Gameday First Play – Scythe
“The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut by the scythe.”
~ Russian Proverb
It is a time of unrest in 1920s Europa. The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow. The capitalistic city-state known simply as “The Factory”, which fuelled the war with heavily armoured mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries.
Each player starts with a different nation with it’s own player board, starting resources, abilities etc This determines the colour of pieces you’ll be playing with along with your starting area on the board.
You also get an action board which also has differing abilities and starting resources. Both of these boards are different for all 5 players which is pretty cool.
The goal of the game is to have the most money… You gain money during the game but you also get a load of money from end game scoring. There is a popularity track and you go up and down on it based on game elements (Doing good things like helping people vs Doing bad things like attacking other players) and the higher you are, the higher your end game scoring will be based on a couple of criteria.
You also put a star on this track when you complete certain tasks…
When someone gets 6 stars on this track the game will end and you gain money for the number of stars you have on this track, the number of areas you control and the number of resources you control.
That’s how it ends, this is how it plays…
You place a Pawn on one of the 4 actions of your board, you then take the top action on hat section, followed by the bottom action if you want.
The top action is generally about getting stuff and/or doing things whereas the bottom action usually costs you resources to do something. In the image above, the top action lets you move or gain gold and the bottom action lets you pay 2 Oil to upgrade.
These are the actions…
This is the Move action again but you can see I ‘upgraded’ and removed the cube from the top row so now I gain 2 gold instead of 1 if I choose to do this and not move.
Move lets you move… duh. The mechs and your own avatar move around the board and you start the game locked in your zone by impassable rivers so you need to have the ‘Riverwalk’ ability from your Mechs to get there. More on that later.
The bottom upgrade action lets you move one of those cubes from the top of the board to a recess on a space on the bottom of the board, making the top ability better and the cost for the bottom ability cheaper… I like this mechanism.
The Bolster action increases your Power which is used for combat, the bottom action lets you build Mechs.
You spend power in combat so you need to keep an eye on it to see who is looking a little weak, and who you want to stay away from.
You have 4 Mechs, each gives all other mechs as an ability when built (including the Riverwalk one I mentioned earlier). These abilities are different per Nation too.
I mentioned Power is used for Combat and to do that you each choose a dial and spend that much Power and add one card per mech you have in the battle, highest wins.
Nothing dies, it just moves back to the home space… Resources always stay on the board so if you take over a region, you take those resources too.
By the way, I played the collectors edition so the money and resources were awesome.
The Produce action lets you produce resources on a tile that your workers are on. Each tile is a ‘type’ that produces resources so you add them to that space.
The enlist action at the bottom lets you take one of those disks at the bottom of the board and move them to a different board for a one off bonus.
The other action, which I didn’t take a photo of, is the trade action which lets you gain resources or popularity for the cost of gold and the bottom action lets you build one of your 4 buildings.
The Enlist and Building actions have further effects but I didn’t use them so… no idea 🙂 I know enlisting means you can take a free action if the player next to you takes that action… Also the 4 buildings have abilities but I’m not sure what they do 🙂
So that’s it really… You get resources to do things, make money, complete tasks to place Stars out and increase your popularity to get a good end game multiplier for the big money end game scoring.
Sadly, resources are hard to come by, especially those that need Riverwalk to get to. Workers are hard to place AND cost power eventually which you need for combat. Movement is slow as workers can’t move themselves…
Combat is few and far between and not a priority at all, except twice a game you can place a star if you win in combat. Once everyone did that combat was a waste of Power… You can take over a resource rich area I guess if you want, but spend too much power and you’ll lose it pretty quickly.
I had a nation that is combat orientated (I could gain more than 2 stars for winning combat) so to do all that AND get out to fight was hard… Plus people were spending Power to defend, not to attack because they didn’t need to attack that often.
On top of that, you have these personal goal cards… One of mine was control 3 areas that produced food, I was no where near that resource at the start of the game. The other needed me to have less than 3 popularity, the end game multiplayer…
I could ignore these goals but my Nation allowed me to complete 2 instead of just 1 so I went for them.
I just didn’t like it.
I’ve got a new category of games I call “Your House Games” where I will play it at your house if everyone else wants to. But at a game day or event where there are a tonne of people and games, I won’t play this over something I haven’t played before or something I enjoy playing.
I don’t HATE it, it’s just not for me.