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Subject: Scythe or... Le Havre? rss

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Joe McSteve
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Looking for recommendations, here. There are a bunch of notable games I've never tried that I'm eager to get plays of, or perhaps add to my collection. I'm a big Eurogame fan, dislike randomness and screwage, and enjoy building an engine, but also enjoy balance and multiple paths to victory so that a good engine won't become a runaway leader.

So, Scythe looks like it may have that balance I'm looking for, as well as the other characteristics, too. However, I've read a bunch of dissenting opinions about Yellow and Red being too powerful.

That said, Le Havre is an engine-building Euro with multiple paths to victory, yes? I've read this, and as a big Uwe Rosenberg fan (I own Agricola, Bohnanza, and Patchwork), I think I should give this one a try. But if you had to pick one, which is it?

I know Scythe gets a lot of hype around here, and since I've never played either game, I'm not sure if I'm comparing apples to turtles here, but is Le Havre the better (albeit less trendy) game?
 
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CardBoard Bear

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I've never played Le Havre but they look like entirely different games.
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Chris Broggi
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I like them both, but I much prefer Scythe. Then again, I’m not a big Uwe fan.
 
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Steven St. John
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I have only played Le Havre on the app. I really want to like it, but so far it hasn’t grabbed me. It might be a game that is just too complicated to pick up in the confines of a small screen. Would really like to try the physical version some time.

It’s a very different game than Scythe. Scythe is a spatial game. The map plays such a big role. In Le Havre there are locations, but they don’t feel like locations - they feel like actions.

I think we like similar things in games, and for me, Scythe is perfect. The game has a lot of asymmetry built into it, so I can’t predict how you will feel about that. I personally don’t find the factions unbalanced - I find them different, and depending on your style of play and who you play with, some factions may win more than others. My experience has been that games are generally close, that multiple strategies can pay off, and that I can win or lose any game given any start. But different players have different tolerances for different starting conditions, hence the different opinions you’ve heard.

 
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Oh you seekers of the new who run terrified from history into the clutches of an eternal life where no electric shaver can be built to last.
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Any reason you've boxed yourself in with these two titles? There's 100 better choices for your criteria.
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Noble Knave
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SJS1971 wrote:
I have only played Le Havre on the app. I really want to like it, but so far it hasn’t grabbed me. It might be a game that is just too complicated to pick up in the confines of a small screen. Would really like to try the physical version some time.

It’s a very different game than Scythe. Scythe is a spatial game. The map plays such a big role. In Le Havre there are locations, but they don’t feel like locations - they feel like actions.

I think we like similar things in games, and for me, Scythe is perfect. The game has a lot of asymmetry built into it, so I can’t predict how you will feel about that. I personally don’t find the factions unbalanced - I find them different, and depending on your style of play and who you play with, some factions may win more than others. My experience has been that games are generally close, that multiple strategies can pay off, and that I can win or lose any game given any start. But different players have different tolerances for different starting conditions, hence the different opinions you’ve heard.



My phone ate my post but +1 to all of this. I love Agricola too FWIW.

I recommend trying Scythe on Steam and Le Havre as a mobile app before you buy.
 
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Joe McSteve
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Sagrilarus wrote:

Any reason you've boxed yourself in with these two titles? There's 100 better choices for your criteria.

I'm all ears.
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Joe McSteve
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SJS1971 wrote:
I think we like similar things in games, and for me, Scythe is perfect. The game has a lot of asymmetry built into it, so I can’t predict how you will feel about that. I personally don’t find the factions unbalanced - I find them different, and depending on your style of play and who you play with, some factions may win more than others. My experience has been that games are generally close, that multiple strategies can pay off, and that I can win or lose any game given any start. But different players have different tolerances for different starting conditions, hence the different opinions you’ve heard.

This is an excellent response - thank you. I love asymmetry. Sidereal Confluence became one of my top 5 all-time games pretty much the first time I played it. The strategic combinations are endless, and any race can win. I love trying my hand at the different ones. I hope to get a game of Scythe in soon to try it out. And, for that matter, Le Havre. Thanks to the poster who recommended them online.
 
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Mark Parsons
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Hey Joe, I own both games and while I think Scythe is the better game , Le Havre is in my top 10 and I think it's Uwe's best game and I own Agricola, Caverna and Fields of Arle. Also, Crimea (Yellow faction) and Rusviet Union (red faction) only seem over powered when you're new to the game...I won a convention tournament playing Polania (white faction) against equally skilled players...hope this helps...you will love both games...they're both awesome...hence their rankings.


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Alex
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gmhakim wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:

Any reason you've boxed yourself in with these two titles? There's 100 better choices for your criteria.

I'm all ears.


Viticulture?
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cory peacock
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SJS1971 wrote:
I have only played Le Havre on the app. I really want to like it, but so far it hasn’t grabbed me. It might be a game that is just too complicated to pick up in the confines of a small screen. Would really like to try the physical version some time.

It’s a very different game than Scythe. Scythe is a spatial game. The map plays such a big role. In Le Havre there are locations, but they don’t feel like locations - they feel like actions.

I think we like similar things in games, and for me, Scythe is perfect. The game has a lot of asymmetry built into it, so I can’t predict how you will feel about that. I personally don’t find the factions unbalanced - I find them different, and depending on your style of play and who you play with, some factions may win more than others. My experience has been that games are generally close, that multiple strategies can pay off, and that I can win or lose any game given any start. But different players have different tolerances for different starting conditions, hence the different opinions you’ve heard.



I had the app myself and it never grabbed me either. Then I saw a game played and realized it would be something that I'd really like. I purchased it, played it, and loved it.

This may not help regarding the Scythe v Le Havre debate, but I think that Le Havre is not best learned via app. I do not think it gives a good sense of how the game works for whatever reason. It's just fine if you already know what you're doing, but learning was not easy.

Personally, owning both, I lean towards Le Havre but that may be due to playing it more recently.
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Josh Nakauye
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Both great games. The rules and path to victories are fairly diverse.

Le Harve has multiple paths of victory but they are reactionary to what your opponents are playing.

Scythe has multiple paths to victory but the general and play board heavily shape the path of victory. Scythe is a bit more procedural for that reason. With that said the ability to fight each other, which is not super common. In fact you can win and lose every battle.

I don’t think the games compare well they play very differently. But with that said Scythe has more flavor and the expansions add a lot. A fulll story campaign with some great fiction. I would highly recommend both, I think le harve probably has a little more balance, but scythe has far more flavor.
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Marcus Lind
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2-3 players - Le Havre
4-5 players - Scythe
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CardBear wrote:

I've never played Le Havre but they look like entirely different games.

I agree... I never know how to deal with those questions, it's like "should I eat chicken or an apple"...
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chris thatcher
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Quote:
2-3 players - Le Havre
4-5 players - Scythe


This..

Both games are awesome but id stick to those player counts for each (Yes you can play scythe with 2 and its fine but i think its better with more.)

They really are very different games also.


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marcuslind1 wrote:
2-3 players - Le Havre
4-5 players - Scythe

I don't know what you mean by that, by Scythe is great at 2 players, it makes confrontation a choice it can be avoided or quite the opposite. Also since you see only 2 factions at a time replayability goes high. No reason to avoid it at lower player count.
 
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Marcus Lind
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borsook wrote:
marcuslind1 wrote:
2-3 players - Le Havre
4-5 players - Scythe

I don't know what you mean by that, by Scythe is great at 2 players, it makes confrontation a choice it can be avoided or quite the opposite. Also since you see only 2 factions at a time replayability goes high. No reason to avoid it at lower player count.


I mean that I think that Le Havre is a better 2-3 player game and that Scythe is a better 4-5 player game (have not played 6-7 with the expansion). Le Havre is not as good with 4-5 players. And personally I think that Scythe without confrontation/conflict is boring, and consider the blocking snd battling of other players an important part of the game. If I don't want that, I'd rather play something else. There are better non-confrontational/conflict euros - like Le Havre
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borsook wrote:
CardBear wrote:

I've never played Le Havre but they look like entirely different games.

I agree... I never know how to deal with those questions, it's like "should I eat chicken or an apple"...

Why not a nice Mulligatawny?
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Joe McSteve
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afafard wrote:
gmhakim wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:

Any reason you've boxed yourself in with these two titles? There's 100 better choices for your criteria.

I'm all ears.


Viticulture?

So many people seem to love this game. I've played it, and while the mechanics are solid, the cards are WAY too swingy. A good blue card or yellow card can make the difference between a good strategy and a bad one. They can really negate what you're trying to do or tilt the balance far too much in favor of the player with the card, to the point that it really becomes a card-drawing race. I really wanted to like Viticulture, but it fell flat for me due to this swingy randomness.
 
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Mike George
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They are both great and different games, I have them both and will play either one when they hit the table.
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Bryan Becker
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I am a big Uwe fan as well. Give the choice between the two, I prefer Scythe. I would also put Caverna above Le Havre. Le Havre has some variables, but ultimately there are certain set paths to victory. The game almost starts to feel a bit scripted after a while. Caverna has a much more open ended victory conditions. I have won by making adventurers, I have won with sticking to my farm. I have won with 2 workers at the end of the game, I have won with 6. The only flaw with Caverna is you are limited by what your opponents do. Duh, it is a worker placement right? But what I really mean is, and this is from Uwe himself, if 1 player goes adventuring and the other 3 are staying at the farms, the adventurer will win 90% of the time. If 3 go adventuring and 1 stays at the farm, the farmer will win most games. So there have been games where you get caught on the wrong side of that equation and it can be difficult. Though this almost never happens with people who have and experience with it.

Scythe is very different than a Uwe game. It is far more of an engine building game than a worker placement. A worker placement game relies on taking the best move at that very moment. You can have something you want to do, but if the guy next to you takes the fish, or plows the fields before you, it is time to go to plan B or plan C. In Scythe you have to think 4 or 5 turns ahead at all times. How can you most efficiently set up your income using top row actions to you can get the most out of your bottom row actions. Can you get to the factory fast? If the factory gets taken by an opponent, can you fight for it? Is it even worth it? When you Enlist, which actions do you feel your neighbors are most likely to take to you get the best return?

There are ton of very interesting, and super meaningful choices you take with every turn. And for the most part you can strategize while your opponents are moving. Occasionally they will throw you for a loop, putting a mech where you need to go, or something that will alter your plans, but generally an experienced group will take turns in rapid succession once the game really gets going, because they all have a plan as to how they are working, and like a real engine everyone is building momentum. In worker placement games, there is the frequent pause between turns as each player surveys the options when their first choice was taken ahead of them.

As stated before, Scythe is asymmetrical. There is a satisfaction that comes with a worker placement game when you win knowing you all had exactly the same options going in, and you did it better than anyone else at the table. But it can lead to people falling into ruts. I have 1 friend that always, always goes adventuring in Caverna. You know it from the moment the board is set up. In Scythe everything changes every game. You have to devise a plan when the boards are dealt. Players will have tendencies of course. But if you decide what you are going to do before you see who has what, you are going to lose.

As for the more powerful red and yellow.. Red is a bit more powerful. This is the first time I think I have seen someone say yellow has an advantage. But Red is only really more powerful in 1 very specific situation. It was found that with 1 specific board (Red with an Industrial player board) and by taking a specific set of moves, Red can cause the game to end much faster than any other combination. It almost assures the Red win. Jamey apologized that this wasn't caught in play testing, and has simply said that Red should not be allowed to start with that board. Beyond that the factions are very balanced. Red is one of the easiest to play though, so it is sometimes perceived as being stronger.

Part of the identity of each faction is that they each get to break 1 rule of the game. The rule Red gets to break is that you normally can't take the same action twice in a row. Without this restriction your planning for future turns does not have to factor in alternating actions. For example, a player could have a situation:
"I want that encounter that is 2 moves away from my leader"
Most players would think:"Ok, I move first, then I need to do something else, maybe I produce, it would be nice to get some iron for a mech. So I could use the first action to move my leader and get that worker to the iron, then produce, get the 2 iron, them move, get the encounter and move one of those workers up to the wood so next time I produce I can also have the resources I need to build a mill."
Red player: "I move, then I move again and get the encounter." It requires less planning, and hey, Red got that encounter in 2 turns where everyone else needed 3! Must be more powerful right? But Red didn't get iron. I find the biggest trap of Red is it is really easy to get focused on a single task because there is nothing stopping you for going after 1 thing with single minded determination. While everyone else has 2 or 3 things brewing at once. Red always feels like it is off to the strongest start. But Scythe is a marathon, not a sprint. So the other players who had a bunch of irons in the fire suddenly are taking multiple action turns every turn at the end game. This is why the ability for Red to end the game fast benefited them so much. But Red has no more wins than any other color in our group. In fact I have been most successful with blue (1 of the 2 'weak' colors) by far!

TL;DR - the colors are balanced. Red just feels more powerful to new players.
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Steven St. John
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gmhakim wrote:

So many people seem to love this game. I've played it, and while the mechanics are solid, the cards are WAY too swingy. A good blue card or yellow card can make the difference between a good strategy and a bad one. They can really negate what you're trying to do or tilt the balance far too much in favor of the player with the card, to the point that it really becomes a card-drawing race. I really wanted to like Viticulture, but it fell flat for me due to this swingy randomness.


I would say there is one element of Scythe which is like this: the objective cards. At the beginning of the game, each player is dealt 2 objective cards that specify a set of conditions that, if you fulfill them, you can earn 1 of your 6 achievements. These range from the relatively easy ("control 3 mountain territories at the end of your turn") to the difficult ("Have 1 factory card, at least 1 mech, and no more than 3 workers"). I say "difficult" because they may pull you away from a strategy you find optimal (e.g., having more than 3 workers can be key to getting an engine going, and since getting the Factory takes several turns, fulfilling that harder objective can be inefficient. Whereas at some point in the game you'll have enough units to potentially occupy 3 mountains - and you need the units anyway.) But as 1 of 6 achievements it is at most a difference of 5 coins at the end of the game in a game that is usually won with 50-80 coins.

IMO, this bit of swinginess has a minor influence on the game, because: 1) you can (easily) win without meeting an objective, 2) you are always making choices about what's most efficient for you to do, and you have that choice with the cards you are dealt.

There are other card draws in the game, but IMO they don't result in swings. Encounter cards are one, but the luck factor here is mitigated by each one giving you 3 options to choose from, and the fact that all of them are benefits (not penalties) which you earn not through luck but through working to take move actions to reach the right to draw the card.

There are also combat cards that range from 2-5 power and can be decisive in combat. Some games you draw 2s, and some you draw 5s, and that will obviously make a difference. However, this is mitigated by choices you make (you can move to avoid combat when weak), by the hidden nature of the cards (you can bluff that you are stronger than you are), and by your knowledge of probabilities (you always have to predict what cards your opponent may or may not have, and that calculation is the critical part of combat).

I agree with you about the Viticulture card draws. I've played both that game and Scythe a lot and would say they have a very different feel in that respect.
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Steven St. John
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Oh, and as for other recommendations, after Scythe my favorite engine builders with minimal screwage are Terraforming Mars and Terra Mystica. I personally like Mars more, but you do hear "luck of the draw" complaints about that sometimes. Terra Mystica, on the other hand, seems to be a bit of a favorite example of games that approach perfect information.
 
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Alex
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gmhakim wrote:
afafard wrote:
gmhakim wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:

Any reason you've boxed yourself in with these two titles? There's 100 better choices for your criteria.

I'm all ears.


Viticulture?

So many people seem to love this game. I've played it, and while the mechanics are solid, the cards are WAY too swingy. A good blue card or yellow card can make the difference between a good strategy and a bad one. They can really negate what you're trying to do or tilt the balance far too much in favor of the player with the card, to the point that it really becomes a card-drawing race. I really wanted to like Viticulture, but it fell flat for me due to this swingy randomness.


Understood. There is a guy in my play group who strongly believe this and goes full steam ahead with cards (with Tuscany, there are ways to quickly cycle through cards). I almost always beat him anyway.

Scythe do have some luck as detailed in posts above. There is also some possible screwage, depending on how the others are playing. See what happened to me once here:Player Elimination in Scythe

That being said I love Le Havre (with 3 players max) and Viticulture, but I prefer Scythe over both.
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Joe McSteve
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SJS1971 wrote:
Oh, and as for other recommendations, after Scythe my favorite engine builders with minimal screwage are Terraforming Mars and Terra Mystica. I personally like Mars more, but you do hear "luck of the draw" complaints about that sometimes. Terra Mystica, on the other hand, seems to be a bit of a favorite example of games that approach perfect information.

I've heard rave reviews of Terra Mystica, but have never tried it. Some people think there are balance issues there, as well as dry theme issues, and I've read that Scythe is a successful, thematic reimplementation of many of the things that make Terra Mystica so good. Hence why I think it may be one of the games I'm looking for.
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