Scythe is an engine-building boardgame set in the 1920s when the war still affected how people lived and survived. The story of Scythe is not based on WW1, however, but an alternate reality where ‘The Factory’ is the most sought after spot on the map. Players take the role of one of the factions that loosely represent different countries. Each faction has a different starting place on the map but they all ultimately have the same goal: gather resources, build structures, construct mechs and seek world domination. Every single player also receives a secret objective they must complete for extra juiciness to an already incredible gameplay experience.
In Scythe there are no classic player turns, no phases, no lack of action. The game uses something called the ‘player mat’ through which players can select one of a few actions to take. During your round you can decide whether you want to move, trade for resources, build, bolster your strength or increase popularity and a few other things, all through the player mat! This feature keeps the game engaging and it makes the moves of your opponents unexpected. There is no time to waste checking your phone because the constant need for strategy will keep you absolutely hooked.
The first time I played Scythe I felt a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information thrown at me from the very beginning. I found that as soon as you have the basics covered it’s very easy to get into the flow of the game and begin coming up with ways to surprise and subdue your opponents. But wait, there’s more! Scythe might be a game set in war times but it is not all about player versus player interaction. You can play Scythe without fighting your opponents a single time! The way the game is constructed allows for a myriad of different gameplays and strategies which are not all based around combat. This made it very attractive to me as I am not very player versus player inclined and tend to stray away from those types of games.
While the base game guarantees a lot of hours of fun, the expansions released are just an added bonus of awesomeness. To date, Scythe has three expansions, namely ‘Invaders from afar’ which adds two new factions to an already varied list, ‘The Wind Gambit’ where players get to control their own flying ships and last but not least ‘The Rise of Fenris’ which is by far the best expansion l have seen in any boardgame. Cannot recommend these expansions enough! ‘The Rise of Fenris’ is basically the campaign version of the game that you play together with your friends who are also your opponents during the ordeal; there are alliances, wars and surprises provided by the instructions you receive as soon as you open the expansion box: ‘Do not open any of the boxes inside until instructed to do so’. Playing through the campaign allows you to unlock access to these boxes and the story that goes with them. Various new additions to the game and twists make this the very best expansion, in my humble opinion.
This game is a classic for me and my boardgame group. It can never be boring with how many different opportunities you have and the many roads you can take to get you to your goals. Although expensive and quite extensive, Scythe is right up there with the best boardgames of all time to me.
Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
Artist: Jakub Rozalski
Year Published: 2016
Age Suggestion: 14+
Play Time: 90-115 minutes