Published by: Stonemaier Games
# of Players: 1-5
Stonemaier Games has produced some beautiful games in the past with great components. Scythe takes everything to a new level. The art work is great and adds a great feeling to game. The various cards have flavor text and options that put you into the theme of being a nation's leader and making good or evil decisions. Player action boards have indents in them so the various wooden pieces do not move around. One minor issue may come to those who are colorblind and may have trouble telling which are the icon boxes that you have to pay (red) and what you receive (green). I did not play with anyone colorblind so I do not know for a fact if this will be a minor issue. The various nation mechs are sculpted beautifully and could be really fun to paint. All of the components were made with quality and stand up to many game plays. I did not get a chance to look inside the rule book to see how it taught the game but it looked like other previous Stonemaier game's instructions. All the icons on the board and on the player mats were easy to ready and understand. After the game, I was one of the players to try and put the game back in the box and we never saw how it looked before it was pulled out. We were able to put it all back into the box very easily due to various containers provided to protect game pieces and store goods. I came away from the table very impressed by the game's components and feel Stonemaier stepped up their game another level.
If you have never heard anything about Scythe before seeing it in person you will think it looks like your about to play a war game. While there are war game elements in Scythe, you are in fact playing a very solid euro style game. The goal of scythe is to have the most money after a person has placed their 6th goal star. There are many ways to place a star including winning combat, completing a quest, and reaching the top of popularity or strength. You can also earn them by maxing out upgrades, building all your mechs and buildings, or getting all your envoys. Each player is randomly given a nation board and an action board. The action boards all have the same actions but have different costs to perform those actions. This randomness will keep the game fresh for a long time. Players each start in their own sector that is surrounded by water. To move across, the players will have to either build the mech that gives them the power to do so, or build a mine that will tunnel their way past or may have a special ability to do so.
During you turn you will decide which action to take. You can not perform the same action as the previous round unless your nation has the ability to do so. The actions are move, bolster, produce, or trade. Moving allows you to move two different figures one space. Bolster gives you the choice of either moving up on the strength track or drawing a card that is used for combat. If you take the produce action then you will receive goods/workers based on which map hexes you decide to produce on that have a worker on them. If a hex has two workers on it and you select it to produce, you will receive two of that good. Players will be able to produce iron, wood, oil, food, and workers. What good you receive is determined by a symbol on the hex your worker is on. The last option is to trade. This allows you to receive goods of your choice or move up on the popularity track. After you perform your basic action, you will have the option of performing an extra action that is below your previous action on the action playmat. These actions cost goods, but provide very good benefits. The actions let you upgrade your actions for later rounds, build buildings or mechs, or deploy envoys. These are essential to completing end game goals. When you produce a mech, you will choose one of your 4 mechs and underneath mech on the nation mat is a special ability that you unlock once you build that specific mech.
Combat in Scythe is played out differently than in most games. Players will only receive a goal star for each of their first two successful fights. When a player moves a large figure (mech or leader) into a hex that another player occupies will result in some form of combat. If the defending player only has workers in the hex, the workers will flee back to home and no combat happens. If the defending player has a large figure in the hex, combat will take place. Players will use a combat wheel board to select the number of strength to use during the fight (up to 7) and can select one combat card per large figure on the hex. You will both reveal your totals and the player with the highest wins. The losing player will have all his figures including workers return to his home base. Any goods that were on the hex are now in the control of the victor.
Once a player has placed their sixth star the game will end. Players will then earn money from the number of stars they placed and multiplied by a number based on their place on the popularity board. They will do this again for every two resource and each hex they occupy. Finally they will total all the money and the player with the highest wins the game. This explains the basics of the game. There is a lot more to Scythe, this was only a brief overview of what happens during the game.
After I played Scythe, I wanted to play it again. I spent the ride home on Sunday thinking about the game and what I was going to say to everyone about it. Scythe in my opinion delivered on the hype and went well beyond. The game mechanically is all around solid and balanced. Scythe gives players the opportunity to attack each other but the benefits are small after the first two wins and losing is not a huge lose. You still have all your pieces and the only thing you may lose is some goods. If another player is just taking out workers to get a spot, it will cost him popularity per worker he booted out of the hex. That is a big payment to get that hex. I did not discuss encounter cards during my gameplay section, but they were great and tell the story of what is going on in the world. When a person's leader moves onto a space with an encounter token, they will draw an encounter card. That card gives the player 3 options to choose from. They usually range from being good, to middle ground, to pure evil. It is recommended that when you draw an encounter card, to read it aloud and let everyone see the awesome picture. One time i choose the evil option and that had me salt the earth of the workers to force them join the military. My popularity went down, but my strength went up. How cool is it that I got to be evil and salt the earth. Everyone felt like they were close to winning the game. Jamey (the designer) taught us the game and it was very easy to understand despite what looked to be a complex game. I came away from the game after winning, thinking of different ways I could play it and be successful. There is a lot of depth in this game. The components were top notch. I recommend this game to anyone who wants to play an epic tale that will last around 2 to 3 hours. New gamers may find the game hard to grasp at first but will still pick up and understand the game. If anyone asked me if they should be buy this game, I would give them a resounding yes. I was a Kickstarter backer for the Collector's edition and I am glad I backed it. This may be one of my best game purchases ever! Everyone should give this game a try. You will not be disappointed, our table sure wasn't.
+ Mechanically very solid
+ Easy to learn and play, but with deep strategy
+Theme and the way it told a story
-Lots of icons
- War gamers may be confused thinking it is a war game when it is a Euro-style game
- I do not have my copy yet.