Marcel
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My ramblings probably won't add much to all the good stuff that's been said about Jamey Stegmaier's Scythe but here goes:

Strangely, I came to this board game via Jakub Rozalski's facebook posts. I've been dabbling in the digital arts for some years now (nothing of value to be shown / created, sadly ) and had seen a lot of his art over at artstation (https://www.artstation.com/artist/jakubrozalski << amaaaaazing). When I heard about the plans that his 1920's world would soon become part of a board game, I was hooked and have been following the Kickstarter campaign from day one.

When I read that you could even print-'n'-play your own prototype, I flipped tables, filled USB sticks with printable pdfs and drove to the nearest print shop. Strangely, they couldn't get the poster print (6-8 pages) to work, so I went with DINA3 for the map. I bought some sheets of sturdy but thin cardboard and glued the map and player mats to those. They feel like they'll last till next August.

FIRST PLAYTHROUGH


After ooooo-aaaawwing over the beautiful artwork for a while, we quickly pilfered material from Pandemic and an ancient game of Risk that hadn't seen the light of day for a few years. We just stuck some quickly scribbled paper labels onto them to distinguish between buildings.



Regarding (difficulties with the) rules:
As someone who usually plays coop board games such as Eldritch Horror and who had never tried a 4X, I was in for a lot of "Could you re-read the rules again?" or "Did you manage to forget that rule AGAIN??". The rule book
is nicely written and well-designed but we managed to still make some basic mistakes such as using the two move actions to move move one character two hexes(or whatever the plural form is). Even though my play partner has played Agricola or the Civilization board game numerous time, we had problems with wrapping our heads around the recruit token mechanism and didn't use them correctly:

+ we gave ourselves the one-time bonus when enlisting the recruit
+ we gave ourselves another 2 of either money / popularity / cards / power when the opposinng player (in a 2 player game) used the associated bottom-row action
- we forgot to give ourselves the bonus after using our own bottom-row action associated with the recruit

After re-reading the rules, it all seems pretty clear, so it most definitely was a problem on our side (non-native speakers of English). We also didn't manage to finish the game because it got quite late.

"Upgrading" the pnp version: We need MECHS!

After having played with the Risk tokens and having difficulties in spotting the differences between buildings and mechs, I decided to buy some cheap halfdome wood tokens and quickly painted them with my miniature colours (usually reserved for my Imperial Assault minis ).



We're still missing white "mechs" for Polonia but at the moment I don't see us playing with more than four players, so I skipped an additional package of wood tokens.

A friend was kind enough to lend me nicely fitting cube tokens, which are a lot more visible on the board than the Pandemic ones. We also switched out the pink Pandemic cubes, which we had used as encounter tokens, and used green wood tokens. It was coming along nicely!



After a lot of perusal of rules and loads of headscratching ("Which top-/bottom-row action to take?? What to do? What to do??") I won the first game as the Saxony Empire. Gunther and Nacht (love those names ) managed to quickly spew out most of their mechs, upgraded what could be upgraded and were even the first to visit the derelict factory!



We are now using the Pandemic box (with the rest of Pandemic's materials in the "On the Brink" box) to store Scythe.



After this very positive, initial playthrough I decided to go BIGGER with the map. I visited the print shop again and had them print the map in A2, which I (again) sprayed with glue (so much better than liquid glue, which tends to warp the paper a bit) and put on another sheet of card board.



DISCUSSING THE GAME WITH FRIENDS EVEN AFTER THE GAME IS OVER/WON

This time I beat a friend as Polonia (here using the red tokens because I haven't painted white mechs yet). It was an extremely tense game, with me lagging behind for like 10 turns! We discussed what I could've done better, which turns I wasted (taking top-row actions without being able to pay for the bottom-row...) and that I shouldn't have gone north, to the base of the Nordic faction, to have another encounter. "Why, oh WHY didn't you use the tunnel?? You could've crossed to the mountains in the south for an encounter. There's even another one two hexes to the right!?" I can't remember the last time we had such lively discussions about mechanism, position of tokens, mechs and what-have-you, even after we beat the game and were packing it up again!

Finally, our mechs had enough space to visit peasants AND structures on the same hex.



And here's another look at the board and the card board player mats. We don't use any coins, so we have to take note of expenses on a sheet of paper, which doubles as a screen to hide our combat cards behind. Rudimentary, I know, but it works.



TESTING THE AUTOMA

I have to say: Scythe in its multiplayer form alone is worth buying but getting a custom automa, thanks to Morten Monrad Pedersen, that's just the icing on the cake! So: Thank you, mortenmdk!!!

The automa rule book was a bit on the wordy side and it took me a while to wrap my head around the movement of automa units. That the card design in the rule book didn't match the pnp version, didn't help. Thankfully, mortenmdk was kind enough to supply a graphical explanation of the different parts on the automa cards.



My first try was with the board set up but I didn't take any photos and stopped after ~5 rounds because I still had troubles following the rule descriptions. A few days later, I went to tabletopia and managed to play against myself (and the automa) by opening the page in Firefox (because Unity doesn't work in Chrome...) and in the Internet Explorer (yeah, I know... but, hey, I needed another browser!). Geez... even the Autometta is difficult for a worker-placement/4-X game noob like me! After making some stupid turns in the beginning (playing with Russia, I should've been able to get to the factory in lik 5-6 turns..I took my time...), I got bullied by the pretty aggressive Saxony-Automa.



Gunther and Nacht kept marching across the board, swallowing encounters left and right, with the black mechs popping up like shrooms during wet weather. Thanks to low power I lost two battles (star 1+2) against the black horde, then Gunther managed to top out the power track (star 3), pumped out all mechs (star 4) and workers (star 5) and finished me off with the sixth star via the star tracker sheet.



OH, STOP BLABBERING ALREADY: Too long, didn't read..

Theme and artwork: I love this game! The theme is amazing, the artwork gorgeous and you can even make a beautiful pnp version to bridge the gap between funding and actually getting your hands on the real deal.

Encounters, Combat, objectives: We all liked the (sometimes) difficult choices you have to / can make while having encounters. Do I pet the geese or do I feed them to my bear? Am I the nice guy high on popularity or do I desperately need those upgrades / resources and willing to be hated by the plebs? Objectives seemed varied enough and gave incentive to run all over the place(hold 3 tunnels or 3 forest - and I kept wondering why my friend was leaving his base behind and only went for tunnels ). Combat was ok, I guess: I might actually use a seven-sided die instead of the paper-wheely-thingy and then slap cards on the table (if I use them at all).

Replayability (especially thanks to variable player mats): I have no experience with these kinds of games and can only guess at what expert strategists might come up with as "the single best option to start with faction x". I found myself highly entertained, especially thanks to the variable player mats! One time I was getting good amounts of money for building mechs, a game later I was scrambling to build structures. It really gives you a lot of different choices how to structure your game and adapt to the board and the other players.


So... I had loads of fun and cannot wait for another multiplayer round or for another try at beating the automa (on the easiest difficulty no less....)! Thanks, Mr. Stegmaier, for giving us the chance to have so much fun months before this stellar game hits the shelves!

And now excuse me, Gunther, Nacht and my humble self need to pay another visit to that stuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupidly pushy autometta!!!

EDIT:Backed!!! Went for the $79 dollar version. Might still update to $99,who knows.
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Craig C
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Great writeup, and probably the best use of Pandemic in years.
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Marcel
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Hehe I don't know about that: I still enjoy a round of Pandemic from time to time. But before I got my hands on the better fitting wooden tokens, the Pandemic cubes worked nicely.
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S C
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I feel poor Tag the wolf got shafted in this review.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Thank you for trying out the Automa . I've asked Jamey to upload the picture explaining the PnP version of the cards, since you're right that the fact that the card in the rulebook don't match the PnP cards makes it harder to understand what's going on.

The Automa's movement system took a little while for most people to wrap their head around, but as I hoped it starts running quite smoothly after a little while.
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Marcel
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It absolutely did! Like you said in the rule book, after a while you don't have to actively count hexes - choosing those gets very easy and smooth after a few rounds.

And thank you so much, Morten! I've been reading your posts on BGG (regarding automa development) and I still can't fathom how one would go about building such an intricate machinery. When I first read about scheme 1 > 2 change, flipping cards, picking up speed with the pushy automa, it blew my mind! So..thank you for this spectacular game mode. I'll be returning to that bully a LOT!!

(People beating the highest difficulty..how is that even possible? *laughs nervously and chooses "easy" again*)
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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thedarktower wrote:
It absolutely did! Like you said in the rule book, after a while you don't have to actively count hexes - choosing those gets very easy and smooth after a few rounds.

And thank you so much, Morten! I've been reading your posts on BGG (regarding automa development) and I still can't fathom how one would go about building such an intricate machinery. When I first read about scheme 1 > 2 change, flipping cards, picking up speed with the pushy automa, it blew my mind! So..thank you for this spectacular game mode. I'll be returning to that bully a LOT!!


blush

thedarktower wrote:
(People beating the highest difficulty..how is that even possible? *laughs nervously and chooses "easy" again*)


I unfortunately have no clue - I don't think I could do it .
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Chris Laudermilk
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Great write-up. I'm trying to decide if it's more of a session report or a review.

It's amusing that we had the same thoughts on some part scrounging. I also am using my Pandemic disease cubes for resources, and the purples for encounter tokens. Not the best, but it works for now.
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Marcel
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Not only the same but exactly the same thoughts, it seems: We went with purple for encounters, blue for metal, black for oil (obviously! ), yellow for food and red for wood.

And, yep, I wasn't sure about what category would fit my post best. I went with "session" because I thought it wasn't in-depth enough for a review. *shrugs* whistle I'm glad you liked it!
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Chris Laudermilk
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thedarktower wrote:
Not only the same but exactly the same thoughts, it seems: We went with purple for encounters, blue for metal, black for oil (obviously! ), yellow for food and red for wood.

And, yep, I wasn't sure about what category would fit my post best. I went with "session" because I thought it wasn't in-depth enough for a review. *shrugs* whistle I'm glad you liked it!


surprise Yes, exactly. That is the color assignment I went with. Great minds think alike. Now, you just need to up your pledge to realistic tokens, too... whistle
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Joe Pilkus
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Marcel,

Great write-up! If the art, gameplay, and Jamey's ethical outlook to design and production weren't enough for a "must buy" response, Mort's Automa made it an exceptionally worthwhile game, as I play solo mode for many, many games.

Cheers,
Joe
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G. Michael Bridge
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thedarktower wrote:


Gunther and Nacht kept marching across the board, swallowing encounters left and right, with the black mechs popping up like shrooms during wet weather. Thanks to low power I lost two battles (star 1+2) against the black horde, then Gunther managed to top out the power track (star 3), pumped out all mechs (star 4) and workers (star 5) and finished me off with the sixth star via the star tracker sheet.


pretty sure the Automa doesn't get stars for mech or worker deployments -- the only 'on board' things that give it stars are combat & maxing the power track, all other stars come from the star tracker card.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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mikebridge wrote:
thedarktower wrote:


Gunther and Nacht kept marching across the board, swallowing encounters left and right, with the black mechs popping up like shrooms during wet weather. Thanks to low power I lost two battles (star 1+2) against the black horde, then Gunther managed to top out the power track (star 3), pumped out all mechs (star 4) and workers (star 5) and finished me off with the sixth star via the star tracker sheet.


pretty sure the Automa doesn't get stars for mech or worker deployments -- the only 'on board' things that give it stars are combat & getting maxing the power track, all other stars come from the star tracker card.


You're right combat, power, and the star tracker is the only things that gives the Automa stars.
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David Studley
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mortenmdk wrote:
mikebridge wrote:
thedarktower wrote:


Gunther and Nacht kept marching across the board, swallowing encounters left and right, with the black mechs popping up like shrooms during wet weather. Thanks to low power I lost two battles (star 1+2) against the black horde, then Gunther managed to top out the power track (star 3), pumped out all mechs (star 4) and workers (star 5) and finished me off with the sixth star via the star tracker sheet.


pretty sure the Automa doesn't get stars for mech or worker deployments -- the only 'on board' things that give it stars are combat & getting maxing the power track, all other stars come from the star tracker card.


You're right combat, power, and the star tracker is the only things that gives the Automa stars.


We talked about this briefly in the comments of the campaign. Marcel is going to have an easier go next time he challenges Autometta. Go get 'em Marcel!
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Marcel
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I did it! Seventh time's the charm! I beat (don't you dare and laugh!) the Automa! Ok, ok, only on Autometta (easiest difficulty) but hey, for an 4x-beginner like me, it's a start!

Tabletopia table at the end of the game:


And yes: this time I only game the Automa stars for reaching the maximum power level - no need for the other two possible stars because I CRUSHED it in battle (once ).

So, I managed to beat the encroaching Saxon horde once in combat, was the first to the factory and quickly racked up upgrades. This time I tried to accumulate as much popularity and favours with the plebs as I could, after another player on Kickstarter was SO appalled at my super-low popularity ranking at the end of my last game.

Sooo... if I haven't counted wrong, I beat the Automa by 19 coins. (If someone wants to check, I didn't put the coins down in Tabletopia: at the end I had 5 coins, Automa had 15)

And this, ladies and gents, is why I love SCYTHE: High replayability and loads of options! This time I didn't go for any buildings (and I only wanted to build the mill adjacent to a lake to get the measly 2 points for it but didn't even manage that!). Last time I had constructed all 4 structures at the end but hadn't recruited any / all recruits. Did I immediately go for Riverwalk Mechs? Nope! I used my Russian faction power to skip town and instantly went to the factory. Options, options, options - and so on and so forth.

Thanks to the variable action mats, faction powers and starting positions, no game really felt the same - and this is just counting the seven games against the automa! I haven't even gotten five players to sit down and tackle Scythe, which will be different box of frogs altogether.


PS: And with 26 hours to go on the Kickstarter campaign, I finally broke down and upgraded to the Collector's edition. Mah poor, poor wallet.....crywhistlelaugh
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