Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 Hide
20 Posts

Scythe» Forums » General

Subject: Is this game trying too many things? If not, how hard is it to learn? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Colin Atkinson
United States
flag msg tools
The subject title is my main message.

Now let me clarify by first saying that I had seen Jakub Rozalski’s alternate 1920's artwork before, so when I saw this game on KS I was delighted to see such amazing work being incorporated into a game (with some epic mech figures to boot!). However, after seeing the components and giving the rules a quick rundown, I can't help but feel rather overwhelmed. There's resource management, varying actions every turn, and a bunch of different decks all with different rules and effects (not to mention that overloaded looking board). Just looking at the components list makes me a little dizzy, and the rules are rather long as well. It looks like the game might be trying to incorporate too many elements/mechanics than it should. Am I wrong about this?

If I am, then how complicated is this game for the less hardcore board gamers? I'm not against a game being on the more complicated side, but I don't have many friends that are willing to learn something too complicated. It doesn't have to be the learning difficulty of Settlers of Catan, but if the start-up is painfully slow, they might quickly lose interest and stop having fun. So, is this game actually not that hard to teach others, particularly those from a more casual to semi-hardcore level? Or will it require a pretty steep learning curve for such players? I know the rules say to not try and teach new players every rule, but I can't help but wonder if new players will just be shooting in the dark for a good while what with all their action choices and seemingly overwhelming info on the board, play mats, etc. That's not a bad thing of course if everyone playing is new to the game, but if the players are mixed with experience, I worry that those who already know the game will easily steamroll the newbies. Am I wrong about this? Do most people, from hardcore, to semi-hardcore, to casual, pick up the game well, or will less board game savvy groups have a good deal of trouble?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Larry L
United States
Stockton
California
flag msg tools
He who games with the most dice wins.
badge
I + I = 0
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It seems to me that a lot of thought has been put into making the game easy to learn. There are specific guidelines to help new players learn the game and the game seems to start out without every option on the table.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J Kaemmer
United States
Iowa City
Iowa
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In Stonemaier Games' Past titles they have achieved a lovely "easy to learn; hard to master" state. Their games are all very simple mechanics that are easy to learn, the difficulty is in optimizing WHEN to do things and in what order. It may seem like there is a lot going on in Scythe but I bet like Euphoria, a lot of the "busy"-ness in the design is just flair and that you will be able to grasp the mechanics fairly easily. Keep in mind Jamey has run HUNDREDS of play-tests and since he stresses intuitive and natural game play in his design I highly doubt it will be particularly overwhelming even to the boardgame novice (at least not any worse than games with similar play-times/weights)
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Benjamin Lindvall
United States
Bismarck
North Dakota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Scythe looks very much to be a "gamer's game" to me. I wouldn't dream of trying to teach it to my Mom and Dad, for example. However I did teach them Between 2 Cities and that went fine. Between 2 Cities is pretty light. Scythe is definitely on the heavier end of the scale. I expect it to be on the order of Terra Mystica in terms of weight.

If someone had never played a Euro style game before, or any "modern" board games, I would think Scythe would not be the place to start.

All that being said... Jamey has already thought of these concerns. There are "quick start cards" being included that give you a way to wade into the game and gradually try out each mechanic without having to worry about everything at once. I suspect those could be quite useful for your group while learning. They essentially give you suggestions on general strategy to do for the first several turns.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua R
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
GO TO JAPAN!
badge
Artist: Shohei Otomo
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
JumboCactaur wrote:
All that being said... Jamey has already thought of these concerns. There are "quick start cards" being included that give you a way to wade into the game and gradually try out each mechanic without having to worry about everything at once. I suspect those could be quite useful for your group while learning. They essentially give you suggestions on general strategy to do for the first several turns.

When running the playtests at GenCon, Jamey did something like this in person. There was about a 5-minute (maybe less) overview of the rules and goals, then he went around the table and took each of our first turns for us, taking a different action with each player. By the time he finished that first round, we were able to start playing ourselves.

So I'm confident that the mechanism for wading into the game will be good for teaching. That said, it's definitely an "easy to teach, hard to master" sort of thing because of all the options available. Strategy is something people just have to work out for themselves.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scot Duvall
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
colin9102 wrote:
... how complicated is this game for the less hardcore board gamers? I'm not against a game being on the more complicated side, but I don't have many friends that are willing to learn something too complicated.

Colin -- I playtested this with a fourth grader. To be sure, it was the most complicated game he had ever tried. But by the second game, the gameplay was smooth, and by the third play, he had figured out a winning strategy.

I'm not saying that newbies couldn't be overwhelmed, but the game can be taught. The rules are streamlined and they reinforce the theme, so are easy to remember. There are few if any significant rules-exceptions.

I had never had the gumption to play any 4x game prior to Scythe. Jamey's design was so inviting, so immersive, and so fun, my fears of intimidation were resolved very quickly. And this was with a prototype, no cool mechs, no cool characters. Jamey and Jakob have created a work of art.

I encourage you to look at the details on the Kickstarter page. There is a reason that so many backers have decided they want a copy of Scythe (and perhaps a book of Jakob's artwork and backstory).
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JR Honeycutt
United States
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
We thought it was really easy to learn, especially considering the complexity.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Watson
United States
Barrington
Rhode Island
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
jayahre wrote:
We thought it was really easy to learn, especially considering the complexity.


Nicely put - and, I suspect, accurately put also.

Andrew (PnP-Fu not up to playing Scythe yet, but should try it on Tabletopia).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael nut
Australia
Canberra
ACT
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I playtested this a few times and would say the following:
The mechanics are extremely easy to learn, you have a player mat with four actions on it, you choose an action and (if you want and can afford it) take the bonus action on the bottom.
There are four resources you need to pay for a variety of things, move a worker(s), harvest the resources, buy the thing.
Winner is the person who has the best combination of popularity, resources and areas at the end of the game.
Fundamentally, that's it. Doing all those things effectively and in the most efficient manner comes with repeat plays and a deeper understanding of the game but you could set it up with a table of newbies (to the game, not so much to gaming) and everyone can muddle through together fairly easily.

I wouldn't put in anywhere near Terra Mystica on the complexity scale. Definitely similar in terms of strategy and efficiency of your engine in the long term but far easier to learn and get started.

I would definitely put it in the easy to learn, difficult to master category.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve
United States
Manteca
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is my one and only concern. Even though I do not mind heavier games, my game group does not like them as much and prefers to not venture too far from entry level because of the time commitment most heavier games have. Plus we have 1 player that can be pretty AP and no I cannot stop playing with the person because I happen to be married to her lol. I am going to try it out for myself tonight, but for those who have played it and the games below, where might the difficulty to play/learn the game fall on this scale: (I know it's pretty arbitrary but I am trying to pick games others in my group would know and like already to gage complexity/difficulty to learn)

1. Uno
3. Catan
5. Flash Point/Tiny Epic Kingdoms
7. Zombicide
8. Fantasy Frontier
10. Battlestar Galactica/Xcom/Dead of Winter/Xenoshyft

11....Its harder than all of these games.
Edit: also do you think blood rage could fill the void this game is working to fill in some respect or not even close to similar?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eagle Farm
msg tools
Having played the print and play a few times, this game is mechanically easy to learn (since you have just a few choices on your turn) with fast turns. You do have a lot of specific rules to apply (although they are generally on the player boards).

But on first play it is not at all obvious what strategy you should be following. The first few games are really just going to be learning the mechanics by randomly choosing options and starting to form some ideas of what you should be doing in future games.

I certainly hope someone with experience will steamroll a new player - since otherwise this game doesn't have the depth I hope it will have!

So this is not a game I would bring out with the casual players that I game with. They are happy with games like Sushi Go, Between Two Cities, King of Tokyo or Ticket to Ride. This feels way beyond those games.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt S
United States
Sharpsburg
GA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
fubarbox wrote:

1. Uno
3. Catan
5. Flash Point/Tiny Epic Kingdoms
7. Zombicide [5]
8. Fantasy Frontier [6.5]
10. Battlestar Galactica/Xcom/Dead of Winter/Xenoshyft [9]
11....Its harder than all of these games.


Going to try and use your scale here, again with my arbitrary understanding of how difficult you feel these games are and how difficult I think they are. I would put Scythe somewhere between 8 and 9. Meaning that the first time you play it will most likely be a 9 and then after that move to a 8. I will say that I have played almost everything in your arbitrary list and I find my rating of them would be lower. However the number I gave for Scythe is on your scale mine would put it at a 7.5.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Broadbent
United States
Covington
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In terms of heaviness (sorry Steve - I haven't played any of your heavy examples), I would rate it well below Terra Mystica and about par with Concordia. When I say that, I am considering # of things to keep in mind, selection of ways to score points, and player interaction. It overwhelms my wife in terms of information overload, but even our less serious gamer friends were able to figure out how to play.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
* J *
Australia
Canberra
ACT
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think the strategy is on a par with Terra Mystica. On each turn, for each opposing player, you might take into consideration: faction-specific abilities; unlocked faction board abilities; how many opposing mechs are on the board, their access to tunnels and riverwalk; what resources everyone has; what area of their player board everyone used last; territory control; your hidden objectives; your popularity/power vs that of the other players; your stars and how close the end of the game is. You can also try to read which objectives the other players are going for (and think about sabotaging them!). There is a lot to think about! The engine building can also be tricky, if you want to maximise your use of the bottom actions.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve
United States
Manteca
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks everyone. The scale is arbitrary, but your response helped me get a feel for where you are coming from. I know nothing on my scale is overly difficult or super heavy, but I do know we had trouble with BSG and Fantasy Frontier, but I am sure that was 100% because of the rule book. BSG is actually a pretty light game once the basic rules click. But play time also factors into that "Heavy" feeling for my group. So Unless I am playing with just my wife, I need to factor it in and 3hr BSG games are their absolute limit heh. I really think I just need to get my PnP played to make a real decision. It is nice knowing what I am getting into though. Any thoughts on the Blood Rage question? Also do you think this game is a major hurdle for players that have minor to medium Ap?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
* J *
Australia
Canberra
ACT
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There is a rule on p28, Re. delays to the game when counting coins, where the offending player is fined popularity. You could apply it to AP players too.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt S
United States
Sharpsburg
GA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
fubarbox wrote:
I really think I just need to get my PnP played to make a real decision. It is nice knowing what I am getting into though. Any thoughts on the Blood Rage question? Also do you think this game is a major hurdle for players that have minor to medium Ap?


I completely missed the Blood Rage question. I strongly recommend Blood Rage, it is however in a different category. It has more of a fixed length of play which seems important for not running long in your group. Lots of good decisions to be made which is hard because you want to do them all. Combat is heavier in this, no exploration / encounters, and there is technically no resources to manage.

As for the PnP for Scythe, also very worth it. I took my PnP to my game group and the first play which included me teaching it to 4 others took about 2 and a half hours. Of which maybe a good 20 - 30 min explanation and questions before starting. I would rate the AP for this game as medium, but it is mitigated by quick turns with one of your actions limited (except for the Rusviet).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bob Freeber
msg tools
mbmbmb
Part of the beauty of Scythe is that it is not at all complex to learn but you can take it fairly deep. The game plays to the level of your group. If you have big strategists they will dig into neutralizing the competition. If you all like to kick back and produce, it's mostly going to let you.

As far as AP goes, I am their King. Scythe really doesn't penalize you irreparably for a mistake. Several dumb moves will cost you the game in the end, but you really shouldn't ever feel as if the next 30 minute of your life are pointless.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Laudermilk
United States
Orange County
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've barely gotten into playing myself (just about a dozen turns before running out of time). I found that while upon first glance the game is visually overwhelming, once you sit down and take a look at the board it quickly becomes clear what is going on. Every hex has an icon showing what it type is with a matching quick reference, so "oh, that's a forest space and that's a tundra space, so I can produce wood there and oil over there." After that the little type code icons jump out oat you all over the board. Then I looked at a mine space & noted the red outline, and BOOM! I saw the nice circle of spaces jump out of the board at me--immediate understanding. The rivers took a bit longer as they are in the artwork & more subtle. So, the game mechanic iconography is in-obtrusive, but once you spot it, easy to reference. Jamey & Jakub struck a great balance there--put Jakub's awesome artwork on display but still convey the needed game mechanics.

All the decks of cards quickly become clear & not so much of an overload once you see what they are all for--and that two decks are effectively used once in setup, then only a handful of those cards are in play for the game.

You quickly see that turns are quick & simple. One action, selected from 3 options (4 excluding the one you took last time). You do your one thing and you're done. I have not explored them all, but each seems fairly straighforward.

So, a lot to take in upon initial exposure, then fairly simple mechanics for each moving part, and it seems deeper strategy from then on.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Colin Atkinson
United States
flag msg tools
Wow, that was a lot of responses rather quickly, but I'm not entirely surprised either with the popularity this game's been getting.

Thanks for all of the input everyone! I'm glad to hear the game's not as hard as it looks. I may just have to add my own pledge now.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.