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Scythe» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Scythe as co-op w/ Automa rss

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Jim D
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On Friday I received my copy of Scythe and began the unboxing process. My step-son walked in and upon seeing it and immediately said he wanted to play it sometime. Well, yeah, who wouldn't; how about tonight!

For our first game I decided to use the Automa as the third player in a teaching game as I felt it would be a good way to learn the game free of pressure. I think the win together / lose together aspect of co-ops and having a common enemy is a good way to introduce someone to games in general. I also felt that playing Scythe as a co-op is worked really well because there's no need to try and alpha gamer a win, you do the best you can and so does your partner, then average your score at the end. This really helps balance things out for an inexperienced gamer, otherwise I would have felt the need to play easy on him in a straight up duel to avoid leaving a bad taste in his mouth.

So would two humans (one who has never played before and the other who's only played twice) be able to best the Automa, on easy mode no less? We shall see.

We began by having him watch the Watch It Played video while I sleeved some cards. That's a long video! I had watched it previously, but you really notice how much information is packed into it when you only hear it and aren't the one watching it. After the video I was worried that it was too much, and he seemed a bit overwhelmed, but in the end it did a great job of creating a base to build on, with minimal rules reminders required during the game.

I recommended the Rusviet for a new player since it would give him action flexibility they would not have otherwise, but he chose to go with the Nords because, well, Mox is awesome! He ended up with the engineering mat and I got the industrial mat to go with the Rusviets, who I chose so that we could be near by and play against Saxony across the board. Looking back I'm glad he didn't take the Rusviets, as that doesn't really give you the feel of having to plan your actions a little more. I also probably would have chosen a faction a little farther away to give each other some more elbow room.

Play proceeded with me being able to give a few tips during moves while the Automa was trapped without riverwalk. Once the Automa gained riverwalk it predictable began to spread out. Using the easy mode provided lots of time to work towards your goals without any pressure, but also made for a slow mid-game. Jumping up the difficulty will definitely help move up the pace of interaction with the Automa, or selecting a faction that's closer or adding an additional Automa. The Automa was threatening combat against my son, and it was only a matter of time before the Saxon mech attacked under the watchful eye of Gunter and Nacht. The Nords spent all available power as well as the highest combat card, but it was not enough to overcome the machine, giving it the first combat star of the game.




There was some really good tension at the end trying to decide when to end the game. I wanted to stall and let my partner control some more territory as well as push into the middle tier on the popularity track as he only needed one more popularity. With the turn order and the Automa sitting on five stars and getting ready to place it's 6th star we couldn't chance waiting any longer.

I pounced in with two mechs vs one. No problem I thought. I used 7 power and two 4 power cards for a total of 15, there's no way he can beat that, and why save them? Then I drew the automa card, and my face sunk... Oh yeah, there's a card in there that allows him to play three combat cards. The Saxon's used 5 of their remaining power from their track, having been drained from my previous combat with Gunter at the factory. Then came the first card, a three, then a four, we're at 12 now. As long as he doesn't pull a four or a five we're good. I pull the last combat card and hold it up to my son, and he smiles. Is that good or bad, I can't tell? I turn it and it's a two, I win the combat and the game is over. It's luck that I played all my power and highest cards, as I was starting to calculate everything as though I was going into combat against a human. I forgot all about the fact that the Automa can play extra combat cards, but thankfully came to my senses and realized that this would be the last move so threw everything in. Had this happened in a combat earlier in the game where I was trying to reserve power I likely would have went up in flames.

Final scoring put the Automa at 69 coins, my son had 50 coins and I had 93 coins, putting our average score at 71.5, barely eking out the win. Had that last combat gone the other way it would have been a 7 point swing bringing the Automa up to 76 and dropping me to 86 which would have put our team average at 68. I knew that winning combat was important, but this really illustrated how much so, especially towards the end of the game (or as then end game trigger).

All in all it was a great experience and I'm looking forward to many future plays. And being able to play Scythe as a co-op (or even two humans vs. one human) makes it that much more likely I'll get my wife to give it a try!
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Alvin C
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An interesting idea! I would consider having the lowest scoring player be your score, that way the stronger player will be encouraged to protect the other player (and it would be extra challenging)
 
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Jim D
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I just used the average scoring as mentioned in Morten's semi-official variant. https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1469589/playing-scythe-any-...
Using the lowest players score could be interesting, but maybe only when the players are closely matched in skill. Otherwise you could run the risk of the more skilled player alpha-ing (probably not a word) the less experienced player to some degree.

We didn't really coordinate a strategy in our first game, as it was more of a learning game. Maybe next time we'll work towards something like a line of mechs blockading half the map to make sure one of us controls the factory, then work on spreading out our control on that half of the map. Honestly that feels like a tall order, as this game seems like you never quite have the time or resources to do as much as you would like.
 
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Chris Laudermilk
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Orange County
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Great session report! I've been thinking of running a learning game vs the Automa myself so I can throw in a virtual third player to shake up my son and my perpetual 2p games. Now I want to all the more.
 
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Jim D
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Thanks, Chris. I was inspired in part by your great session reports. And I also wanted to highlight how I feel that the Automa in Scythe, as well as Viticulture, can be used beyond their basic design to add great flexibility to the games.
 
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Thank you for your session report, it's really interesting to hear whether this works out, since it was an experimental mode made after the playtesting was finished.
 
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