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So, my retail copy of Scythe turned up unexpectedly to my work a couple of weeks ago. I had been waiting a while for it to come through, so could only manage to scramble one of my mates at late notice to give it a whirl.
I had watched most YouTube reviews and play throughs so was pretty comfortable with the rules, so after a short explanation and run through with my mate Phil, we got straight into it. One thing I’ll point out is that I’d read that playing through a few rounds and following the ‘suggested’ moves on the player aid was pretty good, and I would agree that its pretty intuitive to follow those for a new player to learn the ropes.
From our random selections I think our combinations of player mats and boards were:
Me – Polania with Patriotic
Phil- Crimean with Agricultural
Starting out we both did alternate combos of move/produce (incl workers). My general plan was to use my special ability with taking two actions on the encounter cards as much as possible so through cheap upgrading got out my Riverwalk mech as quick as possible using some trade actions to get the required resources. Fortunately, on my encounter card in my home area I got to build a mech for popularity but as is the case quite often, the impact is less by taking the first option to gain back some of that popularity. Getting that mech so early was very fortunate. I riverwalked and got to the factory fairly quickly. I cant recall which factory card I took but I think it may have been an upgrade combo one.
In the meantime Phil had been doing quite a bit of producing. Being able to enlist easily with food being in his home area he went in that direction and didn’t really push too hard on Mech production.
I think I may have had 3 Mechs out by the time that Phil got his first one out which he went for the Wayfare option which I wasn’t so sure on being the best to select. He moved his units out of his home area and onto the Purple base to start making use of the resources over there.
I got my 4th Mech out pretty quickly after that and all my upgrades done too so was very mobile with the 3 units move action, with speed adding 1 hex and then alternating with the factory movement to move a single unit 3 spaces. I took the encounter card on the Village hex just over the river from the Crimean home base with my character and set myself up for the game finishing actions the next few moves.
Gamestate at this point was I had a healthy workforce size and all my mechs in the west and north of the continent. I had 4 stars out for upgrades, mechs, workers and objective so needed two more which I was going to go for with combat. Phil had 3 stars out for enlist, objective and workers. He had 2 mechs out taking Riverwalk with his second one. He had a heap of metal sat on his mountain in his home area with a mech and 2 workers in there. His other Mech and Character was over near the purple base with some workers farming some oil and food over there. I think his next couple of moves would have been to combine the upgrades and deploy mechs from his resources he’d gathered.
I totally screwed over his plans with my movement advantage. I used the move action to disperse my workers in the north with 2 mechs to take as many hex’s as possible. With the third unit, I moved my character to the tundra hex above Phils base and then riverwalked into his mountain area in his home area starting combat. I had a 5 card and enough power to play 7 on my dial so couldn’t lose as I’d win even on a draw. Phil maybe didn’t realise this as much as he would do after a few plays, and he was probably really keen to hold onto his resources, but he probably should have taken the hit and low balled the battle. I went all in, as I needed the win at any cost but Phil also went pretty high with his own dial but lost anyway. I took his metal and sent a couple of his workers and mech back to his home base.
Phil had to scramble at this point as the writing was on the wall. As he didn’t have the speed mech, he couldn’t come straight back at me with his mech that had just been beaten. I told him that he best try and spread over some hex’s to try and maximise his scoring at the end, so he did as best he could with limited movement.
On the game ending move I used the factory card to riverwalk over to the village near the purple base and engage in combat with the Mech there. If Phil had let the last battle go without using so much power, he would have been better set up defensively to hold out on this second battle, but instead I had more combat power than him and a 4 card, so won that second battle quite easily too.
We both ended the game in the middle tier of the popularity track but counting up the territories I recall I may have had something like 12 hex’s including the 3 from the factory hex. The final scoring ended up being a very one sided count with my score being 104ish vs something like 40 from Phil. We sat back and had a debrief from the first game noting how limited Phil was without the speed mech or a factory card and how my move on him was just before his plans were about to be put in action. Also the Camaraderie ability for me as the Polenians was very useful as my moves at the end would have dropped me into the lower bracket of the scoring and might have affected my decisions more.
That first game maybe took around 2 hours with a bit of slow play to check rules and clarify things. But sitting there, we already were keen to go again given what we had learnt from the first game. It was still relatively early so we cleared the board, drew factions and set the game up for another round!
This time around the combinations were
Me – Rusviet with Mechanical
Phil – Polenia with Industrial
This game went much different in its progress. Our moves were much quicker and I think we both had a clearer view of a plan from the start. Considering that the first game only had 2 battles, this one was battle crazy.
We both grew our workforce, expanded and got Mechs out early. Phil through another useful encounter card and myself through quick metal production with the home area mountain and relatively cheap metal cost for mechs. From the start, it definitely felt like a different game and strategy with the new player and mat combos. The Rusviets start with a good home area of the village, mountain and tundra, so combining upgrading with mech building was an easy strategy. The lack of access to food and the high initial cost to use it for enlisting however meant that I wasn’t getting much efficiency from my produce action as I couldn’t use the bottom action which I think hurt me a little in the end.
Phil made it to the factory first and got the upgrade/popularity card and sat a couple of mechs on the hex to protect it. Once I had riverwalk and my peoples army ability I headed for the factory for a big initial battle. I had a mech plus my character plus a worker that I took to battle to use the peoples army ability. This was against Phils 2 mechs and a worker that he had taken for defensive threat. I was happy to take a popularity loss to get a factory card which I took the build/popularity one.
After that first battle we went toe to toe a number of times, I spread a little to the South and Phil to the North as well as taking back over the factory with a battle win and building his monument there. This now mean that I was going to have to ensure I held the factory at the end to prevent the monument being really valuable to the hex count. We were both pretty evenly matched throughout the game and it didn’t really feel like one of us was running away with it. I was looking toward the end game but my biggest problem was popularity. Phil had hardly enlisted so I didn’t get bonuses from my bottom enlist bonus, I hardly traded for popularity with everything else going on so was only sat on 2 on the popularity track. Phil had made the most of his encounter ability and taken a lot of the encounter tokens around the board taking the options to increase his popularity or being neutral with selecting the first and last options on the encounter cards.
Phil was on 5 stars and I was on 4 and it was my turn, I didn’t want to end the game yet given my low popularity, and I thought that I had a couple of turns left as Phil had really grouped all his units together. Thinking that he would first spread his units out to claim more hex’s before claiming his 6th star, i thought first of just concentrating on getting my popularity up through trading for it and trying to build the monument but I just didn’t think I had enough moves left to be able to get my popularity up, so instead traded for oil and did my last upgrade to add my 5th star. Therefore thinking Phil would spread his units, then I would do the same on my last turn before Phil ended it after that.
Phil thought he was good without spreading his units, so instead played his factory action and built his last upgrade to get his 6th star. That ended it with the final board looking like this:
The end game scoring was something like 70 to 40ish. The popularity really hurt me in the end and losing the factory for another time a couple of turns before the end really changed the hex count which was very even without those bonus hexes. I maybe should have upgraded the food earlier to then make use of the enlist when I was producing, but as always, theres about 5 things you want to do and you can only do one.
I think the two factions favoured battles with each other. The Polenian camaraderie ability and the Rusviets peoples army ability promoting conflict. I think in both games the camaraderie ability was very useful for the Polenians. It totally removes that threat to popularity and so Phil was happy to attack many more times than just the twice to get his stars.
Well the game wasn’t anything less than I was expecting. I had seen enough on it to know how much we were going to enjoy it. Playing back to back games I think confirms how much we enjoyed it. Despite the one sided nature of both the end game outcomes, this didn’t detract from enjoying it. And the fact that we each had a win with very different strategies shows how deep the game is. The large discrepancies probably come down to a couple of factors. The main one being our play inexperience. Watching videos only does so much, when you’re actually in the game the large number of options available where you want to do them all really has you thinking so with more games, we will certainly get better at making those decisions and understanding the true strengths of the players and action boards.
I think being a 2 player game may have contributed to it also with the player mats that we drew. Polenia is 2-0 as far as it goes and when there’s only 2 players, there are plenty of encounters open for them to get. Which using their ability to select two options is a massive help to them. With a higher player count, the relative benefit of that ability is much less as there will be a smaller number of encounters that they can have. That wasn’t the ultimate factor, in both games the opponents decisions contributed to their position. In the second game I left my focus on the popularity track far too late and maybe should have not engaged in combat so much.
I enjoyed playing both the factions that I used. The encounter ability is definitely good and does push you to hunting those down as Polenia. As Rusviet, I really liked the synergy of the home area resources for upgrading, mech building with the action mat that I had. Despite the end score, the second game did feel very close and tense throughout.
All in all, two really fun games. Will hopefully be getting around the table next weekend with 4 or 5 of us to see how we go with the higher play count which I cant wait for.
I’ve got to say thankyou to Jamey and the team for pulling together a great game. Beautiful, strategic and I can already tell it is so rich in replayability with the combos of players, mats, # of players etc. I’ll hopefully take on the Automa soon to see how I fare. I came across the game late and missed the whole kickstarter campaign but I’ve already ordered all the premium upgrades of realistic resources, coins, invaders from afar, extra cards etc as when you have a game like this, the extra cash is nothing when it makes it a richer experience for the hundreds of play throughs this game will get in its lifetime in my hands.
I know the reprints should be making their way out to everyone soon so hopefully if you’ve read this while waiting for your delivery, hope you have a fun first outing on your table top too.
Good report, thanks for it!
With both of my playings being with other peoples' copies and the rules explained to me, I had no idea that the bottom boards were themed, much less that they had titled themes (Political, Agricultural, etc.). In fact I'd never even noticed that they had background illustrations!
Is there someplace on the boards that lists these titles? Never mind, I just spotted the titles in question from your pics. I'll have to remember this the next time I play, and see if my board title gives me a better idea of how to play that board.
In my first game, not surprisingly, I utterly failed to capitalize on the synergy of my board (whatever it may have been!). In the second, I at least understood that there was a synergy, and tried to capitalize on it, but it took too long. I guess you could say I now understood what my options were, but tried to do them all instead of picking which ones I would do.
Then I ended up being the punching bag for Saxony when they went on the warpath; the Crimean Khanate player (or was it Russviet? I was Polania) was clearly in the lead, and would arguably have been the logical target, but it may be that Saxony simply recognized that everyone but Crimea was competing for first loser at that point.
- Last edited Sun Oct 23, 2016 5:46 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sun Oct 23, 2016 5:44 am
Cheers for reading.
Yeah the interactions between the different player boards and action boards is definitely what gives the game some great longevity in giving so many combinations for you to play. In the second game I had, the combination of cheap upgrades and mech building on my mat, combined with the resources of my home area worked really well (despite the end result).
It's a great feeling when you string 2 or 3 turns in a row when you get to do both top and bottom actions. You really feel the success of your work over the turns before to set it up