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Scythe» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Scythe & Jamey Stegmeier: The game and design BGG asks for, but not me rss

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First, I'm going to say right off the bat that this was 1 playthrough. Not representing that this is exhaustive, representative, or even that I got all of the rules right. Just a played once, got a feel, and sold it away. So take it with that salt but don't bother tell me how I missed stuff. If you think it's important to clarify what you think the game is like, I've found writing your own review is the best option.

Second, I don't think I'm really the targeted customer here. But Jamey does a quality product and offered a moneyback guarantee on the KS including shipping. So why not; I backed it.

That said.

Last year I tongue-in-cheek wrote the Nicene Creed for Eurogamers.

I believe in no player elimination. I believe in long-term strategic planning. I believe in the elimination of all luck. Everything, from seat selection to the end of the game, must contain no random elements. I believe in Worker Placement, Action Selection, and multiple avenues to Victory Points. I believe in the sanctity of construction and disavow engine destruction. I believe in Stefan Feld and all his works. I shall take no Fantasy Flight game before him. I shall remain loyal and faithful until the final turn.

Scythe checks all those boxes. In spades. Scythe fits, if not seems to be intentionally designed, to slide square center into a pervasive BGG mindset. When Netflix wanted a hit, it analyzed data, realized that its consumers liked Kevin Spacey, things directed by David Fincher, and the British series House of Cards. So they smashed them all together and made a product. And that feels like Scythe. It takes the low conflict, no luck, no dice Nicene Creed and wraps it all up in a bow. Throw in the, "no exclusives!" for good measure. Box and ship.

This is a very good thing both for SM games and its consumers. Scythe is very slick and very polished. The mechanics of moving upgrades from one place to another is cool. The artwork is great. There's tension between going after the different tracks. It's very well produced. And most importantly, it stars Kevin Spacey and is directed by David Fincher. If this is your sort of thing, you should be pretty satisfied.

The problem is, if you're looking for more, you won't find it. It doesn't break its borders. It's an optimization exercise. And one that's designed to make player interaction more of a threat than actuality. If you're not of the church of the Creed, it might not be for you. It isn't for me.
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Darrell Goodridge
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I don't want it, I don't need it, but I can't stop myself. - Stabbing Westward
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So, you wrote the "Creed", Scythe matches perfectly to your own criteria, and it's not for you? Have I got all that right? It certainly sounds like you're the targeted customer. But if you didn't like it, more power to you.

I wouldn't worry about people telling you what you missed because you didn't give any indication on how you played.
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Paul Newsham
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Quoting yourself is not a good look.
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Yours Truly,
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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Cardboardjunkie wrote:
So, you wrote the "Creed", Scythe matches perfectly to your own criteria, and it's not for you? Have I got all that right? It certainly sounds like you're the targeted customer.


He said he wrote the Nicene Creed for Eurogamers but I think (from what I can tell) is that he's not a Eurogamer - important missing information!
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Ken B.
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I understand the Creed, but it's kinda full of crap when applied to Scythe. Randomized player boards, random combat cards, random (and unbalanced) objectives. Destruction and stealing of resources. Combat.

It is indeed a hybrid, big time. But lumping it in with something like Caylus is absurd. Don't worry, I won't bother telling you your conclusions are wrong, because this is precisely the amount of time worth spending here.


EDIT: Holy crap, this got through as a review? Were the Geekmods asleep at the wheel?
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Erik Isch
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Is this dude joking? This is silly.
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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This has got to be one of the best "negative" reviews I've ever read. Have some .

Having said that, I contend at your term "BGG" gamer/mindset. There are plenty of Ameritrash gamers here (myself included)

-shnar
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Abraham Quicksilver
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I think he's right on both counts. It is a great game - it does fit his "nicene" creed.

Yeah, there is some minimal randomisation - but this is not really a random game.

What's interesting is in this review and others the aspect of non player interaction has come up a few times.

Now I think although combat is rare, the use of mechs & characters as blocking pieces comes up time and again. Sealing tunnels, sealing routes. So although you may not fight, it is a bit like chess, keeping pieces in the right place to hold down the opponent.
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Joe Rakstad
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Nearly every game has some element of randomization. The only one I can think of that doesn't is Chess.

In this game, randomization occurs in which objectives you get or which encounter cards are drawn. It doesn't always have to be dice rolling, but there's always some element of it somewhere.
 
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Kevin Garnica
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I've never seen a board game review that spends more time talking about faith and television shows than, you know, the board game.

I'm not sure what the reviewer expects, but being taken seriously is definitely off the table. shake
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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pacman88k wrote:
I've never seen a board game review that spends more time talking about faith and television shows than, you know, the board game.

I'm not sure what the reviewer expects, but being taken seriously is definitely off the table. shake

Cuz analogies are stupid...

-shnar
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Greg
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Some people are capable of enjoying different types of games, not having to just be lumped in with the church of Creed.
 
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Frank Hamrick
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I'm a preacher, and so happy that Scythe is a member of my church!
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pacman88k wrote:
I've never seen a board game review that spends more time talking about faith and television shows than, you know, the board game.


I disagree strongly. I think reviews should be nothing more or less than thoughtful, critical engagement with the game, and drawing upon other material outside the game itself to interact with the game is highly welcome. Back when he was on ESPN, I used to listed to Colin Cowherd's radio show. I'm not really a sports fan, but his show used sports as a microcosm of life. It's much more intellectually engaging than shows that are just about stats or debating who belongs in the discussion about the greatest quarterback of all time. Same thing with game reviews -- by all means let's have more reviews that can connect a game's systems or the experience of playing a game to some outside experience or creative work!
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Andy Szymas
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Mat628 wrote:
The problem is, if you're looking for more, you won't find it. It doesn't break its borders. It's an optimization exercise. And one that's designed to make player interaction more of a threat than actuality. If you're not of the church of the Creed, it might not be for you. It isn't for me.


This is why I backed out of my pledge at the last minute. Scythe gave me the same feel as Euphoria - it's a beautifully produced euro game with a very unique theme (pasted on), but no real mechanical innovations.

It really goes to show that just having beautiful components really can make quite a difference for a euro game.
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AndySzy wrote:

This is why I backed out of my pledge at the last minute. Scythe gave me the same feel as Euphoria - it's a beautifully produced euro game with a very unique theme (pasted on), but no real mechanical innovations.


Perhaps not innovations, but the 'remove things from your board to improve/reveal powers' mechanism is far from played out, not being used in a plethora of games yet.

Quote:

It really goes to show that just having beautiful components really can make quite a difference for a euro game.



And an appealing theme. Trading silk as stern looking merchants...or commanding steam-powered mechs in an alternate history version of World War I? Hell yeah, man.
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Jason Reid
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Mat628 wrote:
It takes the low conflict, no luck, no dice Nicene Creed and wraps it all up in a bow. Throw in the, "no exclusives!" for good measure. Box and ship.


You forgot "Fancy components" but other than that, I think you're spot on.
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Greg
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AndySzy wrote:
Mat628 wrote:
The problem is, if you're looking for more, you won't find it. It doesn't break its borders. It's an optimization exercise. And one that's designed to make player interaction more of a threat than actuality. If you're not of the church of the Creed, it might not be for you. It isn't for me.


This is why I backed out of my pledge at the last minute. Scythe gave me the same feel as Euphoria - it's a beautifully produced euro game with a very unique theme (pasted on), but no real mechanical innovations.

It really goes to show that just having beautiful components really can make quite a difference for a euro game.


Euro and pasted on theme is pretty much the standard. Some pasted on themes appeal to some more than others.

Beautiful components can make a big difference in Ameritrash games as well. Cool Mini does pretty well for itself with really nice minis in their games. How many people would be playing X-Wing if they were standees. Etc...

Nice components tend to work for many types of games. I mean, I don't exactly see many people playing tabletop miniatures games with crappy looking unpainted armies.

As for innovation, well that can be relative. For people that have many hundreds or thousands of games, then sure, they're not likely to see anything new here. Of course, I guarantee that not all of their games are innovative either. But for people with smaller collections and newer to the hobby, then some things in this game may be innovative to them, based on their exposure. If innovative games are the only ones worth buying, then the hobby is in trouble.

Of course, not every game is for everyone regardless of the reasons. I love Dead of Winter, while some people hate it. I can't stand Galaxy Trucker, but a lot of people love it.
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franklincobb wrote:
It is indeed a hybrid, big time. But lumping it in with something like Caylus is absurd.


You can play through the entire game, and win, without interacting meaningfully with a single other player at the table. Comparing it to a dry optimization Euro isn't as off-base as you think.
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It reminds me of Ford Edsel 1959.

Ford analyzed in detail what people wanted, and designed the perfect car.

Ended up as the biggest flop ever.

(Please note I do not own or tried the game)
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Brent McLennan
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Where I think Scythe and other games by Stonemaier Games shine is their use of a "many paths to victory" approach to each design. When a game is simply about optimization I get extremely bored. If a game is soaked with too much player interaction for no apparent reason that annoys me to no end. It's kind of like senseless violence in film. If it doesn't support the story and doesn't make us think then why rely on it? Games are entertainment as much as they are puzzles to figure out. So many games fall flat on the entertainment side of things. If someone wants more from a thematic game than dungeon crawling or chucking dice for combat, then I think Scythe has just the right amount of theme and thinkiness to entertain that kind of gamer. If someone isn't fond of games that use too many shades of beige, require a PhD in mathology and that could have just about any theme pasted onto them, Scythe is a great way to apply eurogame mechanics to a themed game.

It seems like some of the disappointment and complaining about Scythe is coming from two camps of gamers. There are those that enjoy their cold and harsh euros and find the mechanics of the game too simple. Then there are thematic game fans that were expecting full on tactical mech warfare with some euro elements to spice things up. The truth is that Scythe is it's own unique hybrid. I really appreciate when a game can bring in gamers from both those camps, but I know full well that when people simply assume that a game is for them without doing their research and then back it on KS there will be complaints. Also, when someone thinks that the hype is off the charts so the game must be good and it has to be backed for fear of missing out. There will also be complaints.

I backed Scythe knowing full well what was under the box cover. The game impresses me for how well it does what it sets out to do. How effective it is at bringing story elements and theme into a worker placement/resource management game. I like the fact that unlike many thematic strategy games that have long running times, Scythe avoids the long waits between turns by having the action selection boards so well designed. It's pretty simple to make your choice of action ahead of your turn. Also, that Scythe uses a combat system which solves the issue of failed dice rolls is something that deserves a thumbs up. Nothing is more frustrating in combat than spending a ton of resources to build my first mech and then have it get punted by an opponent when I don't roll enough successes.
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jasonwocky wrote:
franklincobb wrote:
It is indeed a hybrid, big time. But lumping it in with something like Caylus is absurd.


You can play through the entire game, and win, without interacting meaningfully with a single other player at the table. Comparing it to a dry optimization Euro isn't as off-base as you think.

Sure, as long as the other players let you... There's always the option / threat of interference in another player's engine, and that's definitely not part of the "Euro creed."

AndySzy wrote:
Scythe gave me the same feel as Euphoria - it's a beautifully produced euro game with a very unique theme (pasted on), but no real mechanical innovations.

It really goes to show that just having beautiful components really can make quite a difference for a euro game.


A.) The theme is giant mecha intersecting with farming in post-WWI Eastern Europe, inspired / depicted by the art of Jakub Rozalski. If that's "pasted on" then I'd like to see a better example of a theme made cardboard.
B.) Is a lack of "mechanical innovation" really a good reason to dislike a game? Seems like it's only a high priority for game designers and hipsters. Everyone else like to play board games that are fun, where the right mechanics have come together and been calibrated to create an actual game.

E.g., Coup was nothing new, but it put the right mechanics together with a good theme and was polished to a high degree.
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razordaze wrote:

B.) Is a lack of "mechanical innovation" really a good reason to dislike a game? Seems like it's only a high priority for game designers and hipsters. Everyone else like to play board games that are fun, where the right mechanics have come together and been calibrated to create an actual game.

E.g., Coup was nothing new, but it put the right mechanics together with a good theme and was polished to a high degree.


To those who obsess about innovation, I often like to point out that the person who invented the bicycle didn't invent wheels, they just put them together in a really cool way.
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razordaze wrote:

E.g., Coup was nothing new, but it put the right mechanics together with a good theme and was polished to a high degree.


Agreed. Anything that appears "simple" can take a whole lot of skill to pull off well. Where other designers pile on contorted mechanics to make players do mental backflips just to earn end game points, I find that there is a natural flow to SM's games. Nothing jarring and nothing that feels tacked on. That is, aside from some of the extra stuff in the original Tuscany expansion.
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jwarrend wrote:
pacman88k wrote:
I've never seen a board game review that spends more time talking about faith and television shows than, you know, the board game.


I disagree strongly. I think reviews should be nothing more or less than thoughtful, critical engagement with the game, and drawing upon other material outside the game itself to interact with the game is highly welcome. Back when he was on ESPN, I used to listed to Colin Cowherd's radio show. I'm not really a sports fan, but his show used sports as a microcosm of life. It's much more intellectually engaging than shows that are just about stats or debating who belongs in the discussion about the greatest quarterback of all time. Same thing with game reviews -- by all means let's have more reviews that can connect a game's systems or the experience of playing a game to some outside experience or creative work!


There, I clarified for you by putting it in bold italics.

Look, I'm all for analogies. I think they're powerful and effective and use them myself. My point was that it's the majority of the review, so it really doesn't tell me much about the game itself either. This is especially true if I'm not familiar with the analogy he's using. Also, I've never heard of Colin Cowherd's radio show, so, you're kinda proving my point, dude.
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