for round 1.

The reason is that trying to move around the map to rule three forests around a relic is inefficient and hard. The inefficiency is because most forests will only ever have one to two relics, and therefore you can only gain one to two relics a turn. The reason ruling three clearings around a forest is hard is that many factions counter your ability to do this by manipulating rule or other rules. (Lizard gardens, Eyrie Lord of the Forest, WA sympathy, Corvids Snares, etc.). These manipulations make ruling those clearings and moving into those clearings much harder after the early rounds of a game of Root.

Let me propose a new way to think about this column. This column can allow you to battle 3-5 times in a single clearing, effectively allowing you to remove any and all enemy pieces from that clearing. What does this mean? It means that badgers can place as many cards of a single suit as you can, then you can move to a matching clearing that has multiple relics around it. Finally, you battle and delve until you get all those relics (but do not forget the relic movement rule from earlier). This allows you to easily move to your destination, grab what relics you want to delve from the forest, and then strategically move back to recover those relics all in the same turn. Most likely, by the 2nd or 3rd battle, there won’t be any resistance in the clearing and you just delve and see if you discard the card from your retinue.

Now you might ask, which cards do I burn? Suited cards should be the first burnt, as they provide the least amount of flexibility for recovering for future turns. You will want to try to obtain at least two relics during a turn from battle and then delving. My cap on how many I delve and therefore choose to burn is based on does the number I recover makes the table’s target myself which means I will be battled from the game, and also can I recover all of the relics that I delve. Usually, you will want to recover all relics you delve into, leaving at maximum only one relic. Badgers can play from behind, so consistently scoring but not upsetting the table will determine how many to delve at once.

Another reason discarding these cards works so well is that most forests will be within two moves from a clearing you rule to recover. And even if it’s a choke point, if you battle and delve, you can grab those relics that are beyond the clearing you are in. And as seen above, many clearings provide access to three plus forests, which means they have the ability to gain three plus relics.

Now, which clearings should you prioritize delving in? Depends on if you are playing in the early game or in the late game. In the early game, I would battle and then delve in clearings with 0-1 enemy warriors or pieces to mitigate the chance for losses. In the late game, I am choosing clearings that can allow me to delve into as many relics of the same type as possible (2-3). If that is not possible as many relics as I can so that I am able to score them on a later turn.

Battle as Policing: As badgers have become more popular, the meta has become very hostile to badgers. Therefore, helping police the table can provide goodwill that you are indeed playing the game. But when policing, prioritize smart targets that further your game. Police the other red faction that will turn on you once you hit the leader. Police in a clearing where multiple buildings/tokens can be removed to gain those extra points. Police in clearings where you can delve for relics, as you then are continuing to score from recovering. Do not let the table force you to lose your game, because they are trying to win theirs at your expense. Landmark Specific Strategy: If you are playing with the lost city, your suited battle cards are always active. So, throw whatever you want in this column, because you will get some use out of it.

Move or Recover

Badgers want to use the recover action to get as many relics as possible each turn.  There are times in games where factions cannot battle you easily that you will not delve a relic for use of devout knights, but in high aggression, games recovering relics when you can lock those points in and can be what wins the game for you in the end.

Now, what is the priority to maximize recovering? Ruling two to three clearings that match the suit of the clearing you are recovering in. This is because if you are able to repeat the recover step as long as you do not have to discard that card you used for the recover action. For example, let’s say in a game there is a clearing that you saw has three tablets contained in adjacent forests and for this example, they are valued at 1, 2, and 3 (the lowest possible value for 3 relics of any type).  If you are getting all three relics from battle/delve, you can score at least six points in that turn (potentially more with column bonuses), and you only need to rule two clearings of a single suit before you discard a card. This is due to the fact that when you recover a relic, you count the number of clearings you rule whose suit matches the clearing you are recovering from.

In general, due to the fact that each relic type has two clearings with a value of 3, prioritize ruling three clearings. A hidden strength of the badgers is that if you rule two matching clearings where you have your bases, you will be able to battle and delve in a third matching clearing, leaving a warrior, and then bring your badgers back to recover every relic as you will rule three clearings and not have to discard a card.

Experienced tables will try to push you out of three clearings, and make recovery harder for you to achieve. With this in mind, try to recover 3 value relics earlier in the game when it is easier to rule three clearings is a priority.

Moving in the action will mainly be to move from the clearing that you delved in to return to the clearing you want to recover in. As you move back, leave warriors behind that you be removed from live off the land, as spreading out makes it challenging for players to stop you from encamping and you would already lose these warriors from Live off the land.


The above example would give the badgers 2 points from the figure, 1 point from the table, 3 points from the jewelry, and 2 bonus points from the column. This is a total of 8 points

Since we are discussing recover, we need to talk about these dang relics. As said before, the relics themselves give you 27 points. Every time you gain a relic of each type and fill a column, you score an extra two points for a maximum of 8 extra points. Playing badgers well is about calculating what you need to win. Badgers as shared before have 12 relics of three different types (jewelry, tablets, and figures), with each relic type having the values of 1, 2, 3, and 3.

Therefore, each relic type itself can give you 9 points if you recover all four relics. On average, completing two columns gives you 17.5 points. This means badgers are very similar to Otters in terms of finding 12 more points to close out the game and get to the goal of 30 victory points. If you score only the worst values for the first column, sadly you would gain a measly 5 points (3 for relics and 2 for the column bonus).

But if you obtain the next set of minimum relic points you will now be at 13 points! (first column 5 points, second column 6 from relics, and 2 from column bonus). Now we get to the spicy part. If we score the third column, we will now be at 24 points! (13 from the previous two columns, 9 from relics, and 2 from column bonuses). This is so important because at a minimum you can plan to try to score 24 points from scoring 3 columns and supplement the rest of your points with enemy pieces and craftable items. For every point you gain from other sources, the fewer relics you need to score to win!

I highly recommend calculating how many points you need to win and focusing on plays that get you there. While every faction does this, badgers are similar to factions like the Moles and Otters where you can consistently know where your points are able to be scored and plan accordingly.

With how factions are scared of badgers burst potential from relics, really planning on how to get those extra 12.5 points is very necessary. It will be hard to obtain even 3 columns of relics, with two relics being much more manageable. Obtain the other points from items and tokens/buildings so you can win!

Daylight Strategy Wrap Up – The Hit and Run

When playing against an experienced table, badgers are going to be hit often in games with high reach. The best way to counter this is by using what I explain in this guide which I would call the Badger Hit and Run. You accomplish the hit and run by moving from the edge of the map into clearings where you need to delve, battle, and then delving for the relics you require, and then moving back to the clearings you are recovering at. If you are able to accomplish this, you will be hard to police as you will be far away from other factions, and your relics will be removed from the table so that they cannot punish you.

Most factions when they move to a clearing to battle will not be able to abandon the clearing that same turn, but badgers have the ability to hit and run with their Move Battle Move action triangle. As you can see below, I have set up along the edge, and I will be trying to battle and delve in the middle bunny, mouse, fox, and even that upper bunny! Normally, the lost city in the pass allows this to be even easier, but in this game, Cats placed their keep there and, due to how the game went, I had to battle in other clearings.


Live off the Land

Live off the land can take away a very important resource: warriors. Try to limit the losses to live off the land as much as possible. It is usually better to leave a badger in a clearing than to lose to live off the land. If your opponent battles that single warrior, they had to waste a battle action to do what live off the land would have done. If the badger stays alive until your next turn, you will be able to encamp and obtain more warriors.

Earlier I talked about Live off the Land and encamp. Since live off the land means you will lose warriors if you have four or more, I like to leave warriors behind as I move across the map, allowing myself options for encamping next turn and also preventing live off the land from triggering.

Gather Retinue

When adding cards to your retinue, the choice of where to allocate cards is very important. In low reach games, I will prioritize adding cards to move and move or recover round 1, and then adding cards to battle and move or recover at the end of round 2. In high-reach games, I will prioritize adding cards to move and battle then delve, as you will be wanting to keep your opponent’s warrior count low and proactively police them.

We have discussed gathering retinue throughout this guide, but what I have not talked about is the shifting of retainers. This ability does not activate often, as you usually would rather discard a card and then add cards into your retinue to replace. But if you are playing a game where you are not choosing to discard cards through delving or recovering, you should then shift. What I normally will do is overload my battle column with 5+ battles and then, later on, shift one card (usually a bird) to the move or recover column.

Draw and Discard

Badgers should not be discarding cards almost ever. You should either be able to add those cards to retinue, recruit more warriors to the map, or craft the card for its ability or points. If you have reached this point and have extra cards, throw them into the retinue.

Luke’s Cliff Notes for New Badger Players

  1. Play from behind! Badgers have such massive scoring, you can make up large point gaps. But if you are in first, you will most likely terrify an experienced table and not be allowed to win.
  2. Add two cards a turn to retinue until you get to 10.
  3. Turn 1 get both waystations out.
  4. Do not delve rounds 1-3 if you will lose any card in your retinue. You want to get to 8-10 actions before discarding cards.
  5. After round 3 if you are close to 10 actions (8-10), do not worry about discarding cards from your retinue when you battle and then delve, and rule three matching clearings to protect your recover cards from being discarded.
  6. Never keep more than one relic in a clearing. Only delve if you can recover the relic that turn if the newly gained relic would put you over one relic per clearing.
  7. Leave warriors behind after you move if you would end up triggering live off the land. They will help you with future encamps.
  8. Make sure you have enough movement to bring relics back to the clearing you are recovering from.


Autumn (Or Summer)

This is a great map to choose badgers on. There are many connected clearings, and depending on if you play with randomized clearings you may have groups of suits that are easier to protect and will help you be able to rule three clearings for recovering. This map is very easy to grab relics from all forests, and only by starting in the top left or bottom right are you three moves away from all forests.


Badgers can definitely struggle on the winter map. While there are two clearings that give you access to all of the forests, most factions will try to stop you from reaching these. Be careful to not get trapped on one side or the other. It is best to start out in the bottom middle clearings, but the top string of clearings could be very good if it turns out to have multiple clearings of the same suit, as you are within two moves to those beautiful center clearings.


Lake can also be very tough for badgers, as the lake can make movement around the map challenging if the ferry is not accessible. The northern and eastern part of the map should be where you allocate most of your game, and running down the side to sneak a couple of relics beyond the bottom chokepoints to end the game. Chokepoints are very likely on this map and you have to be aware of that.


This is also a great map to choose badgers on. After the map opens up, you have many connected paths to get to the three central clearings to delve for relics. If you are playing a modified mountain with the lost city instead of the tower in the pass, your battle actions will always be active there and if you rule that clearing it will count for any suit. The amount of extra points for badgers through removing paths helps supplement their scoring, but also realize it helps other factions score faster as well. Do not set up in the bottom clearing with a path, as other reds will use this to attack you round 1.

Picking Badgers and Set Up

So when do you choose badgers? Are there moments where you should not choose badgers? When picking badgers, I first consider my hand, then the faction pool, the maps, and then the turn order.


When choosing a hand, the more bird cards you have the better. I think that you have to have a least 1 bird card in your hand to consider picking badgers. As you get more experienced, you do not have to have any birds due to the high card draw likely drawing you a bird card, but a bird card really helps with consistency. But if your hand is only suited, these cards should match your starting clearings for recruiting, or be able to be used to add into the retinue for movement or battling.

Faction Pool

In general, if the other three factions will be red, I would not recommend playing badgers. Badgers will get stronger the fewer opposing red factions on the table, and the fewer clearings that start with warriors during setup.


I discuss maps in-depth above, but in general Autumn (Summer) and Mountain are easy picks for badgers, and Winter and Lake are harder picks for badgers due to the chokepoints.

Turn Order

Badgers can succeed in any seat for turn order but are stronger the earlier in the round they are able to have their turn.


Based on the March 17th FAQ, in ADSET Badgers if unable to set up due to not having two adjacent clearings on the map edge will be mulliganed out of the draft. This would occur in very specific scenarios where the table spaces out their starting warriors so that there aren’t two adjacent clearings for the badgers on the edge which currently could occur on the mountain map. Just be aware, this would have to be chosen by the first 3 players not choosing badgers and setting up their pieces so that this would occur. Just a situation to make sure you are aware of.

3 thoughts on “Keepers in Iron Guide”

  1. Excellent guide, this is some of the most in-depth coverage I’ve seen for Root. Hope you publish more content for it. Have you played, or considered looking at Vast: The Mysterious Manor?

    1. Definitely hoping to publish some more Root guides! I have played some Vast: The Mysterious Manor but it’s something I definitely need to play more of.

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