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Foucault in the Woodland, Part Two: All That Power

Foucault's theories about the power of the typically powerless are really about the stunning beauty of baldness.

Right when he thought he was out, Michel Foucault wandered straight back into the woodland. Silly Foucault. Something tells me it won’t be the last time.

Speaking of last times, in the first part of our series on the Foucauldian assumptions behind Cole Wehrle’s Root, we introduced the concept of biopower. The very short version is that the suits on the game’s cards and clearings might feel like mere components, but they really represent the majority population that’s the font of all power in the woodland. In order to win, every faction must use different methods to control and expend them.

But that’s going to have to wait. Today we’re talking about the big picture. What is the central conflict in Root, and what can we learn from it?

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Foucault in the Woodland, Part One: The Small Folk

"Wait, Foucault is behind the whole thing?" "Always was." /.jpg of astronaut shooting another astronaut

Most people would agree that Cole Wehrle did something magnificent with Root. As a game, it’s no mean feat, a sandbox where any number of truly asymmetric factions can interact with surprising fluidity. But that sandbox only scratches the surface. Root is also the most Foucauldian examination of power dynamics ever put to cardboard.

Does that matter? Well, it depends. To somebody looking to ransack a few of the Marquise’s sawmills, maybe not. But as a historical and cultural artifact, Root speaks to so much more than its folksy anthropomorphs might lead you to believe. In this series, we’re going to talk about why.

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