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Subject: Scythe: A good game with one fatal flaw (how the game ends) and one superior competing classic game (Wallenstein) rss

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Michael Frost

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Scythe obviously has taken much of the gaming world by storm. Review after review after review has been posted here. And most are positive. Many in the extreme. But looking them over I think many skimp on a discussion of three critical areas:

First, how does it compare to the best other games out there? Many reviewers mention more recent games like Kemet (heavy on the fighting and area control) and Terra Mystica (beautiful board & pieces with interesting factions doing interesting things for a variety of VPs). But one game seems to get passed over: Wallenstein (rethemed as Shogun, set in Japan), where you play out two early years of the European 30 Years' War in the 1620s. I wonder how many Scythe players have ever played this game? Or realize how in so many ways the two games cover the same areas but in entirely different ways?

Second, is it just plain "fun" to play? Of course, "fun" can mean something different to anyone. But often "fun" means exciting interactions by players during the game as well as a sense of excitement expressed during the game (e.g., laughter, conversation, role playing by the players themselves). Here Scythe tends to have players hunched over their own player board, surveying their next 1-3 turns. Only periodically looking out on the big board. Often, esp. in the beginning, just focused on their small part of the board. As each faction starts out in its own area, with no immediate interaction of factions. And those factions don't ever have to truly interact if they don't want to. Fighting is less prevalent than many players think. And very unsatisfyingly done and resolved. Losers just slink back home. There just isn't that much pure joy coming from the mouths and looks of the players during the game. It often comes across more as solitaire. With maybe a flurry or two of serious action when one player launches out and engages in multiple combats or otherwise does something that is truly unexpected. But otherwise, just more of the same, over and over: take the top action and then also take a bottom action (if you've planned out your action well in advance). All to build that engine that maximizes the available point salad of scoring that is out there.

Third, how do its actual play mechanisms pan out? Here one fatal flaw sets in for me. There is no guaranteed number of turns or equal number of turns. The first player may be the player to end it, getting an "extra" turn, so to speak. Because...this game ENDS and I mean ENDS immediately upon someone getting their 6th star. This is NOT a case where each player gets a final turn. No, if another player puts out their 6th star before your turn and you have everything in place for that perfect final move, guess what? Your game is over and your move never happens. And it isn't as if this isn't a viable strategy (because it is). Or even one encouraged for certain factions (e.g., Saxony). So unlike many other "similar" games that allow players to know when the game will end and both plan & play a great final move (e.g., Terra Mystica, Tammany Hall and Wallenstein), Scythe just comes crashing down on the unprepared player or the player who spent so many rounds making things near perfect for that final play. Only to see it never happen. Is that fun? No! That takes a lengthy gaming session and throws it down the drain. The least fun gaming scenario of them all.

Not to mention, there is no catch-up mechanism. So if you can't figure out how to get your "engine" working just right, you'll bog down quickly. But, I guess thankfully, even a player who "turtles" and focuses on just making due with their own small area of the board can score competitively in the end by doing something as simple as just earning a lot of money. But really, a serious game like this where one strategy is just trying to load up on cash? Where's the fun in that?

For me, the classic game Wallenstein is far more interesting and just plain more fun. It does what Scythe essentially does but only in a far more interactive and fun manner. And in a more realistic manner, too. The game play and the theme interact perfectly! From the very beginning to the very end. Thus the players get territory that can be all over the map and next to your enemies. Some players may try to "turtle" quickly. But everyone is playing close attention to the map, both where they are and where the others are. Almost immediately some form of negotiating takes place. As players whose territories either are not near each other discuss how to work together against their more natural enemies whose territories are close to their own, as well as players whose territories might be inclined for combat and conquest try to divide up the board and turn attention to potentially easier territories, allowing the players to focus on building up castles, churches, and trading posts in their own territories for VPs. And, of course, the actual combat is "epic". Using the Tower. Where unexpected outcomes can happen. And where peasant forces may either fight with you or against you. Then there is the fact that you have to both tax and feed your populations. Choosing those specific areas from which taxes and food will be taken, which makes the peasants mad at you. Make them mad enough, and they revolt. And if you can't feed all your people, they'll start revolting. And just as in Scythe, you are limited in time, money, and resources. You can't either pay for all you want to buy (both guns and butter, so to speak, as controlling areas is worth VPs so you want big armies, but building castles, churches, and trading posts also earns VPs). So do you want to fight or build? Hard to do both. And you may want to build, but your enemy keeps attacking you. Or vice versa. And few outcomes are as interesting or definitive than two large armies at war in one spot on the board, where the outcome of the combat is their complete mutual destruction along with all of the buildings in the territory. Which can and does happen when there is a "tie". Mutually assured destruction. But that is what happens in real combat, when the earth is scorched and the peasants revolt! No slinking back home. Winner takes all, loser loses all, and sometimes both sides lose it all. That is fun. Maddening, but fun.

At the end of the day, Scythe is a very good game. Just beware the sudden end and the unsatisfying combat. So don't get me wrong. If you like to do things to do things and to do them in a particular order to create the most efficient and effective VP engine for the last rounds, this game lets you do that. In spades. There are many different paths to victory, though those paths do seem more than a bit "programmed" for the various factions. And some strategies, like running around quickly to get the goodies from encounter cards, isn't much "fun", but can reward that one player. (But if I'm going to do things to do things tied to a point salad, guess...I'd rather be on a pleasant tropical island setting playing Feld's Bora Bora, but that's just me and tropical paradises.)

But it is one game I think that has been hit hard by the "shiny new game syndrome". I think so many players have been smitten by the lovely board and pieces, esp. of the KS version. Just looking at the Mechs makes them salivate. But when it comes time to play, the game just isn't that engaging amongst the players. They spend so much of their time just looking at their own player board and building their "engine" without really paying too much attention to what other players are doing. And there isn't that much combat and the combat there is isn't exciting.

So if you like or love Scythe, make sure to play Kemet and Terra Mystica, or even Tammany Hall. But whatever else you do, give Wallenstein (or Shogun) a play. You might be pleasantly surprised? As for me, when the novelty of this game wears off, I'll still be refighting the 30 Years' War for decades to come.
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Daniel King
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MPMelanchthon wrote:


Here Scythe tends to have players hunched over their own player board, surveying their next 1-3 turns. Only periodically looking out on the big board. Often, esp. in the beginning, just focused on their small part of the board. As each faction starts out in its own area, with no immediate interaction of factions. And those factions don't ever have to truly interact if they don't want to. Fighting is less prevalent than many players think. And very unsatisfyingly done and resolved. Losers just slink back home. There just isn't that much pure joy coming from the mouths and looks of the players during the game. It often comes across more as solitaire. With maybe a flurry or two of serious action when one player launches out and engages in multiple combats or otherwise does something that is truly unexpected. But otherwise, just more of the same, over and over: take the top action and then also take a bottom action (if you've planned out your action well in advance). All to build that engine that maximizes the available point salad of scoring that is out there.


I understand that you acknowledge this at the beginning of this section and in other parts, but I think that you are being too narrow in what fun looks like. You say that fun typically looks like people laughing and talking, but I think there is a wide swath of people who have fun in games without that. For many euro gamers, the fun is in building that engine. The fun is in getting those resources so that you can recruit so that when put your mech out that you have the resources for now, you'll also get an extra coin. I don't think this is a small group of people either and one that is big enough that it merits acknowledgement here. Yes, if your version of fun is a risk-like roll off then you will probably not have fun in scythe, but trying to say that players aren't having fun just because they are focusing on their own players boards seems a bit unfair.
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Michael Frost

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I think I tried to point that out, Daniel. Though I think you're also agreeing with me to some extent.

Yes, someone's fun can be sitting there quietly studying their player board and essentially playing Scythe as if it were solitaire or very solitaire like. Barely engaging with others and "turtling" to their small part of the board. But so few of the reviews here seem to capture that. Which gets to a heart of the game. You may find that overly appealing. I don't. Just mildly amusing at best.

And I don't think they are mutually exclusive. As I think is proven by Wallenstein. You can't help but have fun. Even if your peasants revolt and your neighbors end up crushing you. Because the game play and theme are so strong and just reward play. The simple act of playing with and against others. Because you have to. You may try to "turtle" but if you're in the lead, which everyone can see, they'll be coming for you.
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Paul Newsham
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So wait, is this a review of Scythe, or the people who like Scythe?

MPMelanchthon wrote:
I think so many players have been smitten by the lovely board and pieces, esp. of the KS version. Just looking at the Mechs makes them salivate. But when it comes time to play, the game just isn't that engaging amongst the players. They spend so much of their time just looking at their own player board and building their "engine" without really paying too much attention to what other players are doing.
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Alam Muammar
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All the games you've mention that compare to scythe I've played. To be honest everygame are different, I think this kind of comparison is meant to make people easily imagine what the game likes,for some reason the likeness are only on the surface, the gaming experience that comes tottaly diferent.
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Geki
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This (fine) review is why I would not be so eager to dismiss the divide and the terminological difference between Euro and Ameritrash games.

Most of what you (legitimately) complain about is simply due to an expectation that I would term "Ameritrashy": the lack of direct and immediate conflict; the viability of non-fighting, mono-directional strategies; the deterministic combat; the time&opportunity-loss (in being sent home) as opposed to a material destruction.

All of these aspects are what make dynamic conflict games fun and exciting, while Scythe is fun in the way of the Euro, more engine-driven than epic-charge oriented.

I, for one, like both and found Scythe to integrate some elements of the former but to be solidly placed in the Euro side of things.

However, I am in agreement with you that in a game like this it is weird to notice that first player advantage was not accounted for in any way.

Cheers
Geki
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Michael Frost

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To give an example, Daniel. Lost a game 50 to my 49 to another's 49 to another's 47 to another's 31. As Black (Saxony) I could see I had to bum rush the ending while all the players' respective happiness levels were in the lowest level. I'm at 2 when I attack! So we'd all score the same for the various VP conditions. So without them expecting it, I make two crushing attacks on my turn. Win both against a militarily helpless White. Get two stars and add them to my four which now makes six. I take all the resources on his two spaces away from him. Game is over. Right then and there. Just over! And he thought he'd be getting the next turn. He is pissed. Literally mad. Thinking he'd lost. But guess what? When we scored it he had the 50. He couldn't even tell where his score was going to end up. That is just how point salad games like this work. He couldn't even plan out a final move. Because I took it away from him. And, yet, ultimately he just backed into victory. The other 49 VPer was a "turtle" who barely moved during the game, I think she attacked once (her last turn to recapture a territory she'd left without workers), and collected a ton of money because she got paid when the players to her left and right did something that paid her. Oh boy. How fun. Collecting a ton of money. And that is what reviewers are raving about? Go figure.
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Michael Frost

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I do keep hoping that someone, anyone, will have played both Scythe and Wallenstein (Shogun). But apparently not. Anyone here played Wallenstein?

Wallenstein is a heavy Euro. Heavy on both tactics and strategy. The only "luck" is the initial placement of territories (though there is both skill and luck there--whether you take what you can see and make the most of it or choose a blind territory) and the Tower combat (though there is both skill and luck there--as you decide how to reinforce your armies and how big your armies will be in the desired territories and can choose to initiate combat when the terms best suit you).

In Wallenstein you see and feel what is happening. You know who is in the lead and who isn't. You are both planning for your own actions as well as preparing for the worst from your opponents.

See, for example, in the Wallenstein Reviews forum here in BGG the one titled "Hits all my Marks for a Euro Wargame". It is a Euro.
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A Huynh
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When a player has four stars down the game is close to the end, a two star turn to end the game is very common in my plays.

The game can reward those that focus on their own engine and accumulating money, or it can be played in a more territory control and aggressive manner. Are you saying the turtling player shouldn't be allowed to do well with that strategy?

The number of turns complaint always mystifies me, because the efficiency/amount of actions varies per turn as well, if at the end of the game Player A had four more bottom row actions than Player B (who was less focused on bottom row), then how would you "balance" for the extra actions?

At the end of the day your group has to decide if they like a game that is a race to the end conditions versus a game with a fixed amount of turns and rounds.
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Geki
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MPMelanchthon wrote:
I do keep hoping that someone, anyone, will have played both Scythe and Wallenstein (Shogun). But apparently not. Anyone here played Wallenstein?

Wallenstein is a heavy Euro. Heavy on both tactics and strategy. The only "luck" is the initial placement of territories (though there is both skill and luck there--whether you take what you can see and make the most of it or choose a blind territory) and the Tower combat (though there is both skill and luck there--as you decide how to reinforce your armies and how big your armies will be in the desired territories and can choose to initiate combat when the terms best suit you).

In Wallenstein you see and feel what is happening. You know who is in the lead and who isn't. You are both planning for your own actions as well as preparing for the worst from your opponents.

See, for example, in the Wallenstein Reviews forum here in BGG the one titled "Hits all my Marks for a Euro Wargame". It is a Euro.


War-game being the key word, there.
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Michael Frost

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I suspect the answer, A H, depends upon how you compare it to other games? I note, for example, that Tammany Hall, Terra Mystica, and Wallenstein provide players with a known number of turns. There is no sudden, unexpected ending. Unlike Scythe. I much prefer their style of ending. Not the bum rush, "Hey the game is over and I'm sitting on this pile of stuff I need to do something with on my last turn but now I can't do anything but do the point salad scoring!"
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Michael Frost

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If you think Wallenstein is just a "war game", GL, then you haven't played it? Because you don't ever have to attack, you are limited in the number and timing of the attacks, and you often win the game with VPs from the various castles, churches, and trading posts you've either built or control by the end of each of the 2 scoring phases. It is just as much an "economic game" of taxing and building as it is an "agricultural game" for needing to feed your armies. Which is why it is a rather heavy Euro.
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Geki
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katanan wrote:


The number of turns complaint always mystifies me, because the efficiency/amount of actions varies per turn as well, if at the end of the game Player A had four more bottom row actions than Player B (who was less focused on bottom row), then how would you "balance" for the extra actions?


Well, but all things equal having a higher number of turns is clearly an advantage, isn't it?
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Geki
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MPMelanchthon wrote:
If you think Wallenstein is just a "war game", GL, then you haven't played it? Because you don't ever have to attack, you are limited in the number and timing of the attacks, and you often win the game with VPs from the various castles, churches, and trading posts you've either built or control by the end of each of the 2 scoring phases. It is just as much an "economic game" of taxing and building as it is an "agricultural game" for needing to feed your armies. Which is why it is a rather heavy Euro.


I played both that and Shogun, and I actually like them both. I think I like Scythe more, but my point is that they are not, nor they should be, the measure of all things. It would be like me saying that Wallenstein is bad because I don't get multi-use cards like Bruges. Different games WILL appeal to different crowds.

Geki
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. miriku
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MPMelanchthon wrote:
No, if another player puts out their 6th star before your turn and you have everything in place for that perfect final move, guess what? Your game is over and your move never happens. And it isn't as if this isn't a viable strategy (because it is). Or even one encouraged for certain factions (e.g., Saxony). So unlike many other "similar" games that allow players to know when the game will end and both plan & play a great final move (e.g., Terra Mystica, Tammany Hall and Wallenstein), Scythe just comes crashing down on the unprepared player or the player who spent so many rounds making things near perfect for that final play.


I don't see how it's the game's fault that you're unable to count to 6 and realize that someone is approaching the last star.
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Michael Frost

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That is easy, miriku! Just look at all the games that allow one player to set off the end condition but then give each other player one last turn as well as all the games that ensure each player has the same number of turns. That isn't hard to do.

And it is possible, depending upon faction and their capabilities to go from 3 to 6 stars on one turn! Saxony can do that. I just didn't need to. So I went from 4 to 6.
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Greg
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Concordia is a great game where there are no set number of rounds and there is no track to keep track of scores. Someone could trigger the end and not be sure if they will win or not.

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Dave Moser
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MPMelanchthon wrote:
Scythe just comes crashing down on the unprepared player or the player who spent so many rounds making things near perfect for that final play.

(emphasis mine)

I don't get why so many people are complaining about this aspect of Scythe. It would be one thing if the game had lots of hidden information, but it doesn't. The first time you play, maybe the first few times you play, the ending might seem like a bolt out of the blue. But as we programmers like to say, "It isn't a bug, it's a feature!" Part of becoming a good Scythe player is recognizing when the end is near, and estimating (without AP) how far away your opponent is from placing those final stars, so that the end doesn't shock you. If you don't like games that reward that type of situational awareness, then maybe Scythe isn't for you, but it's not a flaw in the game.

That's the end game. As for the beginning of the game, I've seen a lot of comments about how the game starts slowly, with everyone plodding through 5 or 6 rounds of "multiplayer solitaire", or that everyone is just following a simple script of actions until - relief! - someone builds a mech or gets over the river and the real game can begin. I think this point of view shows a real lack of appreciation for the importance of the early game.

Until I played the Automa version, I didn't realize how short a game of Scythe really is. I haven't actually tracked any of my plays to that level of detail, but based on my solo plays, I'd say that a game of Scythe rarely involves more than 30-35 turns per player. (If anyone has any actual playtest stats on that I'd be interested in hearing them.) Those first 5 turns may seem uneventful, but they can have a "butterfly effect" on the rest of the game. How many times has someone here complained that the game ended just when they were all set up for their "big move"? Well, you may very well have been able to pull that move off if you had managed to optimize better at the start. Working toward an enlistment before a mech (or vice versa), or even just one decision to Trade and then Produce, instead of the other way around, can be enough to get you one more bottom action later on, or save you a turn doing something else during the mid-game.

Scythe is a game that rewards practice and study, and you can get better at it the more you play. Isn't that what you want in a game?

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Michael Frost

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geki wrote:
MPMelanchthon wrote:
If you think Wallenstein is just a "war game", GL, then you haven't played it? Because you don't ever have to attack, you are limited in the number and timing of the attacks, and you often win the game with VPs from the various castles, churches, and trading posts you've either built or control by the end of each of the 2 scoring phases. It is just as much an "economic game" of taxing and building as it is an "agricultural game" for needing to feed your armies. Which is why it is a rather heavy Euro.


I played both that and Shogun, and I actually like them both. I think I like Scythe more, but my point is that they are not, nor they should be, the measure of all things. It would be like me saying that Wallenstein is bad because I don't get multi-use cards like Bruges. Different games WILL appeal to different crowds.

Geki


I concur. Scythe, contrary to the plethora of fawning reviews, is just another decent game. No more, no less. With its pluses and its minuses. Many will love it, many will like it, many won't care, many will dislike it, and many will hate it. Just as with all games and the gamers who play them. But try telling that to the Scythers here! Today's gaming heresy.
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Pete Martyn
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MPMelanchthon wrote:
That is easy, miriku! Just look at all the games that allow one player to set off the end condition but then give each other player one last turn as well as all the games that ensure each player has the same number of turns. That isn't hard to do.

And it is possible, depending upon faction and their capabilities to go from 3 to 6 stars on one turn! Saxony can do that. I just didn't need to. So I went from 4 to 6.


In games with fixed numbers of turns and player-vs-player conflict, going last can be a huge advantage in that the last player is guaranteed one turn in which they know they won't be messed with.

If Scythe gave everyone one more turn after the sixth star was placed, players could make a mad dash for territory safe in the knowledge that no one could do anything about it.

If Scythe played out over a fixed number of turns, it would lose some of the nuance and openness that I personally really enjoy -- depending on the number of turns given, it would either prioritize fast, aggressive play or slow, deliberate play.

As it is, I appreciate that the pace is set not by the game but by the players at the table. I get why some people don't really like it, but to me it's one of the things that makes the game tick. Underneath that Euro exterior, there's an Amerithrash heart beating at 100bpm. I've seen players get lulled by the rhythm of their engine and then get rudely awakened by a mech assault crashing through it.

Whenever I encounter the turn issue, I can't help but think of what Jack Nicholson's character says in The Departed: "No one gives it to you. You have to take it." Don't want to be the one stuck with a turn disadvantage? Outplay the rest of the table and make sure that you're the one who decides when the game ends!
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Michael Frost

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Hahma wrote:
Concordia is a great game where there are no set number of rounds and there is no track to keep track of scores. Someone could trigger the end and not be sure if they will win or not.



Not having played Concordia, I can't comment. Guess I'll have to try it some day.

But I think Kemet, a game I like, also allows a sudden game end. That is part of the inherent strategy. Which you learn at the beginning. But it isn't considred, per se, as a heavy strategic Euro, as is Scythe. And that is a key difference.
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Michael Frost

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the pete wrote:
MPMelanchthon wrote:
That is easy, miriku! Just look at all the games that allow one player to set off the end condition but then give each other player one last turn as well as all the games that ensure each player has the same number of turns. That isn't hard to do.

And it is possible, depending upon faction and their capabilities to go from 3 to 6 stars on one turn! Saxony can do that. I just didn't need to. So I went from 4 to 6.


In games with fixed numbers of turns and player-vs-player conflict, going last can be a huge advantage in that the last player is guaranteed one turn in which they know they won't be messed with.

If Scythe gave everyone one more turn after the sixth star was placed, players could make a mad dash for territory safe in the knowledge that no one could do anything about it.

If Scythe played out over a fixed number of turns, it would lose some of the nuance and openness that I personally really enjoy -- depending on the number of turns given, it would either prioritize fast, aggressive play or slow, deliberate play.

As it is, I appreciate that the pace is set not by the game but by the players at the table. I get why some people don't really like it, but to me it's one of the things that makes the game tick. Underneath that Euro exterior, there's an Amerithrash heart beating at 100bpm. I've seen players get lulled by the rhythm of their engine and then get rudely awakened by a mech assault crashing through it.

Whenever I encounter the turn issue, I can't help but think of what Jack Nicholson's character says in The Departed: "No one gives it to you. You have to take it." Don't want to be the one stuck with a turn disadvantage? Outplay the rest of the table and make sure that you're the one who decides when the game ends!


You've done a great job of explaining Wallenstein's style of play. Which just happens to do it better. And there everyone can see who is in the lead. Making adjustments as necessary. So you'll only win if you actually do "outplay". And a lot like Tammany Hall, too!

But you don't address the solitaire-like play that can also take place in Scythe. Where the Euro-heart barely beats at 10 bpm.
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Michael Frost

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dmoser22 wrote:
MPMelanchthon wrote:
Scythe just comes crashing down on the unprepared player or the player who spent so many rounds making things near perfect for that final play.

(emphasis mine)

I don't get why so many people are complaining about this aspect of Scythe. It would be one thing if the game had lots of hidden information, but it doesn't. The first time you play, maybe the first few times you play, the ending might seem like a bolt out of the blue. But as we programmers like to say, "It isn't a bug, it's a feature!" Part of becoming a good Scythe player is recognizing when the end is near, and estimating (without AP) how far away your opponent is from placing those final stars, so that the end doesn't shock you. If you don't like games that reward that type of situational awareness, then maybe Scythe isn't for you, but it's not a flaw in the game.

That's the end game. As for the beginning of the game, I've seen a lot of comments about how the game starts slowly, with everyone plodding through 5 or 6 rounds of "multiplayer solitaire", or that everyone is just following a simple script of actions until - relief! - someone builds a mech or gets over the river and the real game can begin. I think this point of view shows a real lack of appreciation for the importance of the early game.

Until I played the Automa version, I didn't realize how short a game of Scythe really is. I haven't actually tracked any of my plays to that level of detail, but based on my solo plays, I'd say that a game of Scythe rarely involves more than 30-35 turns per player. (If anyone has any actual playtest stats on that I'd be interested in hearing them.) Those first 5 turns may seem uneventful, but they can have a "butterfly effect" on the rest of the game. How many times has someone here complained that the game ended just when they were all set up for their "big move"? Well, you may very well have been able to pull that move off if you had managed to optimize better at the start. Working toward an enlistment before a mech (or vice versa), or even just one decision to Trade and then Produce, instead of the other way around, can be enough to get you one more bottom action later on, or save you a turn doing something else during the mid-game.

Scythe is a game that rewards practice and study, and you can get better at it the more you play. Isn't that what you want in a game?



I do love these words: "Scythe is a game that rewards practice and study, and you can get better at it the more you play. Isn't that what you want in a game?" What you describe can also be called "work". Which also rewards practice and study. Though actually what I want in a game is gaming fun. I'd rather lose a fun game than win a game that is work. For example, you couldn't pay me to play Le Havre or Kanban or Factory Fun. And I'd rather watch a game of Kemet, Tammany Hall, Terra Mystica, or Wallenstein played by others than play many an unfun game.

But I also love heavy games like Bora Bora. Point salad and all. Where every decision counts. And which rewards practice and study. (I'd say that about all the games I've mentioned here.) But, and this is key, it is just plain fun! Even losing. But tropical island themes have a way of doing that which post-WW I decimated alternate Earth Eastern European themes don't?
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Christophe Jannin
France
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Loire Atlantique
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I think (IMHO) that the whole "extra turn" problem is just one if you didn't grasp the core concept of the game : you may take ONE or TWO actions during the game. The top one, the bottom one or both. With less turn a player who optimize his engine will take more actions than someone who don't plan ahead. The whole point of the game is here : maximizing (is that a real word ?) the number of action take per turn.

Regarding the solo playing. well, if you spend the game looking only at your little corner of the mat and your action board, it should come at no surprise when someone sneak his last 2 stars upon you.
How can someone complain that there is no interaction when purposely not looking at what the other players are doing and not stopping them from doing it ? that also is part of the game mechanism

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David Taranto
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The only problem is that Wallenstein/Shogun, for me, is not a superior game at all. I've found, in my 4 or 5 plays, the programming is tedious, drawing the game out for probably an hour more than it should, and the cube tower is just too random of a way to deal with combat. It's "cool" on one level, but "frustrating" on all the others. Building buildings makes no thematic sense and gains you no additional benefit, except they're just on the board as a majority scoring mechanism. The only thing I think Wallenstein has going for it is the round events vs famine, and how your information about the winter famine gets just a little bit better every time a new event shows up. That's a cool mechanism.

I'd play Scythe over Wallenstein every time. Deterministic combat, unique (to me anyway) resource management, and a game that can end sooner rather than having to last a certain number of rounds makes it far more enjoyable for me. I'd much rather be the losing player in a 90 minute game of Scythe than get pushed around and choked in a 3-hour game of Wallenstein that will just prolong my suffering before the winner can just win already.
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