This game is big, really big. Big as in there’s a lot to it, so much so that I am not going to attempt to describe this game. Instead I will leave it to the publisher Stonemaier Games to do it for me:
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 mechs.
Scythe uses a streamlined action-selection mechanism (no rounds or phases) to keep gameplay moving at a brisk pace and reduce downtime between turns. While there is plenty of direct conflict, there is no player elimination, nor can units be killed or destroyed.
Every part of Scythe has an aspect of engine-building to it. Players can upgrade actions to become more efficient, build structures that improve their position on the map, enlist new recruits to enhance character abilities, deploy mechs to deter opponents from invading, and expand their borders to reap greater types and quantities of resources. These engine-building aspects create a sense of momentum and progress throughout the game. The order in which players improve their engine adds to the unique feel of each game, even when playing one faction multiple times.
This is a game that we acquired at Christmas and I have to admit that, that when we first opened the box and looked through the rules, it all felt a bit overwhelming. There really is a lot to it.
That said, after a couple of sessions, the clarity of the game’s design starts to shine through. There is a lot to it, but the player boards (each player has a different faction) leads you through your options, and you very quickly find yourself focussing on the strategies and tactics that you need to best build your empire.
Not only is the game beautifully designed, but the presentation is similarly gorgeous. The photo at the top of this post really doesn’t do justice to just how much attention to detail has gone into the artwork nor the sheer quality of the pieces. The photo does, however, show how much space the game takes up. With four players, we needed the whole of the dining table.
Scythe is a game that takes a couple of hours to play, but the game itself moves pretty quickly. Each move is relatively short and the action progresses rapidly enough from player to player that, even with five players, no-one is left twiddling their thumbs for long.
If I haven’t already made clear enough, this game really is wonderful. While the mechanics (once you get used to them) are relatively simple, there is so much to explore that I can’t see us running out of options for a very long time to come.
We’re going to need a bigger table.