Scythe (board game)

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Scythe board game box.jpg
Designer(s)Jamey Stegmaier
Illustrator(s)Jakub Różalski
Publisher(s)Stonemaier Games (2016)
Setup time10 minutes
Playing time90-115 minutes
Random chanceModerate
Age range14+
Skill(s) requiredStrategy, 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.[1] 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.[2]

The game was originally released via Kickstarter, raising over $1.8 million.[3][4] 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+.[5][2][1] As of 2020, Scythe is ranked 11th among all board games on BoardGameGeek.[6]

The 1920+ universe is also featured in the video game Iron Harvest planned for release in September 2020.[7]


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.[8]

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.[1] 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.[9]

Release and reception[edit]

Scythe was initially sold via Kickstarter, with backers contributing over $1.8 million during the campaign.[10] 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.[11] Scythe also won the Origins award for 2016 board game of the year.[12]

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."[13] Popular Mechanics also dubbed Scythe "the best game of 2016."[14]

Scythe's artwork has received exceptional praise from reviewers for its images of agrarian life juxtaposed with giant war machines.[15][9]

Scythe: The Wind Gambit won a Golden Geek award for the best expansion to a game in 2017.[16]

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.[17]

Scythe is rated as one of the top ten board games of all time at Board Game Geek.[18]

Expansions and digital edition[edit]

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.[19] The second expansion, Scythe: The Wind Gambit, was released in December 2017, adding airships and variable end-game conditions to the game.[20] 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,[21] as well as a cooperative play mode.[22]

Asmodee Digital released Scythe: Digital Edition via Steam in September 2018.[23]

In December 2018, Stonemaier Games released Scythe Encounters, a mini-expansion containing 32 promotional encounter cards, many of which were created from fan submissions.[24]


  1. ^ a b c Zimmerman, Aaron (July 30, 2016). "Scythe review: The most-hyped board game of 2016 delivers". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Guarino, Ben (September 16, 2016). "The Most Hyped Board Game of 2016 Earned It". Inverse. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  3. ^ Oide, Thomas (March 8, 2017). "Fueled by love of games, MU professor creates successful board game of his own". Columbia Missourian. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  4. ^ Fenske, Sarah (March 26, 2016). "St. Louis-Based Company's Kickstarter Rakes in $1.5 Million (Seriously)". The Riverfront Times. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  5. ^ Plunkett, Luke (July 12, 2016). "Scythe: The Kotaku Review". Kotaku. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  6. ^ "Browse Board Games | BoardGameGeek". Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  7. ^ "Painter's Art Turns into Video Game with Dieselpunk Robots". Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  8. ^ East, Oliver (June 16, 2017). "Scythe Review – Strategic Turn Based Brilliance". Just Push Start. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Hall, Charlie (August 12, 2016). "In Scythe, my buffalo fights for the people". Polygon. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  10. ^ Paez, Danny (December 18, 2015). "Crowdfunded board games surge despite video market". CNBC. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  11. ^ Hall, Charlie (March 9, 2016). "The best board games of 2016". Polygon. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  12. ^ "Scythe named Game of the Year at Origins Awards". Tabletop Gaming. June 19, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  13. ^ Theel, Charlie (December 28, 2016). "The Best Board Games of 2016 – Scythe". Geek and Sundry. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  14. ^ Herkewitz, William (September 29, 2017). "The 50 Best New Board Games". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  15. ^ Bolding, Jonathan (December 22, 2016). "Our favorite board games for PC gamers". PC Gamer. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  16. ^ Hall, Charlie (March 14, 2018). "The best board games of 2017, as chosen by the Board Game Geek community". Polygon. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  17. ^ "The Best Scythe Expansion?". Board Game Theories. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  18. ^ Francis, Eric (June 19, 2018). "This Board-Gaming Craze Comes With $2,700 Tables". Bloomberg. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  19. ^ East, Oliver (July 31, 2017). "Scythe: Invaders From Afar Review - New Factions, New Fun". Just Push Start. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  20. ^ Hall, Charlie (April 17, 2017). "This expansion will completely change the best board game of 2016". Polygon. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  21. ^ Hall, Charlie (January 3, 2018). "Scythe will get a campaign expansion this year (update)". Polygon. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  22. ^ Heller, Emily (January 24, 2019). "The best strategy board games to mix up game night". Polygon. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  23. ^ Law, Keith (September 15, 2018). "Review: Mega-hit boardgame Scythe goes digital on Steam". Ars Technica. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  24. ^ Elderkin, Beth (October 23, 2018). "Galactic Scoundrels and Teddy Bears Rise Up in the Latest Tabletop Gaming News". Gizmodo. Retrieved June 27, 2019.

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