Today I played one of my new favourite Board games – Scythe. It is an expensive game that I could only ever dream of owning, with hundreds of pieces, including figurines and little wooden buildings. Aesthetically, it is board game heaven.
Reminiscent of PC strategy games like Civilization and Age of Empires, you can play much of the game without any real combat at all. Collecting resources, upgrading features and placing buildings are just as important. When combat does occur (a business conducted by faction leaders and mechs), it isn’t to ferociously wipe pieces off the board – combat is frequently over the ownership of tiles and resources, and is only beneficial from a strategic perspective, as the stakes can be high.
Despite having a lot of pieces, it isn’t an overly complicated game. The part that requires the most thought is deciding which actions to take each turn. Players have a choice between moving pieces, trading resources, producing resources and bolstering their army. However, it is against the rules to use the same action twice in a row, which means having to plan ahead sometimes half a dozen actions in advance, with clear goals in mind.
The game ends when six achievements have been met – but when this occurs needs to be carefully calculated, as the first player to six stars doesn’t necessarily mean a victory for them. Scores are calculated in the end by how much money a player has. The number of tiles held, resources owned and achievements met are converted into coins at the end, contributing towards that final score.
In today’s game (my second time playing), I had 52 points by the end, but my friend, the current reigning champion of all board games in our social group, beat me with 56. A close call, though our scores are far lower than the apparent ‘typical winning fortune’ stated in the rulebook – oops?
Have you ever played Scythe before? Any favourite board games you can recommend to a Scythe fan?