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Animal war game Defenders of the Wild is like a co-op version of Root

Mole versus Machine.

A close-up of the board of Defenders of the Wild.
Image credit: Outlandish Games

A new board game called Defenders of the Wild looks like a cooperative version of Root.

Set within a vast forest called the Commonwood – similarly to Root’s own great woodland – Defenders of the Wild is an upcoming board game that has players battling together against an army of destructive machines. Though once a peaceful place, the Commonwood is now a battleground of nature versus machines, after a group of ambitious animals sought to use technology to stave off the harshness of winter. Now waves of malicious machinations are marching against those animals left fighting for their freedom, with each separate faction of the Commonwood – the order, the sect, the council and the coven – joining together to form the Defenders of the Wild.

Just like in Root, each of the factions in Defenders of the Wild favour different methods of fighting. The Order is a fellowship of scholars, firekeepers, mapmakers and librarians who are able to utilise a heat source called the Wildfire, whilst The Council is a federation of civil servants, guards, farmers and bakers who protect and feed their fellow animals. The other two factions in Defenders of the Wild are The Coven – a band of witches, herbalists, bards and bandits who practice the arts of spell craft and alchemy – and The Sect, a society of machinists, miners, mathematicians and hackers who employ the very technology that they’re fighting against.

An image of the cards for Defenders of the Wild.
Image credit: Outlandish Games

Whilst Defenders of the Wild does feature factions, unlike in Root they’re working together rather than against each other. As a co-op board game, Defenders of the Wild has players choosing from the four factions before commanding their forces to fight against the army of marching machines. Players have access to the forces within their respective decks of cards, with the cards enabling players to perform various actions at locations on the board: which is made up of a collection of different types of tiles.

Players win Defenders of the Wild by successfully destroying the machine core powering the entire mechanical army by either building all their camps, or turning all the existing machine factories back into the wild. They’ll need to do this before the machines begin building their seventh factory or spread their seventh toxic site or if two defenders from the same home habitat are destroyed. Players can prevent the machines from achieving their goals by playing defenders onto the board to fight enemy units, destroy factories, build camps and rewild hexes.

Defenders of the Wild was designed by Henry Audubon, the creator behind the beginner board game Parks and its spin-off title, Trails, as well as the mind-controlling game Cosmoctopus. The narrative for Defenders of the Wild comes from Margaret KillJoy and the artwork was created by Meg Lemieur. Outlandish Games is responsible for publishing the title, with the company previously releasing Bloc by Bloc.

An image of the book for the Defenders of the Wild tabletop RPG
Image credit: Outlandish Games

As well as a board game, Defenders of the Wild is also getting it’s on tabletop roleplaying game in which players become different defenders working together to save their home, with players able to choose from one of the four factions found in the board game and a number of different traits.

The Kickstarter campaign for Defenders of the Wild is currently live until October 14th, with a pledge of $44 (£37) getting backers a copy of the board game in August 2024 and $40 (£33) getting them a physical copy of the RPG.

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Defenders of the Wild

Tabletop Game

About the Author
Alex Meehan avatar

Alex Meehan

Senior Staff Writer

After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.