Scythe - Board Game Box Shot

Scythe

| Published: 2016
72 42 12

Scythe is a board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor.

In Scythe, each player represents a fallen leader attempting to restore their honor and lead their faction to power in Eastern Europa. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs.

Each player begins the game with different resources (strength, victory points, movement capabilities, and popularity), their choice of several faction-specific abilities, and a hidden goal. Starting positions are specially calibrated to contribute to each faction’s uniqueness and the asymmetrical nature of the game.

Scythe gives players almost complete control over their fate. Other than each player’s individual hidden objective card, the only elements of luck are encounter cards that players will draw as they interact with the citizens of newly explored lands and combat cards that give you a temporary boost in combat. Combat is also driven by choices, not luck or randomness.

Scythe uses a streamlined action-selection mechanism (no rounds or phases) to keep gameplay moving at a brisk pace and reduce downtime between turns. While there is plenty of direct conflict, there is no player elimination, nor can units be killed or destroyed.

Every part of Scythe has an aspect of engine-building to it. Players can upgrade actions to become more efficient, build structures that improve their position on the map, enlist new recruits to enhance character abilities, activate mechs to deter opponents from invading, and expand their borders to reap greater types and quantities of resources. These engine-building aspects create a sense of momentum and progress throughout the game. The order in which players improve their engine adds to the unique feel of each game, even when playing one faction multiple times.

User Reviews (3)

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7
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
oddball Aeronauts fan
7
9 of 9 gamers found this helpful
“Not the sum of its gorgeous parts.”

Scythe represents Jamey Stegmaier’s second difficult album, technically his third but I hope you get my point. Coming as it does off the back of the highly praised Euphoria and the beloved Viticulture reprint, fans had lathered themselves up to a frothing fit of expectation. Not least due to the fabulous artwork supplied by Polish artist Jakub Rozalski that was integral in the development of the game alongside all the bells and whistles now expected of a Stonemaier product.

And putting aside any other opinions one thing that cannot be taken for granted is just how fantastically handsome this game is, from Jakub’s stunning art to the extravagant components the collector’s edition of this game cements Stonemaier as THE premium board game publisher on the market.

But is the actual game any good? While I’ll agree it’s a robust and thought-provoking experience and a highly entertaining thing to play I have to admit to finding it falls short of the lofty expectations heaped upon it.

The game is actually very straight forward, players each control a faction represented on the map by workers, and the towering mech’s a sort of steampunk equivalent of Pacific Rims kaiju thumping robots. Each faction comes with two randomly chosen and distinct player boards one representing a technology tree and the other offering perks unique to those peoples.
The meat of the game sees each player racing to develop their tech tree into building the most efficient engine to make the best of where on the board they find themselves. Each round a player takes an action to activate one section on the board and carries out those orders and pays whatever resources that are required, a more costly second option is also available on each that will allow them to manipulate their board in some way and progress the development of their faction.

It’s this activity that is the beating heart of the game as the decisions you make here affect how effective your forces are on the board the resources you can harvest and the points you’ll ultimately score. Don’t get me wrong its enthralling fun as you focus on this business, but it is essentially a table of people playing their own little solo games of tech tree Sudoku.

Lauded as part Euro and war game this is where Scythe fumbles the ball. While the Euro is there for all to see with the resource gathering and engine building the combat system feels like a cobbled on afterthought. Borrowing from Rex and Kemet yet nowhere as exciting as either, Kemet’s battle system with duplicated hands of cards for each faction lead to enthralling skirmishes of bluff and double bluff with neither side quite sure of what their opponent was going to choose, only the knowledge of what had been played previously. It simulated the fog of war effortlessly and allowed for some real tactics and ploys. Whereas Scythes battles hold no surprises the player with the most power is invariably going to win. And worse the game is handicapped against the aggressor, for every worker you dislodge in your warmongering you lose Popularity, and Popularity, as we’re about to discover, is I believe central to winning the game.

And as I brought it up let’s discuss Popularity, at the edge of the board is a track charting each factions Popularity rating, this is split into three tiers with the higher you are, the bigger the multipliers for your end game score. It’s my opinion despite all the multitude of choices and options on offer, it is this one score that can make the difference between victory or defeat.

Finally after all of that when a faction hits 6 stars the game is over. Immediately.

And if you found that a little jarring then well it is. After all this world building and tech tree manipulation there’s this arbitrary end, finished kaput and it can be sudden with little warning. A game of Scyth will go as such, everyone spends an hour maybe two harvesting, moving and tech sudokuing picking up the odd one or two stars, and then in the space of a round maybe two suddenly everyone can hit the total. Its then this mad dash of trying to suddenly grab territories or resources throwing any gestating plans on the fire in this mad grab for stuff. It’s just so sudden and unsatisfying after the journey we’ve taken, Imagine if Lord of the Rings Return of the King decided to skip that whole Gondor siege thing and volcano and ring business and just jumped to the bloody Hobbits high fiving at Rivendale. The End.

Now this sounds like I’m ragging on Scythe, and I don’t mean to. It is an enormous amount of fun, when you’re engrossed in the business of tweaking your engine and messing with your tech tree, it’s all very enjoyable, but here’s the rub.
There really isn’t anything all that innovative, it feels like I’m playing this potpourri of popular mechanics. The player boards are excellent fun, but I think TM did it better, the combat again borrowed from Kemet is nowhere near as much fun as that game. There’s a dash of Eclipse a pinch of Viticulture a niblet of Euphoria. Everything is immaculately balanced, but you know what? I love a little chaos in my world, a bit of random, there is nothing here to chance, and inevitably the whole thing ends up despite the incredible art and extravagant components feeling great when I really want to be jumping on my chair, and bellowing like Brian Blessed “It’s incredible!”.
I think I get it now Jamey is the Ridley Scott of board games, both of them it cannot be denied are masters of their form. They create these epic stylishly produced masterpieces beautiful to admire but ultimately lacking in something.

Originally published @ http://www.whodaresrolls.com

 
Player Avatar
1
Gamer - Level 1
10
7 of 7 gamers found this helpful
“Accessible, deep, and lots of fun. Worth every penny.”

At first glance Scythe appears daunting, with its relatively large board and components list (and let’s face it, large price tag)- but underneath the lid is a game which is worthy of the investment. You will sweat during your first setup and recheck the rule book half of the first game, but Scythe carries you along with relatively simple game mechanics, and you will quickly learn enough to appreciate the dizzying layers of strategy at every turn.

Largely a Cold War, players will find themselves initially trapped near their faction’s base, and then slowly expanding outwards into the world. Along the way they must gather resources, upgrade their war machines, and manage their encounters with encroaching opponents. A winner can balance victory in skirmishes with an ever-expanding territory and resource horde. And popularity.

In fact, the surprising lack of focus on combat made the game more enjoyable for players who normally prefer conflict-free games. With only 4-5 basic moves in the game, more time is spent stressing over how these actions domino into subsequent turns, and if achieving your fleeting plan will actually help you accrue the fortune necessary to win the game. The beautiful game cards and nice components also do their best to immerse you in Eastern Europa, though it can be a bit hard to tell the difference between some pieces in the retail game.

The Good Stuff
-The packaging of the box is great, with bags and containers galore included for components.
-Player boards do their best to help guide setup.
-The art. Just look at it. The Encounter cards are particularly breathtaking.

Quibbles
-Not all player boards are the same, and while this adds depth and replay value it is less welcoming to newcomers learning the rules fresh, as moves will have different costs for each player.
-There is an upcoming expansion to add 2 factions to the base game, which arguably should have been included originally as the spaces are already on the main board.

Verdict
Excellent.

 
Player Avatar
2
Smirk and Dagger Games fan
9
11 of 13 gamers found this helpful
“Had a blast!”

This game is pretty awesome.
It may seem a little overwhelming at first, but it’s a fairly simple game.
The difficulty comes in the way of strategy against your opponents.
As the game moves forward, you’ll find yourself agonizing over the choices you make.
There are also many ways to score and win. So, even if you feel you are not doing well, there is still a chance to win.

PROS:
Art is outstanding
Board is big; lots of room to play.
Fun
Not very difficult to learn.

CONS:
The board art is a bit muddled. It’s important because there are certain abilities that can be used depending on terrain which is sometimes hard to determine.
It requires a lot of room to set up.
The miniatures are not very detailed. Not horrible, but maybe if you like painting miniatures then you will notice the lack of face detail.

Overall:
I would recommend this game.

Like I said; this is a great game. I see the replay-ability potential as high.
It is a beautiful and fun game.

 

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