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Subject: Two sessions Review (I want a copy now!!! :) ) rss

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Bernardo Gonzalez
United States
Kirkland
Washington
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Background

I like board games, however I’m no way an expert. This last weekend a friend, John, invited me to a local event in WA called Sasquatch and also suggested that we play the game. I don’t own a copy (I want one btw ), thus to ramp-up one game he recommended me the ‘watch it played’ video and learn the rules. I did, and also saw two other play throughs.

Sessions

I got early to the event (wife and kids are out of town ), John and friends were not there, but a Scythe game was starting, thus I jumped into it. My first impression is that the game is well produced and the art is impressive (see the summary review). Pieces there and here, we set up the game and went through the rules. I found that even if I did not know the game, the rules seemed easy to understand, there are no convoluted rules to keep track for (also see summary review at the end).

The first game was a blast, however I got some rules wrong. I got the yellow faction (don’t remember the name). Some of the mistakes were: I triggered the Enlist bonus for every top action too, all factions started with 2 combat cards (which benefitted my faction a ton) and as move action we moved the same piece twice. I ended up winning with 94 points, but I don’t count it as a win modest. Many of the people enjoyed it, though.

Second game was with John and friends. This time I was the black faction. This time I believe I did not made rule mistakes. The first thing I did was go to the encounter chit and got a buiding,A Mine, sacrificing popularity (who let the boars out!!! ), then I rushed to the factory. There I got the factory card that lets you build a mech and get one power for 2 coins. I built the mechs as fast as I could. With them, I terrorized other factions. I stole oil from one to build an upgrade (move) and rushed to get all encounter chits I could. I positioned myself to get both goals (the black faction can claim multiple goals and multiple win stars). I did not focus on popularity (I assumed that I was the bad person in the movie devil). The blue faction challenged my supremacy, Brent a good friend, (in fact, he positioned himself in my way and did not want to move , so I moved him), I pushed a mech with two workers (My popularity was in the floor so who cared what the farmers said about me ), and also his character (in another battle). These two wins together with both objectives and building all mechs put me in 5 stars, it was a matter of a few rounds to finish the game. I found a lonely mech from the yellow faction that died under the foot of the black faction. In this game, I had a blast, but I think other players were dumbfounded about how quickly and aggressively my faction (it was not me , it was the faction I say!!!) overtook them. Maybe it was luck (found the building through the encounter card, then the factory card gave me quick access to mechs), but there was little they could do to stop me. This lets me to believe that there might be a way of over-utilizing battles, maybe a battle rush strategy, and seriously unbalance the game, more if you are the black faction, and you happen not to care for popularity. If you time it, you can destroy your enemies easily, would need to play it more to get there.

Summary Review

Production/Art: 9/10

Amazing art. The art of the game is impressive. It not only emotes a new world, but a sense of wonder, these big machines in a rural world, the dichotomy of new vs. old, powerful vs hopelessness. As an artistic proposition, the game immerses the players effectively. Encounter cards, as the main story delivery mechanism, provide quick and powerful context for the player on where people’s lives are at your grasp, you can help or you can advance in your conquest regardless of their well being. The board is beautiful and graphic design is expertly done. Mechs are very well made (maybe these could be better). All in all high production value and impressive art. One thing we did was that every time somebody had an encounter they built a story on what happened and why of their decision (it was mostly me, those evil boars destroyed a village, etc.)

Rules: 8/10

I did not go through the rules booklet in detail, just used it with for some clarifications, because I don’t own the game. However, good game rules, in my mind, are those that are easy to remember, they make sense in the context of the game. These do not take 2 hours to explain, and then 20 games to master. Scythe has a strong design, it is minimalist on some areas, in my experience simple is better, without losing tension and game ‘fun’. However, I found that even experienced players stumbled on some of the rules (how do you calculate final score structure bonus tiles, can workers be carried by characters, movement is of two different pieces or one twice, etc. Small things, but significant.)

Gameplay: 8/10

The game is fun. Action selection is straight forward. There are many paths to take, each faction works in very different ways. There is a definite narrative flow to the game (although I think i broke it on my second game). There is enough variability to make each game different, but also learning curve for experienced players. Having each faction be corralled into an area for a few turns, lets players ramp-up on the game. However,I think there is a potential that the black faction is over powered, they can rush opponents, as there is little consequence to losing battle, you even get a card if you lose and spend at least 1 power. Or maybe this can be extrapolated to other factions, therefore, there might be a potential of a one strategy-to-govern-them-all.

Summary of the summary

Needless to say, I loved the game, maybe because I won the two times, but I honestly believe the game is quite good. I think the potential of a governing strategy might be there, but I heard other players on other games mentioned that this might be an anomaly (I was basically lucky). I really don’t know until I play it more times. My final recommendation is: play the game, immerse yourself into the theme. You will not regret it. Will this game be the ultimately-omega-one-for-all-all-for-one game of all time, well no… but it’s quite good, a definitely buy for me, and will play it again in a heartbeat. I give it a 9/10.
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Joshua Schutte
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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You can actually get all 6 stars in one turn on the black faction, if there are 3 battles you can win in one turn (hard to do, unless other factions have fought each other some). Complete 3 battle stars, get a star for your bottom action below move on your board, and complete 2 objectives (assuming they can be completed off the moves that are also giving you battle stars)all in the same action. 4 is my best with them in one turn (3 battles, 1 objective). With the Saxon's (black) in the game you have to keep your power up, or expect them to try for 3 stars on any upgraded move action. I too am loving the game. My only fear is the more I play the less open strategy will feel as each faction/board gets solved and people come up with the perfect 30ish moves to 6 stars for each one. Terra Mystica avoids this with picking starting locations, with set ones the optimal opening at least will found for each combo.
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Chris Laudermilk
United States
Orange County
California
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FYI, yellow is Crimea and black is Saxony. Also, no boars (yet--the boar is coming in the expansion with Albion); the critter on the Saxony miniature is Nacht the wolf.

You got really fortunate with the factory card--that is a perfect one for Saxony with the quick, easy access to mechs. You did spend your power correctly? That is the potential Achilles heel of Saxony: they get over-aggressive and soon find themselves with no power, depleted combat cards, and several annoyed neighbors.

I'm glad you had fun, it is a very good game. The nice part of the randomness in the setup is that the games will never be exactly alike. There's 25 faction/player mat combos, and you never know which of the factory cards or encounter cards will show up.
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Bernardo Gonzalez
United States
Kirkland
Washington
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Thanks, I did not remember the name of the factions. The Boars joke is because the Factory card that I got said that if you sacrificed popularity you let a heard of boars destroy a village and gain a building. So it became a on-going gag from the beginning of the game, I was the boar king !! .

Yes, the intimidation tactic was more by owning the center of the map and picking up most of the adventure chits, I actually only got into 3 fights. To mitigate the problem of not having too much power, I used multiple mechs on some battles, this lets me use multiple combat cards. Two attacks happen at the same time, one I used a 5 card the other I used two mechs with 2 twos cards. The last fight I also used 2 twos but this time the fight was in a mine hex (this gave the other faction a -2 to their power). Most of my actions in the game were move, build a mech and increment my power. I did very little produce and trade, only enough expand my footprint, upgrade my movement and to do another building.

One thing that I planned, but I ended up not needing it, was to bluff a fight, to force the other faction to spend their own power and/or cards, worse comes to worse I get pushed into my initial city, with a well positioned mine, I could get to the other mech with one move if the mech is in a mine tile. This is where I think The Saxony Faction can be overpowered. With a little planning and using the factory card move, I can rush a player every round, until I either win, or if I loose I get a combat card, and just try it again and again, until I get you. And every win is a star. Might work.

Again I think I was lucky, and maybe stumbled into a advanced strategy where other players were just learning the game. This might not even be possible with more savvy players. I ended up with only 43 points, so not much, just a 9 points above the second place. So the strategy might not be full proof .

Nonetheless I like the game, and wanted to recommend it to everyone.
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Erwin Anciano
Philippines
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I agree that the Germans are overpowered. Jamey says the most powerful in playtestimg is Crimea, but someone I am pretty convinced that someone who knows what he's doing can use Saxons to great effect.

In our first two games the Saxons were the first to hit 6 stars. They are just too fast.
 
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Steve Hajducko
United States
Newbury Park
California
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Saxon's can hit the stars fast, but they don't have anything that helps them gain coins - which all the other factions do, in some indirect way.

In other words, Saxony is the only faction that doesn't have an ability that assists the victory condition. They are the only faction that has an ability geared specifically towards the game-end objective.

Out of all our plays, Saxony has generally finished last or near the bottom.

White ( when he's able to get plenty of encounters ), seems super powerful and has won most of our games, with Blue winning the others.
 
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