Scythe may have been out a while now, but it has won the hearts of a lot of people and still sits in the top of many reviewers lists, so what is it about Scythe that sets it apart?
I come from a background of Warhammer 40k and Necromunda (a looong time ago), so miniatures and war games really appeal to me, so the look alone of Scythe was appealing. But it isn’t a war game, this is a game where the strategy is far more granular, you need to be thinking about several things at once, rather than decimation of your opponents. This is where it really stands out, Scythe has an incredible theme and artwork that draws you in, but then you find yourself being drawn further into the play through your strategy. There have been several times I have gone to bed, just to sit bolt upright thinking “That’s what I should have done!”
As for learning the rules of Scythe, I would say that it is on the complex-easy scale. That is, when you start to read the rules and then get the pieces on the board you will be like ‘I have no idea’ and then within a few turns you will be saying ‘Ahhh, it all makes sense now’ Scythe is one of those games that benefit from doing while learning – so if you have a new player, run through a turn and what they can do, reset and then start the game as part of your teaching. I have found that this approach has been the best for teaching players who are new to both the game and to strategy games.
Besides the art and play in general, another thing that I love is that you players can have turns that overlap one another. On each turn, you have certain abilities (movement, building etc), but if you have enough resources you can also take an additional action. This additional action will not have a direct immediate impact on other players, so while you are doing it play can move on to the next person. This allows for an ongoing flow of the game throughout, however be warned if you are playing 2 player with someone with analysis paralysis this can get exceptionally frustrating.
There are some things that I find a bit underdeveloped, like the combat system which is almost too simple and will get you a Star should you be able to win the confrontation. It’s not a major criticism and doesn’t take away from the game, it just feels a little flat (especially if that was the last star to be placed)
The mixing up of factions and abilities is a great mechanic, meaning that the game will be constantly different for you. The reality is that given the same characters (in any game) some players have worked out exactly how to win every time. This randomisation really keeps that from happening and keeps you thinking about the what and where of your next moves.
Strategy Tip: DO NOT try to trigger the end game too early! It is tempting to try and get that 6th star on the track to end the game, but if your popularity is low this probably isn’t going to matter. It is quite common for someone with less stars to win the game especially with a higher Popularity multiplier – work on that and on building cash funds before triggering the end!
Overall, Scythe is an incredible game and makes it on to my table several times a month, despite having plenty of competing games around. The mix of combat, area management and resource building really helps the game to appeal to a wide range of people, and with the coming Rise Of Fenris campaign expansion I have a feeling that Scythe will only get more popular.
What are your thoughts on Scythe? What are your winning strategies and faction/ability setups that work best for you?