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Scythe» Forums » General

Subject: Something about Scythe that induces claims that the game should be different in certain specific ways? rss

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Andrew Watson
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I've seen many remarks here on BGG to the effect that: Scythe's rules specify X; Y would be better. I've seen similar remarks about other games, but I can't think of any other game that attracts this kind of remark to the same extent. By "extent" here I mean not only sheer number of remarks, but also: proportion of remarks that are of this type; and vehemence of such remarks.

Here's an example. "Each faction has a specific starting location; it would be better if starting locations could vary for each game of Scythe." For this particular example, the response is that Scythe is based on Jacub's world, that's how Jakub's world is, and so that's how Scythe is." I don't want to rehash that particular example, or to make a list of examples.

Rather, I'm wondering:
1. Does Scythe attract "it should be different" remarks to a particularly large extent?
2. If so, why is this?

I have some ideas about q2, but I'll keep them to myself for now.

Andrew, looking forward to seeing what folks say.
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Derry Salewski
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The hype and huge exposure dump of it hitting so many doors at once and probably just the fact they you're noticing it or maybe actually paying attention.

Probably a little entitlement of mostly kickstarter backers at this point.

It's a pretty normal response for games that don't suck.

I can think of similiar threads Im subscribed to right now in twilight struggle and star wars rebellion, for example.
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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I think part of the answer is just the sheer number of games sold. With the game in the hands of so many people the number of comments, and concomitantly variants, is going to be higher.

That being said, I also think that the hybrid nature of the game leads to some of this phenomenon as well. The Ameritrash players want more conflict and randomness, the Euro players want more sophisticated engine building. Personally I fall pretty squarely between Ameritrash and Euro as a gamer. My favourite games include both Zombicide and Glass Road. As someone who appreciates both kinds of games I truly love Scythe for its elegance and balance. For those who prefer one type of game over the other, I think the urge is to tinker rather than dig into what the game actually is. I think this is particularly true for Ameritrash style gamers who are used to a more "sandbox" type of game that is amenable to tinkering. Unfortunately Scythe is a heavily tested, supremely well-balanced game that, in my opinion, will be difficult to tinker with without seriously interfering with its elegant design.

I also think the game has a lot of depth that isn't appreciated until you have played it a bunch. I am 20 games in and, while I understand where the complaint comes from, I have never felt "hemmed in" by my starting faction or player mat. I took a mech favouring player mat last week and ended up almost winning without a single mech on the board. Once players figure out how to interfere with each others engines, the "predetermined path" complaints will start to disappear.

Just my two cents. Thanks for asking the question, it has been on my mind lately too. The variants suggested by people have varied from interesting and viable (drafting faction/player mats) to ridiculous (changing riverwalk to apply to any terrain for all factions).

In the end, one of the joys of boardgames is that they can be easily tinkered with, but the question for me is should this one be? My answer is no, but that is just one person's opinion.
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Thomas Diener
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Educated guess: the 'Kickstarter effect".
That is to say, a(n extremely!) large number of people ordering a game (almost) blind,
and then receiving the game at about the same time (as opposed to over time),
and then a (relatively small but vocal) percentage discovering that actual gameplay isn't what they imagined.
This is opposed to more traditional growth models (and far smaller sales numbers don't forget!) that track similar feelings over a far greater amount of time.

I'm basing this idea on similar issues with Zombicide,
where a core game mechanic was judged 'not realistic' (in a zombie game yet)
by a vocal minority, and thread after thread announced this or that rule was untenable, and should be fixed.

To summarize:
1) a small subset of a large numbers of people
2) at the same time
3) discover gameplay doesn't match their taste
4) and decide the game is faulty, rather than not to their (minority) taste.

Best (educated) Guess.

{edit) Double ninja !
I must learn to type faster...
Oh, well: similar opinions lead me to believe the idea isn't as radical as I thought it may be!
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Patrick G.
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I like the game. I enjoy it. The only issue I have is it is not the promised 4x. /shrug
There are certain aspects of it that I prefer to be done in other ways. But I see no real need to change it. It's balanced in a way Jamie feels is appropriate and personal preferences aside I can't argue with that.
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Stephen Miller
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AndAgainMA wrote:
I've seen many remarks here on BGG to the effect that: Scythe's rules specify X; Y would be better. I've seen similar remarks about other games, but I can't think of any other game that attracts this kind of remark to the same extent. By "extent" here I mean not only sheer number of remarks, but also: proportion of remarks that are of this type; and vehemence of such remarks.

Here's an example. "Each faction has a specific starting location; it would be better if starting locations could vary for each game of Scythe." For this particular example, the response is that Scythe is based on Jacub's world, that's how Jakub's world is, and so that's how Scythe is." I don't want to rehash that particular example, or to make a list of examples.

Rather, I'm wondering:
1. Does Scythe attract "it should be different" remarks to a particularly large extent?
2. If so, why is this?

I have some ideas about q2, but I'll keep them to myself for now.

Andrew, looking forward to seeing what folks say.


I think all popular games have a certain amount of debate on house rules, variants, etc to a certain extent - Especially games that do things Differently from how people are used to games working... As Scythe does in several ways. Part of the assymetry is something people are unused to being asymetrical (Different bottom row action costs for different players, different amount of coin rewards for each player's bottom row actions).

Most games are either straight races 'first to do x' or end after approximately even rounds ('finish the round after someone completes the end game criteria') - failing that, they give all players one more turn after the end game is triggered if it's player dependent ending, while Scythe it's as soon as the final star is played, but that's only one of five scoring criteria - the most valuable one per thing done with it but territory seems to usually be better scoring), but... Still, one of five different scoring criteria, meaning the game can end quite suddenly (Which isn't a criticism, just... Most games don't end nearly as suddenly as that unless you're playing a coop and you have The Turn From Hell)

Then you've got a game that's not quite as confrontational as the theme in part implies - threat of combat is omnipresent, yes, but actual direct mech o oso combat is rare, which... I'm struggling to think of another game with mech minis that has more of a cold war feel in gameplay than a direct confrontational feel. Even the encounter cards feel different, due to them being Big Gorgeous Art, three ways of interacting with the scene, instead of the usual encounter cards of Big Block of Story Text, three ways of responding to the story.

None of these things are flaws with the game, but they're all elements that could feel 'off' to someone just learning it, which is going to encourage people to want to design variants quickly after playing it just a few times if they're that way inclined. Combine that with the seeming popularity of Scythe on the Geek, shooting up the rankings at a rate I only recall seeing previously for Pandemic Legacy and staying #1 in the Hotness for about two months (also I think it was #1 in the Hotness during the kickstarter campaign, just after Pandemic Legacy dropped... Somehow.) is going to get it more eyeballs, and so more people who might be inclined to figure out variants.
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Mus Rattus
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I think it does, I noted as such when I posted my own suggested variant.

As for why, I have two theories.

One is the art and the universe. It was so tantalizing and shown long before the gameplay was introduced that people perhaps formed ideas of what the game would be like that clashed with how it actually was.

The second is the very engine-like quality the game has. The different player boards are all tweaked versions of each other. The Factory cards are re-imagined/re-mixed versions of the player board actions. The game just has so many knobs and levers that it's easy to imagine how it might be if they were tweaked differently.
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Tor Iver Wilhelmsen
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You could ask them if, when they encounter someone who wants to play chess, that they insist on playing with randomized piece setup (Chess 960)... cool
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Dave Moser
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JadedGamer wrote:
You could ask them if, when they encounter someone who wants to play chess, that they insist on playing with randomized piece setup (Chess 960)... cool


Or if they insist that Black always gets a final turn after his King is taken. Can't have that intolerable first turn advantage.

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Barry Miller
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reverendunclebastard wrote:
With the game in the hands of so many people the number of comments, and concomitantly variants, is going to be higher.

You had me at, "concomitantly"!


(I had to copy and paste that, to make sure I'd spell it correctly).

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Andrew Watson
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MusRattus wrote:
One is the art and the universe. It was so tantalizing and shown long before the gameplay was introduced that people perhaps formed ideas of what the game would be like that clashed with how it actually was.


I think that this may well be one of the things that makes Scythe an outlier with respect to "it should... remarks". You put it very well.
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Joseph Cochran
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corkysru wrote:
I like the game. I enjoy it. The only issue I have is it is not the promised 4x. /shrug


I feel like this is a big reason for the wish for variants: people were expecting it to be something other than it is because of the assertion that it's 4x (even though that assertion is that it's a "new take" on 4x, that it attempts to "expand the definition" of 4x). I think that drew a lot of people who want the game to be something other than it is: while it might be "okay fun" to someone expecting a 4x, it's very much not focused like a 4x and it does seem like there should be some tweaks that could make it moreso (though in my own opinion the game is amazing as it is).
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jsciv wrote:
corkysru wrote:
I like the game. I enjoy it. The only issue I have is it is not the promised 4x. /shrug


I feel like this is a big reason for the wish for variants: people were expecting it to be something other than it is because of the assertion that it's 4x (even though that assertion is that it's a "new take" on 4x, that it attempts to "expand the definition" of 4x). I think that drew a lot of people who want the game to be something other than it is: while it might be "okay fun" to someone expecting a 4x, it's very much not focused like a 4x and it does seem like there should be some tweaks that could make it moreso (though in my own opinion the game is amazing as it is).

It is an amazing game.

I mean it will never crack my top 10 favorite games...but then I can't even figure out a way to get Agricola or King of Tokyo in there and I fricking love those games. Oh well! I like too many games! And my wife tells me i own too many too!
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Perhaps a bit of it stems from the streamlined nature of the game --especially for those expecting a true 4x experience. The game plays so quickly and smoothly that maybe players aren't getting their itch scratched. There are no long slogs or epic afternoons with Scythe.

I feel that elegance comes at a price; maybe the rough edges of games are often where we struggle, and a little struggle isn't always a bad thing. Often the disobedient child is the one you grow the closest to.

I love Scythe, it is a great game, but I also love a lot of really bad games --Third Reich on a Saturday afternoon anyone?
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Clyde W
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AndAgainMA wrote:
I've seen many remarks here on BGG to the effect that: Scythe's rules specify X; Y would be better. I've seen similar remarks about other games, but I can't think of any other game that attracts this kind of remark to the same extent. By "extent" here I mean not only sheer number of remarks, but also: proportion of remarks that are of this type; and vehemence of such remarks.

Here's an example. "Each faction has a specific starting location; it would be better if starting locations could vary for each game of Scythe." For this particular example, the response is that Scythe is based on Jacub's world, that's how Jakub's world is, and so that's how Scythe is." I don't want to rehash that particular example, or to make a list of examples.

Rather, I'm wondering:
1. Does Scythe attract "it should be different" remarks to a particularly large extent?
2. If so, why is this?

I have some ideas about q2, but I'll keep them to myself for now.

Andrew, looking forward to seeing what folks say.
That time when 11,000 copies of a game got played within a few weeks of each other.
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dmoser22 wrote:
JadedGamer wrote:
You could ask them if, when they encounter someone who wants to play chess, that they insist on playing with randomized piece setup (Chess 960)... cool


Or if they insist that Black always gets a final turn after his King is taken. Can't have that intolerable first turn advantage.
You say that in jest, but it's actually truly problematic.

Oh, and thanks for the link to Chess 960! I had heard about 'Fischer Chess' before, but didn't quite know what it was. Fascinating that there's an entry for it on BGG.
 
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Andrew Watson
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clydeiii wrote:
]That time when 11,000 copies of a game got played within a few weeks of each other.


Scythe was attracting "should be like this instead" comments long before those thousands were manufactured.
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AndAgainMA wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
]That time when 11,000 copies of a game got played within a few weeks of each other.


Scythe was attracting "should be like this instead" comments long before those thousands were manufactured.
I've been subscribed to the game since the KS. The number of those sorts of threads seems to be much higher since we all got our games than before it, but...
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Andrew Watson
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clydeiii wrote:
AndAgainMA wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
]That time when 11,000 copies of a game got played within a few weeks of each other.


Scythe was attracting "should be like this instead" comments long before those thousands were manufactured.
I've been subscribed to the game since the KS. The number of those sorts of threads seems to be much higher since we all got our games than before it, but...


I'm certainly not going to dispute the fact that the raw number of "should be" threads has increased since publication.

But, all along the Scythe-timeline, I've had the impression that:
- should-be threads are higher as a proportion of total threads
- should-be postings are more vehement
for Scythe than for other games.
 
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Adam P
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I don't understand why there's so many posts about people's posts critiquing Sythe?
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I believe the frequency and vehemence are both due to Scythe being very different and ambitious compared to the games that inspired it. It's been exhaustively playtested to become a very pure version is itself, and many of the expected familiar inherited bits have been polished away: It's carefully congested to make much of itself accessible, so that it can be disruptive and challenging in other ways.

E.g., there are mechs, but it's not a war game. It says 4X on the box, but the Xs are not implemented in a traditional way. There are plastic and wooden pieces (resin and metal, depending on the vein) on the same board.

Add an overwhelming rush of popularity / hype, and it's the perfect recipe for a hasty "should be" forum bonanza.
 
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Stephen Miller
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razordaze wrote:
There are plastic and wooden pieces (resin and metal, depending on the vein) on the same board.


That objection is one I really don't get. The whole "Aren't there just too many textures here? Mixing wood, plastic and cardboard in one game is bad enough, but the deluxe version has resin and metal stuff too!" critique that was being thrown out from some quarters... Simply doesn't make any sense to me.

Other games that have wood, plastic and cardboard in one box off the top of my head - Ticket to Ride, Caverna (Or are the coal and rubies resin?), Robinson Crusoe (which uses wooden and plastic cubes in one box), I think some versions of Pandemic have wooden pawns and plastic cubes, Snowdonia, Dungeon Lords, Dungeon Petz, and Tzolk'in. And any other game that offers component upgrades from simple wood or cardboard to more realistic metal or resin bits I've seen presented by and large as a positive, and it wasn't the people who I'm accustomed to preferring to play with as minimalistic a set of bits as possible who were objecting to the quantity of textures in Scythe.

I mean, if people genuinely prefer one or two textures in a game [and one is quite rare] to 3 or 5 (depending on retail vs deluxe/art edition), that's fair enough, but... That's a criticism I've never seen applied to any of the games I just listed, which use the same textures as Scythe's retail copy, only to Scythe.
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Ian Liddle
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Gizensha wrote:
razordaze wrote:
There are plastic and wooden pieces (resin and metal, depending on the vein) on the same board.


That objection is one I really don't get. The whole "Aren't there just too many textures here? Mixing wood, plastic and cardboard in one game is bad enough, but the deluxe version has resin and metal stuff too!" critique that was being thrown out from some quarters... Simply doesn't make any sense to me.

Other games that have wood, plastic and cardboard in one box off the top of my head - Ticket to Ride, Caverna (Or are the coal and rubies resin?), Robinson Crusoe (which uses wooden and plastic cubes in one box), I think some versions of Pandemic have wooden pawns and plastic cubes, Snowdonia, Dungeon Lords, Dungeon Petz, and Tzolk'in. And any other game that offers component upgrades from simple wood or cardboard to more realistic metal or resin bits I've seen presented by and large as a positive, and it wasn't the people who I'm accustomed to preferring to play with as minimalistic a set of bits as possible who were objecting to the quantity of textures in Scythe.

I mean, if people genuinely prefer one or two textures in a game [and one is quite rare] to 3 or 5 (depending on retail vs deluxe/art edition), that's fair enough, but... That's a criticism I've never seen applied to any of the games I just listed, which use the same textures as Scythe's retail copy, only to Scythe.

Perhaps this reveals another aspect of the scenario: people seem to get very entitled when you offer premium features at the basic level.

I doubt that anyone would have had that complaint if cardboard standees we're the standard for mech and player models, with plastic models as an upgrade pack.

The wooden bits are very, very nice in any case, cubes and cylinders being the only standard shape there.
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AndAgainMA wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
AndAgainMA wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
]That time when 11,000 copies of a game got played within a few weeks of each other.


Scythe was attracting "should be like this instead" comments long before those thousands were manufactured.
I've been subscribed to the game since the KS. The number of those sorts of threads seems to be much higher since we all got our games than before it, but...


I'm certainly not going to dispute the fact that the raw number of "should be" threads has increased since publication.

But, all along the Scythe-timeline, I've had the impression that:
- should-be threads are higher as a proportion of total threads
- should-be postings are more vehement
for Scythe than for other games.


I think you're just kinda getting an impression that's kinda true, but really holds true for lots of games of this sort.

Again, like star wars rebellion (both games I've been subscribed to since day one-ish.) or super dungeon explore (something I kickstarted) or the ninja turtle game coming out (something I read comments on and decided not to kickstart.)

"jamey is awesome" threads are a higher percentage than most games too, I'd bet.

The game is very successful so it brings out passionate people.
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Tor Iver Wilhelmsen
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jhaelen wrote:
You say that in jest, but it's actually truly problematic.

Well, it's "fixed" in tournament play, where the players play each side an equal number of times, so the first-move advantage is evenly distributed. (Of course, if you adjust for "learning the opponent" through the tournament matches, the person playing white in the last game will still have a slight edge from accumulated observation.)
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