Game Buzz: Scythe

Today, I want to talk about what presumably will be the most anticipated release of 2016:

image by BGG user jameystegmaier
image by BGG user jameystegmaier

Scythe is a game currently funding on Kickstarter.  It was designed by Jamey Stegmaier and is being published by Stonemaier Games.  It’s been on people’s radar ever since the first art images started showing up near the end of 2014.  The game is set in an alternate 1920s era where players are trying to claim land around The Factory, producer of heavily armored mechs.

The game comes with a board, 80 wooden resource tokens, 80 coins, 8 multiplier tokens, 11 encounter tokens, 6 structure bonus tiles, 30 yellow combat cards, 20 beige objective cards, 20 green encounter cards, 12 purple Factory cards, 2 Power dials, 5 riverwalk cards, 5 quick start cards, 12 baggies, 5 faction mats, 5 player mats, 5 action tokens, 5 popularity tokens, 5 power tokens, 30 star tokens, 20 structure tokens, 20 recruit tokens, 20 mech miniatures, 5 character miniatures, 40 workers, and 30 technology cubes.

In the beginning of the game, each player will randomly get one Faction and one Player Board.  These will tell you starting cards (combat, objectives); coins; and track positions (power, popularity).  Your character’s miniature goes on its home base, and one worker goes on each territory connected to your home base.

image by BGG user jameystegmaier
image by BGG user jameystegmaier

On your turn, you will place your action token on one of the four sections of your player mat, as seen above (you must choose a different one than you chose the previous turn).  You can then either take the top action and/or the bottom action.

There are four top row actions that appear in a different order on each player mat.

  • MOVE: You can move units or gain money.
  • BOLSTER: Pay $1 to increase your power or draw a combat card.
  • TRADE: Pay $1 to gain resource tokens or increase your popularity.
  • PRODUCE: Pay the cost, then choose territories with workers and produce goods.

Bottom row actions are all in the same order, but costs will vary from mat to mat.

  • UPGRADE: Pay the cost, then put a technology cube on a bracketed space, which gives you extras in that particular action.
  • DEPLOY: Pay the cost, then deploy a mech.  This gains you an ability.
  • BUILD: Pay the cost, then place a structure in a territory occupied by one of your workers.  These give you ongoing benefits.
  • ENLIST: Pay the cost, then pick up a recruit token.

As you play, you will engage in combat with other players, have encounters, and hopefully gaining a Factory card that will give you a fifth possible action.  You’ll also be trying to complete the objectives you got at the beginning of the game.  Additionally, you’re trying to get stars on the Triumph Track by completing all six upgrades, deploying all four mechs, building all four structures, enlisting all four recruits, having all eight workers out, revealing a completed objective, winning combat, or having enough popularity or power.  The game ends when someone places their sixth star.  The player with the most coins wins.

The first thing anyone is going to talk about with this game is going to be the art.  And it’s easy to see why:

images by BGG user jameystegmaier collage created at picmonkey.com
images by BGG user jameystegmaier
collage created at picmonkey.com

The art was created by Polish artist Jakub Rozalski, and so far, his world building has been quite amazing to look at.  I love these scenes of people just going about their business while these huge mechs lurk in the background.  Rozalski so far has five games to his credit, but I think this one is going to put him in the echelon of Michael Menzel or Pierô.  Take a look at more of his work on his Tumblr page.

As for the game itself – it looks very cool.  I’m not really big into the war aspect of the game.  However, here it seems to be more flavor than the point of the game.  It does look like more of an economic game.  The action selection method seems pretty interesting, especially since the same actions are present for everyone, but just in different combinations.  This makes it an asymmetric game, even though everyone can do the same things.  The game seems very involved with its theme, and that’s always a good thing.  Add in the fact that Jamey Stegmaier literally wrote the book on using Kickstarter to fund your game, and you know you’re going to get a good product.  The success so far has been pretty astounding – over $600,000 on Day One, and they’re well past a million now.  You can see Jamey’s video overview of the game here.

So that’s Scythe.  Check it out and join the throngs that are backing it.  I’m excited to see how it turns out.  Thanks for reading!

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