Scythe (board game)
|Publisher(s)||Stonemaier Games (2016)|
|Setup time||10 minutes|
|Playing time||90-115 minutes|
|Skill(s) required||Strategy, tactics, logic|
Scythe is a board game for 1 to 5 players designed by Jamey Stegmaier and published by Stonemaier Games in 2016. Set in an alternate history 1920s Europe, in Scythe players control factions which produce resources, build economic infrastructure, and use giant dieselpunk war machines called mechs to fight and control territory. Players take up to two actions per turn using unique player boards, with the game proceeding until one player has achieved six achievements, at which point the players receive coins for their achievements and territories controlled, with the player with the most coins winning.
The game was originally released via Kickstarter, raising over $1.8 million. Scythe received very positive reviews, with particularly strong praise for the game's artwork, which was produced by Polish painter Jakub Różalski under the name World of 1920+. As of 2020, Scythe is ranked 11th among all board games on BoardGameGeek.
In Scythe, players represent different factions in an alternate history 1920s Europe recovering from a great war, where each faction is seeking its fortune. Players build an economic engine by choosing one of four main actions each turn, listed on the top of their personal player board, which cannot be the same as the main action they selected in their previous turn. They can also take a corresponding second action listed on their player board. These actions allow them to move units on the board, trade for or produce goods, bolster their military, deploy mechs, enlist recruits for continuous bonuses, build structures, and upgrade their actions to make them stronger or cheaper.
Each player has six stars that they will place on the board upon completion of certain goals, such as deploying all four of their mechs. When one player has deployed all their stars, the game immediately ends, with each star and territory controlled granting a certain amount of money depending on how much popularity the player has achieved during the game. The player who has the most money is the winner.
Release and reception
Scythe was initially sold via Kickstarter, with backers contributing over $1.8 million during the campaign. It was delivered to backers in July 2016 and released in retail stores the following month.
Scythe won 5 Golden Geek awards for 2016 from BoardGameGeek, winning for Board Game of the Year, Artwork & Presentation, Strategy Game, and Solo Game, and placing as a runner-up for Most Innovative. Scythe also won the Origins award for 2016 board game of the year.
The game was featured as one of Geek and Sundry's best board games of 2016, with reviewer Charlie Theel saying that "Scythe is a fantastic design that will not soon be forgotten." Popular Mechanics also dubbed Scythe "the best game of 2016."
Scythe: The Rise of Fenris is the best received expansion by critics, for its introduction of a cooperative mode, a campaign mode and 8 modules that can be combined or played independently.
Expansions and digital edition
The first expansion, Scythe: Invaders From Afar, was released in July 2017, adding two new factions to the game and increasing the maximum player count from 5 to 7. The second expansion, Scythe: The Wind Gambit, was released in December 2017, adding airships and variable end-game conditions to the game. The third and final expansion, titled The Rise of Fenris and released in the third quarter of 2018, added an 8 game campaign with 11 modules that can be used in different combinations, as well as a cooperative play mode.
In December 2018, Stonemaier Games released Scythe Encounters, a mini-expansion containing 32 promotional encounter cards, many of which were created from fan submissions.
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