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Scythe is a fantastically designed board game with innovative gameplay that has taken the tabletop world by storm. In this extensive review, I’ll explain why Scythe deserves its widespread acclaim and hype as one of the best strategy games in recent years.
Scythe is set in an alternate 1920s Europa where each player leads one of five factions vying for control in the wake of war. The artwork is gorgeous, the components are top-notch, and the gameplay is utterly engrossing. Scythe offers a perfect blend of euro game mechanics, engine building, resource management, and just enough combat to keep things spicy. Read on to learn why Scythe should be on every gamer’s shelf!
What Makes Scythe So Special?
Scythe distinguishes itself with several key elements:
- Gorgeous artwork and top-quality components
- Innovative and smooth combination of mechanisms
- Engaging engine building and resource optimization gameplay
- Just the right amount of player interaction and combat
- Variable player powers and asymmetrical factions
- Excellent solo mode and scaling for different player counts
Who Is the Publisher Stonemaier Games?
Scythe was released in 2016 by publisher Stonemaier Games, founded by Jamey Stegmaier. Stonemaier has developed a stellar reputation for high production value and unique Euro-style games like Viticulture, Euphoria, and Tapestry. Scythe designer Jakub Rozalski’s dieselpunk art style attracts many gamers before they even see the gameplay.
Immerse Yourself in Scythe’s Gameplay
Scythe’s gameplay is an elegant blend of several mechanics that work together smoothly. Here’s an overview of how a typical game plays out:
Each player has a faction mat that has different actions they can take, such as producing resources, constructing buildings, enlisting recruits, and upgrading abilities. Your faction mat starts out limited, but as you enlist recruits, you unlock more actions and power up your engine.
On your turn, you perform one top action followed by one bottom action. Top actions include things like producing resources, deploying mechs, and moving your leader. Bottom actions include constructing buildings, enlisting recruits, and upgrading your faction board. As you expand your engine, you’ll gain more options and abilities.
Resources are key for constructing buildings, producing units like mechs, and deploying across the board. There are five resource types, with some more scarce than others depending on the game board setup. You’ll need to optimize your engine to produce resources efficiently.
Combat is simplistic but impactful. Battles are resolved by playing battle cards combined with your power level. However, combat isn’t central and you don’t need to fight much to win.
As you perform actions, you’ll gain stars on the victory track. The game ends immediately when any player places their 6th star. Having the most stars helps you win, but isn’t everything – you also need 16 popularity points from other objectives, territories controlled, and your stars.
The result is an intensely satisfying engine building optimization puzzle with delightfully difficult decisions each turn. Scythe always leaves me wanting to play again to try different strategies with each unique faction.
What’s So Great About the Gameplay?
Here are some of the best aspects of Scythe’s gameplay:
Smooth Engine Building
In Scythe, players gradually build up their faction’s engine by producing resources, constructing structures, enlisting recruits, deploying mechs, and upgrading their faction board. The engine building flows smoothly and satisfyingly.
Variable Player Powers
Each faction has unique abilities that distinguish their playstyle, adding re-playability. For example, the Rusviet faction enhances combat, while Nordic excels at movement.
Resource Management Galore
Optimizing your resources between producing commodities, constructing buildings, deploying mechs, and taking bottom actions is key. The resources feel thematically tied to the 1920s post-war setting.
Just Enough Combat
Combat is resolved simply with battle cards, but isn’t central to the game. There’s just enough combat to create engaging player interaction and competition.
Objective Cards Guide Strategy
Objective cards that reward distinct goals like expanding territory or hoarding wealth guide your engine building priorities. New objectives keep each game fresh.
Excellent Solo Mode
The Automa system provides a great single-player mode where you compete against an AI opponent. Scythe remains engaging even when played solo.
How Does Player Count Affect Gameplay?
One of Scythe’s strengths is its stellar scaling for different player counts:
- 2 player: A tight duel with intense competition for contested territories.
- 3 player: More interaction than 2 player, with temporary alliances.
- 4 player: The sweet spot for inter-faction interaction and competition.
- 5 player: A crowded map with constant competition makes this count shine.
- Solo: Automa offers a satisfying brain-burning puzzle.
How Long Does It Take to Play Scythe?
A typical Scythe game takes around 2 hours, a little longer for your first game. This length hits the sweet spot – long enough to be engrossing without overstaying its welcome. The game ends immediately once a player places their 6th star, keeping play time consistent.
What Makes the Components so Great?
Stonemaier Games always delivers top-shelf production value. Scythe’s components are no exception:
- Jakub Rozalski’s dieselpunk art style shines through on every component.
- The modular game board is gigantic, with different configurations in the base game and expansions.
- High quality player mats keep faction-specific actions organized neatly.
- Realistic resource tokens for oil, metal, food, etc. make engine building visceral.
- Intricately sculpted miniature mech figures tower over the board.
- Every card has unique art and thematic design.
What Expansions Are Available?
There are several excellent expansions add variety after you’ve mastered the base game:
- The Wind Gambit adds airships and resolution tiles to modify combat and movement options. It also includes two brand new alternate map boards.
- Invaders From Afar adds 2 new factions – the Nordic-themed Vesna and the Middle-eastern sounding Togawa – along with 2 new modular boards and some welcome enhancements to reduce downtime between turns.
- The Rise of Fenris expansion transforms the Scythe experience by introducing an 8-episode campaign mode. Each episode modifies the rules and board in new ways, unlocking components as you progress. The narratives and gameplay innovations make each session feel fresh and surprising. Rise of Fenris can be integrated with the Scythe base game and other expansions to create an epic evolving saga, or experienced standalone for a thematic adventure unlike anything else in Scythe. This expansion takes an already fantastic game to new heights.
The expansions integrate seamlessly with the base game and are well worth picking up once you’ve enjoyed Scythe’s core offering.
Key Takeaways for New Players
Here are some tips for your first games of Scythe:
- Don’t neglect enlisting recruits – they unlock key actions on your faction mat.
- Focus first on building your engine with structure and upgrades.
- Pay attention to which resources are scarce vs abundant.
- Don’t obsess over combat too much – you can win without much fighting.
- The Factory is a powerful early-game structure – build this first.
- Grab power actions whenever possible to power your faction mat.
- To end the game, you need 16 popularity, which comes from stars, objectives, and territories.
Why I Love Scythe
I’ve played Scythe over 30 times, and it remains one of my personal favorite games. Here’s why:
- The gameplay is so smooth and the engine building immensely satisfying.
- There’s just the right mix of luck from combat cards and encounter tokens with strategy.
- The Edwardian-esque art style brings the alternate 1920s setting to vivid life.
- It scales wonderfully from intense dueling at 2 players up to a crowded clash at 5.
- Each faction feels unique, but with balanced strengths and weaknesses.
- It offers a perfect blend of Euro mechanics with just enough combat to stay spicy.
In short, Scythe checks off every box I look for in a top-notch board game. The hype around Scythe is well deserved. Every gamer should play Scythe at least once – and chances are, you’ll want to return to Europa again and again like I have!
- Scythe combines resource management, engine building, and a dash of combat for an engaging eurogame experience.
- Top-notch art and components immerse you in an alternate 1920s reality.
- Each player leads a unique faction vying for dominance in Europa.
- Smooth engine building and strategic resource optimization are incredibly rewarding.
- Combat adds just the right level of direct interaction between players.
- Excellent solo mode and scaling for any player count from 1 to 5.
- Two expansions add modular boards, new factions, and gameplay enhancements.
Scythe deserves all the hype and acclaim as one of the greatest board games of the modern era. It’s an instant classic! For a deeply strategic yet accessible euro game experience that’s dripping with theme, look no further than Scythe.
Q: What is Scythe?
A: Scythe is a board game set in an alternate history version of 1920s Europe, where players take on the roles of factions competing for control over the war-torn landscape.
Q: Is Scythe the best board game?
A: Scythe has gained a reputation as one of the best board games in recent years, thanks to its intricate gameplay, beautiful artwork, and well-crafted mechanics.
Q: How many players can play Scythe?
A: Scythe can be played with 1 to 5 players, allowing for solo play or larger game nights with friends.
Q: What is the objective of Scythe?
A: The objective of Scythe is to lead your faction to victory by gaining control over as much territory as possible and accumulating victory points through various means.
Q: How does the game start?
A: At the start of the game, each player is assigned a faction and player board, and the game world is set up with various resources and encounter cards.
Q: What is the nature of the game?
A: Scythe is an asymmetric game, meaning each faction has unique abilities and advantages, adding strategic depth and re-playability to each playthrough.
Q: What happens at the end of the game?
A: When a player reaches six stars on their faction mat, the game immediately ends and the players tally up their victory points to determine the winner.
Q: Can Scythe be played as a solo game?
A: Yes, Scythe can be played solo, allowing players to enjoy the game without the need for additional players.
Q: What are the main features of Scythe’s board?
A: The board features a beautifully illustrated map of 1920s Europa, with various regions, rivers, and important landmarks.
Q: How does recruiting new recruits work in Scythe?
A: In Scythe, players have the ability to enlist new recruits into their faction, which grants them additional abilities and resources.
|Stonemaier Games Scythe Board Game - an Engine-Building, Area Control for 1-5 Players, Ages 14+||Prime||Buy Now|
|Stonemaier Games Scythe: Invaders from Afar Expansion - Requires Scythe - 2 New Factions for 1-7 Players, Ages 14+||Prime||Buy Now|
|Stonemaier Games Scythe: The Rise of Fenris||Prime||Buy Now|
|Stonemaier Games Scythe: The Wind Gambit||Prime||Buy Now|
|Scythe Encounters by Stonemaier Games||Prime||Buy Now|
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