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Scythe» Forums » Variants

Subject: For those unhappy with the abrupt end of this game... rss

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Zach Apps
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I personally don't have a problem with the way Scythe ends but I can see why people don't like it. If you are unhappy with the sometimes abrupt ending that can happen, I suggest that you play the game with this simple adjustment: Make it a rule that only one star can be acquired per turn.

Everyone needs to know that from the beginning, obviously. But if everyone knows that, it shouldn't break the game and it will be much easier for everyone to have a sense of when the end of the game is near.

Enjoy!
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Jamey Stegmaier
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I like that idea, Zach!

One other variant I heard of and like is that after someone places their 6th star, their turn immediately ends, and everyone else takes one more turn but they can't take the Move action. That way other players have the chance to finish something they started (one of the star goals), but they can't grab a bunch of points by moving around and attacking (the reason for the rule is that we needed to give players a strong reason to end the game when they can end the game).
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Daniel AA
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I say that people should stop being whiny babies and play better- pansies. (
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Anton Nieuwkoop
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gavr0che wrote:
I say that people should stop being whiny babies and play better- pansies. (


agreed, but don't forget that not everybody has as much experience with Scythe as other players. Since I own the game and play solo a lot, I have a head start when played with 5 players.
Besides that, not every player has the same experience level with games as other players in a group (at least with our group )

I think it can be a nice addition / house rule without altering te game much. Remember that it is (theoretical) possible for a player to get 5 stars in one turn (6 when playing saxony)
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Dave Moser
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Zacharyapps wrote:
If you are unhappy with the sometimes abrupt ending that can happen, I suggest that you play the game with this simple adjustment:


First off, let me make it clear. You buy the game, it's yours to play with as you wish. You could probably devise a fun 5-player variant of Chinese Checkers using the worker meeples if you want.

Having said that, I've never seen a game where SO many people were SO fast to start house-ruling every single thing about it.

I suppose the first two times I played Scythe it felt like the ending was abrupt. It didn't strike me as something that needed to be fixed. It struck me as "Oh, interesting! This is a game that builds slowly and then usually accelerates to a lightning-fast ending. Cool!"

Good games have recognizable characteristics like this - things that are not at all evident from reading the rules, but reveal themselves when you actually play them. I think good reviewers communicate those things to help prospective buyers/players decide if the game will suit their taste or not. Every review of Scythe that I saw before purchasing was clear in pointing out that (for example) combat was an occasional element, but definitely not the driving force of the game, and yet lots of people seem to want to turn it into "Warhammer:Europa".

Let me repeat: If you want to play Scythe but want to modify the ending to make it less abrupt, go right ahead. It's a finely tuned game, and changing it in one way always has the potential to make it worse in some other unexpected way, but if you like your house rules, enjoy!

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Zach Apps
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I don't find the game to need any change at all myself, but I've noticed this was a common complaint and people were just getting rid of their game because of it. (That's obviously their loss as I believe Scythe is a must keep.) But I love designing variants for games that need it (I don't think this needed it) so I just tossed this out there so people could try it and see if that simple change adjusted the game more to their liking...
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Chris Laudermilk
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dmoser22 wrote:
Zacharyapps wrote:
If you are unhappy with the sometimes abrupt ending that can happen, I suggest that you play the game with this simple adjustment:


First off, let me make it clear. You buy the game, it's yours to play with as you wish. You could probably devise a fun 5-player variant of Chinese Checkers using the worker meeples if you want.

Having said that, I've never seen a game where SO many people were SO fast to start house-ruling every single thing about it.

I suppose the first two times I played Scythe it felt like the ending was abrupt. It didn't strike me as something that needed to be fixed. It struck me as "Oh, interesting! This is a game that builds slowly and then usually accelerates to a lightning-fast ending. Cool!"

Good games have recognizable characteristics like this - things that are not at all evident from reading the rules, but reveal themselves when you actually play them. I think good reviewers communicate those things to help prospective buyers/players decide if the game will suit their taste or not. Every review of Scythe that I saw before purchasing was clear in pointing out that (for example) combat was an occasional element, but definitely not the driving force of the game, and yet lots of people seem to want to turn it into "Warhammer:Europa".

Let me repeat: If you want to play Scythe but want to modify the ending to make it less abrupt, go right ahead. It's a finely tuned game, and changing it in one way always has the potential to make it worse in some other unexpected way, but if you like your house rules, enjoy!


I totally agree. I'm amazed that there is so much push to modify the game. Seems amazing to me that after one or two plays people think they can improve upon something that Jamey spent two years and 750 playtests building.

Part of the problem is the super short attention spans these days. This game takes several plays before things really start to click. People don't seem to have a tolerance for that any more. Now it's one or two plays, then onto the trad pile and on to the next new shiny game. I'm 17 plays in and still learning nuances.

Back to the original topic, to me the end is not that abrupt if you're paying attention. There's been several plays where I saw the end coming, made a few preparatory moves and won the game because of that.
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Patrick G.
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I don't like the way scythe ends. It's not because I lose to it or any other stupid insult some fanboy may throw at me. I never like this end in any game.

I always prefer equal turns, a final round (preferably starting with the player who triggers it so that everyone gets a response) or a phase in the turn checking game end at the end of a round (like Chaos in the Old World).

Be that as it may I am intrigued by both of these variants suggested.
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Lines J. Hutter
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claudermilk wrote:

I totally agree. I'm amazed that there is so much push to modify the game. Seems amazing to me that after one or two plays people think they can improve upon something that Jamey spent two years and 750 playtests building.

I don't think this is about improving the game.
It's about adjusting it to personal taste and playing style. I don't think it is putting down Jamie's work at all. I guess we all agree that this a very, very, VERY well designed game.
But especially since it is a hybrid there will be people who don't enjoy certain aspects. Thus doesn't mean the game is broken.
If they're trying to find a way to adjust it (instead of selling it), I don't see anything negative here.

I think those variants will be helpful especially when introducing the game to new, maybe non-hardcore gamers. Slapping them in the face with a 3-star game end turn might not be sonething that makes them want to play the game some more.
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Hardboiled Gregg
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I like the "one star per turn" idea in principle, but I could see where it might mess with some people's rhythm when it comes to playstyles (Saxony maybe) or objectives e.g. I myself had to win a combat to seize the Factory in one game. Would I have to choose between the objective star or the combat? I guess going in with that knowledge might make for interesting decisions at certain points but it feels a little off.

The "no moves" after game end is a nice idea. It actually got me thinking about a thing that Hyperborea does, since people trigger game end there via certain objectives; except everyone gets one last turn. Because there are also points for hex control, the game includes "castles/fortifications" which act as extra soldiers (since 1 attack point = 1 miniature killed). So, someone looking to control the centre hex might make sure they end with a couple of castles alongside their troops, meaning that anyone looking to kill their pieces needs two attack points before they can even kill one miniature.

Rather than "no moves", what if the person who ended the game has all of their hexes locked down but everyone else is fair game? Obviously, I've only given this a passing thought but maybe it's worth exploring.
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Chris Laudermilk
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This isn't a game I'd thrown at a new non-gamer. In general they would get completely overwhelmed by it and tune out. Heck, I tackled Magic Realm while waiting for this one to arrive and it took me a while to grok everything (and I'm still fixing some minor play errors).

To me the end conditions is part of the strategy. How do you arrange to place that 6th star and deny your opponents their last anticipated turn?

In the end it's not like the Game Police are going to knock on your door if you house rule the game. I just don't happen to agree that it needs any right now. My view of feature vs bug is obviously different than others'
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Dave Moser
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Lines42 wrote:
I think those variants will be helpful especially when introducing the game to new, maybe non-hardcore gamers. Slapping them in the face with a 3-star game end turn might not be sonething that makes them want to play the game some more.

I can see the point in that, but I think simply setting expectations accordingly is preferable to house-ruling.

As of yesterday, I've now played at every player count, usually with at least one new player in each game. In the last several games, I wait until mid-game, about the time one or two players are getting their second stars out, and then I tell any newbies point-blank that the game builds slowly but finishes fast, and they should be aware that if they see someone get a 4th or 5th star out, the end of the game is VERY close, and they should plan accordingly. This strategy has worked well so far. Not everyone heeds my advice, but at least no one has acted blindsided or unfairly cut off when that 6th star dropped.

Of course, this only addresses the timing of the end, not the mechanism itself. It won't change things for people who philosophically prefer final rounds or equal numbers of turns, or whatever. Those people are just going to go with house rules, and that's their thing. No worries.

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Zach Apps
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I never mean for any of my variant ideas to be taken as disrespectful to the designer. And I certainly don't think this necessarily improves the game. It's purely an idea for people to try rather than getting rid of their game if that one element is a turn off. In the end, my idea is just to try to get people to hold onto this beautiful game and try a simple change that may be more to their liking. That being said, I don't think I will use this variant myself unless I'm playing with newer players. I do see it being a much nicer way to help them get use to the game without it ending with an abrupt smack down blowout by the more experienced player...
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Jamey Stegmaier
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No worries! I didn't take it as disrespectful at all. I think your intent was great--if people really are getting rid of Scythe purely because of how the game ends, perhaps they'll see your idea (or mine below it) and reconsider.
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Barry Miller
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jameystegmaier wrote:
I like that idea, Zach!

One other variant I heard of and like is that after someone places their 6th star, their turn immediately ends, and...

Jamey,

While many players will take your post as a seal of approval and run with it, I also realize that a lot of designers are simply providing personal responses when conversing on BGG, and thusly it may not always be considered "official". I think it's easy to tell when a designer is providing an official response vs when they're simply participating in the conversation.

So having taken your response as the latter, it begs the question if you ever intend to publish (online, I suppose) an official "Variants" document? As of now, the only official variant I'm aware of is the "Delay of Game" variant on page 28 of the rulebook.

For all who might repeat the claim that this game doesn't need variants... I actually agree with you! But still, you gotta admit that the variant suggested by the OP is worth trying. Except for me, I have this OCD thing... I usually don't spend my time playing a variant unless it's an "official" variant. Yes, I'm one of those that doesn't normally like house rules - they have their place - but are very atypical at my table.

But make the OP's variant official, then all of the sudden it's worth my time! Weird, I know.

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jameystegmaier wrote:
I like that idea, Zach!

One other variant I heard of and like is that after someone places their 6th star, their turn immediately ends, and everyone else takes one more turn but they can't take the Move action. That way other players have the chance to finish something they started (one of the star goals), but they can't grab a bunch of points by moving around and attacking (the reason for the rule is that we needed to give players a strong reason to end the game when they can end the game).


I feel a little odd discussing variants when I've only played the once, but since I was thinking about these very points in the review I wrote up the other day, thought I'd add my 2 cents:

Allowing only 1 Star per turn I think will greatly change the feel of the game, there's no more small empire, big Star count surprise win factor. Maybe that's what you want, more clear time to run your economic engine for defined number of turns, I'm guessing this would up the Euro feel and decrease the 4x side. But I would worry that it discourages anyone placing the 6th star until they've got a clear area/resource/coin advantage.

As to the second idea, letting everyone else take a final moveless turn, I'm a bit mixed. The moveless part handles my largest concern, that players would just land grab and the advantage goes to the player to the right of the game ender by virtue of last attack. But just letting everyone else take another turn while the 6th Star placer gets cutoff seems like a hit to the one placing. Why not allow the 6th Star placer to finish their whole turn before everyone else gets their final turn? If they can drop 7 Stars or attack 2 territories, they should be able to since everyone else at the table will get an uncontested chance to try to place a 6th too.

Me personally, I like the chance at the abrupt game end, I would not change that. If I were to do anything, I might extend it to 7 or 8 stars, reduce the bubble impact, but leave the capacity for it. I'm unsure what that would do to length, but I wouldn't mind another 30 min more per game if the game still felt as tight, but less abrupt ending.
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bgm1961 wrote:

jameystegmaier wrote:
I like that idea, Zach!

One other variant I heard of and like is that after someone places their 6th star, their turn immediately ends, and...

Jamey,

While many players will take your post as a seal of approval and run with it, I also realize that a lot of designers are simply providing personal responses when conversing on BGG, and thusly it may not always be considered "official". I think it's easy to tell when a designer is providing an official response vs when they're simply participating in the conversation.

So having taken your response as the latter, it begs the question if you ever intend to publish (online, I suppose) an official "Variants" document? As of now, the only official variant I'm aware of is the "Delay of Game" variant on page 28 of the rulebook.

For all who might repeat the claim that this game doesn't need variants... I actually agree with you! But still, you gotta admit that the variant suggested by the OP is worth trying. Except for me, I have this OCD thing... I usually don't spend my time playing a variant unless it's an "official" variant. Yes, I'm one of those that doesn't normally like house rules - they have their place - but are very atypical at my table.

But make the OP's variant official, then all of the sudden it's worth my time! Weird, I know.



Haha, I do the same. As a nonScythe example, couple years ago when I played more, I read on the Agricola forums that P4 won a small % fewer games among skilled opponents, so the consensus was to give P4 +1 food. Simple, backed up by stats, and even integrated in to Caverna. BUT, it wasn't official for Agricola, so the OCD side of me refused to ever do that variant.
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Zach Apps
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It would certainly change the game (as was intended for people that like the idea) but I don't think it would take too much away from the tension. Since turns are still really fast, you'd have to be worried that a player may be geared up to get a star in each of their turns at some point. So I think it would still give that sense of a race, but just a slower one with a less abrupt ending.

I feel that this idea works great for people that hate the abrupt ending, but all other players will probably pass on this idea. And I think that's how it should be! I like the idea of every player having a game that specifically plays how they like their games to play, when it is possible...
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Jamey Stegmaier
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Barry: You asked, "So having taken your response as the latter, it begs the question if you ever intend to publish (online, I suppose) an official "Variants" document?"

It's very rare that I put the Stonemaier seal of approval on an official variant, though I'm happy for people to experiment with house rules and the like. However, if people test variants (it's gotta be tested, not just hypothetical) and report successes, then I'll consider testing it. And if I then like it, I'll consider making it official.

I might be forgetting something, but there are only three variants suggested on BGG (opposed to prior to publication) I've given my full approval to:

Euphoria: If you start your turn with doubles/triples/etc, you can only place more than 1 die if you pay 1 morale per extra die placed.

Tuscany: You can choose (as a group, before the game) not to score end-game points for the influence map, instead just using it to gain cards/coins during the game.

Tuscany: If you want to play with the structures expansion but not the extended board, you can draft structure cards at the beginning of the game.

I share this just to show that I'm open to it, but I'm also pretty selective about it.
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Sky Zero
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The end game as written in and of itself provides an excellent layer of strategy to the game. I'm always looking to setup my engine and bring an abrupt end to the game before others see it coming. That's part of the beauty within the design.
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Barry Miller
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jameystegmaier wrote:
... then I'll consider testing it. And if I then like it, I'll consider making it official.
...
I share this just to show that I'm open to it, but I'm also pretty selective about it.

A great reply! Thanks for sharing your perspective, and for your involvement!

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gavr0che wrote:
I say that people should stop being whiny babies and play better- pansies. (


Ok, thanks Daniel I'll play better. But the 'whining' will continue. A game with so many bells and whistles, development tracks for victory points - lots of them - and other cards that can score, I'm going to continue to do so. Glad you like such a finely produced game, with alternate paths to victory, that you work hard to achieve through the multiple paths, then on your turn you could achieve 2 or 3 Stars that also give you the win. A bit of a let-down for both the winner and the losers (and I was the winner in my game). I don't like it - - Whine, whine, wine.
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claudermilk wrote:
In the end it's not like the Game Police are going to knock on your door if you house rule the game.


Oh, I wouldn't be so sure.

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François Mahieu
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Zacharyapps wrote:
I personally don't have a problem with the way Scythe ends but I can see why people don't like it. If you are unhappy with the sometimes abrupt ending that can happen, I suggest that you play the game with this simple adjustment: Make it a rule that only one star can be acquired per turn.

Everyone needs to know that from the beginning, obviously. But if everyone knows that, it shouldn't break the game and it will be much easier for everyone to have a sense of when the end of the game is near.

Enjoy!


Now you get my attention.
 
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Joao C L Mendonca
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jameystegmaier wrote:
I like that idea, Zach!

One other variant I heard of and like is that after someone places their 6th star, their turn immediately ends, and everyone else takes one more turn but they can't take the Move action. That way other players have the chance to finish something they started (one of the star goals), but they can't grab a bunch of points by moving around and attacking (the reason for the rule is that we needed to give players a strong reason to end the game when they can end the game).


When someone places the last star the games ends automatically or the other player can do something else?
 
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