Designed By: Jamey Stegmaier
Art By: Jakub Rozalski
Published By: Stonemaier Games
Player Count: 1-5 (1-7 with the Invaders from Afar expansion)
Time to Play: 115 Minutes
I like Euro games. I like games with variable player powers. I like games that have a varied strategies that can all lead to a win. I like games where you upgrade stuff as you go. I like games with combat between players. Yet, it took me way too long to try out Scythe from Stonemaier games. I like Stonemaier games and when my friends over at TerreDice games suggested we play it I agreed. I had heard good things, but didn't really know much about it. Well let's just say, I am glad they suggested it. There are so many wonderful things to say about Scythe. It really is a phenomenally designed game. The goal of the game is to score the most amount of coins by the time someone scores their 6th star. Stars are received when you complete specific tasks in the game. Your popularity will then determine how many coins you score for each of the end game categories.
What's purr-ty cool:
I'll be honest, initially the cover art for the box did not really draw me in, but let me tell you, what is inside that box has to be one of the most visually stunning Euro's I have ever played. I am currently taking an art class and we have been learning color theory, so let me explain to use why Scythe looks amazing from a color theory perspective. The colors are so rich and saturated which makes them pop on the board. There is a good amount of contrast between everything, which stops all the details from blurring together. Just look at the pictures in this review if you need to see for yourself. I also love how all the meeples and minis are custom shaped for each faction. If gives each faction their own personality that matches their land. The cards vary in size, but many are quite large which means you can enjoy the artwork on them. Also, it is probably worth mentioning that this game is large. The board is going to take up a lot of space. Could it have been smaller? Yeah, maybe. But personally I like the big effect. It makes it easy to see what is happening as the board starts to fill up.
There are a lot of different things you can do on a turn, from building mechs or structures, to producing resources, to exploring the territory and completing quests, to upgrading your actions, to battling with other factions. If you are familiar with the Villainous series by Ravensbuger, the turn structure will make a lot of sense to you. You basically have a board with various action spaces each with a top and bottom action. Each turn you move to a new location and complete the top action, and if you can afford it the bottom action. That part is pretty straightforward. However, since the actions are diverse and each player's board setup is varied, there are a lot of different options and different factions will focus on different things. Each player also has a designated stating spot on the board and the based on the map they will have different sized areas that are easier to explore without needing to build a mech that allows you to cross the river.
Each faction has it's own special ability, which means all the characters have a slightly different play style. Knowing this, I wanted to be able to try them all out, so I went out and got the Invaders from Afar expansion. I enjoyed being able to spring traps as Togawa (plus then I can be purple which is my color of choice). I like how the expansion factions have a spot on the base board so that there is no need for a new board. It is also cool because then you can increase your player count to 7. I would love to be able to play a game of Scythe with all 7 factions at once. It would make for a completely different feel than playing with 2 or 3.
One thing I really enjoyed is that each game feels different depending on the factions in play and their and the player mat they are using. Players also have unique objectives which they can complete to gain a star. As stars score you points (and end the game), what you will focus on will change every game based on these factors. Some games are more combat heavy, some are more production heavy, others are more exploration heavy. Sometimes you focus on gaining power, other times you focus on popularity, other times you might want to build all your mechs quickly.
Scythe is a great choice for those that like heavier board games. It has a BGG weight of 3.66, which falls on the medium/ heavy side. As there are a lot of different choices, this is a good game to play with a group where your fellow players (and you) don't have analysis paralysis as gameplayer hovers at about 1.5-2 hours with everyone going at a steady speed. The turns themselves do not take too long, so downtime between turns if you are playing with 3-4 isn't bad. You may also be engaging in combat when it is not your turn (particularly at higher player counts) so there will be ways to stay involved.
Scythe is a big game and can take a little to get set up, so if you are like me and are lazy and sometimes just want to play a crunch game on the couch or in bed, you are in luck! There is a Scythe digital edition, which I tested out too! Just like it's physical counterpart, it's awesome. You can play all 7 factions. You can pre-assign which faction and player board you get or you can leave it random. You can pass and play with real people, play against computers, or play online with real people as well. The app itself functions well and the AI for the computers thinks quickly. I love how they designed how they show what happened on other players turns. There is also a great tutorial built into the app if you want to learn to play but don't feel like reading a rulebook. It is truly a well made digital adaption.
Here are a few bonus pictures that I look, because like I shared above Scythe is just so pretty on the table!
The cat's meow:
"I think there needs to be a faction with a housecat as it's animal. I know there is a tiger, but I propose the crazy cat lady faction!" - Solo the Spokescat
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.