Scythe Board Game
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- For 1-5 players
- 90-115 minute playing time
- Set in an alternate-history 1920S period
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CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
It is a time of unrest in 1920S Europa. The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow. The capitalistic city-state known simply as "the factory," which fueled the war with heavily armored Mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries. 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 Mech.
Top Customer Reviews
The art work and quality is a step up. That along with the solid game mechanics, makes for a great purchase.
This game absolutely blew me away. I had a feeling and actually splurged for the second best edition of the game which included everything except the art book and even not getting that is seeming like a mistake with how beautiful this game is. While we are on the subject let's talk about the game's art. It seems like a great place to start because the story I've heard is this game came into being based solely on the beautiful art by Jakub Rozalski. The designer wanted to use that art in a game and built around it. On top of which with the Deluxe edition of the game I have a board extension to make the board even larger, nice chunky resource tokens to replace the cardboard, and metal coins. The game looks absolutely amazing and there is a different piece of artwork on each of the encounter cards. My personal favorite part is the pairing of this beautiful artwork with humorous satirical descriptions of your options when you draw an encounter card. Everything from gaining popularity for your long, flowing hair fluttering in the wind to pushing an innocent cow under a marauding mech.
So enough about how the game looks, how does it play? Incredible. Which I have to admit when I heard that the game started with art and the gameplay was built around that I was somewhat skeptical. But the game is almost perfectly designed. First of all each player has their own faction and player board. These vary slightly to greatly depending on what portion you look at but they all seem pretty well balanced. That is not a minor task, being able to offer depth and breadth in play so the game has replayability while also balancing it all. On top of which with so many of those mechanics sprinkled in there are a ton of ways to approach the game and win. Something that stood out is in my first game I placed the final achievement star which immediately ends the game. In theory this meant I did more than my two opponents, my closest competitor still had 2 fewer than me. I still only came in second however. There is a popularity track that gives more points based on the tier you are in and I was one tier lower. Even with "doing less" he got more value out of what he did and beat me. I lost but I love that the game doesn't have a runaway leader or lock to it that many other, even good, games have. That is something else very, very hard to design for.
Between just wanting to stare at this game and all the many ways you can play and the variability and replayability it offers this has immediately become one of my favorite games.
At its core, Scythe uses an action selection mechanism to enable players to build an engine and "run" it. I love the engine building! It's not a complicated engine, but the operations required to establish the engine and utilize it are varied enough that players have many choices to make. In addition, those choices tend to be very deep - they are the tip of the iceberg, a snowball that may or may not lead to the ultimate goal (global world domination or something like that). It's the depth of gameplay that keeps me coming back.
Combat in Scythe is only a small component of the larger picture and is very well balanced. There is a sharp, duel-edged nature to combat that encourages players to think long and hard before committing to battle and it can even be strategically advantageous to eat a loss rather than over commit and obtain a victory. In addition (and this is for games of 3+ players), you have to consider how winning one combat may weaken your overall ability to defend yourself and could open you up to combat from other players. It really is well done.
I like how upgrades are two-fold - you uncover a benefit and cover a cost. It's a nice way of offering compelling, meaningful choices with real consequences.
Starting positions/mats are different (varied). The combination of faction + player mat makes for some real differences in terms of the best strategy to utilize. And then you have to consider your goals, which may or may not be worth pursuing. Lots of choices!
I think the gameplay is excellent! If you enjoy euro-style board games, you'll probably like this one. (I like to say that the combat is only about 25% of the game -- it plays a role, and it can be important, but it does not overshadow the rest of the game.) There is a good amount of depth and I think the replay value is solid (not amazing, not poor, but good enough that I'm sold). An expansion is on the way (in development as of August 2016) that will add the two factions whose symbols are on the board but are otherwise absent. (I also anticipate two more player mats.)
The art in this game is beautiful! Pastoral and very thematic. Evocative of the war-torn, alternate history 1920's that the designer/publisher was aiming for. The illustrations help frame the game in this larger context. It wasn't strictly necessary, and not everyone will like or enjoy it, but I think the artistic style adds character to the overall package and presentation. In addition, I approve of the decision to use the artwork on the encounter cards as "flavor text." Depending on how deep you get into the thematic overtones, the encounter cards *feel* like encounters - you see a picture, interpret what you see, and choose how to respond to it (select one of the three options). I think they help make the experience more immersive.
The production value is excellent! Generally speaking, the components are high quality - a nice board, thick cardboard for bits, lovely artwork, and excellent attention to usability. Minor criticisms here are: minor warping of faction and player mats (not a big deal - I put them under some heavy books for a day or two), the encounter tokens get lost among the board's artwork (I use glass markers/beads in place of the cardboard exploration tokens), and the quality of the plastic mechs is good-but-not-great (great designs, good-but-not-amazing quality - most people won't notice this at all). None of these minor criticisms impact my enjoyment of the game or my sincere recommendation of the game.
Quick Note: If you like the game and if interested (and if you're willing to pay a *bit* more), I urge you to consider purchasing the upgrades (sold separately). Namely, the board extension, realistic resource tokens, extra cards (some additional factory, objective, and encounter cards), and metal coins. They're really awesome! (And quick explanation: Originally the game was done through Kickstarter and these upgrades were available in the campaign.)
Overall, this is just a fantastic game. I think there's enough depth to keep me interested for a long time without being overwhelming. Also, the play time hits a sweet spot - 2 hours flat (or less) once people are familiar with the game. There are potential swings and not everything is 100% perfectly balanced, but it shouldn't be. This is not a pure abstract -- it's a thematic euro. It should be unbalanced enough to provide options, but not so off-kilter that the whole system wobbles out of control. And it hits that mark dead on.
If you're on the fence, I suggest you try it. Scythe may or may not be your cup o' tea, but I'd give it good odds that you see and appreciate at least some of its carefully crafted beauty.
P.S. To learn more, check out the entry for Scythe over at Board Game Geek: [...]
Everyone loved it. Scythe is now added to our rotation :)
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