By Scott Schweinfurth
Name of game: Scythe
Type of game: Strategy
“It is a time of unrest in 1920s Europa. The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow. The capitalistic city-state known simply as “The Factory”, which fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries.
Scythe is an engine-building game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation, and valor. In Scythe, each player represents a character from one of five factions of Eastern Europe. Each player is attempting to earn their fortune and claim their faction’s stake in the land around the mysterious Factory. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs.”
When I first opened my copy of Scythe, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of pieces. There was a lot inside the box. I sat down and learned how to play and went through my first game, and it was pretty cool!
Scythe is a 4X game (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) where you play as a faction in their little corner of Europa who has to accomplish goals. When six goals have been achieved, the end of game triggers and the faction with the most money wins. I think the cool thing about Scythe is the multiple ways you can go about achieving goals. While you are looking to achieve six to trigger the end, there are 10 available, meaning you can try a new strategy each time you play. And you are probably going to have to since each time you play you will randomly draw a faction board (that each has their own style) and a player board. The player boards all have the same information and actions, but they are arranged in different ways so as to make them more focused on the different aspects. This means that even if you play the same faction again, you will likely get a different player board and have a completely different experience.
One of the main issues I’ve had when introducing Scythe to new players is its appearance. People seem to think a game with a world map and big plastic mechs are going to be similar to Risk, and Scythe really isn’t. In fact, I would go so far as to say that fighting is the part of the game used the least. Sure, two of the goals are winning a fight, but it might cost you. Another aspect of the game is the popularity track. This tracks how popular your faction is and certain actions will make your popularity rise and fall. Going around being a warmonger is definitely going to cost you popularity, which ultimately determines how valuable that land you went around claiming is.
Scythe is an awesome 4X game that, while a bit on the heavier side, is a fun time!
4 out of 5