Solo Spotlight: Scythe


This week we gaze upon the engine-building modern classic set in an alternate history 1920's period - Scythe. It rests just outside the Top 10 overall games on Board Game Geek and is perched there for a reason. Exceptional in a group, this is also a keeper for solo players. We'll spend the majority of our time on solo play as there have been numerous conversations on the game, gameplay videos and articles for multiplayer. 

Just as it is extremely popular overall, Scythe is also a mainstay on solo board gamer Top 20 and Top 10 lists. That's because this game was designed with solo players up front, not as an afterthought. Using an Automa (a term for an automated opponent) the Automa uses the character, mechs, and workers of the chosen faction - as well as trackers and tokens. A deck of cards controls the Automa's action, and after a certain point in the game the Automa is made stronger and more aggressive. There is actually an individual rule book for the Automa, but don't be intimidated as after a few turns - and especially after a few games, everything smooths out. The Automa for Scythe is not a pushover, won't turtle, is rarely predictable, and causes you to adapt and react; much like you would against a live opponent. Additionally, there are multiple difficulty levels so as you increase your skill level you can ratchet up the Automa as well. Finally, as this is not a 'beat your high score' it adds win conditions to the pool, again increasing replayability, strategy and variety. Really, the only real drawbacks that we noted are setup and tear down times where, if with a group of players, discussions and needling generally occur. Personally I use that setup and tear down time to get my mind 'into game shape', but to each their own. We can say that this game is worth the hype and should be at least played by every solo player so they can at least know where this game might sit on their own personal Top 20 list. 

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(2 customer reviews)


1-5 Players, 90-115 Minutes Playing Time, Ages 14 and up. This game scores over an 8 on Board Game Geek! Manufacturer: Stonemaier Games. Categories: Economic, Fighting, Science Fiction, and Territory Building. Game Mechanics: Area Majority – Influence, Grid Movement, and Variable Player Powers.





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Scythe is an engine-building game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor. In Scythe, each player represents a character from one of five factions of Eastern Europe who are attempting to earn their fortune and claim their faction’s stake in the land around the mysterious Factory. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs. 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 fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries. Each player begins the game with different resources (power, coins, combat acumen, and popularity), a different starting location, and a hidden goal. Starting positions are specially calibrated to contribute to each faction’s uniqueness and the asymmetrical nature of the game (each faction always starts in the same place). Scythe gives players almost complete control over their fate. Other than each player’s individual hidden objective card, the only elements of luck or variability are “encounter” cards that players will draw as they interact with the citizens of newly explored lands. Each encounter card provides the player with several options, allowing them to mitigate the luck of the draw through their selection. Combat is also driven by choices, not luck or randomness. Scythe uses a streamlined action-selection mechanism (no rounds or phases) to keep gameplay moving at a brisk pace and reduce downtime between turns. While there is plenty of direct conflict for players who seek it, there is no player elimination. Every part of Scythe has an aspect of engine-building to it. Players can upgrade actions to become more efficient, build structures that improve their position on the map, enlist new recruits to enhance character abilities, activate mechs to deter opponents from invading, and expand their borders to reap greater types and quantities of resources. These engine-building aspects create a sense of momentum and progress throughout the game. The order in which players improve their engine adds to the unique feel of each game, even when playing one faction multiple times.

Additional information

Weight 7.4 lbs
Dimensions 11.75 × 14.25 × 3.75 in

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