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Subject: Scythe - Initial Impressions rss

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Hello Everyone,

This is my first review on BGG. It's not so much a review as it is a few first impressions.

My brother and I got Scythe to the table last night for our first game. It was just the two of us and I hope to get some more players in the near future. I played as the Rusviets and he as Polonia.

I usually like to get a few plays of a game under my belt before I come to any conclusions about a game but this one seems to be on the Hype Express so I can't help but form an opinion in this early stage of playing.


Things I Like:

- The Art - This seems obvious, but the art really is fantastic in this game.

- The Player Mats - I really like that each combination of player mat and faction mat is unique. I was actually surprised by how different our actions could play out. I really like the Upgrade mechanic.

- The Miniatures - The miniatures are pretty cool. The level of detail is not as high as other miniature I own, but each faction is certainly unique.

- The Encounter Cards - I really liked the encounter cards. I felt that they were flavorful and a few times had a tough decision to make.

- The Resources - Basically everything is a resource.

- The Combat - This is sort of related to the above. I really like that Power is spent during combat. One big attack can leave you vulnerable for a while while you build your resources back up.

- The Rules - The game really is simple at its core. There are not a bunch of exceptions to the rules and it doesn't seem fiddly.


Things I Don't Really Like:

- The Combat - I know this is not necessarily a combat heavy game. At one point in our game, my brother attacked me on a Mine space and won. The next turn, I decided to move my Character from another mine into the space he just took over. I won. All this really did for each of us was placing our second combat stars on the board. It just didn't seem to matter much.

- The Encounter Cards - Sometimes the option to take just seemed really obvious.

- The Late Game - After our fourth or fifth stars were placed, it just seemed like a bunch of repetitive actions, racing to the finish. I had a Factory card that let me turn 1 Power into 2 Popularity and had upgraded my Bolster action to get me 3 Power at a time. I just sat there bolstering for a bit and then change my Power into Popularity for a number of turns until I got the star for it and ended the game.



I feel like this game is not necessarily deserving of all the hype thrown around with early reviews. I don't think it is a bad game by any means. I mostly enjoyed my first game, but something just seemed lacking to me.

I like the theme and the mechanisms in this game. Everything has a nice interplay to it. Everything seems fluid.

I like that the starting positions and the factions lead you down a path, but also somewhat dislike being pigeon holed into that strategy. I guess I was just expecting some more freedom to chose a strategy, not work within a predetermined framework.

I just can't help but feel a bit underwhelmed with this first play. For what you are doing, collecting resources and turning those resources into "stuff", I think that there are other games I would rather play.

Obviously I've listed more things I like than those that I dislike. I think is is a decent game, just not an awesome game.

Hopefully, additional plays will change this initial impression and allow me to appreciate the game some more. Until then, I sort of feel like I got suckered into a purchase thanks to the hype.
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Sky Zero
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Good review and fair points. For me, the biggest concern I have is it seems early to mid-game are almost always playing out the same. In a game of optimization and boundary limiting advancements, it unfortunately boxes you into a predestined engine build. Hopefully future expansions fix that because I really enjoy the streamlined nature of the mechanics.
 
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Dave Moser
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These are all reasonable first game impressions, but I hope you'll find a bit more to love as you get more experience. You should also take a look at the excellent series of faction-specific analyses that have been posted in the Strategy section of the forum. They cover the obvious things that each faction can do well, but also do a great job of exploring some less obvious ideas that can work well, so you never need to feel "pigeon-holed" into a single path based on who you play as.

I particularly noticed your description of the end game:

educatedgravy wrote:
After our fourth or fifth stars were placed, it just seemed like a bunch of repetitive actions, racing to the finish. ... I just sat there bolstering for a bit and then change my Power into Popularity for a number of turns until I got the star for it and ended the game.


This is different than my impression of the end game, which is that it takes time to arrive but then accelerates rapidly. I still have a lot to absorb, but one thing I've realized is that once someone gets a fourth star out, it's time to scramble - figure out how to get one or two more stars yourself, and try to spread your units out to claim territory. On average, I'd estimate that once the 4th start for a single player is placed, I only get 3 to 4 more turns in the game. Not enough time to just repetitively churn some action combo the way you describe. Not saying it can't happen, just that it sounds like a problem that goes away with more experienced players.


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ParisianDreams
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dmoser22 wrote:


{...}

educatedgravy wrote:
After our fourth or fifth stars were placed, it just seemed like a bunch of repetitive actions, racing to the finish. ... I just sat there bolstering for a bit and then change my Power into Popularity for a number of turns until I got the star for it and ended the game.


This is different than my impression of the end game, which is that it takes time to arrive but then accelerates rapidly. I still have a lot to absorb, but one thing I've realized is that once someone gets a fourth star out, it's time to scramble - figure out how to get one or two more stars yourself, and try to spread your units out to claim territory. On average, I'd estimate that once the 4th start for a single player is placed, I only get 3 to 4 more turns in the game. Not enough time to just repetitively churn some action combo the way you describe. Not saying it can't happen, just that it sounds like a problem that goes away with more experienced players.



After just 2 plays, I've noticed the same as Dave. There is not a lot of time to just jump between two action spaces on your player mat and do the same 2 repeatedly. Once that 4th star is out, the game is easily over in just 3-4 turns.
 
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Sky Zero
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dmoser22 wrote:
These are all reasonable first game impressions, but I hope you'll find a bit more to love as you get more experience. You should also take a look at the excellent series of faction-specific analyses that have been posted in the Strategy section of the forum.



A player CANNOT win without Riverwalk. One of a number examples of scripted engine building.

A better approach (IMO) would have been all factions start with their specific Riverwalk ability. THEN AS AN UPGRADE, the faction can upgrade to Riverwalk over any terrain.

In the scenario above, I'm not scripted to get Riverwalk if I actually want to do more than sit on three hexes the entire game or win for that matter. I can win without it.

If something "must" be done as a progression step each game then it should be part of the base rules. Unfortunately for me, the number of "must do's" are racking up quickly the more I play making it starting to feel very much the same.
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Philip Morton
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skyzero wrote:
A player CANNOT win without Riverwalk. One of a number examples of scripted engine building.

I won my last game without Riverwalk. (Granted, it was with Nords, and the workers were definitely hopping across some rivers on their own.)

I've had games as Polania where I went with a tunnel first to get out of my opening territory instead of Riverwalk. Russviet usually gets out with Township, though I usually see them pick up Riverwalk eventually too (since they've got a nice secluded farm area accessible with it). I've seen both Nords and Polania get their lake-walking first instead of Riverwalk. Saxons have the mountain-to-tunnel thing they could go with.

Crimea is the only one I'd agree basically has to use Riverwalk, though I haven't given Wayfare much of a chance so far.
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Sky Zero
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Chrondeath wrote:
skyzero wrote:
A player CANNOT win without Riverwalk. One of a number examples of scripted engine building.

I won my last game without Riverwalk. (Granted, it was with Nords, and the workers were definitely hopping across some rivers on their own.)

I've had games as Polania where I went with a tunnel first to get out of my opening territory instead of Riverwalk. Russviet usually gets out with Township, though I usually see them pick up Riverwalk eventually too (since they've got a nice secluded farm area accessible with it). I've seen both Nords and Polania get their lake-walking first instead of Riverwalk. Saxons have the mountain-to-tunnel thing they could go with.

Crimea is the only one I'd agree basically has to use Riverwalk, though I haven't given Wayfare much of a chance so far.


Typing on an IPAd and paraphrasing, but yes, I mean Riverwalk as in the ability to cross rivers or lakes in some form. Not literally the mech ability. The incarnation in the game is mechanical and scripted to the engine build.

Don't get me wrong, really enjoy the game, just hoping an expansion comes along that creates a bit more open-endedness and diversity between factions starting the game and interaction with the board.
 
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Isaac Thimbleby
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skyzero wrote:

A player CANNOT win without Riverwalk. One of a number examples of scripted engine building.


I won my only game so far, by over 40 points in a 5 player game, without ever getting riverwalk. Nor did I ever build my mine - I was the Nords, and I would still have won (and possibly by an even greater margin) even if I hadn't spent a couple of turns building two mechs.

Arguably we are all noobs, but between the Nordic ability and lake walk (which I used once) I wasn't even remotely tempted.
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Daniel West
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skyzero wrote:
Chrondeath wrote:
skyzero wrote:
A player CANNOT win without Riverwalk. One of a number examples of scripted engine building.

I won my last game without Riverwalk. (Granted, it was with Nords, and the workers were definitely hopping across some rivers on their own.)

I've had games as Polania where I went with a tunnel first to get out of my opening territory instead of Riverwalk. Russviet usually gets out with Township, though I usually see them pick up Riverwalk eventually too (since they've got a nice secluded farm area accessible with it). I've seen both Nords and Polania get their lake-walking first instead of Riverwalk. Saxons have the mountain-to-tunnel thing they could go with.

Crimea is the only one I'd agree basically has to use Riverwalk, though I haven't given Wayfare much of a chance so far.


Typing on an IPAd and paraphrasing, but yes, I mean Riverwalk as in the ability to cross rivers or lakes in some form. Not literally the mech ability. The incarnation in the game is mechanical and scripted to the engine build.

Don't get me wrong, really enjoy the game, just hoping an expansion comes along that creates a bit more open-endedness and diversity between factions starting the game and interaction with the board.
I'm glad you clarified, because I was about to vehemently disagree as well. I see that initial boundary as a way to get the game ramped up a bit, and allow players to start their engines without other players trying a zerg rush approach, since some factions start with metal while others don't.
 
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Erwin Anciano
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Chrondeath wrote:
skyzero wrote:
A player CANNOT win without Riverwalk. One of a number examples of scripted engine building.

I won my last game without Riverwalk. (Granted, it was with Nords, and the workers were definitely hopping across some rivers on their own.)

I've had games as Polania where I went with a tunnel first to get out of my opening territory instead of Riverwalk. Russviet usually gets out with Township, though I usually see them pick up Riverwalk eventually too (since they've got a nice secluded farm area accessible with it). I've seen both Nords and Polania get their lake-walking first instead of Riverwalk. Saxons have the mountain-to-tunnel thing they could go with.

Crimea is the only one I'd agree basically has to use Riverwalk, though I haven't given Wayfare much of a chance so far.



I have to ask how this is done. I have not had much experience with the game yet, but I can't imagine winning the game without Riverwalk. Being constrained to just your three starting hexes feels doomed to failure unless you are fighting against newbs who don't quite get the game yet.

Nords obviously can mitigate this somewhat with their peasants moving around, but it has to be really hard to do.


I also noticed there's an achievement on the Achievement Sheet that has "Win without building a Mech." How hard must that be?! Well I guess if you get the perfect storm of the right player board and starting resources and possible objectives as well it can be done, but it feels like such a difficult proposition.

I would like to try it in our next session and any advice you can offer would help.
 
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Gareth Roberts
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Mochana wrote:
Chrondeath wrote:
skyzero wrote:
A player CANNOT win without Riverwalk. One of a number examples of scripted engine building.

I won my last game without Riverwalk. (Granted, it was with Nords, and the workers were definitely hopping across some rivers on their own.)

I've had games as Polania where I went with a tunnel first to get out of my opening territory instead of Riverwalk. Russviet usually gets out with Township, though I usually see them pick up Riverwalk eventually too (since they've got a nice secluded farm area accessible with it). I've seen both Nords and Polania get their lake-walking first instead of Riverwalk. Saxons have the mountain-to-tunnel thing they could go with.

Crimea is the only one I'd agree basically has to use Riverwalk, though I haven't given Wayfare much of a chance so far.



I have to ask how this is done. I have not had much experience with the game yet, but I can't imagine winning the game without Riverwalk. Being constrained to just your three starting hexes feels doomed to failure unless you are fighting against newbs who don't quite get the game yet.

Nords obviously can mitigate this somewhat with their peasants moving around, but it has to be really hard to do.


I also noticed there's an achievement on the Achievement Sheet that has "Win without building a Mech." How hard must that be?! Well I guess if you get the perfect storm of the right player board and starting resources and possible objectives as well it can be done, but it feels like such a difficult proposition.

I would like to try it in our next session and any advice you can offer would help.


You aren't constrained to the start tiles without river-walk

You can build a mine on one of your start tiles giving you access to all tunnel spaces and therefore the rest of the board

or you can take your faction mobility option township, seaworthy etc and use that to get yourself out of the start area.


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educatedgravy wrote:
I mostly enjoyed my first game, but something just seemed lacking to me.
I think you were mostly lacking more players. While some may enjoy Scythe with two players, it's not the game at its best.
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Matthias Reitberger
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dmoser22 wrote:


I particularly noticed your description of the end game:

educatedgravy wrote:
After our fourth or fifth stars were placed, it just seemed like a bunch of repetitive actions, racing to the finish. ... I just sat there bolstering for a bit and then change my Power into Popularity for a number of turns until I got the star for it and ended the game.


This is different than my impression of the end game, which is that it takes time to arrive but then accelerates rapidly. I still have a lot to absorb, but one thing I've realized is that once someone gets a fourth star out, it's time to scramble - figure out how to get one or two more stars yourself, and try to spread your units out to claim territory. On average, I'd estimate that once the 4th start for a single player is placed, I only get 3 to 4 more turns in the game. Not enough time to just repetitively churn some action combo the way you describe. Not saying it can't happen, just that it sounds like a problem that goes away with more experienced players.




I would even say that if someone gets his 4th star out you have to consider if this is maybe your last turn.
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