Scythe - Stonemaier Games - $90
Game title: Scythe
Game description: Scythe is an engine-building, asymmetric, competitive board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor.
Scythe is well-known in the board gaming community for its amazing visual appeal and excellent gameplay. Since its release, it’s been met with all sorts of praise, awards, and has ranked high on many “Best Of” lists for tabletop games. After several expansions, including one that introduces a legacy-style campaign to the game, how well does it stand against newer games?
- Amazing visual style
- Many paths to victory
- Extremely well designed and balanced
- Expansions add great variety without weighing the game down
- While the game stores OK, a 3rd party insert is greatly needed
- “Heavier,” which may turn off more casual gamers
- Intimidating at first glance
Full Scythe Review
Scythe is well-known in the board gaming community for its amazing visual appeal and excellent game play. Since its release, it’s been met with all sorts of praise, awards, and has ranked high on many “Best of” lists for tabletop games. After several expansions, including one that introduces a legacy-style campaign to the game, how well does it stand against newer games?
Set in an post-war alternate-history 1920s, players are world powers trying to put together the pieces of society by farming, winning the hearts of the people, scavenging advanced technology from “The Factory”, and raising their military might. This is accomplished by slowly building your engine to raise various tracks around the board and to earn victory points. At the center of this is each player’s action board which contains a top track and bottom track that players must choose from each turn without repeating their last action.
What’s great about Scythe is that you can choose your own path to victory. The game ends when one players earns X amount of Stars. You earn stars by completing different objectives like engaging in combat, raising your popularity rating, building upgrades, etc… Once the end of the game is triggered scores are tallied and a winner declared. The game is so beautifully balanced that there doesn’t seem to be a tried and true method to victory.
As you play the game and grow you’re power you are building a sort of narrative told by your actions and your choices on Quest cards. Combined with the artwork of the game Scythe certainly doesn’t feel dry. Every bit of the game oozes theme and the mechanics tie so perfectly into this that playing is certainly an experience. Add in the game’s expansions and you get more countries, airships, and even a campaign. All without weighing the game down one bit. Stonemaier has even released upgraded components to really bring the whole experience to the next level.
I certainly got the game a bit later than most. Certainly after much of the hype had already built up and died down a bit. Since purchasing the game, Scythe has remained one of my favorite games in my collection. It’s one that I play with my kids, my wife, and anyone else who’s willing to sit with me and do so. Does it hold up? Most certainly. It’s about as close to perfection as I’ve seen a board game come. It’s certainly not for everyone. Being a bit heavier, casual gamers most likely won’t dig it. For me, it’s certainly deserving of the praise that’s been heaped upon it.
My one complaint? While the base game certainly can be packed up in its box, a 3rd party organizer is really needed to keep everything sorted for easy set up/tear down. There is the Scythe Legendary Box, but honestly you’re better off with a Broken Token or Feldherr insert.
If you haven’t played Scythe you owe it to yourself to at least give it a chance. This is a game that will go down in tabletop history as one of the greats.
Scythe, Invaders from Afar, and The Wind Gambit were purchased around 2 years ago from the time of this writing. “Looking Back” is a series of reviews spotlighting older games that may or may not still deserve some love.
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.
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