SCYTHE (Stonemaier Games, 2016) OCCUPIES A SPECIAL PLACE IN THE ROCKYMOUNTAINNAVY PANTHEON OF GAMES. When I attended the CONNECTIONS 2017 Wargaming Conference, this very brash guy named Uwe Eickert from Academy Games spoke about the incredible design innovations in the game. On the power of that recommendation I picked up the game and eventually, although with some trepidation, it landed on the RMN Gaming Table. In the past three years, the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself have enjoyed many plays of Scythe. When RMN Jr. suggested we play Scythe as our New Year’s Night Game we all enthusiastically agreed!
As much as we have played Scythe, we have stayed a bit vanilla in terms of expansions. We have used Invaders from Afar (2016) from our beginning in 2017 and started our Rise of Fenris (2018) campaign in 2019. For the New Year’s play we decided to go ‘back to basics’ and use the Base Game + Invaders from Afar while also adding airships from The Wind Gambit (2017) on the new Modular Board (2019). After randomly setting up the board and selecting factions, we pulled one of the modular tiles off and set off.
For this game the faction match-up included:
- Togawa / Patriotic for myself
- Rusviet / Agricultural for RMN T
- Nordic / Mechanical for RMN Jr.
The Wind Gambit expansion includes Resolution Tiles. There are eight (8) tiles and at the beginning of the game one is chosen and placed near the Triumph Track. These tiles have different win conditions that modify how the game can end. In our game the variable win was ‘First player to more than $40’ as well as the normal ‘First player to place 6 stars.’
In Scythe it is always interesting to see the different approaches the game allows. I generally employed a ‘get the Mechs out early’ strategy whereas Jr. focused on upgrades while T took a more balanced approach. RMN T definitely won the award for ‘most thematic play’ as we watched him send his Rusviet red hordes of Mechs and workers across the board. He was also the first to the Factory, really making it a ‘Red Factory.’
In the end, the real battle was between T racing to 6 starts and Jr racing to the alternate end condition of amassing $40. Jr won the race and, given his advantage in money, also took the win with 87 against 55 for myself and 47 for T.
In our post-game discussion we agreed that the Scythe Modular Board delivers new interesting challenges. On the base game board we all understood how to get out of our home areas; now we need to think harder as the way out may not be immediately obvious. The use of airships opens up many different movement options. More challenging is the use of the Resolution Tiles which change the end game trigger.
Even with all the new rules added in our play time for this game of Scythe was under two hours. RMN T gripped (rightly, IMHO) that Jr. triggered the end game too early. In Jr’s defense he saw the chance to win and took it; we didn’t do enough to stop him.
Now that we have played with The Wind Gambit airships we are ready for the next episode of our Rise of Fenris campaign. The boys agreed that we will need to mix campaign play with regular Scythe games. By the end of the year I feel we will mixing in expansion modules from Rise of Fenris into our regular games. It is a real testimony to the design of Scythe that even after several years the game feels fresh every time it lands on the RMN gaming table. Most impressively, the many expansions and variations give players plenty of options to harvest for play.